HomeBook DesignBook Cover Design: Judging a Book by Its Cover – Part 1


Book Cover Design: Judging a Book by Its Cover – Part 1 — 27 Comments

  1. Great stuff! It’s hard to find good articles that look at book cover designs in-depth. I have tried creating them myself, but I usually outsource. I like to give the designer something to go on, so this helped me think about some things I don’t usually take into account. I’m including a link here from my upcoming article, “Book Writing Essentials,” at my mikefook blog. Cheers man!

  2. Your adaptation of that Mountains Echoed cover is exaxtly the OPPOSITE of smart book design.
    Reducing the size of the title to where it can’t be read on thumbnails???? Why did that seem like a good idea to you?
    This is one reason why the whole “you have to have a pro do your cover for big bucks” thing is silly–there are still lots of “pros” out there who think only of bookstore display and have no idea how modern publishing actually works.

    • Linton, read on and you’ll see that I created separate artwork for the thumbnail image. The notion that a one-size-fits-all book cover is the ideal solution seems “the opposite of smart book design” to me. Why not create a different variation for each medium/size? When standard book covers are reduced to thumbnail size, they serve to do little more than identify a book in a reader’s collection. Nobody is going to say, “hey, great thumbnail!” and buy the eBook. So large cover art has marketing value but below a certain size, the primary function is simple labeling.

  3. Dude. Where’s Part II? I know you spend all your time sipping mai tais on the dock. How come you can’t spare 10 minutes to whip up another brilliant article for all of us?

    • Sorry, Joel. My jet’s on the fritz and I’m stuck in Monaco. I had hoped to have this done already but I’ve been through three butlers this week and not a goddammned one of them can write. Blackjack stinks here, too. Looks like I’m going to have to write this one myself; could be a while.

      • Good help is so very hard to find these days. Keep clear of the baccarat tables, switch from shaken to stirred, and perhaps your mind will clear enough to save us all from a fate worse than disco. Er, death. I meant death.

  4. I applaud the time it must have taken to create this article. Great job, Dave. It should serve a lot of authors who may have to design their own cover art. But, that said, I advise they find a professional designer. All their long work deserves the best foot forward it can. A book cover is an author’s business card. I can’t wait to view part 2- V.Knox author and graphic designer

  5. Thank you for this. I had a professional designer make the cover for my first mystery novel, and I think it works well. But I can’t afford professional services for short stories that are promotional pieces. Those covers I will do myself, so this is very useful.

    It’s is also useful for an author assessing the cover their publisher creates. If you don’t like it, at least you’ll have the principles and vocabulary to say why.

  6. My goodness! I am glad to have discovered you. You have opened my inner eye as well as the one that sees but doesn’t always observe. I often wish I had done an Arts degree. Had that been so, I should have really appreciated you as a tutor. Do you not teach? I confess that I have designed my own cover. Wish me luck.

  7. I’ve never heard that the city of a publication shouldn’t be italicized. If the title of the publication includes the city name then it should be. What style guide is that from?

  8. It is easy to complain and critique and offer no solution or repair. You and this article go well beyond the norm and offer design concepts and examples that do a good job informing the viewer about what is wrong but even more importantly – how to make things right. This is rare imo. Great job!

  9. Illuminating…thank you! I’m an editor, with a narrow market for most of my books, and always struggling to understand designers and be understood. This elevates.