Designing A Book Cover 101

When you first start with graphic design, book cover designs can seem like a tall order and a bit intimidating to anyone. They come with details and are a defining moment for any graphic designer that is trusted to design a cover for an author’s work. A great book cover is critical to an author’s work being taken seriously and being read. Authors trust graphic designers (and yes, specifically you) with the job of creating a book cover that will give readers a glimpse into their work and grab their attention.

A book cover plays a significant part in whether or not a book sells and as a graphic designer tackling that task can seem beyond intimidating. Books that have eye-catching book covers and grab a person’s eye are far more apt to be read and picked up than those with boring and plain covers. If your hands are shaking at the thought of attempting to design a book cover, we’ve got a thorough how-to for you below!

Seek Inspiration

The first step to designing a book cover and designing anything is to find inspiration for your job. This is an important step and one that you want to make sure you do correctly. Although it’s certainly okay to seek inspiration from the general library of books, you want to mainly focus on the books in the specific category that the book is for. This will give you a stronger idea of what the target audience is like and what direction the book cover needs to go in. Keep browsing through similar book covers to the one that you’ll be designing until you feel confident that you have a strong sense of what needs to be done.

Screenshot Amazon Books
Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood
by Gregg Olsen

Consider The Mood Of The Book

It’s important to remember that the book cover design directly reflects the book and what’s inside. This is why it’s crucial that you know the book and the mood of it so that you can property reflect that with what you design. The book cover has to support the theme of the book and what’s inside. First, make sure that you know what’s inside the book and have a good idea of the mood and theme of it is. If it’s serious, then the book should have a relatively serious cover while if it’s funny it should have a funny cover and so on. Know the book’s main themes and keep those in mind as you design the cover.

Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design
by Stephen C. Meyer

Take Out All The Clutter

The third step is to make sure that you remove all the clutter from the final design. Book covers that are too busy and have too much on them don’t look good when they’re scaled down to smaller sizes, which they usually are when they’re shown online. If the book covers appear cluttered and too full then you’ll turn away potential readers. Choose one main point that you want to have the focus on for your book cover and put all the attention there. You can include other smaller elements once you have that main point, but it must be the largest.

Breakfast with Buddha
by Roland Merullo

Choose A Font and Colors

This is where things start to get fun and you can start letting your creativity take over. Now that you have the base for the design and the idea picked out, it’s time to pick out two of the most important aspects of your book cover design; the font and color choices. Choosing the typeface is difficult. It needs to look good on larger scales, but it also needs to look good on thumbnails. Try to stick to fonts that aren’t too detailed or curvy, instead keep it simple.

And make sure that you try it out on both small sizes and larger sizes so that you’ll know how it’ll look in advance. As for colors, just choose a color palette that is appropriate to the book and displays what it does well. Make sure that the color choices go along with the genre of the book and reflect what it is. The biggest mistake you can make is to nail all other aspects of your book covers but then choose colors that completely miss the mark with the book and are the opposite of the subject of the book.

The Back and Spine

The front of the cover may get all the attention, but that doesn’t mean that other areas of the cover aren’t equally important. You don’t want to forget to pay attention to both the spine and the back of the book and give them the proper time that they need. Remember that on bookshelves, the spine is what’s displayed. Although the back is typically used for reviews, a summary of the story, or about the author, you want to make sure it looks equally as good as the front.

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