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Book Cover Design 101

Because yes, people will judge your book by its cover

 

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book cover design 101
A new author got my attention the other day. But not in a good way.
 
Her book popped up as a sponsored option related to the book I initially searched for.
 
I noticed it immediately.
 
Because the cover is…well…terrible.
 
Her fonts compete with one another; her back-cover copy is so small it’s almost illegible; the cover photo is a sterile stock image.
 
Still, I hear it often (and I was a believer in Points 2 and 3 many years ago, so there’s no judgement at all — just an observation and suggestion based on what I now know works with very few exceptions):
 
✅  “No one cares what the cover looks like; they care what’s on the inside.”
 
  “I can’t afford a $1500 cover.”
 
  “My 7-year-old thinks it looks amazing.”
 

FIRST, the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” is cliché for a reason.

People absolutely care about your cover. Maybe not your mom or best friend, but they’re going to buy your book regardless. You must make a great first impression on those learning about you for the first time.
 
Naomi Blackburn, one of Goodreads’ top reviewers and author of the business advice column The Author CEO, primarily selects books based on their description, but she’ll flat-out pass on a book with a bad cover.
 
In her words, “If the author didn’t care enough to dedicate time/effort to their cover, I wonder how much time they put into the book itself.”
 
Not only is she 100% correct, she’s far from an exception.
 
Even if readers don’t know WHY they have doubts about your book, those doubts will prevent them from purchasing it.
 
Put simply, they’re not sure about your credibility as an author who takes themselves seriously. They wonder, “If she just whipped together that cover, how many errors are on the inside?” Or, “Is she as committed to providing benefit as she is to making a good first impression?” That question is followed closely by, “Probably not, so this book likely isn’t worth my time or money.”

SECOND, a great cover does not have to cost $1500. Not even close.

These days talented, knowledgeable designers ready to put together a professional cover for a fraction of that cost are easy to find. (And I’m not referring to folks on Fiverr.)
 
They know what assets should be placed where, how to properly space cover copy, how to source an image that no one will recognize as one they saw on a Facebook Ad a few days ago and how to put it all together in a way that subconsciously incites the reader to take the next step — either find out more about the book by reading the back cover or summary or outright putting it in their cart.
 

THIRD, your 7-year-old is, no doubt, adorable, but she’s also probably not your target market (plus, she’s understandably biased).

Make the time to do what’s necessary to invest in a proper book cover designer. You’ve worked long and hard on your book, and it deserves the opportunity to put its best foot forward so that intrigued readers will quickly recognize that it’s exactly what they didn’t even realize they were looking for.

Some great resources to begin (or continue) your search

Reputable Book Cover Design Firms 

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Write Your Damn Book Already!

A Simple 6-Step System for Entrepreneurs

It's Free!
100% privacy guaranteed. Pinky swear.