I don’t believe in judging a person by his or her appearance, but I definitely judge a book by its cover, and so do readers.Just say no to amateurish design. You want readers to take you seriously, don’t you?
If you care about your book, you need to care about your cover. As a former graphic designer, it’s easy for me to tell, based on cover alone, most indie-published books from professionally published ones. Some small presses hire amateur designers, too. Here are some tips to avoid amateur designs and get the best design for your book (or your buck).
7 Tips for Working with a Book Cover Designer:
- Unless you’re a trained designer, your design ideas will likely be derivative of visual cliches you’re used to seeing.
- Saying “do whatever you want” can often be paralyzing to a designer with a thousand ideas.
- Therefore, give the professional designer direction but not management. Ask for a creative brief, a tool which helps the designer understand what you want. Give the designer a few ideas to get him or her going, and then let the pro do his or her job.
- It’s often better to say what you don’t like than what you do. “Can we avoid the color orange?” is better than “My favorite color is purple. I want it purple.”
- If you provide images or ideas, make it clear that they are to inspire, not require the designer to follow them.
- Create a Pinterest board of your favorite book covers to understand what styles you like. It can also be a useful addition to a creative brief. (Sharing this with your designer will be especially helpful if you hire a newbie designer.)
- Know your genre. A good book cover gives the reader an expectation of what the pages inside hold.
If you’re working with a traditional publisher, they will have an in-house design team.
If you’re self-publishing or working with a small press that hires freelancers, here’s a round-up of cover designers.
If you are absolutely confident in your ability to DIY, here’s a tutorial to get you started. However, I strongly recommend researching typography basics before trying to make a cover yourself. Specifically learn hierarchy, legibility, and how to pair fonts. Creative Market has consistently solid typefaces. Stay away from Papyrus, Comic Sans, Impact, Copperplate, and Scriptina. If a display, handwriting, or script font is pre-installed on your computer, you can bet it’s a cliche. I also recommend learning from the good, the bad, and the ugly book covers at The Book Designer’s eBook Cover Design contests.