It's all marketing from the first word that hits the page until well after the first sale.  However, there are different phases.  Making an attractive book cover is an important phase.

Before the reader is captivated by your words they must be drawn in by the "curb appeal" of your cover.  Yes, they judge a book by it cover.

If you are lucky enough to have a professional graphic designer to help you and you have the money to pay them, this article probably won't interest you.  Those of you on a budget, read on.

Color: Black or red backgrounds suggest danger, fear, guilt, death, or anger.  White or blue-colors makes you think of something soothing and peaceful.  Select your genre and check out other successful books to see what they used.  I have even heard of a book that used the same graphic in four different background colors.

Text: Just be reasonable.  We all want to be different, to stand out, but please don't use unreadable fonts!  Rule of thumb is usually title on top, your name on the bottom.  Nothing is written in stone.  Try to use a color for the font that compliments the major background cover.  Above all, remember it must be fairly readable in a thumbnail view.  Most of the time that is how it will be viewed initially.

Artwork:  Photos or drawings, it's up to you.  Make sure the graphic reflects what the book is about without being too busy.  Too many objects will only confuse people.   Color is as important here as the background.   You have three elements that must mesh together in such a way that it looks as though they are one.  Whatever you use it must be original art, free to use, or you must purchase it and give credit, if necessary.  Be very aware of copyright infringement when choosing art from the internet, read carefully all the rules for where you acquire it.

Putting it all together:  Paint does an okay job.  I have Photoshop, which I love, but I had to buy it.  Good news!  There is a free program called PAINT.net that is made to mimic Photoshop.  You can download it here: http://www.getpaint.net/    Small learning curve and you will be making great covers!

This is a "Get Started Quick" Guide.  There are other programs to use, everyone has a favorite.  These are the best choices in my opinion.  Most of the advice here is common sense, but I believe using these simple tips, you can come up with something beautiful.

8/12/2012 22:56:03

What's your view on using Gimp for cover design? The price is right, even if the interface is counterintuitive to a non-graphics person like me and there are some deficiencies (such as difficulty in using multiple configs for multiple text boxes). I also got permission from a friend to use her lovely photos in my covers free of charge. Otherwise I buy stock photos through Paypal--a large stock photo averages about $5 to $8 with unlimited use rights.

8/12/2012 23:07:46

To me free is always better. I have never used Gimp but I would be interested in some reviews of it here. Here's another tip: Free photos, you don't even HAVE to give credit, morguefile.com

8/12/2012 23:10:14

covers - my bugaboo - thank you for links - must try - lure of small learning curve.

8/12/2012 23:49:15

Thanks for the links, like Paula I'm no good with covers.

William Kendall
8/13/2012 08:45:49

I'm lucky to have had a really good designer.

Robynn Gabel
8/13/2012 08:50:53

Like this. Definitely good info to know. Thank you!


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