Sunday, 8 December 2013

Book Cover Design: 4 Corner Stones for Positioning with Book Covers

Your book cover is the first impression you make on a potential reader. One cover, one chance. 
Book covers are an essential marketing tool which should position your book in your reader's mind at a single glance. We can also usually tell which genre a book belongs to simply by its cover. Seems like a tall order for a single image design?

Maybe, but that also means that if you get it right you can set your book apart.

Here are four corner stones you should keep in mind when starting out on your cover design:

     1. Let potential readers know that they are purchasing quality literary content

A sleezy or poorly designed cover will hardly inspire confidence in a reader that the content is any more professional.

     2Design with your reader in mind

Your design has to appeal to your segment of readers and not only to you. Look at how covers in your chosen genre are normally designed and try to replicate the basic concept. By replicate I mean for example looking at the general balance of headline font size in comparison with the rest of the text you wish to see on your cover. Other elements you should study are the image choice - does it hint at the story unfolding in the page? -, imagery type and the position of the author name. To make your life even easier concentrate on the bestselling titles within your target genre. 

     3. Stand out among other covers in your target market segment while not completely departing from the general genre look and feel

While you might have success by absolutely departing from the general genre look and feel in your design, there are smaller tweaks you can add to give your design a unique touch.

Here are several ideas on how you can make your book stand out:
1. Add a catchy line from your blurb on your cover. Two lines at most.
2. Add a compelling endorsement. The shorter and snappier, the better.
3. Add a circle badge which emphasises a unique selling point (USP), like:
    - a book comparison reference; e.g.:"For Twillight Lovers"
    - a reference to a bonus inside; e.g.: "Sneak Peek of Dan Brown's Angels and Demons"
    - a bestseller stamp (once you landed on a bestseller list)

4. Make your cover design interactive

Why not give your readers the opportunity to choose the final cover design. Narrow your creative choices down to three versions you like, introduce them on one of your channels (e.g.: blog, facebook, twitter...) and give people the option to vote on their favourite. You can even offer a free give away in return for submitting a vote. This also has the additional benefit of actively reaching out to your reader base before you actually launch. 

Bonus Tip for eBook Covers: Keep your ebook thumbnail images clean

If your eBook thumbnail is too busy it will be drowned out in the search as potential readers browse categories. In an online search, setting readers are most attracted by colours, a clean structure and clear font which translates well into the tiny space of a thumbnail. Too much text will make the small thumbnails too busy and keep your book cover from popping on the page.          

For further tips, here are a few great websites and articles that will help you figure out which cover direction will best fit your book positioning and how you can get to a great cover design:

A behind the scenes look on the cover creation process

Great websites to get inspired by current bestselling covers in different genres

Book Cover Design by The Creative Penn
A blog post with recommended cover designers

Good tips on what to focus on for ebook covers in particular