15 Articles on Cover Design for Self-Publishers

by Joel Friedlander on May 26, 2014 · 12 comments

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One of the requests I get most often is for help on cover design. That’s why I’ve written so many articles about the challenge of designing your own book cover. But these articles aren’t always that easy to find or ferret out of the archives.

So I decided (it being Memorial Day and all here in the U.S., and I’ve got a couple of big slabs of ribs deep in my 5 hour rib recipe) to bring these articles into one place to make it easier to find them and to know which ones will answer the question you have at any particular time.

To make this list easier to approach, I’ve divided the articles into general topic areas. Dive in, you’ll see exactly what I mean.

General Articles on Book and eBook Cover Design

Book Covers, Dust Jackets, and Case-Wrap Books
“All books by their nature have a cover. We categorize book covers into hardcover and softcover, but they are better referred to as casebound and paperbound. A trade hardcover book is a bookblock (the interior pages taken together) glued, or sewn and glued, into a case, constructed of laminated cardboard and covered with cloth or paper.”

Top 8 Cover Design Tips for Self-Publishers
“We’ve all seen them. The train wrecks. The art class projects. The cringe-inducing artwork. It’s the world of do-it-yourself book cover design. Somewhere between the quirky “cover design generators” on author-service company websites, and the All-American view that everyone should get a ribbon because, after all, they participated, the cover design is suffering at the hands of self-publishers.”

Book Cover Design, Fiction and Nonfiction: What’s the Offer?
“Whether fiction or nonfiction, each book makes an offer to prospective readers. In a book on how to build brick pizza ovens, the offer ought to be crystal clear—the information on how and why to build one yourself. But part of the offer is also the satisfaction you get, or that you imagine you’ll get, when you build that oven and pull a gorgeous pizza out of it. In a book on leadership, the offer might be harder to discern, but it’s there. Ideas and inspiration to help the reader do her job better. And beyond that, the feeling of improving oneself, gaining insight. And in fiction, the offer is the most mysterious of all.”

Book Cover Design Symposium in Your Inbox
“Here’s what’s interesting: The monthly Goodreads email, which highlights new releases, consists of 60 book cover images arranged by genre. This is a goldmine each month. If you’re interested in what’s going on in cover design trends, but you don’t have a lot of time to cruise categories on Amazon or other online retailers, you can get a pretty good idea right in your inbox.”

Common Problems With Cover Design

3 Ways Self-Publishers Fail at Cover Design
“But for a lot of self-publishers, getting their book cover done presents serious challenges. I’ve organized these challenges into three different types. Let’s take a look and see where the problem lies.”

Book Cover Design and the Problem of Symbolism
“One common cover design error you may not have thought of is particularly difficult for many authors to overcome: they know their own books too well. What I mean is that when you wrote the book, you invested it with lots of meaning, and perhaps you wove in symbols throughout the story to make it that much more enticing. But when it comes to the book cover, professional designers know that usually, ‘less is more.’”

Tools and Resources

4 Incredible Free Sources for Photos to Use in Your Book or Blog
“The fact is that we can get oodles of images that are available with simple guidelines that are easy to follow. But before we get to the sources, I think it would be good if we looked at one of the innovations that makes this image-sharing possible.”

5 Great Fonts for Book Covers
“One of the most consistent and easily corrected mistakes I see with book covers that are designed by authors is weak or inappropriate typography. Given that a book cover usually has very few words on it, and those words (title, subtitle, author’s name) have a huge influence on buying decisions, this can be a major problem.”

Print and e-Book Covers, a Matter of Resolution
“One of the regular tasks of a book cover designer is preparing cover images for a client’s use in promotions, website design, a whole host of things. Today that was one of the things on my to-do list, and I prepared two JPGs, one for print and one for web use.”

Free Book Jacket Layout Template for DIY Self-Publishers
“One of the most challenging tasks for a do-it-yourself self-publisher is laying out a dust jacket for a hardcover book. To create the artwork for a jacket, it’s important to work closely with your book printer. Many of the crucial pieces of information you’ll need are only available from the people who will manufacture your book.”

Book Cover Basic Details

Self-Publishing Basics: Why You Need a Category on the Back Cover of Your Book
“With so many books in their stock, so many new books coming out every week, and so much change in the publishing business, booksellers have a hard time keeping up. One way you can help them is by printing the principal category the book belongs in on the back cover.”

Self Publishing Basics: How to Create Your ARC Cover
“However, you have to be careful when preparing the cover artwork for your ARC because a misstep here could completely eliminate any chance of getting a valuable review in one of these trade-oriented review sources, such as Publishers Weekly or Library Journal.”

Ebook Specifics

e-Book Cover File Size Specifications
“I’ve been getting a lot of questions recently about e-book covers and, specifically the size and proportion requirements for submitting the cover image of your e-book when you upload it to a retailer or a distributor. Here’s a selection of requirements that should help. Keep in mind this information is accurate now but could change at any time, so check when you’re ready to upload.”

15 Ebook Covers: Success and Failure in the Kindle Store
“I took a stroll over to the Kindle store to do some browsing in the granddaddy of the ebook stores. Looking through the “Top 100″ it’s remarkable how many different forces are at work in presenting ebooks. I picked out a bunch of covers to take a closer look at. Some of these clearly are winners—they’ve made the leap to a different format successfully, and do a great job of selling their books. Others . . . not so much. Take a look.”

3 Secrets to e-Book Cover Design Success
“But more than anything else, designers and do-it-yourself self-publishers have to address the challenges of this new form in a way that helps them sell books. Since we started the monthly e-Book Cover Design Awards I’ve judged hundreds of e-book covers. The patterns that emerged were unmistakable. So here they are, my guidelines for how to succeed at this important publishing task.”

Ebook Cover Design Awards

Of course, in addition to these 15 articles, every month we publish what amounts to a workshop in ebook cover design. This takes the form of our monthly competition, the Ebook Cover Design Awards.

Over the months we’ve shown thousands of book covers, and most of them also have mini critiques, congratulations, and ways to improve the covers.

Just reading through these posts will give you the beginning of an education in this field. And if you decide you’d rather just hire the job out, you can also use these posts to discover some great cover designers!

Do you have specific questions about cover design? Leave them in the comments.

Photo: bigstockphoto.com

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    { 6 comments… read them below or add one }

    Valerie Rind May 26, 2014 at 8:49 am

    Joel, thanks for putting all your helpful guidance about ebook covers in one place.

    I hired a designer who I discovered via your ebook Cover Design Awards. My book is nonfiction so I only had to review hundreds of covers rather than thousands of fiction cover designs. :)

    I’ve also learned a lot by reading your comments about the entries. Thanks!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 27, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    Thanks Valerie, that’s great. Yes, the nonfiction category does underperform fiction in these awards, but I suppose that reflects the greater popularity genre fiction enjoys in ebook sales.

    Reply

    Colin Dunbar May 26, 2014 at 11:58 am

    This is AWESOME! Thanks Joel.

    Reply

    islam allam May 27, 2014 at 2:08 am

    nice article :)

    Reply

    Jennifer at WriteKidsBooks May 27, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Just wanted to let you know that your book has been included in the Write Kids’ Books roundup of 15 Kindle books under $10 that will help you write a great children’s book… and 3 to skip. (Don’t worry; yours WASN’T one of the ones to skip!)

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 27, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Hey, Jennifer, thanks so much, I really appreciate it. And that’s a great roundup of resources for children’s book authors, too.

    I wonder if you’ve looked at our children’s book and picture book templates, because we have a very active affiliate program, which you can find out more about here: Book Design Templates affiliate program.

    Since I rarely write about children’s books, you might want to consider contributing a guest post here as well, I’m sure many readers would be interested.

    Reply

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