In order to create a book cover you need to spend time researching both the market (for your genre) and what will be the ‘hook’ for your work, the ‘hook’ being the focal point of your manuscript which (in one image) sums up to the reader what the book is about and entices them to look further.
The research for your book as you prepare for publication should be approached with the mindset of one similar to launching a small business, now you may question this approach, after all, it’s just a book right? Well this will depend upon how serious you are regarding its success, with over 2,000 titles being published daily (yes you read it right, daily) you are up against serious competition, and in order to stand out you need to have a focused plan for both its cover and importantly its launch.
First you should have a very clear understanding of the genre for which your book falls in to, it’s an easy mistake to think that a book will appeal to every reader when the reality is that it won’t, don’t kid yourself, not everyone will like your book (sounds harsh but when you appreciate this fact you are able to target the people who are going to love your work instead).
By being honest with yourself here you’ll save time and energy in going after an incorrect audience, understanding your target reader will allow you to assess the current market and the standards within it, your reader (when looking for their next book to buy) will expect to see certain styles associated with a genre. Now this isn’t to say that you have to ‘tow the line’ of what everyone else is doing, however, if your book is about fishing and your cover has no reference to the subject then you run the risk of confusing your viewer.
When you research your genre you will see certain themes which will be indicative to the subject, the clever design will still utilize these themes but do so in a way which enables your book to remain unique and stand out to its targeted reader.
Once you have researched your genre you can start to pull together ideas for the front cover, here you will need to establish what is the most important element from the book, the easiest way to do this is by imagining that you have just 30 seconds to sell your book to a publisher or agent.
What would you tell them? What are the key points which would make someone want to buy your work? If it’s fiction, what would you say that wouldn’t give the end away too?
Boiling it down to a 30 second pitch enables you to really think about what is important and what isn’t, it also strips away a lot of the extra elements which don’t need to be upon the front cover too. Having a condensed focal point for your book cover design will ensure that the viewer grasps the concept of your book within a fraction of a second.
Don’t make it personal either, whilst writing your book you can’t help but form an idea of what the cover could look like (after all, you’ve put a great deal of yourself into its creation). The danger is that when you become too attached to an idea you close yourself off to others, you may have too many elements or give too much away, keep your mind open to the advice from your designer (that’s what you’re paying them for).