There are many schools of thought about designing a cover. Some say ONLY get a professional to design your cover. However, I’m of the belief that as an Indie author, you know your audience, and know your content better than other professionals. Naturally, you might need an artist or photographer to do a picture, if needed. Many covers, however, do not have art on the cover, depending what it is you’ve written.
Here’s the first things that you should do:
- Go to a bookstore and look at all the covers of books that are similar to yours. Note which ones that you like and that you think would draw your audience to your book.
- Create a cover, using PowerPoint® or PhotoShop® or some other drawing program.
- Send this cover to several colleagues and friends and ask them to critique it for you.
- After getting the critique, decide if you can modify to please the negative critiques or whether you think you’ve done all you can.
- If you feel you’ve done all you can, then maybe it is time to look for professionals or start over, especially if this was your first attempt at designing a cover.
Here are some hard and fast rules that should help you in creating the best cover that you can:
- Don’t use common fonts, such as Arial and Times New Roman, because they are too common. You can do a serif (Times Roman is a serif font) or sans serif (Arial is a sans serif font) font without using such common, over-used fonts. Just search for fonts to download and find some that you like that are for commercial use. The “commercial use” is important for fonts and graphics, which means that there are no copyrights on using these for commercial purposes, such as publishing a book.
- You should use the main font used in your book on the cover. For example, if you’ve used Helvetica for the normal text used inside your book, it should be used on the cover. If you’ve used some other font for headings, then you should use it on the cover. However, you can use up to three fonts on your cover. You can use a different font to make certain words pop on your cover.
- Creating a cover can involve the use of fonts/text and art. Please consider that letters and words can BE ART! Be creative in creating your cover, but don’t get out of the comfort zone of your primary audience. For example, if your book’s target audience is accountants, then pictures and fancy fonts might not suite your audience. However, if you’re creating a children’s book, then color, fonts, and art needs to be fun to match your book’s interior. Use no more than three fonts on your cover!
- Art should match the interior of the book, which means that buildings and architecture pictures might not go with an interior about jelly beans than rain from the sky. The art needs to match but should not give away any secrets found in the interior. Use art to entice the reader to pick up the book and look inside.
- Covers are all about marketing, because you need to stay true to the book while also enticing your main audience to pick up the book.
- One HUGE rule of Cover Creation is to use font that is easy to read and can be seen from a distance. If you cannot read the cover text from across your small cubical or office, then how will your primary audience pick out your books from all the thousands of books found in a bookstore?
- Photos and drawings can be found all over the internet, but most of these are copyrighted. These are not for use on your book cover. However, there are photos and drawings that are available for commercial use that are copyright free. Search for these in your favorite search engine. There are numerous sites.
- Be brave and take your OWN photo. Depending on the book’s content, you may find that you have taken numerous photos yourself. Can you use them? Absolutely! The need to be at least 300dpi.
- Placement on the cover is another issue. Graphics do not always need to be centered! Shocked? Don’t be! Start looking at book covers, and you’ll find some books have graphics more at the top or at the bottom to accommodate the Book Title, Subtitle and Author Name. Play with your cover’s content and find just the right balance.
- Test your cover by asking colleagues to critique.
Covers are an extension of your book’s interior, but do not underestimate the marketing value. Spending time in a bookstore looking at covers is your best research. If you cannot get to a bookstore, then go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble’s online store. Type in your genre and click through the covers online. Take your time and look at the covers from a critical viewpoint of what grabs your attention and what doesn’t. Spend more time looking at the covers that you like and examine why. Lastly, bring in your primary audience viewpoint as you examine them again.
You don’t want to copy another’s cover. However, using similar content, you can create your own cover with the knowledge that you’ve created the best cover that you can. And if this is too exhausting and boring, well then, farm that cover out to a professional cover artist! You will have a better understanding of what goes into making a cover, which includes making sure your contractor knows what fonts you’ve used on the interior of the book.
If your cover artist will also be laying out your content, then make sure you get to proof early in the process. That will help you solve some of those no-no issues:
- Use ONLY three fonts on the cover.
- Use the Interior Content’s fonts on the cover.