Design A Cover For A Book

When you set out to design a cover for a book, a basic cover design may come easily, but there are countless ways to fail. Getting caught up in your own preferences or taste, without sufficient consideration to your market, can be a fatal error for both the designer and the author.

A good way to start, and to get a reasonable perspective on your cover book design is to make yourself the book buyer. You might have a wide range of interests: scuba diving, horseback riding, Mesopotamian archaeology, illustrated manuscripts. But when the kitchen sink needs repair, you’re a plumber. You want a book on plumbing. You want a book that looks like a book on plumbing.

So consider, in your cover book design, what a plumbing book looks like. Go to the store, or go to the e-shelf, and shop for a plumbing book. You’ll likely find that books in a specific genre often have common components in their design book cover, as well as in their book flaps and spines. These might include the type of photography or illustration (industrial), the typography (generally sans-serif), and the color scheme (usually primary). So, when you design a cover for a book, it could be a mistake to create something that does not resemble what the shopper might be looking for. If they don’t see it, they will likely move on.

There are common factors to be found among all of the genres. This is not to say that in your design book cover, they are your only alternatives, but as familiar elements they should remain important considerations.

So, when you design a cover for a book, consider that the typical “How-to” book will usually be the most copy-heavy, often including multiple subtitles, and even bulleted lists, to describe its content. Mysteries or thrillers will most often use dramatic or otherwise strong title typography, and a provocative piece of photography or illustration. Biographies usually picture the subject.

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Whether speaking to the designer, who’s so enamored of his own style that he fails to consider the audience, or to the author, who may be convinced  he is the final authority on the best design book cover for his opus, Mark Twain’s words still ring true.

In the planning for your cover book design, use typography  appropriate to the content of the book; use color wisely; be certain the title stands out in the design, and among other titles on the shelves or online, to keep all eyes on YOUR book, not the competition.

In the end, your book cover is its introduction to the potential reader. Learning all you can about the design of a book cover will enable you, as an author, or you, as the designer, to create a design tailored to your needs, rather than settling for what often is a cost-driven “solution.”