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Print design

5 tips for a great book cover that sells

The first impression that anyone will get from your book will be the cover, so you want it to stand out. Your book may have come up in search on Amazon or online, or maybe you’re pushing it through your online platform. The title got your reader’s attention, but it’s the final package that will sell them. If you’re going the self-publishing route, a solid cover will establish trust and generate enthusiasm. Here are 5 tips for a great cover.

1 | Don’t get wordy with the title. You might want to include every single SEO juicy word in your title, but you don’t want to end up with a word salad. The more words in your main title, though, the more crowded the cover will be. You want something that reads instantly as a part of your genre. In the right genre, this is also a great place to be a little clever, but know your market. Some subjects and genres work better with a literal title that gets straight to the point.

2 | Do include a subtitle or blurb (or both!). These elements will make your book appear more pro, especially if you can get a juicy review or a good number for a blurb. Both will fill out the design, create rhythm and interest. They will expand that valuable first impression time, catching attention and slowing down the time your potential ready spends on deciding to buy your book.

3 | Get a good image. Your designer will advise you, but don’t supply an image that you took with your iPhone, no matter how much you love it. Depending on your genre, you might want to hire an illustrator or set up a photo shoot. These can get pricey, and there are lots of royalty free images that you can purchase for your cover. There are even solid free resources like Pexels and Vecteezy, but then there’s the trick of finding the right image. Also, don’t forget to give credit where credit is due!

4 | Readability is king. This is an umbrella term that covers size, placement and contrast, but you want your cover to read instantly. Be careful with decorative fonts or creative logotype treatments on your title. You might love it, but it also needs to read quickly. The first place your book will be found these days in on the internet. If you can’t read it at 2″ high, it needs to be reworked.

5 | Hire a professional designer. Sure, you could DIY your cover. Today’s internet provides so many options for that, but (naturally!) I don’t recommend it. I’ve seen the results, and they are rarely satisfactory. They lack the authority of what we expect a book to look like. I recommend not just hiring a designer, but hire one that has experience with book design. You want someone that doesn’t just have Photoshop on their computer; you want someone that knows the market and can advise you on imagery and titling. They can not only create a cover that’s professional, but will also be able to handle interior design and supporting marketing materials. Budget about $700-1200 for this. If you’re on the higher end of that, expect a designer that will do research into your market and provide you with 2-3 good mock-ups and will deliver a print-ready cover that includes a back panel and spine.

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