As a graphic designer who has created everything from brands and business cards to billboards, it's disappointing to see talented authors create less than professional, high-impact book covers that truly sell their books in every way, starting with emotional impact.
Content is king, but the face of your book is an elemental expression of professionalism and credibility. When a cover appears weak or confusing, it doesn't speak to the validity of the author.
Why take shortcuts as you're finalizing your book cover's visual impact? You're preparing to unleash your heart, your compelling story or advice, and your hard earned knowledge. Make it count in a big way.
Ten points to consider for your book cover
1. Do the research. Which books do you find yourself drawn to online? Which ones do you select, and why? This should give you a clue as to what you're attracted to with regards to color and style, especially when you're exploring your competition online.
2. Brand your business with an authentic and distinctive essence. Carry your mark through all of your marketing collateral, including your books to make full use of your branding investment. It will reflect your project in a positive light.
3. Create an irresistible cover. Why settle for over-used and free stock images? Do you really want to find another e-book for sale with the art you used? That can happen and would make your book appear like a sad boilerplate. Treat your potential readers to a dazzling book cover from the onset of your book launch. Create the aura of confidence for purchasing your book.
4. Keep it legal. Beware of snagging images online, with the mistaken expectation that they are free. Use of copyrighted images or clipart can cause untold amounts of legal heartburn and financial expense into the thousands, just for starters. Pay for the commercial rights to stock photos or have high-quality custom photos done by a professional, then you own the rights.
5. Author's byline. Placement of the author's name on the cover with the words, by—written by—is second rate. That would be akin to placing the word—phone—before your number on a business card. Do we really need to add unnecessary clutter? Your readers are savvy enough to know that simply using your name states clearly that you're the author, or at least I hope so.
6. Carefully select fonts. Google '10 worst fonts' and you will find enlightening lists of overused fonts you would be wise to avoid. They will do nothing for your book cover other than make it appear unprofessional, even unpolished. For good quality fonts try dafont.com (check commercial rights) and FontSquirrel.com, offering free commercial licenses. Confirm the usage terms before selling your book with fonts downloaded from any website.
7. Easy to read? Think visibility and legibility. View your book cover on your monitor in thumbnail size. Is there enough contrast? Does the typography and image reflect the character of your subject?
8. Honest feedback. If you decide to create your book cover without professional help, get impartial evaluations and professional feedback before publishing. If your cover is not stellar, your family and friends may not want to hurt your feelings.
9. DIY Template Art? White space is beautiful and classy. Non-designers often fill the entire cover with images and text. Free software is available for non-designers to take a stab at creating a book cover. However, that doesn't mean it's in your best interest to do so. If you must indulge, try canva.com. Just remember that their stock images are vastly overused. Note to self: Do your really want your book to have a generic appearance?
10. Hire a pro. While you may be an independent author and a wicked-hot one at that, your book cover doesn't have to appear ordinary or home-grown. You can enjoy the benefit of skillful and experienced cover art, on par with major publishing house releases. Your best investment is in hiring a professional graphic designer. In a brick and mortar bookstore, someone who's thumbing through a book is likely halfway to the checkout counter. In our book browsing world online, clicking on a book cover is the equivalent of being halfway to the sale. You want your book to be selected over all others. Make your book cover count. Make it the one that readers choose by investing in a professional, dynamic cover.
Now that you have authored your manuscript you will likely need someone to format your book for publication online and/or in print. LakeOswegoGraphics.com can accomplish that as well.
About the author. Leslie Ann Akin is the owner and Strategic Brand Specialist at Lake Oswego Graphics. Her graphic design portfolio over the past 25 years includes everything from branding to business cards, billboards and book covers. Leslie Ann is passionate about communication through graphic design. As a former professional clown, she has performed twice at The White House. While in the San Fransisco Bay area for 12 years, Leslie Ann also produced jazz radio programs.
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