BLOG: Eye-Popping Tips

From Karen Saunders

Your Branding, Marketing & Self-Publishing Coach

Use Color to Enhance Book Covers and Marketing Materials

How do professional designers effectively use color to enhance book covers? Vibrant colors can enhance book cover design and add an exciting dimension to your marketing materials, but no one has to tell you 4-color graphics cost a lot more to print than black and white or 2-color graphics. How do you determine when it’s cost effective to go the distance and get full color?

In my experience, items such as book covers and DVD/CD packages need to sell themselves on appearance alone. Often impulse buys, these items merit vibrant colors and attention-grabbing graphics or they fade away on the sellers’ shelves. By a phenomenally higher percentage, buyers are more likely to purchase books with a professionally designed, full-color cover than with an amateur cover that has only one or two colors.

For author Lin McNeil, I designed the second edition of her 7 Keys book cover using fresh graphics and full-color printing. Notice how the full-color cover jumps off the page compared with the original two-color version.



When a portrait makes up the central graphic element in your piece, you want it to evoke a warm, personable feeling from the natural flesh tones of a full-color original photo. Add to that a colorful garment and action pose. Together, these color elements draw attention to the photo, which is what you want!

In Diane Sieg’s flyer, notice how her personality comes alive with the use of full color. As a result, the most important graphic element—her colorful fun portrait—becomes the focal point of the page.



I recommend cutting back to 2-color graphics for your printed stationery and newsletters. That way, you can save your money for full-color printing on projects that demand more pizzazz—those have to jump off the sellers’ shelves.

Use color to enhance book coversEye-Popping Tip: Printing full-color graphics on a traditional offset press becomes cost-effective in quantities above 1000. In many cases, a quantity of 500 usually costs only $30 less than a 1000. Why? Because the printer’s set-up charges make up most of the initial cost.

Want an alternative to offset printing? Consider opting for digital printing or color copies for quantities below 500. Color copies are priced per page without an initial set-up charge. Do your research and determine where the price break is for the quantity you want to print. That will help you decide which option to choose.