Top Ten Tips for Book Covers
- The title should be big and easy to read. This is an important fact. The biggest critique I get is – “Make the Title Bigger.”
- Strong imagery (Don’t forget a thumbnail image of the cover is what web searchers see.) Is the cover compelling at a small size? More people are buying books on a Kindle or mobile device, so you want the cover to read clearly no matter where it appears.
- Do not use any of the following fonts (anywhere!): Comic Sans or Papyrus. These fonts are only acceptable if you are writing a humour book, or intentionally attempting to create a design that publishing professionals will laugh at.
- No font explosions! (And avoid special styling.) Usually a cover should not use more than 2 fonts. Avoid the temptation to put words in caps, italics caps, or outlined caps.
- Use your own artwork on the cover. There are a few rare exceptions to this, but let’s assume you are NOT one of them. It’s almost always a terrible idea to use a piece of art work off the internet.
- Need an Image? Do not use cheap clip art on your cover. I’m talking about the stuff that comes free with Microsoft Word or other cheap layout programs. Quality stock photography is OK. (iStockPhoto is one reliable source for quality images.)
- Do not stick an image inside a box on the cover. I call this the “T-shirt” design. It looks extremely amateurish.
- Avoid gradients. Unless it is reflective of the narrative. (part of the story.) It’s especially game-over if you have a cover with a rainbow gradient.
- Avoid garish colour combinations. Sometimes such covers are meant to catch people’s attention. Usually, it just makes your book look freakish.
- Finally: Design your own cover. Don’t do too much looking at what other designers or illustrators have done. It’s all too easy to be influenced by others. You need and deserve your originality.