I'm diverting, briefly, from my Create Your Own Great Photo Book articles with a post about cover design.
I'm currently prepping for a keynote presentation to Chicago Self-Publishing Meet-Up group about cover design. I've been attending this monthly meet-up, organized/managed by Kim Bookless, for the past few years. It is a community of like-minded individuals who are eager to learn and share.
I've been invited to speak at this month about cover design. My goal is to emphasize the importance of your book's cover design and a look "behind the curtain" of how I approach cover design with you, my client.
We're not going to bad mouth lousy DIY book covers that cast a dark shadow over self-published books. (Well, at least one...for a valid reason.) I'll draw your attention to the shared characteristics of book covers within categories: format, colors, fonts and graphics.
Genres Share Cover Characteristics
These are fundamentals to understanding your target audience and how they respond the cover design. For example, it would be odd to see a sci-fi novel cover designed like a romance novel. Or a self-help book designed like a children's book. I think you get the idea.
Create [Visual] DramaI'll also show how your cover designer will/should use graphic elements to connect the cover design to the content; adding drama. Drama could be mystery, action, movement, whimsy, or nostalgia. We'll look at a few before & after book covers to illustrate this point.
Where'd you get that image?Image usage will also be discussed; emphasizing the importance of working with a designer who understands how to acquire and license an image properly and legally. Downloading an image from an internet search is amateurish and you'll be disappointed by the results. There are different levels of licensing images and illustrations that you, the self-published author, NEED to understand.
Who's printing your book?Finally, book cover design–especially for print–is highly technical. A professional designer will ask early in the creative briefing discussion, "who is printing the book?" (Red flag, if they don't!) The printer's specifications, bleed, trim, safe margin, etc. The final spine measurement is crucial. And, dimensions and placement of the ISBN bar code and pricing are necessary.
If you can't make this week's Chicago Self-Publishing Meet-Up presentation, I'll be doing follow up article, since I'm confident the group members will have plenty of questions.