Once upon a time, it wasn’t that big of a deal to design the perfect book front cover. Book covers were purely practical protections for what really mattered: the pages in between them.
What a delightful, simplistic (admittedly typhus-filled) time that must have been.
Back then, books were far less common. The competition wasn’t nearly so fierce, in part because not everyone could read… in part because not everyone had time to write… and in part because the actual physical act of binding a book wasn’t the somewhat slapstick process it is today.
Books, in short, were much more precious commodities.
Honestly, I wouldn’t want to go back to a time where there were less books (not to mention indoor plumbing). All the same, I will warn you that the modern-day demand to design the perfect book front cover…
Well, it’s involved.
Very, very, very involved. When you’re putting it together, you’ve got to be out to impress, and nothing less.
To understand why you really need to design the perfect book front cover – why it’s critical to your authorial success – you have to understand that it’s all part of the marketing package.
Once you get that first lesson solidified in your mind, then you’re ready to actually get started on it. But not a moment beforehand.
They say not to judge a book by its cover. But it’s really, really difficult not to. In fact, it’s not even necessarily wise not to judge considering that a fiction or non-fiction book’s front cover is its clothing: its form of expression.
For that matter, it’s a significant form of expression. It’s what a manuscript would wear to a job interview, which makes each potential reader a hiring manager. Obviously then, as the person who (hopefully) has at least some say in how his or her front cover turns out, keep in mind what kind of employer you’re looking to land.
One quick point of clarification before we move on: If you signed a contract with a traditional publisher, you might not have any legal say in your presentation. Some contracts essentially sign away every single one of your authorial rights.
The publishing company might not exactly own you, but it does own your manuscript. Including its marketing plan.
As always, there’s a pro and a con to whatever publishing choices you’re presented with.
If you are being traditionally published, someone else will probably design the perfect book front cover for you. This person will (hopefully) be an expert in both the art and science involved, producing something that readers will find themselves automatically drawn to.
If that’s not the case, you either have to pay someone else to do it – tomorrow’s topic – or do it all by yourself… today’s point of discussion.
Honestly, there’s way too much involved in designing the perfect book front cover, or even just a really good one. But here’s where you automatically need to begin, and it’s not with any particular program.
It’s by understanding your ideal reader: the hiring manager your manuscript is trying to impress.
What are they looking for? Excitement… romance… thought-provoking insights into the fragility of what it means to be human?
Obviously then, this has a whole lot to do with genre. So here’s a really great cheat: Go check out the competition.
Look up your genre online and study the best-selling authors’ books that pop up on your screen. They might all work with bright colors, or involve symbols rather than people or places. Or they might employ more simplistic vs. intricate designs.
There’s a whole lot to notice about your genre’s book front cover. So study a dozen or two examples before you decide anything about your own.
And, for the very important record, that includes their fonts.