Elements of a Good Book Cover

Elements of a Good Book Cover
April 25, 2016 1 Comment For Authors, Writing Advice Nancy E Miller

22151FullSpreadIt’s the first thing your reader sees.  Whether it is the front, back, or spine, it should immediately draw their attention.  You want them to pick it up, to open it to the first page.  Then you have about thirty seconds to make your case.  I’ve been known to open a book to find its font is uncomfortable to read and put it back. But the cover caught my eye.

According to Book Cover Pro, there are ten vital elements to an outstanding book cover.

Book Title– Minimal words and set so that if the cover was one inch tall you could still read it.

Subtitle– If the title runs long, consider a subtitle, smaller in size and beneath the title.

Color– Dark against light works the best and it should work in black and white as well as color since some publications will use a b/w illustration of the cover.

Images-one image, either used as background to the title, or a single image framed with a border against a solid background.

Author name-Yep, what you’ve been waiting for-your name on a front cover.  Unless you are on the same level as John Grisham or Sandra Brown, keep it at the bottom of the cover.

Spine: Contrast and large type that grabs the reader.  Most often the bookstores will have just the spine showing.

Back cover: Simple, tasteful, and keep the summary brief (1-2 paragraphs) and 12 pt.

Repeat title and subtitle on back:  Smaller than the front cover and at the top. Include it in the summary and again in the bio.  The old rule of advertising is that it takes repeating the product’s name three times for the target to remember the name.

Bio: Normally the bio is on the inner back flap but if you are making the cover yourself or with a template, this might not be an option. Keep it short and pertinent.

Picture:  And ten is debatable but the writer at Book Cover Pro suggests NOT putting your picture on the book saying it could be seen as conceited or may repel readers.(I’m sure mine could be used to scare small children.)  I don’t have a problem with a picture in the bottom left of the back cover…right is for the ISBN.  You might consider replacing it with short testimonials.

Do your research.  There are plenty of sites with advice and Amazon’s Createspace has templates to aid you along the way.  It’s how I made my first covers.  Go to the bookstore (if you can find one) and check out the covers that grab you.  I’ll include a few illustrations here that might help.

twilight-cover-analyse  shiver-cover-analyse



Nancy E Miller Nancy E. Miller, romantic suspense author of Shark Bait and Crystal Unicorns, lives near St. Louis with her husband and three dogs, pygmy goats, chickens and a cranky rooster named Ketchup. Her degree is in Psychology and Sociology. She has worked in education and mental health as a case manager and crisis counselor.

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