What Should a Book Cover Design Achieve?

Blog23 ImageIf you’re self-publishing a book of fiction, you should pay close attention to your cover design. This seems like irrefutable advice, yet many self-pub books have an inferior cover. So why is cover design so important?

I had a good chat with my cover designer, Emma Dolan, about this.

The answer is that good cover design promotes readership and sales of a book. It does so by sending several key messages in the split second a potential reader looks at the cover.

There’s Quality Inside: A compelling cover conveys the message that the entire book is professionally done. This is especially important for a self-published book. Through the cover, a potential reader can be assured that the book’s language and layout are as good as those of traditionally published books.

The Book Offers a Good Story: An interesting cover design suggests that the book’s story is appealing, too. It might even convince a reader to experiment with the books of an author he hasn’t read before.

This is My Book’s Genre: The cover is not a standalone piece of art (well, perhaps the most successful authors could try that). Instead, it indicates the type of story a reader can expect, making him more comfortable in his purchase decision. If a cover is misleading about a book’s genre, the book will disappoint some readers, who will give the book bad reviews, which will lead to … you know.

And Here’s the Mood of the Book: Within a genre, books can have many different moods and tones. Cover design can hint at these as well, perhaps piquing some readers’ interest and leading them to buy.

I know some self-pub authors create their own covers, and sometimes the results are impressive. However, to me, the advantages of working with an experienced cover designer are overwhelming.

My designer has artistic skills far beyond mine and I’d rather be writing than figuring out Adobe Photoshop. Also, she understands past and present trends in cover design, and she can recommend the cover with the most effective messaging for the current book market. I’ll help by offering my own design ideas and looking at covers in book stores. But, together, we’ll end up with a far better product than I could on my own.

In the next post in my blog series about how to self-publish, I’ll discuss the process of working with a book cover designer.

Copyright ©2014 Peter Fritze

Buy The Case for Killing here (Canada) or here (U.S.).

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