Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Book Cover Design: The Expectations of Readers and How You Are Perceived

We have all heard the idiom: don't judge a book by its cover.  

Well, most of us have. Some authors and editors take this idiom to mean that their poor cover design won't be held against them by readers. 


I could use other people's design mistakes to make my point, but that would be unfair. Instead, I will give a lesson with only my own designs as examples. 

So independent authors, here is your design workshop. 

If you have refrained from becoming astute in the ways of publication design and insist on creating your own book covers, yeah, I can spot them. Actually, readers in general can spot bad designs. When that happens, your book undersells, if the publication sells at all. 

Readers will not purchase covers that look and feel unprofessional. So, as the idiom goes: it does not apply to you. People do judge books by their covers.

Independent authors often use or pay for what someone else has created, as long as the background illustration is free or cheap. Some even try to create their own designs, but end up with a less than stellar dismount. What does a poor indie do?

If you are going the route of doing your own book cover designs, then avail yourself to a course in design theory. I had the opportunity to take courses and other avenues of study from creative industry experts when I went to community college. I was lucky. I learned from the best. 

When I first began doing my own designs, I remember how awful they were. My brain does not function well under constant inflammation, and I have to compensate for that ongoing disability. With time, however, I was able to recover my knowledge of publication design. If you have noticed, my book covers and website images look more professional by the year.  

I also have the advantage of being an award-winning digital artist. I understand composition, color, and creativity. Most people are not like me, some of them need a little help. I have offered to assist. Sometimes it works out great, and sometimes it is a disaster. 

I have placed an example of poor cover design above in Flying High. What draws you to the cover? What repels you? Would you read this book? 

This illustration of poor design fundamentals is why most independent or self-published authors under perform in their market. A bad cover means you are handing over your book sales to someone else. Your competition either has a publishing house creating their designs, or the authors have spent $250+ per cover.

What is the solution? Spend money you don't have? Or, learn good cover design?

First, compare and contrast. Go online to any retailer who sells books and look at professional book covers. What do you see that is on all of those covers? How would you modify those designs to make your own style but still be attractive to readers? 

I find that many independent authors just slap a design together without putting much thought in using their covers as a net positive marketing tool. Covers take time. The right design takes time. 

Here are a few cover designs I created: 

Now take notes on what you like and dislike about these designs. What attracts you? What repels you? In comparison with bad design elements in the Flying High example, what are good design elements that you can pick out from these three covers?

This article is your first step in creating a good book cover.

Use it wisely. 

Have a great and wonderful day.


UPDATE: Book Cover Design will be offered via our Premium Content coming in 2023 as a part of Undawnted's Design Elements and Digital Artistry courses. 

Learn. Grow. Master... with Undawnted.

Subscribe to Undawntable Today!

Subscribe and receive news from Undawnted on a regular basis. Updates include: book release dates publication updates discounts contests/giveaways Join Undawnted's Creative Tribe.