How to Design a Book Cover that Grabs Readers’ Attention in 7 Steps

From The Book Designer:

What makes a great book cover? It depends on who you ask but most will agree that you just know a great cover when you see it. Love them or hate them, every great book cover design evokes a feeling.

Learning how to design a book cover that sells is more than a skill set or good taste. It’s also developing a listening ear to the needs of your reader. 

The standout qualities of an engaging book cover include:

  • Attention to detail
  • Cohesiveness of elements
  • The feeling it evokes
  • The ability to tell a great story visually
  • Piques curiosity

When it comes to book design, as the author, your opinion matters but it’s not the most important one. 

Book buyers have cover expectations and will bypass your book if it doesn’t fit into their framework or grab their attention in some other way.

You can have the best content in the world inside of your book. But if your book cover doesn’t attract the right audience, or your ideal customer, then it’s not going to get the sales that it deserves.

In the following 7 steps, we’ll look at how to design a book cover that gets buy-in from potential readers:

  • 1. Do the Unexpected
  • 2. Select the Right Fonts
  • 3. Select the Right Imagery
  • 4. Create a Hierarchy of Elements
  • 5. Colors Matter
  • 6. Tell a story
  • 7. Show Sensitivity to the Subject Matter

1. Do the Unexpected

Playing it safe means blending into the crowd. Before you publish your book, you have an opportunity to explore all of the possibilities of great cover design (regardless of budget) to uncover what could make your book a bit more special than the next.

In this article, we touched on how and when to break the rules of genre-based cover design to create something engaging and unexpected. It’s possible to honor the expectations of the genre and still engage your reader in a surprising way. This can be done by reinterpreting the conventions of the genre by putting a creative spin on it. 

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Stay within the basic genre guidelines, whether fantasy, romance, business, or historical. Be open to breaking the rules when you have a good grasp of the whys behind them. 

2. Select the Right Fonts

In most cases, you’ll want to use a maximum of two or three fonts. The right typography can be the difference between a cover that looks sharp and professional and one that looks cheap and homemade, so choose wisely. 

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3. Select the Right Imagery

When adding imagery to your cover, you can choose between original photography, illustrations, stock photos, or AI-generated artwork. The key is to find an image that reflects the theme of your book and fits the genre.

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4. Create a Hierarchy of Elements

Move the reader’s eye to where you want it to go by increasing the size of the element you want to stand out the most (e.g., author name, book title, or imagery). Alternative elements to utilize for creating visual hierarchy include contrast and color.

Link to the rest at The Book Designer

PG notes that the OP has many more illustrations than PG has used here as well as several more steps.

He also notes that, contra the old saying, online or in a physical bookstore, everyone makes preliminary judgments about what books they’re going to examine based in large part on the cover. As a general proposition, the human gaze notes images more than text when looking at a wide range of potential choices.