Book cover design, back cover & spine design considerations.
Book cover design, back cover, and spine design considerations. The covers do not have to match the style of the interior pages. Authors usually write the manuscript in Microsoft Word. The designer then uses the Word document to create a book set-up in Adobe InDesign.
The cover may be created by the same designer, or someone who specializes in cover design. The cost for a cover ranges from $50 to thousands.
Keeping covers simple
A hardcover book has a front cover, back cover, and spine. Dust jackets have flaps. We will go over set-ups for covers and binding style set-ups in Chapter 6, Cover Design and Binding. But for now, we will examine the elements that go into a successful cover.
While I have many years of experience designing books and book covers, I fall back on the simple principles I learned years ago to design advertisements that sell products and services. Books are similar. Successful is the operative word. Marketing and exposure are vital to book sales, but
success starts with great cover design.
The title is the most important element on the cover. Go big or go home! Consider the size of the title’s typeface. Once the cover and title are reduced to a thumbnail on Amazon, a book can easily be passed over by potential book buyers. A small title is hard to read on a thumbnail.
The typeface for the title on the cover sets the tone for the book. While I recommend classic typefaces for the body text from Adobe Fonts, you can use something else that is unique for a title. A one-off typeface from providers like DesignCuts.com may work well. However, make sure that you do not have to pay a royalty unless you are willing to pay for the typeface. Experiment with optical and metric kerning, and letterspacing.
I like big titles because they can be more readily seen in the small thumbnails on Amazon that shoppers see. This is particularly important for use on a portrait-oriented book versus a landscape-orientation. Condensed typefaces work well. Because they are condensed, the type size can be larger than with a non-condensed typeface. The same rules apply to the cover as to the book interior.
The design of the cover can be completely different than the interior, but limit typefaces to two. Three can be used if using a novelty or script typeface. Keep it simple, use white space effectively, and line up text on an imaginary or background grid.
While the subtitle is a secondary consideration, it could mean a lot to the sale of a book. If the title is non-specific or does not convey what the book is about, a subtitle is necessary. Think in terms of feature / benefit statements when writing subtitles. If the title is the feature, then what benefit does the book buyer derive from the feature? At the very least, the subtitle needs to
deliver a qualifying statement and include it in the book cover design.
The name of this book is Book Design: Simple & Professional. The subtitle adds important information not contained in the title; “For self-publishers and graphic artists using Adobe InDesign.” This subtitle qualifies the book title for the book buyer. It helps them to make their buying decision.
The author’s name should appear on the front cover. Since there may be other book titles that are similar, it is important to have the author’s name on the cover in case they ask for or search for the book online. Usually, it goes on the bottom of the cover and the size of the type is up to the designer or the author’s preference.
If the author is well-known, a book designer may want to bring the name up higher and make it larger. After all, a known author or personality is a selling point.
Will a photograph, illustration or graphic element be used? What works in the design? What are you trying to convey on the cover? Try making several cover designs from which to choose.
The back cover is where a sales message belongs. Consider using a feature / benefit statement or a short paragraph about the book. Use a larger type size for such paragraphs; a minimum of 14-point or more. Adjust type size in accordance with the number of characters on a line to make the line length comfortable to read. See Chapter 1, Design Fundamentals. If the statement becomes too large because of the number of characters on a line, consider using a condensed type as one of your two typefaces.
Author photo and biography
This is optional. While a biography is something to be included in a book, it can be on a flap of a dust jacket or a French flap of a soft cover book. A photo of the author may be on the back cover design, or another image or two that reflect the content of the book. If an author photo is used, add a short biography in smaller type.
Quotes or testimonials
Sending out copies of the books to be read by respected people or authors may be a great way to get a few of their quotes for the back cover. This is also optional.
What you will find inside
Hitting the high points of the book’s content is yet another option. I added the four parts of this book and names of the chapters to interest the targeted book buyer.
Barcode with ISBN
Unfortunately, when some on-demand providers or even small publishers tout distribution, sometimes, all they are offering is an ISBN. Never accept an ISBN from another party, as they become the publisher of your book. Why accept just royalties when you can retain all profits and all rights?
The only time you might not want to use an ISBN and EAN Bookland barcode is if your book will be sold exclusively in a place that is not a bookstore. Star Print Brokers can sell one ISBN and one barcode as we are authorized agents of ISBN. However, if you are doing more than one format, like a soft cover and an ebook, you will need two ISBNs. It is most cost effective to go directly to isbn.org and buy a pack of ten numbers, as well as one barcode. Ebooks do not use barcodes, but do need an ISBN.
It is customary and most helpful for bookstores to place the barcode in the lower right corner of the back cover. Make sure it is not in the hinge area of the cover.
The barcode needs to be on a white or a very light background, so as not to interfere with scanning. Check with your provider or ISBN for questions about color backgrounds.
When buying a barcode, it may be placed at full size: 100 percent. It is standard to reduce it to 92 percent, and it may be reduced to as small as 80 percent of full size.
If a book is standing up on a bookshelf as in a library or bookstore, you would tilt your head to your right to read the spine. There are other countries where it is the opposite. The title is placed at the top. The author name is listed next. Sometimes the publishing company has a logo or name on the spine too at the bottom of the spine.
Dust jackets and French flaps
A soft cover book may have one or two flaps that are extensions of the cover. It is evident on this book cover design. The flaps might not have any typesetting or graphics, or maybe just a continuation of background color from the front and back covers. They are a great place to add the author photo and biography on one flap — and a summary of the book on another flap — just as you would see on dust jacket flaps.