Written by Louise Rose-Innes. Originally posted on Jane Friedman’s Blog.
An e-book cover has an important job to do. Not only does it present your book to the world, but it also says a lot about you, the author. It can be a powerful selling and marketing tool, or it can damage your image as an author and lead to dismal sales.
Here are 3 tips for creating a cover that helps you look your best.
1. Make sure it fits your genre and delivers the right emotional impact.
Your cover image should entice readers who are shopping for a certain genre. Research bestselling cover images for your genre (e.g., mystery), as well as subgenres if needed (e.g., cozy mystery). The person buying your book wants to believe that the story or content will deliver exactly what they expect from the genre. So your cover image needs to enhance this in a positive way. A book on web optimization, for example, should have a professional cover with a clear message that says, “You can trust me, I know what I’m talking about.” A thriller cover should probably offer a sense of intrigue, mystery, suspense, or danger.
The cover image below is for a sweet African folk story. The designer has created a cover to appeal to readers of that type of story.
For nonfiction covers, I recommend a design that is simple, yet eye-catching. A busy, colorful patchwork of a cover does more damage than good—especially if the text is obscured or hard to read among all the design elements. Aim for stylish and professional with one eye-catching image or feature.
2. Choose fonts that are appropriate, clear and easy to read.
This is where a lot of amateurs go wrong. The fonts on your e-book cover should be clear and easy to read no matter how the cover might be displayed or manipulated. Consider how your cover will look in (1) large and small sizes and (2) in color or black-and-white. That goes for the title, the author’s name, and any additional information on the cover, including introductory text and bullet points.
3. List your name and qualifications.
This is especially important for nonfiction authors. If you’ve written a book on weight loss then you need to support that by giving your credentials. What qualifies you to write this book? Are you a nutritionist or a doctor? Unless you are a celebrity, you have to prove why you are qualified to write on your topic. Also, a few well-placed bullet points on a nonfiction book cover will help point out what someone will find in the book.
The real secret
The trick to creating an effective e-book cover is to know your target market. That way you can gear the cover toward them and reassure them it contains exactly the type of information or story they are looking for. Bad cover design does your work a disservice and won’t convince readers to take a chance on you. While it’s true one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, we all do. If you don’t have the skills to create a cover that passes muster in the market, then hire someone who can help you.