Having a book cover that sells is as important to your novel as the writing itself. If people walk past your book on the shelf, what use is good writing if no one reads it?
As a Graphic Designer, Reader, Writer and Marketer, here are 5 things I hope self-publishers aim to not have on their book cover.
- Ugly stock fonts – never use those standard fancy fonts that come free with word processing programs – especially Papyrus and Comic Sans – amongst the worlds most hated fonts. It’s a sure-fire way to let your readers know you’re an amateur.
- Dodgy drop shadows – I know it’s hard to resist, but drop shadows can make the text hard to read. A drop shadow is great on the screen but be wary in print, and if you have to go there, don’t make the shadow too far away from the text, it will be harder on the eye to read.
- A carbon copy of a popular cover – Yes, you can use genre clichés, but don’t actually copy some famous cover only with different colours. Copying someone else makes it look like your writing will be unoriginal as well. Use your imagination first, research second. This helps avoid those instances you are steered subconsciously towards someone else’s design.
- Poor Photoshopping – If you can’t Photoshop correctly, make sure you do a couple of tutorials on the specific area you are struggling with. So if you want to change someone’s hair colour, do a tutorial on that specific subject. If you just can’t get it to work, outsourcing a specific graphic design task isn’t as expensive as getting the whole cover done. Know your strengths and work on your weaknesses.
- Low contrast between the title and background – If your title can’t stand out when the cover has been reduced to the Amazon size, you need to change it. Play around with the lightness and darkness to see if you can still read it effectively. A tip is to photocopy your artwork, or print it in grayscale – see if the font still stands out.
Here’s a bonus one,
- Home photography as the image – If you have a fictional book, I’d suggest staying away from raw, home photography. People want to look at the cover and have their imagination inspired, not to be reminded of real life. Use professional stock images and tweak them in Photoshop, or have a custom illustration created. There are many underrated and amazing artists on Deviant Art available for commission at a low price.