The importance of a stand out book cover

I recently spoke with a book seller in a Dymocks store, where my own title features on the shelf.  She walked me through the store and pointed out titles she noted where the cover may be improved.  Her reason? “It would make my job easier, she disclosed.”

A book cover creates the first impression on its potential readers. Therefore, a book cover design is one of the most important aspects of marketing a book. If the cover is not designed well, you will loose sales. A successful book cover needs to make a reader 'feel' the manuscript rather than 'tell' about it.

I can’t say it any clearer:  As a publisher, I implore you to think long and hard about your book cover before you print.  I want you to think about how you can make it stand out, jump off the shelf…, how you can make it pop! 

Long gone are the days when traditional designs are expected.  Book sellers as well as readers want something eye catching, new, and aesthetically beautifully executed.  Buyers want to have a book in their homes that draws attention. 

So how can you begin the process of making your book stand out in the sea of illustrations, photography, and already popular titles?  In a word (repeated); EXPERIMENT, EXPERIMENT, EXPERIMENT


The style in which a book cover is designed is influenced by the continually changing design trends.

Ensure that you use the correct setting in Photoshop that reflect the colored you chose and want to see. For example CMYK vs RGB.  RGB refers to the primary colors of light, Red, Green and Blue, that are used in monitors, television screens, digital cameras and scanners. CMYK refers to the primary colors of pigment: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. 

Make sure your title is clear and easy to read. Be creative with text by overlapping and enhancing.  Free fonts are available online and can easily be added to your collection via your control panel. 

If you are choosing an image of, for example; a chicken, that chicken should be the most interesting, thought provoking image imaginable. Think beyond just enhancing the chicken. How can that chicken be used to get your point/story across. How can you show the chicken to entice readers in to wanting to know more. 

Keep trying new things. When you think you're done, try again.  You will know your cover is done when you get a tingly feeling in your tummy. That feeling is called fulfillment. 

What is really important:

The process of creating a book cover should not only be personal, but very exciting.  It is a direct reflection of what your book is about and of who you are.  Make yourself and your story heard by making them reach for your book before anyone else’s.

The relevance of the content on the cover should reflect a part of your story.  One of the traps and limitations I have seen when authors have ideas for a cover is limiting themselves to one part of the story.  Think outside those walls and allow yourself to bring in ideas around every part of the book.  After all, every reader will draw different journeys from your story.  Their view may not be the same as yours.  Brainstorm about ideas around all aspects of the story. 

Print the book out:  

A cover in print can look vastly different to how you envisioned.  How you feel with the image in your hands can be a totally different and unique experience to the one you feel seeing in on the screen. 

Show it off:

Show your friends.  Pin it to the wall so you can wake up to see it with fresh eyes.  Take your print to a bookstore and see how it looks against other titles. Does it stand out? Would you, yourself pick it up? Speak with the book owner and ask what they think.  After all, it is their job to sell books. They know what works and what’s trending in the current market.

They say that wearing your best clothes reflects a response from society. Imagine if your book is the outfit you will wear for the rest of your life? What do you want to be remembered for? What is your style? How will you reflect your vision?  In the world of self-publishing, creative control is firmly in your hands.  You do not have any publishing team telling you what you can and cannot do. The only limitation is yourself.

Below are some classic novels and their revised covers. These titles had literary agents. If you are self-publishing, you need a head start and a great cover can place you a few vital, steps ahead.

1984 – George Orwell 

Herman Melville - Moby Dick

Vladimir Nabokov - Lolita

Lewis Carroll - Alice in Wonderland

The Trial – Franz Kafka

Hemingway - The Old Man and the Sea

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

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