Book covers—you can’t escape them if you publish books, and why would you want to? They bring a book to life for consumers, help to communicate with us about what’s inside.
Every month, of course, we get to see dozens and dozens of ebook cover designs in the monthly competition here.
After studying thousands of book covers over the years, the errors in communication become pretty obvious. These errors are always a failure to get across one or another of the important things we need to let readers know about the book.
As part of this presentation, I wanted to show these ideas in action, with real book covers. For instance, one of the things I look for are the 5 goals that your book cover should be addressing.
- Announce its genre—This is very important for genre fiction, but it’s equally important for any book to be clear right away about exactly what kind of book it is. This seems to me to be the first concern of the cover designer.
- Telegraph its tone—Particularly important for fiction and literary fiction, where the whole effect of the book rests on the skill of the writer. A cover can give you an idea of the writer’s voice in many subtle ways.
- Explain its scope—Mostly for nonfiction. Understanding the extent of the book’s subject helps to define its target market.
- Generate excitement (the “hook”)—Let’s face it, book covers are a subspecies of advertising design, and they can be powerful sales tools. But if nothing about the cover stops people, or evokes instant interest, fascination or curiosity, it can’t accomplish its aims.
- Establish a market position—This is almost the sum of all the other goals listed here. Taken together, they establish the exact space we see the book occupying amongst all the other books that address the same topic or which are in the same genre.
Here’s one of the slides from the presentation:
See what I mean about announcing your genre?
(Ed: You probably noticed the branding on this slide is from the Self-Publishing Roadmap, the comprehensive video training program for authors. People in the Roadmap course just keep getting more benefits from their participation, including webinars like this one. The Roadmap program is going to open very soon for registration. If you’d like to know more, get on the notification list here.)
If you’re in the San Francisco area, come and join us for this presentation. It’s in downtown San Rafael, about 20 minutes north of the Golden Gate bridge, and it starts at 9:00 a.m. for general Q & A. My presentation will start around 11:00 a.m.
For more information:
See you there!