RETH!NK Your Book Cover

Contrary to popular belief, people do judge a book by it's cover. Content is king, but the face of your book is an expression of your credibility. When a cover appears weak or confusing, it doesn’t speak to the validity of the author. It’s disconcerting to recognize talented authors create less than professional, extraordinary book covers that market their books in every way, starting with emotional impact. Why take shortcuts as you’re developing your book cover’s visual impact? You’re planning to unleash your soul, your compelling story or guidance, and your hard earned expertise. Make it count in a significant way. In our book browsing world online, clicking on a book cover is the same as being halfway to the checkout counter. You want your book to be chosen over all others. Make your book cover the one that readers choose by investing in a professional, dynamic cover.

Ten points to consider for your book cover:
1. Do the research. Explore your competition online. Which books are you drawn to online? Which ones do you prefer, and why? What are you attracted to regarding color and style?

2. Brand your business with a credible and distinctive essence. Carry your logo through all of your marketing collateral to maximize your branding investment. Consistency will mirror your projects in a positive light.

3. Create a powerful cover. Why settle for over-used and free stock images? Do you want to find another book with the design you used? That can happen and could cause your book appear like a sad boilerplate. Treat your probable readers to a brilliant cover from the outset. Create the aura of assurance for purchasing your book.

4. Keep it legal. Beware of downloading images online, with the false assumption that they are free. Use of copyrighted images or clip art can cause untold amounts of legal heartburn and financial expense into the thousands, just for starters. Pay for the commercial rights to stock photos or get high-quality custom photos by a pro. You'll own the rights.

5. Author’s byline. Placement of the author’s name on the cover with the words, by—written by—is second rate. That’s like placing the word—phone—before your number on a business card. Do we need to include unnecessary clutter? Your readers are savvy enough to realize that using your name means you’re the writer, or at least I hope so.

6. Select fonts. Google ‘10 worst fonts’ and you will find enlightening details of overused fonts you’ll wish to sidestep. Those fonts will do nothing for your book cover other than make it appear unprofessional, even unpolished. For high quality fonts try (check commercial rights) and, granting free commercial privileges. Confirm the usage terms before selling your book with fonts downloaded from any website. Does the typography and image reflect the character of your subject?

7. Easy to read? Think visibility and simplicity. View your book cover on your monitor in thumbnail size. Is there sufficient contrast? Does your cover reflect the content inside?

8. Honest feedback. If you create your book cover without expert guidance, get impartial evaluations before publishing. If your cover is not outstanding, your family and friends may not wish to hurt your feelings.

9. DIY Template Art? White space is and classy. Non-designers often crowd the cover. Free software is convenient for non-designers to take a stab at producing a book cover. However, that doesn’t mean it’s in your best interest to do so. If you must indulge, try Just remember their images are overused.

10. Hire a pro. While you may be an independent author and a wicked-hot one at that, your book cover doesn’t have to appear ordinary or home-made. You can revel in the benefit of skillful cover design, on a par with major publishing house releases. Your best investment is in hiring a professional graphic designer. Now that you've authored your manuscript, you may want someone to collaborate on your design and format your book for ebook and print.

About the author. Leslie Ann Akin is the owner and Strategic Brand Specialist at Leslie The Brand Boss. Her graphic design portfolio over the previous 25 years includes everything from branding to business cards, billboards and book covers. While in the San Francisco Bay Area for 12 years, Leslie Ann also produced jazz radio programs. Leslie Ann lives in the Lake Oswego, Oregon. Leslie Ann also owns Global Touch Press. You'll find her work at