Tips and advice on selecting the optimal cover and title for your book!
This edition aims to equip you with a deeper knowledge of design principles and will hopefully leave you feeling much more confident about the title and cover design of your book.
Although a great deal of time and thought often goes in to the title and cover design for a book, the importance of this task is still largely overlooked. When approaching this task, the author needs to realise that the quality of the title and cover design is essentially just as important as the book itself. While the content is what the customer is buying, the cover and title is what they see and consequently, the cover and title of your book speaks for the book itself. If these two elements don’t appeal to your audience, you will lose sales.
Front Cover: Why So Important?
To put things in perspective, an author could write a very average book with a knock-out title and cover design and sell more copies than an author with a brilliant book yet a non enticing cover and title. Book covers and titles are very much like a movie poster or cover in the sense that it advertises the work. A person will not YouTube the preview for a movie or go to an advanced screening if the poster doesn’t catch their eye. Your potential buyer will not turn the book over and read the blurb if your cover and title doesn’t draw their attention.
Points of Sale
- Your cover (leads to the blurb)
- Your blurb (encourages the sale)
- Your book (reader will recommend to others)
A cover has the power to make or break your sale. And at any of these three points, you can gain or lose sales. First is your cover; if your cover and title effectively says what you want it to say about your book, your potential buyer will read your blurb. If your blurb is written well and appeals to your potential buyer, you have made a sale. If your book is skillfully written and of a high quality, your buyer will then recommend it to others and your sales will increase.
It is important that your cover is not only creative and original, but that it is aesthetically pleasing. The artistic elements of line, shape, tone, colour, form and texture have the ability to affect the visual appeal of your book. You cover design should incorporate all of these elements, and display them neatly and professionally. When designing your cover or checking the design that someone else has done for you, take some time to look at it and ask yourself if it looks right. If not, ask yourself why. Take note of the path that your eyes are encouraged to follow across the page. What is the focus of the cover and are your eyes attracted to this first? Is there any empty space? Do the visible or invisible lines of your cover design align with each other? These are all relevant questions to consider when designing and editing your cover.
A title is not only what is seen on the cover of your book, but what will be read and spoken in the media and in general conversation amongst buyers, editors and reviewers. A title should subtly yet cleverly describe your book, roll off the tongue easily and most importantly, be memorable! This is a good opportunity to use rhetorical language devices such as alliteration and assonance (but don’t make it tacky!).
Example – A Little Grace
This picture is a design created by QUT student Beth Parker for a short film. However, as mentioned before, movie posters and book covers share much of the same qualities and work to do virtually the same thing.
This picture is aesthetically pleasing as it uses the elements of art/design effectively. The woman and little girl are light and wearing light clothing, and are contrasted against the dark background so as to cause them to stand out in the photo. As the right side of the photo has more black than the left side of the photo (because of the positioning of the people) the black title has been placed slightly to the left so that the picture is evenly balanced.
Notice how the text is aligned on the page, the fonts follow the same invisible lines and the tagline (under title) sits perfectly under the word ‘Grace’ which looks neat and also attracts more attention to the title.
The photo chosen is also appropriate for the genre (Drama), you can look at this cover and have a good idea of the sort of book/film it represents. When using a photo of people on your cover, ensure it is relevant. Another great way to attract attention is to have one of your subjects looking at the camera – eye contact is powerful!
The key to a successful cover design for a non-fiction book is to keep it reasonably simplistic and to maintain a consistent theme. All elements of your cover design should complement one another. When perusing the shelves or online book stores, overcrowded and busy cover designs may deter your potential buyer. As much as we are told growing up not to “judge a book by its cover”, that is exactly what you and your audience does. So if you want to maximise sales and marketability, ensure you think deeply about the creation of you book cover and title!