Designing a Book Cover

Weddings and Courtships

A picture is worth a thousand words. That is especially true with book covers. If a book cover looks shoddy or unprofessional, readers will assume the content within has the same flaws. They won't bother to click. They have billions of other choices at their fingertips - they'll simply scroll on.

Here is a cover design upgrade on my non-fiction book which covers traditions for Weddings & Courtships: Ireland.

designing a book cover The image here is the original cover for my Weddings and Courtships : Ireland series. The cover was presented to me by my publisher. I did not find that it sent at all the impression I was hoping to convey with my books - and the numerous people I showed the cover to agreed with me.

In this version, the title letters were jammed in with the images, making them hard to read. The images on the cover were small and jumbled. At thumbnail sizes on a smartphone this would be a blur.

You know how they say you can't tell a book by its cover? The reason they say that is that most people DO judge a book by its cover. They scan down a webpage and the key thing that makes them stop and click on a book is the cover they see. It has to interesting. VERY easy to see - even for people with poor eyesight. High quality graphics. Colors should always relate to the book's theme. There are many webpages and design books out there that explain color meaning and theory.

I was extremely fortunate that my publisher was willing to listen to me. Many people who work with publishers are trapped and absolutely stuck with what that publisher chooses. I have heard many horror stories of publishers choosing covers the authors absolutely hated.

Designing a cover This was the cover I went with instead. Note that this was still very early in the years of self-publishing, so I wasn't designing for smartphones at the time. I wanted to use high quality images and a clear title.

Now look at this newly designed cover image, done by Debi Gardiner, for the same Weddings and Courtships - Ireland book. It's obviously about Ireland. You see the big, green letters - and you see the imagery associated with the country. The image is even done in the colors of the Irish flag.

You want the type of the main word or words to be large. People aren't going to squint to read titles. You want any images to be meaningful - to convey an impression about your book. In this case, the images representing Ireland are clear. There's even a gold band across the top, symbolizing marriage. This definitely did far better for sales.

Still, the world changed and over time the smartphone and tablet usage meant that the cover needed to change yet again. The cover needed to do a better job of presenting an attractive image at a small size.

This is cover version number three for this book. I went with a single image that has warm, inviting colors and represents Ireland. The word IRELAND itself is large and easy to read, as is my author name.

From Terrie - Homeschooling Author
If you use a traditional publisher, they will design the cover and choose the title. You have to have a title that will capture the attention of the readers, but they will most likely change it. You don't submit a cover. ... I hated my cover, but by the time I saw it, it was too late--they'd already paid for it. When they put out their next homeschool book by another author though, they asked me which of four I liked, so I'm hoping they will ask me before the next one.

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