Establish a principal focus for the cover—Nothing is more important. Your book is about something, and the cover ought to reflect that one idea clearly.
One element to take control, that commands the overwhelming majority of attention, of space and cover’s emphasis. Your book cover is a billboard, trying to catch the attention of browsers as they speed by. Billboards usually have 6 words or less. You have to “get it” at 60 miles per hour, in 3 to 5 seconds.
A book cover needs to do the same thing. At a glance your prospect ought to know;
- the genre of your book,
- the general subject matter or focus, and
- some idea of the tone or “ambiance” of the book.
Is it a thriller? A software manual? A memoir of your time in Fiji? Your ideas on reform of the monetary system? Each of these books needs a cover that tells at a glance what the book is about.
- Make everything count—If you’e going to introduce a graphic element, make sure it helps you communicate with the reader.
- Use the background—General rule is to avoid white backgrounds, because it disappears on retailer’s white screens. Use a color, a texture, or a background illustration instead. –but oh how I looove clean + white striking designs –ding dang.
- Make your title large—Reduce your cover design on screen to the size of a thumbnail on Amazon and see if you can read it. Can you make out what it’s about? If not, simplify.
- Use a font that’s easy to read—See above. There’s no sense using a font that’s unreadable when it’s radically reduced. Particularly watch out for script typefaces, the kind that look lacy and elegant at full size. They often disappear when small.
- Find images that clarify—Try not to be too literal. Look for something that expresses the mood, historical period, or overall tone of the book; provide a context.
- Stay with a few colors—If you don’t feel comfortable picking colors, look at some of the color palettes available online to get a selection of colors that will work well together.