Cover Design

What’s makes a good cover? Scratch that. Before I go there, let’s first look at what makes a cover.

Cover Content: 

  • Title
  • Author
  • Picture/Design
  • Publisher Insignia
  • Back Blurb
  • Barcode
  • Optional: Reviews
  • Optional: Author Bio

Now that we’ve summarized what’s on a book. Let me ask you this. When you are standing in a book store, perusing books, why do you pick one up? Because this is a book cover’s goal – to be picked up. Let me explain.

Title: Summarizes your story

I feel like a lot of times this can be abstract, but they can be literal. I read a book a while back, called The Chronology of Water. It was accurately named because throughout the story, she referred back to how her life was similar to the title, her overarching thematic metaphor. But, not all titles have to be like this. As long as they summarize your story.

Author: Attract your attention

If you’re popular, you have a following. If you’re not, the publishers are trying to start your following. The idea is to associate your name with a type of work, a style of work, a sense of quality. Try looking up ghost writing. A lot of famous authors will use this and don’t actually write as many books as you think. This was disappointing for me to hear, but it explained why they put out so many a year or why quality seemed below average.

Picture/Design: Attract your attention/Emotize the story

There’s no set rule for cover designs, but the ultimate goal is to attract you. It’s supposed to reflect the plot of the book, show its emotion or genre. But, the thing to remember is that they all will want to look pretty. They’re going to appeal to your eyes and there’s numerous tricks on how they can do that.

*Emotize, it’ll become a thing. Definition: Evoke an emotion

Publisher Insignia: Attract your attention

These insignia are similar to a publisher’s icon or logo, usually representing their imprint, and publishing houses usually have multiple, which are simply different names for different genres that they print, each with their own customer base. This means that they believe the readers will come to recognize their imprint with a level of quality and type of books. One example is Pelican Books, an imprint by Penguin that is used to educate the reader.

Back Blurb: Attract your attention

The goal of every blurb is to excite you. It’s basically the equivalent of a fish hook dangling the most tempting bait they can create, but converted into words. If they can’t catch you here, you probably won’t buy the book.

This is the main purpose of a cover: to attract your attention. There’s no simpler way to put it. Every book is a pretty, nicely written piece of paper whose goal is for you to purchase it. Every publisher and every author would celebrate with the spirit hands, spirit fingers, however, if you simply spent money on their book.

Keep this in mind when looking at books. Why did it attract you? Who does that type of cover attract? They’re all targeting different audiences, and if you don’t believe me, go to the young adult aisle and count how many books have pretty faces on their covers. It’s almost as bad as looking at magazines.


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