At a young age we are taught that one should not form an opinion on something or someone based on surface level appearances. “Never judge a book by its cover!” we are told. Metaphorically, this idiom means do not make quick judgements based on superficial first impressions. Literally, it means if you don’t like the cover of a book, do not assume you won’t like its content. However, humans are programmed to make involuntary judgements, and the reality is a cover remains one of the most critical elements of a book.

If you are looking to buy a book, what is the first thing that grabs your attention?

The cover.

Based on that initial visual, people will assess whether or not they want to invest their time and money into reading the content. Consequently, it is easy to neglect a book simply because its cover seems dull or plain. But imagine opening it up and finding it to be completely captivating. Yes, never judge a book by its cover, but with over two million books published annually and an increase in online book shopping that is not conducive to holding and flipping through pages, readers will always judge a book by its cover.

So, your book cover must attract the eye and tempt the reader to look inside. It takes a lot of time, thought, and revision to design. But before even considering designs, it’s important to have a complete manuscript, because cover art depends on genre, target audience, storyline, and content.

Every genre follows certain design standards, and readers subconsciously expect to find these elements when looking at a book in their preferred genre. Publishers have developed book cover clichés over time to attract target audiences, and while an author may want a unique cover, sticking to these unwritten codes will ultimately help sell more books. A cover must give readers a preview of what is inside, a subtle hint to the theme, tone, plot, and/or protagonist. A book cover is essentially package advertising.

There are two main parts to a design: typography and imagery. The typography must always include the book’s title and author name. The Imagery should showcase the content and story. It’s important to consider colors, lighting, shading, image treatment, image arrangement, text hierarchy, and layering. Should the title font be serif or sans-serif? How big will it be on the page? Is the color scheme warm or cold? Is the image photography or illustration? It all comes down to how your target audience responds.

Successful book covers will result in more book sales, so it’s important for the designer to know publishing standards and traditions while understanding the genre, core themes, and tone of your book.

Interested in learning more about book covers and the publishing industry? Reach out to us today for your free Initial Consultation.


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