You know the adage, “Don't judge a book by its cover.” We all do it. And, maybe that’s a good thing. If someone hasn’t taken the time and effort to invest in their entire book, then maybe the content won't have much to offer you. That is certainly what readers think when they see a poorly designed book cover. This of course may not be true as there are misguided authors pushed into a design by a friend, and struggling writers just trying to get their material out into the world, and new authors who think that good writing is all you need to sell a book. Unfortunately, book consumers do not take these things into account when browsing bookstores. Most independently and self-published authors don't invest in a professional cover designer. They think that they can design the cover themselves, or pay someone $20 to do it. The truth is that you are selling a brand and like any other brand you have to house your material in appealing packaging. You wouldn’t buy a cereal with an ugly, un-appetizing box, or if you did you wouldn’t expect it to be good. You wouldn’t buy a car from a dealership with a low-budget commercial and expect quality. The same goes for your book.
Whether you like it or not, people will judge your book by its cover. And, unless you are a graphic artist, you are not going to be able to create the kind of cover that is not only appealing to your audience but effectively communicates your brand. This is why you need to hire a professional.
Yes designers can be pricey; luckily with Lucid Books the cost of your cover designer is included in your package. It is included for a reason. We firmly believe that every book needs to have a professional cover. Just think how many books you never picked up because of the poorly designed covers.
But how do you get started? After all you aren’t a graphic designer, but you have a clear vision for your book. The most important thing is to clearly communicate your vision with the designer or the person who is in contact with the designer. Know what your vision is and know how to communicate why something does not represent that vision. Both Jeff Goins and Michael Hyatt have good advice on what your book cover needs. But, it really boils down to these four tips:
- Your cover is the visual representation of your book’s content. Your cover should be targeted towards your audience, and they should be able to tell what your book is about from the cover. So, don't confuse them with design metaphors. At the same time, you don't need to explain everything either. This is a good reason to hire a professional to design your cover as they will know how to find the balance.
- Know your audience and respect their taste. Your audience are the people who could benefit most from your message, but if your cover doesn’t peak their interest then they will likely never pick up your book and read it. Research what other bestselling books in your category look like. If you are unsure about a design take it to your audience if you have communication with them. If you blog or participate in social media you can present you audience with two or three comps of your cover and ask them which one they like the best.
- Stay true to yourself. This may seem contradictory to the above statement, but it isn’t really. Though you want to gauge the taste of your audience, you can't bow down to their every whim. In the end you are the CEO of your brand and you should never compromise the image and integrity of your brand at the say-so of anyone else. You want to find the balance between peaking your audience’s interest and clearly communicating who you are and your message.
- Take your time. Ask the designer for several comps, meaning comprehensive layouts, of your cover. You want to make sure that you see several different options so that you can see different kinds of fonts, images, and color schemes. You might want to combine elements from several comps to create the perfect representation of your message. Make sure that you view the cover in every medium. Will the spine stand out on a shelf with books of a similar subject? Will online shoppers be able to understand the cover’s detail when the image is a square inch? Is the font readable from a distance? These are all things you must consider before deciding on a final design.
In the end the important thing to remember is that, wrong as it may be, the judgment passed on your cover will dictate your book’s success. And, unless you have professional experience in graphic design, you are not qualified, and will therefore probably do a poor job, to create the perfect cover for your book. So, bite the bullet, hire a professional, and see how successful the product of your hard work can be.
What are your favorite book designs? What are your least favorite? Share with us in the comments section below.