BLOG: Eye-Popping Tips

From Karen Saunders

Your Branding, Marketing & Self-Publishing Coach

Key Elements of a Professional Book Cover Design

It takes just a few vital seconds for an editor or reader to decide whether your self-published book is worth reading or not, so the design of the book cover is incredibly important. If the key opportunity for selling your book exists in one tiny glance, that glance had better be optimized by excellent design elements, wouldn’t you agree?

Publishers want their book covers to be unique and memorable. An excellent cover design and compelling title makes that happen. An excellent book cover is like the striking pose of a model – stunning and creative. Shown below are 3 sample covers designed by our award-winning teammate and graphic designer, Kerrie Lian.

Key Elements of a Professional Book Cover

Find the Right Graphic Designer

Professionalism and experience as well as expertise are the main qualities you should look for when finding the right graphic designer to do an important task like the one-glimpse-and-it-sells-or-not cover of your book. You don’t want your self-published book to appear amateurish or homemade. Your graphic designer should have a high level of creativity, skills, the right software, access to stock photography and be knowledgeable about the book printing process to make your book stand out from all the rest.

Key Elements of a Professional Book Cover

What Are the Key Elements of a Professional Book Cover Design?

At a minimum, your front cover should contain the name of the book, its subtitle, and your name. A short testimonial or endorsement can also be tastefully used on the front cover. Your front cover should be legible and easily read from a short distance. Use bold, contrasting lettering to make this element work right. On the spine, your name, title and publishing company name or logo should be listed and legible from a distance.

On the back cover, place the book’s category in the upper left corner to help bookstores shelve it properly. The back cover should have a compelling headline directed to your target book buying audience, a brief description and a few bulleted benefits. Listing a few testimonials from recognized leaders in your field is very helpful. Your picture, biography and credits to the cover designer or illustrator may appear on the back cover. Be sure to include the following 3 essential items as well:

  • ISBN number
  • Price
  • Bar code

Key Elements of a Professional Book Cover

Bonus: A Few Guidelines for Book Interior Layout

The following are a few graphic design techniques you can apply to your book interior. A knowledgeable graphic designer knows all about these key elements and their proper usage.

  • Chose the right font for the book and its audience
  • Don’t use ALL CAPS for headings, subheadings or Table of Contents. They are too difficult to read.
  • Eliminate ‘rivers of white’ with proper word spacing
  • Be aware of ‘leading’ – the space between the lines. Font, type size, word spacing and length of line all come into play here.
  • Line length should not exceed 65 characters for ease of reading
  • Paper samples for your book cover are available from the printer. 10 point C1S is the standard for soft covers. Ask your book printer for house stock, as it is more affordable.

There is a precise science behind the creation of a successful book cover, as I’m confident you are now aware. Since the cover is such an important marketing tool, don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. Let an experienced, skillful graphic designer create a stunning cover for your self-published book. You can use the key points in this article to check for his or her skill level. To your success!