Tuesday, August 13, 2013
16 Tips to Fake a Professional Book Cover
Unless you have a known name, readers WILL judge your book by its cover before they buy.
You know how us writers shake our heads in pity when someone suggests that writing is so easy that anyone can do it? That little misconception has caused the downfall of many a wannabe. Don't fall into the same trap when it comes to art. There's so much more to design than drawing pretty pictures. Just because you were good at art in high school, or you own a snazzy drawing program, doesn't mean you'll be able to create a professional book cover.
With my nine years of graphic design experience, I thought I'd share a few tips to recognise and create a professional book cover which will give potential readers confidence your story will be just as good as the cover promises.
Alex J Cavanaugh's CassaStar, CassaFire, and the soon to be released, CassaStorm. They so obviously belong to the Science Fiction genre. The covers promise an exciting read with lots of action, and the stories deliver exactly that.
2. Keep it simple. You might have grand ideas for your cover, but unless you're a professional designer, it's unlikely you'll be able to match what's in your head with what you can create. Simple is far more eye-catching than a fussy design anyway. Fussy will all too often turn to mud.
3. Make sure the design looks just as recognisable and eye-catching in a thumbnail size as it does full size.
4. Design the cover in a high resolution—300dpi is preferable for a sharp image in print. It's then easy to scale back for web images (72dpi).
5. Check cover trends. Does the trend lean toward photos or illustration for your market? Does it lean toward images of people or objects?
6. Only use recognisable images. There's no point using an image that's not immediately recognisable. Carol Kilgore's Solomon's Compass is a great example of the use of recognisable images.
7. Do NOT use clipart. I don't care if it's free. Do NOT use it.
8. Be aware of rights to images. You can't use anything you happen to come across. Also, free rarely means free for commercial use. If you plan to make money from the use of images or fonts through the sale of books, then that is a commercial venture and no longer falls under the rights of most freeware.
10. Do NOT use comic sans. It's a common font that comes with everything and it screams amateur.
11. Keep it simple and readable. Christine Rain's The 13th Floor series is another great example of a clean, easy to read covers.
12. Check what other professionally published covers use for title fonts in your chosen market. Not every market is the same.
13. Make sure there's a strong contrast between the font colour and the background it's on. Remember, the text needs to be readable.
14. Don't use special effects on the fonts. Just because your graphics program has these funky filters, doesn't mean you should use them. Leave that to the professionals.
15. Don't be afraid to break up a long title onto a couple of lines. One long title across the book's width just looks silly. Look for balance in the design.
16. Unless you've built a huge fan base over a number of books, make sure the title is bigger than your name.
There are a bunch of other tips I could share, for example colour psychology, but perhaps I'll save that for another time.
Which are your favourite book cover designs? What are your thoughts on do-it-yourself covers?