How to Make a Book Cover
that Flies Off the Shelf!
By Karen Saunders
According to "The Wall
Street Journal", “The average bookstore browser who picks up a book
spends eight seconds looking at the front cover and 15 seconds
reading the back.” You can’t tell — but you can sell — a book by its
cover.” Here are a few powerful book cover design techniques that
professional book designers use:
The essential elements
for your front cover:
The front cover presents your book title, subtitle, and your name.
Golden opportunities often overlooked are including endorsements and
short testimonials from VIPs.
Think of your cover like
a billboard. The best designs communicate the book’s message at a
glance, with simple, uncluttered design. Unique, distinctive, bold,
colorful graphics work well. But keep the graphic style consistent
with the content and personality of the book. Make sure there is a
central focal point to your design.
I recommend using bold,
contrasting lettering on the front cover. When choosing colors,
consider how these colors will look when converted to black and
white so your cover will reproduce well in black and white ads,
catalogs, and flyers. Also make sure the font you use for the title
is legible from a distance and appropriate for the book’s subject.
Covers that scream
“amateur” and have a “made-at-home look” make it difficult to sell
your book at all. If you lack talent in this area, seek the services
of an experienced book cover designer. A professional designer has
the creativity, skills, software, access to stock photography, and
printing knowledge that will make your cover stand out above others
in the marketplace.
What should you put on
Your name, book title, and publishing company logo show up on the
spine. Make sure the information on the spine is clean, uncluttered,
and legible. I recommend using bold, contrasting lettering on the
spine as well.
Critical items you
should include on your back cover:
Place the category name
in the upper left-hand corner to help bookstores shelve your book
properly. Write a headline that clearly addresses who should buy the
book. It should be followed by sales copy explaining what the book
is about. Then provide a short bulleted list of benefits to readers.
I recommend including no
more than three testimonials and endorsements, as well as your bio
and photograph. Close to the bottom, put “sales-closer” copy in bold
print. Position the price in the lower left corner of the back
cover. Also include the 13-digit ISBN number for cataloging and the
bar code in the lower right corner (below ISBN number), which stores
use for scanning information and price.
Don’t forget to include
credits for your book cover’s illustrator, photographer, and/or
What goes on the inside
flaps (If Applicable)
You now have a good idea
of what makes a strong book cover design. Remember, book cover
design is a form of packaging—and good packaging attracts buyers to
products. That’s why successful organizations spend millions
researching and developing the best product packaging possible.
Read other articles and learn more
about Karen Saunders.
[Contact the author for permission to republish or reuse this article.]