Post Title: 5 Ways to Make Sure Your Book Cover is not Overlooked
I’ve been a ghostwriter / author since 2012. Over the past eight years, I have learned what is important in creating a book cover. I have talked to several different graphic design artists and listened to others in the field of writing and I have also learned through my mistakes. But, overall, I have a good idea of what makes a cover successful.
When I write my memoir, I have a mission – to inform, entertain, educate and for the reader to experience what it’s like to live with a progressive vision condition. So my writing incorporates quite a lot of techniques authors who focus on fiction. In fact, my writing is often called “narrative nonfiction.” But unless I have created a good cover, few people will read my writing and I fail in my mission.
When I create the cover of any new book, I ask myself 5 questions.
What TITLE will catch the interest of my readers?
I struggled for awhile in coming up with the title of my first memoir. Titles shouldn’t be too long or too commonly used (this is a general rule but some authors can break it and can have as much success as if they had come up with a shorter title). My first title came to me one evening as I was lying in bed. Mobility Matters. I liked it that it had a double meaning – that Mobility is about orientation and mobility (O&M) training, which is necessary for movement and moving a blind or visually-impaired person ahead in life or that it could mean mobility is important. So matters, the second word in my title, could be read as a noun or a verb.
The subtitle gives more detail about a book. My subtitle is Stepping Out in Faith. This memoir chronicles how my faith walk meets my physical walk. Each element changes the other. The more training I receive, the more faith I gain and visa versa. It really felt perfect, and has done well. My subtitle alerts the reader to the fact is a memoir of faith.
Also, the title Mobility Matters provides alliteration. My title alliteration has really become a hallmark of my memoir writing. The second in my Mobility Series is Cane Confessions (CC) and the third: Hitting a Home Run (HH) continues the trend. Even my book Seeking Solace (Finding Joy After Series) continues this practice with the letters SS. While it may be somewhat limiting, creating a title with two words or two phrases forces me to think carefully and creatively to hone in on the essence of my book.
What is the key TAKE-AWAY in my book?
In my first book, Mobility Matters, I wanted blind or visually-impaired readers to see how using a white cane matters; it empowers a person with progressive vision loss. I wanted sighted readers to understand the enormous psychological barriers to using a white cane. So my key take-away focused on the white cane. After one unsuccessful photoshoot, I asked another photographer how to make it better and more compelling. He said to focus not on the whole person, but on the cane in motion. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a man, a woman or a child using the cane. In fact, it’s better if the cane is not attached to any age or sex. Your take-away is ‘look, this tool brings me independence (again).’ In our second photoshoot, with such a specific focus, the photographer captured the shot in five minutes. It was a partial view of me coming down the stone steps of our middle school in autumn. So it conveyed use, confidence, and indirectly, schooling.
How can I best convey the TONE of my book with my image?
While I used an actual photograph in the first cover copy, I wanted to convey a lighter tone in my second memoir. So I used a photo I had taken in the failed photoshoot. It was of me walking in a big parking lot. But I only used the photo as a basis and asked my cousin, a professional artist if she could do a caricature of me using that photo. I was using a white cane. But in this book, I was sharing a collection of twenty-seven stories of life pre-cane days or with it. My stories involved life overseas and in the states. The pastel caricature gave my cover a lighter feel to it, which matched the stories. I had my cousin draw a winding path for me to walk on because accepting the use of a white cane is not a linear process. Also, stories were flying out of my purse to represent the stories in my book. The cover illustration served the purpose well for what I had in mind.
How do I know which TEXT to use to make my book stand out?
Although money can be an issue, it’s important to seek out a professional or someone who knows the industry. Before I created my first cover, I asked several published authors in my writer’s group for recommendations. One name kept coming up: a professional graphic artist. I connected with her and asked to see previous covers. When I decided to hire her to design my cover, I supplied the photograph and asked her to choose a couple of fonts. She chose three and together, we narrowed it down to one. The color of my jacket was maroon and my cane white and red so we used those colors in my cover design, along with a shade of gold for my name to ensure it stood out. The spine was maroon and had a maroon strip in the back for a quote about my book.
Then we looked at the cover as a thumbnail because that’s how readers will see it. We wanted to ensure the title, the image, and the author’s name stood out on Amazon. The font we chose needed to be easily read in the 1” x 1” thumbnail. This is essential for book sales, so authors should stay away from fancy fonts that are not legible in miniature – unless they want to be overlooked by readers.
Also, when books are sold in a series, the same font, color schemes and perhaps even the same placement of images should be used — not the same images, just the same layout. In my Mobility Series, we created the cover design with the same three fonts although we changed the color of the author’s name to stand out from the background. In the third book in the series, we matched the font as closely as we could and again, used a similar color scheme.
There is one last question I ask myself when creating a cover design:
What TREND do I need to pay attention to ensure my cover looks appealing and compelling?
My second memoir was originally chosen by a small, international publishing press. Although they create their own covers for their authors, they permitted me to design the cover myself! Wow! I was so excited. It had to meet their criteria but they gave me a range of options. I could use my own image and graphic designer but the work had to be approved by my publisher and she had stringent standards. Also, the one aspect she insisted on was a continuous design from the front cover across the spine to the back. I didn’t want that originally because I really loved the maroon spine that I had on the first book. But she wouldn’t budge on that issue. I am so glad because I have learned that is a popular trend in book publishing now and I have since learned to follow solid book trends to ensure my covers look as professional in every way possible.
In writing this post, I discovered that the 5 ways I ensure my book covers are not overlooked in the plethora of books being published every day is to heed 5 elements – all that conveniently start with the letter “T.” They are choosing an engaging TITLE, a medium for an image that encapsulates the TAKE-AWAY, which also radiates the specific TONE of the book. Choosing an easy-to-read and consistent TEXT that can be distinguished in various sizes is essential. Finally, knowing publishing TRENDS is important in capturing readers’ attention. So alliteration is a help in this post as well as my memoirs!
What stands out to you when looking or choosing a book cover?
You have just read “5 Ways to Make Sure Your Book Cover is not Overlooked” by Amy Bovaird. © September 8, 2020. All Rights Reserved.