Book Design: Approaches to the Front Cover - article

Before anyone has read a word of your writing, they are likely to start judging you. As painful as it is to hear, no matter the design direction you choose, your front cover will often be the first thing a potential buyer will see of your book. So don't ignore it. No one can say outright what the perfect design choice is for your front cover, but here are a few types to consider:

Know your material. Whether you or an independent illustrator is the one designing your book cover, the most important thing to remember is everything that a book is and represents. As writing a book is no easy task, it’s important to reflect on the outside cover the many themes, thoughts, and emotions of the words inside. You want both inside and outside to complement each other. As the text of a book usually comes before its cover, allow the words to guide your design choices.

Know the audience. Your audience can’t be “everyone”. It’s impossible to market to and please “everyone”. Narrow your focus. Who is your book really speaking to, and what type of people are they? What are they interested in and why are they likely to turn to your book? As you begin to have a firm grasp of the identities of your readers, use them as the benchmark when you are creating a book cover. Seek to address their desires and expectations. Don't oversell your book to your target audience, but instead to allow them to inform your design choices. Then, combine considerations of your readers with the demands of your material.

Highlight your title. The title of your book is what separates it immediately from every other book in the universe. Don’t steal attention from your title with a book design that is too busy and demanding. Instead, choose thoughtful ways in which to highlight your title. Focusing on the title, however, in no way means your book cover needs to be monochromatic and limited to the title. Still, you shouldn’t have to fish around on the cover to find the complete title of the book. For more on this topic, see other articles on cover design here at the Author Learning Center.

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