Here are some of most common book cover mistakes made whether by Authors doing it themselves or new book cover designers. Avoid them and when hiring someone, look if they do these.
- Too much complexity
AS mentioned before, Hierarchy of design elements is a must in a great design. It means that cover should have one focal point (title or author or main visual). Then secondary and tertiary things which would be smaller or in different colors etc (you can imagine cover full of text only, but one word would be red and others would be white on a black background, in this case red word will be most likely to be read first if they are all at the same size, others will become secondary ).
Having too many elements, too much text or pictures will be confusing to people and might not look cohesive.
- Make Author name bigger….
Well, that is not for everyone. Covers attract by 2 things mostly, either the name or the cover. If you have a ‘big name’ then you will sell book with a bad cover just because of it. If you don’t, blowing up the size of author name will not help. It’s not a trick that works always because before I got into book cover design I never paid attention to size of author name on covers. It never came to my mind that literally big typography means great author. To me that looked like a design choice only.. and I think most simple folks buying books are similar..
- Fonts too fancy or too many of them
Don’t have fonts that are too hard to understand even at bigger size. Some of them look really good but are super hard to read. Sometimes they don’t have good quality to them either.
Don’t use more than 3 fonts in a design in general and for most book covers, no more than 2 is usually needed. Stick with great fonts that are used enough and add flavour to them by hand (manipulation, textures, brushwork etc).
- Bad Back Cover Copy
Most important thing right after your cover makes me flip the book over or first thing that I read once I’m on the Amazon page for the book (look at the star rating, description, then go to read reviews… that’s how buying process happens). If it’s not interesting, no intrigue and all cliché than it may be slowing your sales down a lot.
- Too many words on the cover
More than 6 words on the cover will make it hard to read them or even lay them down on the cover concept well. Esp, if all of them have to be read as a title. They will take away from other design elements, most likely you would be better doing typography-only cover design if you want a lot of words on it.
- Not enough white space
White space is basically empty space around the edges of cover or between elements. You need some of it to make title attractive (if it’s too close to the edge it will feel off balance). Having white space really helps Hierarchy, readability and balance of the cover.
- Design by Committee
Don’t turn cover design process into a mess by asking everyone for an opinion. You can’t please everyone. Your family may want best but they might mislead you, same for other authors. Find a small group of people that you respect and that preferably know about Publishing or have a great eye and you like their taste.
Remember, Great covers will polarize people – 50-50%, Good covers will be liked by most people. It’s same as people saying ‘’Oh it’s nice..’’ on other things.. it usually means it’s nice but doesn’t stand out really…
- I love color…
It’s not about your personal tastes with cover designs, colors communicate a message and you may not like a color but it may be the best fit to communicate the mood and tone of the book. Sometimes it will work out, but don’t let your ego get in the way if it doesn’t.
Hope you enjoyed the article and learned things that will help you get great book covers. Please share the article with other authors so that these cover mistakes will happen less and less.