People do judge a book by its cover and first impressions count, particular online where a potential buyer may just glance at your book. If it’s dull you will loose customers; if it doesn’t reflect the genre and content of your book you could end up targeting the wrong audience.

Here are some book cover design tips, tricks and design rules that are universal, meaning they are tried and tested techniques and guidelines that work on a large variation of book covers.

Use White Space Wisely

Whitespace doesn’t have to be white, it is just visual silence and if used wisely it can add visual appeal to your book cover.

The following book covers use white space or negative space to illustrate a concept or idea. When used effectively it ensures that the background images or textures do not overlap or distract from the text on the cover.

For short titles or author names white space between the letters can create a panoramic effect, a sense of importance or grandeur. I’ve found that whitespace with a plain background and a single key image tends to work best with non-fiction covers. Here are three non-fiction book covers that use white space wisely to convey a an idea.

Book Cover Design Tips - White spaceBook Cover Design Tips -Book Cover Design Tips - White space


Create a Focal Point

Consider creating a focal point. A focal point is typically the biggest, brightest, or the boldest, or the most different element on your page. It doesn’t have to be an image, it could be text. It gives your reader a place to focus. The following three covers use a focal point that involves a sharp change in color or characters from the book.

Book Cover Design Tips - Create a focal pointBook Cover Design Tips - Create a focal pointBook Cover Design Tips - Create a focal pointBook Cover Design Tips - Create a focal point


Here is a cover I created that uses a focal point. I did this by using a different color for one of the repeating images. This helps focus the eye, make the cover more interesting while still maintaining a simple look.
Book Cover Design Tips - Create a focal point

Choose the Text Wisely

Make sure to use a descriptive subtitle and teaser that make it clear what your book is about. Something worth considering when choosing the sub-title for your book is to use keywords that readers are likely to search for or keywords related to your genre as this will help your book rank higher for related keywords on sites such as Amazon. You should consider mentioning the genre in the sub-title. For Example a romantic comedy could include the words“…— A Romantic Comedy” in the sub-title.

Adding a teaser can make your book appear more professional. It should be short and to the point outlining the major plot (fiction) or goal of the book (non-fiction). The teaser should use a small and plain font. It should provoke interest and not give too much away.

Add the Text First

A book may not just contain a Title, Sub-title and Author name, but also a teaser/tagline/ blurb, and even a synopsis and author bio is sometimes included if the book has flaps on either side. I’ve found it easier to start with the text first and work around that. Of course you should modify and style the text later, but adding the text first gives you a better idea of the required spacing, font size and positioning of the text.

You also want to make sure the text is legible and stands out against the background. Having a busy background that is neither dark nor light can mean there is no good place for the text, and you need to significantly alter the images or replace them altogether; Or you may need to add a drop shadow or a glow to the text which can reduce the simplicity and fluidity of the text against the background. Adding the text first and continually checking how it appears against the background can help prevent these mistakes.

Pick the Right Font

The text style and colour should reflect the image on the cover. Dark thrillers and Paranormal books will tend to have curly, pointed, hazy or glowing fonts; Romances will tend to have a lot of curls and decorations; Old English fonts and Gothic Medieval style font’s suit stories set in the past. Non-fiction books usually suit simple serif or sans-serif font. Of course there is a lot of overlap, but some fonts just suit some genres more than others.

Book Cover Design Tips - Choosing a fontBook Cover Design Tips - Choosing a fontBook Cover Design Tips - Choosing a fontBook Cover Design Tips - Choosing a fontBook Cover Design Tips - Choosing a fontBook Cover Design Tips - Choosing a font


You should try and avoid using a fancy font more than once on the cover. If you use a fancy font or modified font for the title use a plainer font for the rest of the text.

Avoid using more than two different font family’s on your cover. Using only one or two helps ensure a more consistent and professional look.

Do download commercial and free fonts from sites such as myfonts.com and dafont.com. System fonts installed on your computer are plain and boring. Online fonts are less widely used and commercial fonts you pay for will be rarer and often higher quality with a larger variety of font weights.

Do consider tweaking an existing font for a more unique and specialized look. This could involve altering a letter to convey an idea or concept. Here is a cover I designed that has a font I tweaked to fits with the title of the book.

Book Cover Design Tips - Choosing a font

Try to Avoid Clutter

Try not to clutter the book cover with too much. Sometimes the most simple, minimalistic covers work best. Also the minimalist designs tend to be more legible as far as text is concerned. Text on a cluttered background can be harder to read.

Of course your customer may want to include many different images on the cover to reflect the characters, places and events in the book – in which case you don’t have much choice but to include them. However there are often ways to blend different images together making them appear part of the same scene and give the appearance of simplicity.

Book Series and eBooks

Book Series: If creating books that belong to a series you should maintain the same look and style for each book. This can mean using the same font, branding or colors so that they look like they belong together.

eBooks versus Print Books: Some will claim that eBooks require bigger or bolder font so they can be read easily on mobile devices. However the Title and description is right next to the thumbnail image of the book. Small text like reviews and blurbs makes your cover look traditionally published, and actually gives customers a reason to click on the cover and see the full view helping to draw the customer in.

Get Extreme

Another technique is to get extreme by making one element on your cover extremely big. This is usually an image but you can also do this with text. This is a simple technique that if pulled off well can create a very professional cover. Check out my design of the dollar bill that contains a blown up image of George Washington. The image is so large that it doesn’t fit on the cover. The other cover contains extremely large text where the word US takes up the entire width of the cover.

Book Cover Design Tips - Get ExtreamBook Cover Design Tips - Get extream

Here are some tips that – if they don’t propel your book to the top of the best seller list in your genre will at least increase book sales and increase your author credibility.

Hire an Editor

If you’re not a professional editor yourself then you need to hire one. You can find some good freelance editors online. Don’t just find an editor who can check your book for spelling and grammatical mistakes. You want an editor who can check whether the book has any obvious factual mistakes, and whether there is a lack of coherence, clarity and continuity anywhere in the text.

An Eye Catching Book Cover

eye_on_coverA professionally designed book cover can go a long way in building credibility and attracting attention. This is particularly true of the cover which should reflect the content of the book, its genre and target audience. A great cover can make your book stand out amongst the others and propel book sales. For many authors this means you may need to hire a book designer such as myself. If however you insist on doing it yourself here are some tips on designing a book cover that sells.

Professional Interior Design

A professionally formatted and designed book with the correct front and back matter, correct typography, leading (line spacing), margins, hyphenation, layout, chapter and sub-chapter formatting can give your book a more professional and consistent appearance. It can also increase comprehension and make it more enjoyable to read. Make sure you are familiar with the rules of formatting a book or get a professional interior book designer and typographer such as myself to do this job for you. If you want to do this job yourself here are some Interior book design tips.

Descriptive Cover

Make sure to use a descriptive title, subtitle and series name that make it clear what the book is about. This will attract readers most interested in your genre, who are most likley to enjoy your book and leave positive reviews.

Proper Categorization

This is an obvious point but worth mentioning. Proper categorization means you target those who are looking for related subjects within your niche. Knowing your target audience will help you do that.

Proper use of Keywords in the Meta

For e-books such as those listed on Amazon you want to use keywords that readers are searching for and keywords that they cannot select by clicking on the categories. You could use Google Adwords or other keyword research tools to see what keywords within your niche readers are using.

Opening that Grabs Attention

The opening of the book is perhaps the most important part of the content. You want an opening that grabs the readers attention and maintains their attention to the point where they want to read more.

Get a Blurb

A blurb is a comment from a review (often by another author praising the particular book). This is usually situated on the dustjacket of a book cover but you could also include a short excerpt on the sales page so that evokes interest in the book.

Links to other Work

Add links to your other work from within the e-book. You could add these at the back just after they’ve finished reading your ebook and are keen to read more.

Use Sequels and Series to your Advantage

You could make the first book in a series free or lower-priced than your other books. Once they’ve finished reading your first book this can act as a great hook for getting them to read the others and is particularly important if you are a new publisher trying to get recognized.

Increase the Price Gradually

Don’t price yourself so high at first that no one will take a chance on it. More people will buy at a lower price. Even if you think your book is worth $9.99 you may be better off starting for under $4.99 or even as low as $0.99 at first. Increased purchases at a lower price combined with some good reviews can propel your book higher up the list for more visibility. You could later on increase the price.

Have it listed on POI and ENT

If you start out promoting your book at a low price or for free you should request that your book be listed in Pixel of Ink and Ereaders News Today. They list kindle books that are currently free or at a bargain price. It’s free and it can help your work become more visible.

Get a BookBub ad in your Genre

BookBub is a service that promotes limited-time discounts on eBooks. Readers sign up to receive a daily email alerting them to deals in categories that match their interests. Placing an add means you can reach some of the millions of book lovers who use their service.

Contact Book Reviewers

Contact book reviewers that review books. If your book makes it onto their home page you can often expect a spike in sales.

Consider Writing in a Popular Genre

If your books aren’t selling it may simply be that there is just too much supply and not enough demand within your genre. Some genre’s are just more popular than others. You may not have to change genre’s completely. You could try writing in a sub-genre that sells better. If romance sells well but you write science fiction, you could try combining the two.

Personal Blog

Although not necessary consider having a personal blog. This has a number of benefits. Blogs are easy to update and someone who has seen one of your books elsewhere may search your name and find more of your books listed on your blog. You could have a mailing, perhaps providing free advice and tips. You could then use this mailing list to announce your next book release or simply to remind people of what you have on offer. Contact me and I’ll help you set up your own personal blog with your own domain name.

Smart use of Social Media

Facebook: Facebook is a great place to build a fan base. By building a fan page you can interact with those already interested in what you have to offer, announce events related to your books and provide related links, photos and supporting media.

Twitter: Use twitter to attract a following of people in your niche, follow those who write in a related genre and interact with experts in the field of book publishing and writing. If you own a blog or website that mentions your books, use twitter to drive traffic to it.

Google+: The advantage of Google plus is that you can post longer articles, and have a circle dedicated just to interacting and collaborating with those who share your passion. You can use the quick video conferencing feature to interact with fans or organise virtual meetings with other writers or co-authors.

Youtube: Build subscribers on your channel by providing tips to other writers, particularly in your genre, you could talk about your experiences and answer questions. Once you have plenty of subscribers you will get a lot more views once it comes to promoting your book by means of a book trailer.

And finally if you found this information useful or informative please share it by clicking on any one of the share buttons below. Also link back to this page if you use any part of it on your own site.

In this short video I will show you how to evenly distribute images in InDesign. There are two methods to achieve this. You can use smart guides to adjust the distribution of space between objects. Another method is to use the align panel to distribe and align the objects, align and distribute to a key object or specify the alignment by providing a value.

Please share by clicking on one of the social icons below or link to this video if you found it useful.

Video on How to Stop Hyphenation in InDesign

In this short video I will show you how to stop hyphenation in InDesign. There are two ways to remove hyphenation. You can remove hyphenation by going to the control panel and deselecting hyphenate. Or you can select the paragraph style option dialogue box and turn of hyphenation by deselecting the hyphenate checkbox. The paragraph style option gives you finer control and enables you to reduce hyphenation rather than remove it entirely.

Please click on one of the share buttons below if you found this video useful.

This video tutorial shows you how to add page numbers to an InDesign document. To do this you insert a special page marker where you want the page numbers to appear in the master page. You do this by going to the type menu and selecting “Insert Special Characters” > “Markers” > “Current Page number”. You then format the page marker the way you want. Sequential page numbers are added to the pages of your InDesign document automatically. Even if you add or delete pages the numbers will update to reflect this.

Video on How to break a text thread in InDesign

In this video I will quickly show you how to break a text thread in Indesign. First you will have to show text threads and then click on one of the ports on iether end of the text thread. That way you can break the link and the text frame becomes overset.

ebook dimensions

This post provides the correct eBook cover dimensions and file size for major eBook publishing sites and where to find some of the information should their specifications change.

It can be disappointing spending time or money designing an eBook cover only to find that the dimensions are incorrect and it looks stretched or blurred after uploading it to an eBook publishing site. It can be difficult finding out what the requirements are for you eBook cover from the various distributers so here are the requirements below and my own recommendation.

ebook cover propertiesWhile the requirements differ for different eBook publishing sites based on my experience as a general rule eBook covers should be at least 1500 to 1,800 pixels wide and have heights that are around 1.5 greater than the width. Therefore if you have an eBook that is 1,700 pixels wide this would make the height 1,700 x 1.5 = 2550 pixels. This makes it easier to downsize to smaller sizes but similar dimensions.

Consider using a high dpi resolution of between 260 dpi to 300 dpi so you can use the eBook for a print paperback version later on. Print versions require higher resolution. Try not to upsize eBooks or they will lose resolution and can end up looking pixelated or blurry. It is better to create a large book cover and then downsize later if necessary. When publishing the eBook you may need to reduce the resolution and size thereby creating a smaller file size.

To find out the dimensions and file size of your eBook simply right click on the eBook file and select properties. This will provide the Dimensions, Width, Height, Resolution and File size.

Smashwords

eBook Cover Dimensions: Minimum width of 1,400 pixels (height greater than width)
File size: Less than 5 MB
Resolution: Not specified

Extra info
Minimum width of 1,400 pixels (recommended size approximately 1,600 pixels wide by 2,400 pixels tall)
Height must be greater than the width
File type should be .jpg, .jpeg or .png
2D only
Front only
Must contain Book Title and Author Name
Must NOT contain web addresses on front cover
Information obtained from: http://blog.smashwords.com/2012/06/new-ebook-cover-image-requirements.html
Smashwords Style Guide

Kobo

eBook cover Dimensions: Not specified
File Size: Limit of 2 MB
Resolution: Not specified

Extra info
File type should be .jpg or .png
Recommend 900 DPI (dots per inch)
The use guide below states that the file size limit is 1 MB but it appears to have increased since then.
Kobi Writing Life User Guide

Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon)

eBook cover Dimensions: 2,500 pixels tall by 1563 pixels wide (recommended)
File size: If over 2MB you are charged a little more per download
Resolution: Not specified
Ratio: Height 1.6 times greater than the width (recommendation)

Extra info:
Accepts either .JPG, JPEG or Tiff or .tif(f)
The eBook cover size should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels tall by 625 pixels wide (2,500 pixels by 1,563 pixels recommended)
Creating a Catalog / Cover Image

Apple iBooks

eBook Cover Dimensions: At least 1,400 pixels wide (Starting August 2014).
File size: Not specified
Resolution: Not specified

Barnes and Nobel

eBook Cover Dimensions: Ideally 1,400 pixels wide
File size: Less than 2MB
Resolution: Not specified

Extra Notes:
File type should be .JPG or .PNG or GIF for book covers with few colors
File size: Between 5Kb and 2MB
Height and width of the eBook must be at least 750 pixels (recommended height and width of at least 1400 pixels)
ePub Formatting Guide

Bookbaby

eBook Cover Dimensions: At least 1,400 pixels wide
File size: Not specified
Resolution: minimum 72 dpi

Notes:
Recommends a height versus width ratio of 1.6
All images must be in .png, .jpg, or .tif format
Recommends a height to width ratio of 1.6 (1400 pixels wide by 2100 pixels high)

Preparing your Book for eBook Conversion

LULU

eBook Cover Dimensions: Recommended to be 612 x 792 pixels.
File size: not stated
Resolution: 72 DPI

Notes:
Lulu are very specific in regard to the shape, size and min DPI of the Epub cover. It is best to keep to the dimensions specified otherwise you can end up with white borders around your art.

Source
Lulu forum on eBook cover size

The letter A

Export to Adobe PDF first

Indesign File exportIf you are using InDesign to create the brochures try exporting the file to Adobe Acrobat first and printing from a PDF document rather than straight from InDesign. This can produce better results and PDFs tend to process faster in the printer than native InDesing files.

When exporting to PDF under General use one of the highest settings next to Standard. For example PDF/X-4:2010 can produce superior results for text and graphics as it supports color-managed CMYK, gray, RGB or spot color data, as well as layers and PDF transparency. Also under General next to Compatibility selecting a higher PDF such as Acrobat 7 (PDF 1.6) or higher can produce more options and better results than an earlier PDF version.

Consider changing the color of the text

If you’re printing your brochure using a color laser printer with a mediocre to low resolution if the density of the primary color used is low, the size of the halftone dot will be small. This produces a greater distance between the separate pixels, and the way that the mixed color is build up can result in the small halftone dots being more visible. This can produce lower quality results and may be responsible for the blurry and jagged text in your brochure when printed.

Colors on a color laser printer are created by placing cyan, magenta, yellow and black halftone cells close to
each other which gives the visual impression of a mixed color. The visibility of these separate halftone dots may vary between different colors, since it depends on the amount of primary colors used and the density of these colors.

Therefore try altering the color of the text to produce a higher density of separate halftone dots, so the separate dots are not visible. Darker colors are less likely to produce text that is blurry and jagged when printed .

Consider PostScript fonts

PostScript fonts are smooth, detailed, and of high quality. They are best for printing, especially professional-quality printing, such as books or magazines. If you need to print professional-quality print publications, such as glossy magazines or commercial printing, PostScript is a good choice.

Consider professional printing

Printing yourself has the advantage of instant results, more control over the printing process and you have the satisfaction of taking control of the entire process but professional printing tends to produce superior results.
Professional printers have the advantage of the use of higher quality ink and paper use of postscript printers that assist in the the scalability of fonts as well as colour accuracy .