Title and Front Cover Design

by Jan King on August 7, 2012

This week, I will be introducing Susan to Bella Guzman, a fantastic cover and interior book designer. Susan will tell Bella what type of cover she is looking for and hopefully will give her some examples of book covers she loves by sending Bella their Amazon links.

Susan has her title and subtitle nailed down, otherwise the cover process could not begin. Selecting the right title is usually not an easy process. The title is the “promise” of what the reader will find in the book, so it is important that the title accurately portray the contents. Too many authors try to come up with a clever title, but then people searching for information on Google or Amazon can’t find it. For instance, I might be writing a book on getting energized and I might think it would be good to title it “Get a Tiger in Your Tank”. The problem here is no one would look up “tiger” on Google or Amazon if they were looking for a book on increasing their energy.

A nonfiction book title is usually 3 to 5 words, with a subtitle that goes into more detail about the way the book’s topic will be handled, such as “Energy Boost: Seven days to a more confident you!”

If you are having trouble finding a good title or subtitle, go to the source – your book manuscript. Re-read it and underline all the words or phrases that you really love and that represent the emotion and purpose of the book to you. Take all of those words and see if you can piece some of them together as a title. Sometimes the title is the first thing you come up with, sometimes it is the very last once the manuscript is finished.

The cover design of a book is the key element in book marketing. We will talk later about back cover and spine design, but first up is the front cover. You will want a minimum of words on the front cover. You may want to use a fitting graphic or you might just want type only. You may have definite preferences on colors. Communicate all your wants and needs to your cover designer, including the finished physical size of the book (called the trim size), who will then read the book and come up with 3 to 6 ideas (called cover comps). If you don’t like any of them, you may need to start over. But you will probably like the colors in one and the type fonts in another and maybe the layout in another. By giving this feedback to the designer, he or she can take another crack at it and soon you will have a design you love. Keep working at it until you do. If you as the author don’t love the cover it will result in fewer sales of the book (it just works that way).

To have a professional-quality book cover, you should work with an experienced book cover designer, not just a graphic artist you might know. Packaging books is a specialized field, like creating cereal boxes or wine labels. Go with a pro.

There are two things well worth spending money to get the best in self publishing: an editor and a cover designer. Don’t scrimp here – you will be sorry later.

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