It is closing in on two years since this blog was first published and I feel it is worth a second look. I am still adding books of members to the IAN Amazon Store and as of this minute there are 2134 listings in 34 genres. We have grown to 782 authors. I can remember when it was hoped we could reach 100 members. Congrats William Potter on the continuing success.

Once again I'd like to stress the importance of a book cover that will stand up even as a small thumbnail - the size seen when browsing many sites. I have listed some beautiful covers in the store that lost all definition - one problem discussed in the blog below. A good cover designer is right up there in importance to a professional final proofer as you polish your manuscript for publication. With a bit of research and/or help from fellow indie authors, qualified folks can be found at reasonable cost. Well worth the price after all the hours an author has placed in a story.

~~~ OOO ~~~

June 2011 -

I just worked through an involved project setting up an Amazon aStore to allow the authors of The Independent Author Network a central place to profile their books. As of tonight, there are 369 listings, each placed in dedicated genres. While pulling the book cover thumbnails into the store, I noticed some lost their distinct design in smaller form while others retained their individuality and feel of the story no matter how small. I remembered that my book designer, Cathy Cotter, told me she looked at small thumbnails to poster size as she planned the cover of The Spruce Gum Box to assure it did not lose its character. I asked Cathy to write some of her cover design ideas in hopes it might help authors that have so much to think about when Indie publishing. Her thoughts follow:

What makes a good book cover design?

Effective book cover designs draw the reader in so they want to find out what your book is about. Most people DO judge a book by its cover. So how do you pull people in visually?

Your book cover needs to:

1 Communicate clearly, quickly and efficiently to the reader by organizing the visual elements in harmony with each other

2 Lead the audience to the title

Pay attention to not only typeface, but styling, sizing and positioning. Organize the type and images with a visual hierarchy of importance. Some elements should stand out more than others.

3 Have a relevant visual theme and concept

It is important that your design convey the message and meaning of your book clearly.

4 Use simplicity

Your cover should work well and be attractive very small, as a thumbnail, and large, as in a poster. Detailed illustration is often difficult to differentiate when the book is small. It may be meaningful to you but not to your audience and can very well detract from its marketability. Reduce your cover design to the size of a thumbnail on Amazon and see if you can distinguish visual coherency and it is readable. If not, simplify.

5 Use a pleasant color palette consistent with your books style and era

Caution is needed when building a color palette. For instance, when using red on black there is little differentiation between the 2 colors which can make certain things become transparent to the eye from a distance. This goes for a light color on light color as well. Be sure there is significant color tonality distinguish-ability between your color values.

6 Work visually in black and white as well as color
Note that your cover changes dramatically without color. When used in, for instance, a newspaper ad, make sure it is still a readable and effective design.

7 Use a dramatic visual effect

Run the image and color right off the books boundaries.
You will find it expands the covers visual space.

8 Create a good focal point to pull the audience into the cover visually

Dramatic perspective, angle, a visual explosion of color or a central area the eye is attracted to can do the trick.

9 Use a font that is easily readable

Some script fonts can be very attractive but keep in mind they are often difficult to read. Test them yourself. Use the five foot rule. If you can't read the text on the spine of your book from 5 feet away....Neither can your readers.

10 Stand out
A helpful exercise for you would be to look at covers on Amazon or at your favorite bookstore. Determine which ones are the most eye catching. Why do you think they stand out on a shelf?

The bottom line is, a great book cover can help sell your book.
3 likes ·   •  3 comments  •  flag
Twitter icon
Published on March 05, 2013 17:33 • 4,676 views
Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Sydney (new)

Sydney Avey Thank you Elizabeth, this is excellent advice. My publisher has asked for my ideas on cover art. Your list will help frame my thinking and my response.

SydneySydney Avey

message 2: by Mjroco (new)

Mjroco Hutchin this is very helpful to me.


message 3: by Arielle (new)

Arielle Contreras I'm a little late to the party here, but just read through this post and found it very insightful! The cover really is your book's most effective marketing tool — especially today when your opportunity to grab someone's attention is always getting smaller.

I wanted to contribute this article to the comments as well, people might find it useful. It also goes into what makes a selling book cover, but what's even more useful is it's infographic that breaks down the different types of cover designers you can hire and how much each of those will cost:

Hopefully you find it as useful as I did :)

back to top

Elizabeth Egerton Wilder's Blog

Elizabeth Egerton Wilder
Elizabeth Egerton Wilder isn't a Goodreads Author (yet), but she does have a blog, so here are some recent posts imported from her feed.
Follow Elizabeth Egerton Wilder's blog with rss.