While the saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” it probably happens more often than we like to admit in the publishing world. Whoever designs your book cover, whether it is your publisher, a graphic designer or even yourself, it’s important to keep the following items in mind when designing the book cover.
1. Determine the size of your book. The first and most basic is what size book are you publishing. This will influence font and image sizes and where certain information goes on the cover.
2. Pick a great cover image. Whether your cover uses a piece of art, a photograph or graphics, use something that ties into the subject of your book. Make sure you get permission to use the image if it is not your own!
3. Choose a font. By now, there are millions of fonts to choose from for your cover. You want to pick a font that is readable and speaks to the book contents. If your book has a fun topic, you may want to pick something with a little flair. If your book is about business or another serious topic, you may want to stick with the more classic styles.
4. Write an author bio. This should be a short paragraph about you and your previous works and area of expertise. Include any award or accolades you’ve received in the past.
5. Write a book blurb. This short description of the content of your book should be concise and pique the interest of the reader without giving away too much information. Make sure to leave a little mystery.
6. Include review blurbs. If you sent out early copies of your book for colleagues and media outlets to read, make sure to take out snippets of their reviews to include on the cover. These should be their opinion of your book, not a reiteration of the content.
7. Determine spine text and art. Depending on the thickness of your book, you may be able to place something on the spine of the book. This makes it easy to find your book on a shelf of many books. If possible, include a smaller version of the cover image or a complementary image. At minimum the spine should include the book name and your last name.
8. Include a bar code area. This area is important for sales. It includes the ISBN and price of your book in addition to the bar code for scanning. Book stores and other retailers rely on this for ease of selling and the placement and arrangement is fairly uniform. It is usually white or a light color for easy scanning.
9. Provide credit for cover art. Whether the artwork used on the cover is yours or another’s, find a spot on the cover to include a reference to the providing artist.
10. Include the publisher’s logo, website and/or contact info. Since books are a publisher’s main product, it is important for them to have their information on the back of the cover. Keep this in mind with compiling all your other cover elements.
Here’s a quick list of some of the basics to a book cover. What else have you seen on book covers that are not listed here?
Nancy E. Randolph operates Just Write Books, a publishing business with the tag line: Maine books by Maine authors telling Maine stories. Randolph quickly developed a reputation as a publisher of quality Maine books. An active community member along with two others she founded and serves as a member of the board of Save Our Swinging Bridge.Org to ensure the maintenance of the historic Roebling designed and built bridge connecting Topsham and Brunswick. She co-chairs with Cathy Lamb the Androscoggin Brunswick-Topsham Riverwalk project--building a 2K walking/biking intown loop. To contact her directly: firstname.lastname@example.org