Why your book cover matters
Your book cover is what first draws a person’s attention to your book, even before they notice who the author is.
This is because everybody judges a book by its cover. Literally!
Having a great book cover brings you one step closer to having a new reader.
Not only can it grab attention when a potential reader sees it. But, it can also be used as part of your author marketing.
You can use it as the main focus in your book trailer or you can use it as a guide to building your author website or website for a book you’ve written.
What a book cover should include
There are a few things every book cover should have regardless of the design and/or genre.
Make sure that your book cover has these 5 key elements:
- Entice engagement
- Create strong contrast
- Use striking imagery
- Use great typography
- Nail the genre
With a combination of these elements, you will be one step closer to having a book cover design that grabs the attention.
I would recommend, however, that you consider getting a professional to create your book cover. There are so many professionals out there that are talented and can help bring your vision to life.
21 Ideas to inspire your book cover design
Even when you have a great book with a great title, it should still make an impact when someone sees it.
We’ll cover some of the top book cover ideas of 2021 that help you do this now.
1. Color Accents & Contrast
The colors you choose to use on your book cover can help guide the potential reader towards a certain emotion.
For example in the book, A Slow Fire Burning they used dark low contrasting colors to give off a feeling of danger or fear. And can add an accent color to create a focal point you want readers to pay attention to, which is the title.
Or you can go for deep colors with high contrast, like in Mexican Gothic. The olive green and the burgundy or both deep colors but still have a strong contrast. Which gave me the feeling that a dark story lies behind this very detailed book cover.
Of course, depending on the genre that you write, the colors you choose will be either more important or less.
For thriller and horror books, color contrast and the choice to use accents has a bigger impact.
2. Have A Focal Point
Giving all the attention to one specific object in your book cover can be a great way to give a summary of what the book is about.
Keeping the book cover simple, by having a solid background with an object or image that has a message behind it, is a great way of telling people what the book is about.
Both the hand at the two red chairs in these two book covers give you some visual idea about what the book is about and support the little of the book. This helps give an overall understanding of what is to come when a person starts reading.
3. Get Creative With Your Typography
Sometimes all you need is an amazing type to make your book stand out.
The right typography can be just as powerful as an image.
But, choosing the right typography is what will make your reader want to know what’s inside the book.
Think about the type of font, you can use the storyline of the book to help you decide which one to go for.
4. Add Texture/Dimension To Your Cover Art
Instead of having 2D graphics or illustrations for your book cover, add dimension to your cover art by going for 3D art.
This will make your book stand out even more.
I like the Paulina Flores book cover, although it looks simple the dimension added to the typography makes the cover stand out a bit more.
5. Make The Illustration The Focus
Illustrations can add a form of uniqueness to your book cover, especially if made by a very good illustrator.
So you can make the focus of the book the illustration. This is perfectly done in Heather Christle’s -The Crying Book. The title of the book is literally the cover of the book.
No further explanation is required if you wanted to read about a crying book, from a mile away you would know this is the book.
6. Make it Gritty (move away from clean design)
Book covers generally have a clean design, straight lines with clean and clear colors.
But, it doesn’t have to be like that, move away from the common clean design and go for a gritty design instead. Obviously, this will depend on the genre of your book.
I think it would be weird to see a gritty-dusty romance book cover. But, then again if you can pull it off why not.
The texture of the Simple Machine book and the fact that it looks dirty makes the book edgy.
One can expect a lot of fighting in this book, especially since there is a fracture in the glass caused by a bullet.
7. Minimalist Covers Should Still Be Creative
Sometimes less is more but even though you are going for minimalism, the book cover should still be creative.
Give the reader just enough information for them to want to know more.
I like how Eric G. Wilsons book cover simply uses the bright yellow color that would generally show happiness. And the alignment of the typography is in the shape of a sad face. It summarises the title of the book.
8. Fit The Genre
In all the creativity and efforts to be unique, having a book cover that is suitable for your genre is important.
If it’s not, people who could be potentially reading your book may not even give it a second glance simply because the cover is so different from the genre they enjoy reading.
This is a unique way and creative way to show that your book is about constellations and Sci-Fi related. Making the font actual constellation was a fantastic idea!
9. Choose Imagery With An Emotional Impact
Images are able to deliver emotions a lot more than words, so choose the imagery wisely!
The piercing blue eyes of the girl in the book Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, have some level of sadness. Although I don’t know what the book is about, looking at her eyes makes me wonder are the words “Never let me go “her own words? If so, who is she speaking to?
This is how you should use photographed images in book covers, the image should connect to the reader emotionally.
Bonus Tip: Drink more coffee! I don’t know about you but inspiration tends to hit me harder when I am not low on caffeine. Jokes aside it never hurts to change your environment or look at other covers.
10. Convey The Book’s Main Idea
You always want to have some correlation between your book cover and what your book is about. That way a person can somewhat have an idea if the book would interest them just by looking at it.
This book does it perfectly, with the title being Loneliness they show what it means by isolating the dot that should be above the letter “i”.
11. Use Tilted Fonts
Try using titled font instead of the usual straight font we see. This is another way to add character to your book cover.
The font for The Bathrobe Knight and its positioning go well together. The image is also positioned at an angle.
This just comes to show that things don’t always have to look straight.
12. Abstract Designs & Graphics
Unique abstract designs are a great way to capture those who have an eye for art and anyone who might want to decipher the deeper meaning hidden in the artwork.
Both these covers were well thought out. This gives the reader the confidence that if the book cover looks this great, then the contents will also be great.
13. Upside down image
We always see book covers with right-side-up or portrait images, I think I can count the number of times I’ve seen a book cover that pushed boundaries by having an upside-down image.
Be the one to push boundaries and try something different, rotate the image of your book cover.
This will get people to stop and stare while turning their heads so that they can see your book cover properly.
Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi stands out the most to me, although the image/animation is not completely upside down.
The design makes it look like the bodies are rotated to the right but then the other half with the fox looks like it’s upright.
Which makes you want to stop and tilt your head, trying to understand the book cover.
The next thing you’ll want to do is to see what’s inside this interesting cover… Then, mission accomplished!
14. Mirror text
You could also push the boundaries by using mirrored text rather than the usual text format. This was done well in the book “ChangeThe Way You See Everything” as it goes with the title of the book as well.
If you don’t want to go as extreme, you could even have only one letter mirrored or written backwards.
Or there could be mirrored upside-down text under the regular text.
15. Action off-screen
You can take a very interesting scene from the book and bring it to life by depicting what is happening.
For example in D.I Hills – The Detective we can see three people that are walking into a dark tunnel with what appears to be a red right at the end of the tunnel.
This is an actual scene from the book.
16. Geometric Design
You generally see geometric designs on non-fiction books, but I feel like if done properly they can be great even in fiction books.
The cover of “The Mothers” by Brit Bennett use geometric lines and patterns well. They could hide a side profile of a woman on this book cover, it took a bit of time for me to notice it.
Bear in mind I had no idea there’s a possibility of a face being hidden, so you might just find the face faster than I did.
17. Make it Meta
Meta means about itself… It’s the idea of something being a kind of window into its own world.
This book cover is exactly that, it’s a book cover with a book that has a cover. Just like when you’re watching a movie with a person watching a movie… Like the Russian dolls.
18. Look At Something From A New Angle
Go for something different, an angle you have not seen before, this way your book cover can stand out in every single way.
Book covers are all about what your reader sees- if they like the view, they might just like what is inside.
But, what if you go for something they always see?
Just like the title of this book and the bird- eye view of the cover, sometimes it’s nice seeing this from an angle you don’t usually get. Give that to your readers.
19. Make a swipe file (mood board)
This is a collection of all the book cover ideas you like, can find them on Amazon, Bookbub, Goodreads, or this mega book cover blog post.
This can help you put together different elements that you like from different books to create a design or outline of what your next cover could look like.
20. Show A Curated Collection of Items That Are Important in The Story
Display different items that may have an important meaning to the characters or are somehow important in the storyline.
This can be like a collection of your favourite items that are put together to be shown in a display cabinet for everyone to see.
21. Use Contrasting Concepts
Put two ideas that don’t usually go together in the same space.
This creates tension and makes the viewer interested. The title of this book is already a big contrast, you don’t expect the words damaged and joy to coexist, but where they are as the title of the book.
Lollipops or sweets, in general, are associated with joy and excitement but smashed Lolipop is what brings in the contrast because is damaged.
Bonus Book Covers Ideas We Love
I just couldn’t end the blog without letting you see these book covers, they’re too nice not to be seen.
Beyond Book Cover Ideas…
Your book cover is just one vital part of your book marketing. Make sure you also have a fabulous space online to help readers new and old fall in love with your work.
If you need help with this, it’s what we do! Learn more about our author website design services here.
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