Tuesday, May 28, 2013

5 Tips for eBook Cover Design

My cover reveal for SPEAK EASY is this Friday (May 31st), and while I adore the final version my designer Tom Barnes created for me, it was a bit of a rough road getting there, mostly due to my inexperience, my lack of forethought, and my lack of knowledge about what makes a good cover.

Pretty sure poor Tom wanted to throttle me several times during the process!

To help others avoid a few headaches, I compiled some advice from Tom and other sources on creating seductive eBook covers, starting with...

1) Think Ahead

Says Tom, "Think about what kind of look you would like for your cover.  Many authors use Pinterest to collect rough ideas images that fit their book.  Its helpful to have pictures and covers that you like already for reference when talking to a designer.  Get a quote on the cost of a cover and shop around."

2) Think Small

Look at these image from this article by Elle Lothlorien on cover design in a small, small, world (worth a read!):

In the world of Goodreads and Amazon, this is how small our eBookshelves are. Only we don't really have shelves, we have...

How can you increase your chances of getting that click?

3) Keep it Simple but Visible 

Lothlorien says, "You want to convey the genre, tone, and plot of the book with as few words or pictures as possible while still keeping the cover interesting." 

Look at your cover image as a thumbnail--will it entice readers to click? Does your image disappear? Does your artwork become too cluttery?

4) Research Successful Covers in Your Genre

In New Adult, lots of covers feature stock photos of couples in a Near Kiss (which I heard is sexier to readers than the actual kiss) or guys with ripped abs. 

Finding the right stock photo can take a long time and get frustrating (trust me), but do the work. 

Here is Tom's advice on purchasing stock photos: "When searching stock photo sites, be sure you read all the legal explanations for what is covered if you buy the photo or illustration. They have additional charges for mass distribution. Trying to find photos for your book cover is very time consuming. Just like searching the web, the right keywords will make your search easier."


"If you find a photo you like, I suggest that you do a google search to be sure no one is using that photo in their book cover already.  If you click on camera icon on the google seach bar in google images you can upload your image to google and it will bring up all images that look the same.  It's a great way to double check before going any further."

5) Size Matters

According to Tom, "The biggest blunders in cover design consists of 3 major areas.  First is getting the right size and dimensions for your book cover.  This can add more hours and charges if this is not corrected."

"The second is making sure your words are not too close to the edges of the cover.  The safe bet is a 1/4” around to allow for bleed if it goes to print."

"The third is choice of fonts. The wrong font can hurt the overall design and in some cases be unreadable when scaled down.  If you plan on putting smaller thumbnails online be sure you look at it shrunken down to be sure you can still read the font."

"It's important to know that photo manipulation has come a long way but some things are still challenging or not doable. The more complicated the request the more time will it take and cost you more in the long run.  If you are on a budget, this is important because you will get charged extra for changes and elaborate covers."

Maybe one of the best things about self-publishing eBooks is that you can change your cover--and writers do this all the time. Our friend Alessandra Thomas recently changed the cover of her debut novel Picture Perfect from this:

 to this:

When I asked her about the change, she said the new cover better fits the story and the conventions of the New Adult genre. She was told the minimalist belly button was too literary. :)

She also mentioned how hard it was to find a stock photo of a woman who isn't a size 2. But that's a different post...

See you Friday for my reveal!



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