Some time ago, some of our colleagues traveled to New York to attend BookExpo America, the largest publishing conference and exhibition, to discuss with local people how they can use 99designs to create special book covers. It was unbelievable how many authors visited us at our booth and showed us their great 99designs book covers. One of them was, for example, the oceanographer John Englander , whose self-published book “High Tide on Main Street” received enthusiastic feedback from the Publishers Weekly.
“I still skype with the designer of my cover Kate, who lives in Budapest,” Englander told us. She had surprised him in the middle of the ongoing competition with a completely new idea that would not let him go.
John Englander with 99designs’ Jessica Hill; his book cover design by kunoichi23 .
Time and again, visitors told us that the book cover design is playing an increasingly important role with the change to the ebook. Without a compelling thumbnail, it’s simply not possible to grab customers’ attention and sell the book.
To find out what a book cover should look like in order to reach the readers, we asked a few authors who started a bookcover design competition at 99designs. Nine of them had the following tips ready:
1. Think like a reader, not like a writer
“The image and text of the cover must already be clearly visible in the preview image in order to sell well online. If you can not see the image and text in the size shown on online bookstores like Amazon, the reader can not. The cover must evoke feelings in the reader and not really tell anything. ”
2. The cover is the heart of your puzzle
“Writing a book for me is like putting together a jigsaw of 10,000 pieces. After writing, the cover represents the last piece of the puzzle. It should attract attention. It has been my experience that giving feedback during the contest was especially important and beneficial in getting what you really want. I regularly looked at the designs and communicated non-stop with the designers all week. ”
3. nail your readers
“To know what the book cover should look like, it is always wise to think about the readers. I talked to our young female co-workers to find out more about my target group: not too girly, but cheeky and interesting. I also looked around my hometown of Austin, Texas, a city of inspiration. I wanted a combination of profane and provocative, but at the same time also a bit sweet. ”
4. No clichés
“Although my book is about finance, it’s a unique and very personal one. I wanted to show that in the cover. I did not want dollar bills or piggy banks or other clichés on the cover. At the beginning of the briefing, I clearly communicated this to the designers. ”
5. Keep an eye on the core message and write it down
“Write down what the main message of your book is, and put the sentence in front of you when you evaluate the submitted designs. There were so many designs that I loved, but sometimes they just did not communicate the right message. ”
6. The reader has to feel it
“Since Nameless was published, many readers have told me that it was the cover that attracted them first. I chose the design that best reflects the dark history of the book. It was my goal to reach through the cover people who are interested in stories about the FBI or serial killer, just what the thriller Nameless is about. I wanted people to reach for it, who wanted to shudder properly. ”
7. Stay open
“Give the designers all the information they need. Describe your readership, the style of the book (adventure, romance, thriller, etc.), the time in which it plays, the mood, and important characters or moments. Do not expect the final design to be what you had previously imagined. The designers should and will surprise you and take you in a different direction. ”
8. Use social media for feedback from your fans and listen to them!
“The social media has played a big role in getting me through my own book. When I could not decide which cover design I should choose, I asked a few thousand fans on Facebook and on Twitter in a survey for advice. In the end, it’s my fans and readers who really count. Listen to her! ”
9. In the first competition, find the perfect designer for more books in the future
“I started a competition for my first book, Your Guide to Visit Paris for Free . And then for my second book, Your Guide to Visit San Francisco for Free , I did not start a contest anymore, but worked directly with the designer of the first book Harry Hyatt on the 99designs 1-to-1 platform. The second time the designer knows you and knows what you like and what you do not. This will make the second cover much shorter than the first. ”