How Important Is Cover Design When Self Publishing?

You’ve written, revised, and polished the final draft of your book. But before you can send it off to the printers, you need to design a cover. How important is this cover to your long-term success, and how can you design a cover that works?

Why Your Cover Matters

If you want your book to sell, you need a strong cover.

These are just some of the reasons:

·       First impressions. Most people have heard the expression “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but it’s easier said than done. The cover is the first glimpse of the book and probably the author, so it’s important to get it right. If your book cover is sloppy or unprofessional-looking, people will assume that the writing is sloppy or unprofessional. If the book cover looks bland and formulaic, people will assume the writing within is bland and formulaic. Conversely, if the cover is captivating, unique, and professional, people will assume the writing within is captivating, unique, and professional.

·       Contrast and attention. The book cover is also your chance to distinguish your book from the others on the shelves. People looking for a book will often browse through dozens, if not hundreds, before making a final decision. How do you make yours stand out from the crowd?

·       The gate. Your book might be a total masterpiece, but if nobody can get past the cover, it doesn’t matter. Because of this dynamic, you can argue that the cover is even more important than the content you’ve written.

How to Design a Great Book Cover

Now for the hard part: How do you design a great book cover for your book?

·       Start by collecting ideas. Start by cultivating inspiration and generating book cover design ideas. You can look here at many places, including idea generation sites, bookstores, and online book marketplaces. What kind of covers stand out the most to you? What do the covers of bestsellers have in common? You won’t be able to copy all the techniques and styles you see, but you can learn from them and take inspiration from them.

·       Consider contacting a professional designer. There are some methods to design and produce your own book covers. If you have a graphic design background, you can build one from scratch. You can also use an online template or design tool to make your own. But you should also consider contacting a professional designer to produce your book cover on your behalf. Professional quality work stands out.

·       Play to your genre. Try to make sure your cover plays to the genre of your work. There are many different hallmarks of different genres, allowing browsers and readers to distinguish between different types of books quickly. For example, comedy books usually feature cartoon drawings rather than photos or photorealistic art. Erotic novels usually feature dark colors and scantily clad, attractive men and women. You don’t want to make your book cover a total stereotype, but you should also give some hints to your readers about what they can expect.

·       Capture the essence of your book. What is it that makes your book unique? Is there some feature of your writing, or is there some topic you cover that’s unlike any other book on the market? Make sure these unique features are captured in some way on your cover.

·       Include pertinent details. It’s also a good idea to include some pertinent details about your work, including your name as an author, any credentials or accolades you have, and potentially early feedback about your piece.

·       Draw eyes with something unique. Before you can effectively sell your book, you need to capture attention. The best way to do that is to draw people’s eyes by adding something profoundly unique to your cover. Make sure your cover stands out in the middle of a lineup of similar books.

·       Get feedback. Finally, when you have a draft of your book cover in place, get feedback from others, preferably from people in your target demographics. What does this book cover signify to them? Does it capture their interest? Does it make them want to read the book? Is there anything they would do to make it better? You shouldn’t take all the advice given to you by random individuals, especially if they don’t have a background in design – but notice the common complaints and compliments and be prepared to act on them.

It’s hard to argue against the idea that your book cover matters. Achieving success without a great cover is technically possible, but it is doubtful. Be prepared to spend some time, money, and effort to polish your book cover to perfection before you try to start selling it.




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