If you’re reading this in real-time, I have a book cover reveal coming up in two weeks!! And if you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’m REALLY EXCITED ABOUT IT.
This cover reveal is for my debut novel A Collection of Scars. First novel, first cover reveal, and first time working with a designer to create the cover.
For any first time authors out there (or anybody who’s just interested in peeking behind the curtain to see how a self-publishing author gets their book published), I thought I’d put together a little list of tips for getting your book cover designed.
This list will include both things I’m glad I did, and things I want to remember for my future cover designs. Let’s get to it!
Hire a cover designer!
If you’re serious about publishing your book and you’re not an experienced graphic designer, HIRE A COVER DESIGNER. Nothing makes a book look unprofessional like taking a stock photo on Canva and slapping a title in a generic font over it. (That’s not to say don’t use Canva. I love Canva! Just don’t use it for your book cover.)
The truth is people judge books by their cover and if yours looks unprofessional, people are going to assume that the content isn’t that professional either. Do your book justice and put in just as much quality effort into the cover as you did in the actual story. You will thank yourself later.
Understand how different cover types go with different genres.
Based on norms within the book industry, readers should be able to have a general idea of what genre your book is just by looking at the cover. Romance novels generally have a picture of the couple on the cover. Sci-fi covers generally have other-wordly elements. YA novels can look quite decorative and stylistic, while historical fiction often features a very clear, if not minimalistic, image of its characters or setting.
Your cover designer should have a good understanding of the norms of covers within different genres, but you need to be sure that you are appropriately labelling your book’s genre so its cover is bringing in the right audience.
Know what you want.
Knowing what you want from your cover design does not necessarily mean knowing exactly what it will look like. That’s fine, especially since many authors (myself included) don’t excel in the visual arts.
But it will be helpful to your cover designer to be able to tell them what kind of emotion you want the cover to evoke, or what kind of tone you want it to set. Is your book happy? Is it dark? Is there an exciting adventure or is it more inward-looking?
Provide plenty of detail.
I feel bad for my cover designer because, when I received the first couple drafts of the cover, I realized that I had forgotten to tell her important character and world-building information that rendered those first drafts not right for my novel. Had I been more clear from the start, I might have saved her some effort.
Be sure to get clear on any important details that might make it to the cover. Do your characters live in a castle or a cottage? Is the climate tropical or temperate? Does the fact that your protagonist has red hair come up in the story a lot? Do they wear an important piece of clothing? Let your designer know these things! They won’t all make it into the cover, but if any of them do, they’ll be right, and all of that information put together will provide your designer with a clearer picture of your story as a whole.
Don’t be afraid to ask for changes.
The cover will not be exactly right the first time. It just won’t. So you need to advocate for your book and ask for changes you think will make the cover match the content. This might mean a total re-do (ideally not more than once), adding or removing details, or changing fonts and colours.
Trust your designer.
At the same time as advocating for your book, you should recognize that your cover designer probably has a better understanding of visual art than you do, so know when it’s time to let them do their thing. During this round of cover design, I had asked my designer for one thing, she suggested and designed something completely different, and she was right!
Get a second opinion.
Enlist a friend or family member to look at your potential cover and tell you how it makes them feel, what genre it makes them think of, or whether it makes them want to pick up that book. Watch for their initial reactions to see if they light up at first glance or if they purse their lips in confusion. Hear out what they like and dislike.
Trust your gut when the cover is right.
I was hemming and hawing for a time over whether my cover was truly done. When I told my friend that I had initially gasped in awe when I first saw it, she said, “Go with that reaction, then.” There’s no need to overthink it. If you love your cover, then it’s ready to go!
Want to get a taste of my writing? Sign up for the email newsletter to gain access to a free short story!
The cover reveal for A Collection of Scars is happening online June 29th, 2021. You can check it out by subscribing to my email newsletter, stopping by the blog, or following me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. I can’t wait for you to see it!
Enjoy the journey,