What makes an ideal book cover?


“Book cover art is the literature that wraps your literature”, according to Author, designer Dave Bricker. It is the cover that binds together the narrative of the book and intelligently displays what lays inside the book. Evidently, the book cover plays the role of catching the reader’s eye and intriguing him enough to purchase the book.

An attractive book cover works as one of the most important marketing tools of the entire publishing process. The interest that a cover generates within the reader, encourages him to pick the book off the stands and investigate further.

The book cover isn’t expected to give away the entire story or provide the illustrator’s editorial viewpoint with a single look at it. However, the positive impact that it would have on a reader with its unique perspective also results in a significant rise in the book’s sales.

Thus, a good book cover is expected to display the expectations that a reader would have from a book of a genre and simultaneously lead to sales. However, if that does not happen then even though the cover might be exceptionally beautified by the designer, it has failed to achieve its purpose.

This brings us to the question of what the “ideal” book cover looks like. Or what is required from a well-designed book cover?

Defining the book cover

Picture showing elements of a book cover

Designing a book cover consists of merging together pictures and text to create a visually appealing representation of the book. But the layout and body of the basic book cover follow a similar pattern, which can be further changed according to subjective requirements.

According to designer Karla Lant, in order the perfect layout “you need to think about the single message you want your cover design to communicate”. This idea, when conveyed perfectly sets the tone for an attractive book cover.

The basic structure of a book cover includes the following:

•    Front Cover – imagery, typography, title, subtitle, etc.

•    Back Cover – Description of the book.

•    Book reviews and endorsements – The author biography.

•    Spine

What makes a good book cover?

A book cover assures the reader that their valuable reading time will not go to waste. While it may be said that the cover has nothing to with a reader’s choice, this is a myth. It is the uniqueness of a cover that draws the reader to the book. This relies on the book cover designer’s ability to capture the book’s image on the cover in “some fundamental and perhaps unforeseen way”, says renowned book cover artist Peter Mendelsund.

There are certain elements that differentiate an average book cover from a good one. These elements help recognize the selling capacity of the book based on the response to its cover. Since the cover is responsible to capture the interest of the audience targeted by the author.

Important elements of a book cover

  • Selecting the stock image – When choosing the relevant image for a book cover from the stock image options available, the designer must keep in mind what a reader would select. They would want a book that gives them a taste of what awaits them inside the pages of the book even before they turn the first page open, without revealing the plot details. The reader thus expects to be intrigued and challenged at the same time.
  • Relevance to the genre – One important element is designing the book cover in accordance with the requirements of the genre. When selecting a book in a particular genre category, the reader comes with certain expectations. And in order to catch his eye out of the many available, the book cover design must cater to be unique as well as remain relevant to the genre.
  • Professionalism – The imagery of the cover needs to convey professionalism to the reader. It needs to maintain a certain standard since amateurish covers can put readers off and hence, reduce the chances of the book selling well.
  • Maintaining a flow – It is important to maintain a flow while designing the cover. It gives a sense of well-balanced synchronization and prevents the dominance of one element of the cover over another.

Frequently overlooked elements

Certain technical elements that are important to the layout of the book cover, are often left out or simply overlooked by designers. However, they add to the overall presentation of the book cover’s design and are hence significant. These are:

  • The title of a book often evokes the curiosity of a potential reader and hence must stand out, in order to attract them since it calls for positive attention.
  • The typography on the cover must complement the stock image used and all the other elements. This is one of the most difficult challenges for designers since font can often be inappropriate and the right one sets the tone for the book.
  • The author’s name and the title should never be in conflict with each other and must contribute to maintaining the flow on the cover.

Things to avoid while designing a book cover

While a good book cover is easily identifiable, professional designers might make some mistakes that need to be recognised while designing the layout of a cover. These are:

  • Especially with the rise of indie-publishing, it has become necessary to make sure that the cover has not been overdone.
  • Problems such as highlighting the author’s name more than is required and using amateurish fonts results in a direct negative impact on the sales of the book.
  • It is important to maintain the professional standard and look of the cover without having to give away the suspense of the story.
  • Readers appreciate being challenged by the cover of the book and that’s what adds to their fascination with it. Thus the reader’s opinions and requirements must be respected while trying something extraordinary on the book cover.

In conclusion, with the rise of options like self-publishing available to the author it becomes important for them to be aware of the choices available to them that can make their work stand out.

The growing industry offers these indie authors support to gain readers through their covers and thus increase their sales. This is because it is most profitable for them to consult professional designers available online as well, such as Killerbookcovers.com (https://killerbookcovers.com/) that will help fascinate the readers and capture the audience’s interest.

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