Importance of Cover Design
Importance of Cover Design
by JD Smith http://www.triskelebooks.co.uk/jd-smith/4575017165
The importance of cover design for self-published
authors, collaborative groups and independent press has become less of
an argument as the competition and potential sales revenue from book
sales has become obvious. Many writers now take seriously the need to
package and market their books professionally, and pro covers are no
longer considered ‘nice to have’; they are considered essential in the
ever more competitive world of book selling.
Bookshops display books with their covers facing the
reader. It’s the first thing a reader sees. It is the reason a customer
picks up the book, particularly in a supermarket setting where every
book is front facing. Even the author can be recognised not only by the
letters spelled out, but by the font, the style of cover, composition,
the look of a series.
Only when a reader has picked up the book do they
actually read anything, and that includes the back cover blurb that you
will have spent hours and hours honing – and if the blurb was worth all
that effort, then the cover is equally if not more deserving. Of course
reviews, recommendations and building an audience are also important,
but I’m talking about a package, and that shouldn’t be compromised by
any one element.
Not that long ago there was a general theory that book
covers were less important for ebooks because the item wasn’t a
physical book. But the rules that apply to bookshops are true of online
retailers. You can search, or you can be emailed newsletters, but the
first thing you will be presented with is a cover, or a series of
covers, and instead of picking up the book to read the blurb, you click
on a cover instead.
Even when, on Amazon and other online retailers, books
are displayed as a list, the main thing your eye is drawn to is the
cover, because the list of titles and authors are all presented in the
same font, size, and colour. The new cliché today is ‘Does it work at
thumbnail size?’ as online sales rise.
Because a book’s cover is its face, it generates
expectation. If a reader sees an amateur cover on a book, they will
expect the novel itself to be amateur. If it looks cheaply produced,
then they will expect the inside quality to be cheap also, and that
there has been little or no editing, proofreading, and that it contains
bad prose. And if a reader sees a cover and has that expectation, why
should they buy it? And it’s not just about someone buying a book, but
about them investing their time reading it. A book takes a good number
of hours to read. I make a decision to read a book less lightly than
choosing a film or a TV programme to watch. My time is precious, and
the more dubious the quality of material that is out there, the more
discerning readers will become.
Big publishers spend thousands to ensure a cover is
right, commissioning illustration and photography. It’s normal for big
publishers to have 50 + covers designed for a single book so they get
it ‘just right’. It’s the reason publishers design different book
covers for different countries, different markets and so on.
That doesn’t mean to say that self-published authors and
collaborative groups and so on can’t have covers that are equally as
professional as those produced by major publishers. A close working
relationship between author and designer can produce some intimate and
spectacular results. The wrong designer and you can end up with
something that will do more harm than good.
You will also provide the back cover (and dust jacket
flap) text material (book description, testimonials, author bio, etc).
I will create and place the barcode.
Different printers have different specifications as
to how they want the final print-ready PDF files provided (crop &
registration marks, bleed limits, live area boundaries, position on
page, Adobe PDF settings, etc).
In most cases authors want a print cover and an
e-book cover. Once a print book cover is produced, it is a simple
matter of capturing the front cover image and producing a proper jpg
image for the e-book. An important consideration is that e-book covers
need to look good when viewed on a screen, even very small ones.
A cover can be produced for as little as $200 if all
the material is supplied at one time and in a manner that is suited to
placement and ready for design and layout with no further modifications
required. This is, however, seldom the case.
Some images need to be modified for cover design; for
example, the sky of an existing image may need to be extended upward in
order to accommodate the book title without obscuring other portions of
the image. This may add anywhere from $50 to $200 to the cost,
depending on the extent of modifications required.
Some searches have gone on for two or three hours
without finding a suitable image. If and when I do find an image that I
think will work, it may not be to your liking, in which case the search
must continue. At $75/hr., this can become costly.
If you need a unique custom illustration for your
book cover, you may need to engage an illustrator or photographer to
provide the images. I would incorporate them into a cover design which
would include title, text on the back, spine, barcode, etc, then
prepare files for a printer.
The illustrator should be in contact with you to make
sure he/she was progressing toward a design to your liking. Custom
illustration covers are usually considerably more expensive to produce,
since illustrators may charge anywhere from $300 to $700 and more
for the illustration, depending on the work done.
Approximate costs summary
$200 base cost (all materials supplied, no modifications to material)
$50 - $200 modifications to material supplied
$30 - $100 additional cover samples using supplied material
$30 - $150 search for and supply stock images
$300 - $700 custom illustration production