The cover is the first thing someone sees of your book, and if it’s terrible then they probably won’t even stop to read the description. We’re all guilty of it. It’s such a part of human nature that there’s even the old cliché, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’ Unfortunately, people always have and probably always will judge. So if you want someone to not to pass over your book then you had better make sure you have a bloody decent cover.
If your computer skills are lacking, then you can hire someone to make the cover for you. I’ve read about plenty of people hiring someone on Fiverr.com to design their cover. The problem there is that the cover ends up looking like it was made by an amateur for five quid. Because that’s exactly what happened.
So unless you want to shell out the money for a real professional, you’re stuck doing the cover yourself. It’s easy enough to google around and find tutorials and guides if you have the time to invest though. And if you’ve written an entire book, then you owe it to yourself to put the time in to make a worthy cover.
Alright, so what makes a good cover?
I thought about the question for a while before I realised that I couldn’t answer it. Without a degree in graphic design, there’s too much subjectivity involved to come up with anything that isn’t just opinion. So instead I started thinking about it from the other perspective.
What makes a cover bad?
I’m sure everyone has seen their share of badly designed covers. Maybe I’m too harsh, but I can’t go thirty seconds on the Amazon Kindle Store without running in to something that makes me cringe a little inside. Overused stock imagery, hard to read fonts, awful layouts – it seems to be a common trend to get it utterly wrong. Many times I glance at a book cover in disbelief and just think, ‘Why? Did you just not like your book?’
So as a starving artist with semi-competent computer skills and a solid idea of what I think is rubbish, I’m probably going to end up designing the cover to my first book myself.
My brain is starting to think of ideas already. I’m a big fan of minimalist styles, as I think they’re timeless when done right. I saw Haruki Murakami’s UK book covers (Reddit source) and thought they were fantastic. The consistent colour scheme and simple shapes create something eye-catching and classy. I’m trying to exercise some control though, and not get too caught up in the process yet as I still need to actually finish writing my book.
If you’ve had any interesting experiences with creating a book cover, or just have some advice on how to get it right, let me know in the comments.
© 2015, Gavin Zanker. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.