Article by Laura Cross

Your book cover is an essential marketing piece. Most readers decide to buy a book based on the cover and the table of contents. When it comes to creating the design of your book cover, there are numerous do-it-yourself software programs available. They consist of templates, which allow you to drop in an image and some sales copy and, voila, you have a book cover. Well, not quite.

CONSIDER HIRING A PROFESSIONAL BOOK-COVER DESIGNERYour cover is such an important element for the overall success of your book, unless you have a degree in graphic design from a prestigious art school, I don’t recommend designing your own book cover. Before hiring an artist, review their portfolio and make sure you understand everything that is included with their fee (will they work with your interior designer, do they provide several mock-ups to select from, how many revisions are included?) Expect to pay between 0-,000 for a professionally designed cover. The cost is well worth the investment. See the difference between using an unqualified artist and a professional book-cover designer on the “Before and After” page at George Foster’s website: fostercovers.com/before_after

Here are 12 Tips to help you create the best book cover possible:

THE FRONT COVER

1. KNOW WHAT YOUR AUDIENCE EXPECTS OF YOUR BOOK COVERBook covers for specific genres have certain similar qualities. Historical books use photographs on the cover. Medical books usually have a white background and modern lettering. Study other books in your category to get a feel for their design traits.

2. ATTRACT READERS WITH EMOTIONThe goal of the front cover is to grab a potential reader’s attention and make him want to learn more by reading the back copy and the table of contents. What attracts a reader to the cover is an emotional feeling they get from the visual elements (including the color, fonts, and images) and the title. The cover should be minimal, not chaotic, and evoke an emotional response from the reader. When the reader views your book cover do they feel comforted, peaceful, successful, motivated, inspired, hungry, secure, adventurous, interested, curious, concerned, empowered, intrigued?

3. MAKE THE FRONT COVER EASY TO READ

The front cover must stand out and be easy to read (think about what it will look like as a thumbnail on your website or Amazon.com). Place the title near the top of the cover on a clean background (NEVER place your title over a busy background). Don’t clutter the cover with several illustrations. Use one strong image that relates to the book’s content. Do not use the word “by” in front of the author’s name.

4. USE COLOR TO CONVEY THE RIGHT MESSAGEColor is a powerful tool. Choose your background color carefully to convey the right message. White conveys credibility, purity, and health. Red is warm, sexy, and exciting, and represents power, vitality, and action. Men relate blue to dependability, trustworthiness, and intelligence, while women often view it as sad and depressing. Black is authoritative, romantic, and mysterious. Yellow is joyous and energetic, often associated with home and happiness. Green conveys growth, prosperity, nature, and leisure.

5. USE FONTS TO CONVEY THE RIGHT FEELINGThe font you select for your title, subtitle and author name has a dramatic effect on the feeling of the book. Check out http://www.my-fonts.com or http://www.store.adobe.com/type where you can type in your book’s title and see how it ‘feels’ with the different fonts.

THE SPINE

6. CONSIDER USING A STACKED TITLE ON THE SPINEWhen your book is displayed in a bookstore, the first thing a potential reader will see is the book’s spine. Ensure it is attractive and legible by stacking the characters of the book title on the spine.

THE BACK COVER

7. USE BENEFITS AND PROMISES TO SELL THE BOOKYou’ve attracted a potential reader with your cover design, now you need to hook them with compelling benefits by telling the reader what’s in it for them if they buy the book. Will they become the best trout fisher they can be, learn how to navigate New York on a day, be inspired and motivated by a memoirist’s triumphant story, or discover how the founding fathers created the Declaration of Independence? Write a concise, brief (two to four sentences) statement describing the content of the book followed by several benefit bullet points and end with a ‘call to action’ that tells the potential reader why they need to buy the book. The back cover of Dara Mark’s book Inside Story concludes with: “It is a must-have book for any serious screenwriter, playwright, or novelist” – wow, if you identify yourself as any one of those, you’re going to want to purchase the book!

8. CREATE AN ARRESTING HEADLINE

Write a powerful headline addressed to the reader that helps him or her relate to, and identify with, the content. The back cover headline for Inside Story is: “What IS the secret to writing a great screenplay?” Most potential readers who pick up this book are searching for the answer to that question. The headline quickly and efficiently lets the reader know the answer is contained in the contents of the book.

9. USE ENDORSEMENTS AND QUOTESTestimonials, endorsements and quotes are a phenomenal selling tool. If someone else thinks a book is good, then it must have merit. The back cover testimonial for Inside Story reads: “Destined to become the gold standard for books on screenwriting!” That’s an impressive quote.

10. SHOW YOU ARE THE ULTIMATE EXPERT TO AUTHOR THIS BOOKAt the very bottom of the back cover (sometimes placed directly across from the ISBN), include a brief, one to two sentence only, biography highlighting why you are qualified to write this book and help the reader. This is not a full biography – you will include that in the ‘About the Author’ section inside the book. The goal here is to let the potential reader know you are an expert.

11. LIST THE BOOK CATEGORYBy listing your book’s category/subcategory (such as “true crime/current events” or “self-help/psychology”) on the upper left-hand corner of the back cover, your book will be properly categorized on the bookstore shelf (or virtual shelf, in the case of online booksellers).

12. INSERT AN ISBN & BAR CODEYou need an ISBN and Bar Code for your book to be sold through booksellers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can purchase an ISBN at http://www.bowkerbarcode.com/barcode(you need to obtain your ISBN prior to getting your bar code.)

You may reprint this article as long as you include all of the following information:Laura Cross is a business strategist, author, and professional ghostwriter. She provides business, publishing, and platform strategies to help entrepreneurs get known as the go-to experts in their field, become published authors, attract high-paying clients, garner major media, and earn more money with less effort by packaging their expertise. Grab a copy of the Free Audio CD

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