QUESTION: I am writing a book for 6-8 year olds. I would appreciate any tips for a terrific book cover design. And, also any advice on book title choice.

 

ANSWER:

Books that target children ages 6 to 8 typically fall into the “early reader” or “chapter book” categories of children’s books. In this age range, most children are starting to read by themselves and often go to the bookshelf on their own to pick out what to read next. If you want your book to capture their attention and interest, the cover and title must be eye-catching, fun, and intriguing. Here are tips to make sure your book stands out and shouts, “Read ME!”

 

Children’s Book Covers:

Book covers serve as first impressions — most readers do judge a book by its cover and children are no exception. In fact, children are often more emotionally and visually inspired to select a book based on cover design alone. An effective book cover is easy to read, includes engaging imagery or illustrations, and sets the tone for the story. With children’s books, it’s essential that the look and feel of the cover artwork match any interior artwork related to the story.

A great first step in the cover design process is to research books like yours and see what other authors are doing for their covers. What’s selling well right now in your category and what book cover designs stand out to you and why?

The next step is to determine who will design your cover. This will depend on your chosen publishing path and if you are working with an illustrator on the book’s interior pages. Whether doing the design work yourself or hiring someone else to do it, there are key design elements to follow in order to create an engaging book cover:

Front Cover

Keep it simple – include the title, imagery, and author name (illustrator name as well if not yourself). Make either the title or the artwork the focal point, depending on what works best for your layout. If your title is catchy, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, make it the focal point. Ultimately, the title and artwork should complement one another, not compete.

Be consistent with the illustrations – the cover artwork should match the look and feel of any interior artwork. Most early reader and chapter book covers include an illustration of the main character doing something related to the story.

Limit the number of typefaces that you use – choose one, maybe two typefaces that represent the feel of the story and are easy to read. Children’s books often include typefaces that are whimsical or mimic handwriting, but they still need to be legible.

Choose your colors wisely – bright colors are more attractive to children. Colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel create contrast, while colors that are next to each other create a harmonious feel. Make sure your title pops out from any imagery, and does not get lost in it.

Back Cover

Include a brief, but gripping description of the book – you must appeal to a child’s sense of adventure and fun. You must also be clear on reading level and overall messages or themes so that the buyers – parents, grandparents, teachers, librarians – understand what they are purchasing.

Include a photo or illustration of you, the author, or an additional illustration of your characters – children are more likely to pick up books where the entire cover is inviting.

Include a brief bio about you, the author – share something personal; children love to get to know authors.

If it's a series, include images of subsequent books – book series are very popular with this age group, so promote the series if relevant.

Spine

Don’t underestimate the importance of the spine! – when placed on a bookshelf, the spine is often all that’s visible.

The title should be as readable as possible – match the typeface and colors used on the front and back.

Include a small illustration – many early reader and chapter book covers also include a small illustration of the main character on the spine, above or below the title. 

Books for children ages 6 - 8 must include color covers with large, easy-to-read titles and fun illustrations.

Children’s Book Titles

Book titles should imply what the book is about while also being memorable and catchy. When titling a children’s book, keep these tips in mind:

•  Shorter is usually better – shorter titles are easier for children to remember and ask for.
•  If the main character has a fun or unusual name, include it in the title.
•  Use a play on words, alliteration, or rhyming to make it interesting.
•  Use humor or silly, made-up words – children love to laugh!
•  Use action words – children love energetic stories!
•  Use something mysterious or unexpected – children love surprises!

 

As a children’s writer, you have a very important job. Reading helps children enhance literacy skills, and offers advantages that extend beyond academics. Children’s books can also encourage mental and emotional development through the powerful combination of storytelling and imagination. Most importantly, children read for enjoyment, so make sure your cover and title let them know they will be entertained!


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