3 Secrets to e-Book Cover Design Success
This is the most important key of all. While a 6″ x 9″ printed book has 54 square inches of space to play with, an area large enough for a pretty decent painting or illustration, maybe 40 to 100 words of copy for nonfiction books, awards, blurbs, subtitles, taglines, series logos as well as the required title and author, e-book covers do not.
The overriding fact to remember about e-book covers is the very small size they will be viewed in by people searching on the sites of e-retailers.
So simplicity becomes one of the chief virtues of successful e-book cover design. Especially if you are adapting a print book cover to your e-book, take out any elements that won’t be legible or readable at this small size. I know it’s hard, but just toss them, you’ll be happier in the end.
Keep the cover on the title, author name and one graphic that instantly communicates something about the tone or genre of the book.
This one is super important and makes sure that all the work you’ve put into your cover is going to pay off.
Your book will be shown in several ways on sites like Amazon, Smashwords, and iBookstore. I think you really need to design for the smallest size of all, and here’s why. That size is the one that your book is displayed in when you do a search.
People who already know about your book are going to head straight for it anyway, those aren’t the people we should be concerned about. It’s the others, people looking for something but not sure exactly what, who should be your primary focus.
And that’s where the search results page comes in. If you look at a page of search results on Amazon, for instance, you’ll be presented with a screenful of tiny images and links via the book titles.
If your cover disappears in this view, or it’s unreadable, or you can’t possibly tell what the image on the cover is, it’s much more likely that browsers will skim right over it to the next and the next, and your chance at making an impression on that person is gone, literally in a second or two.
When you have a design you like, get one of those Amazon or BN.com search results pages up on your screen, reduce your cover to the same size, and see how it looks compared to other books in your genre. There’s no better test than this to see if your concept is going to work.
Even though your cover is going to be viewed in a small format, and even though I’ve just advised you to keep it simple, your e-book cover also has other important work to do for you in terms of branding and positioning.
This is just as true for novelists as it is for nonfiction writers, by the way. Many of the novelists who have had a lot of success with e-books are writing series of books, or several series of books, a great strategy to keep the attention of readers and build a base of fans for each release.
It’s important for your readers to be able to recognize the books in a series right away, that’s part of your series’ branding, and part of your author branding too.
In print book design, we usually consider the combination of the graphic elements on a cover with the typography of the title as making up the basic “brand” of the book. This is also true with e-books but, because we have to simplify them for online display, they have to do this work even more efficiently than their print book counterparts.
Sometimes branding can be as simple as color-coordinated covers or design elements. At other times a simple logo can be used to brand books, or a distinctive stripe along the top or bottom of the cover can bring together different looks into a branded series.
Positioning has a lot to do with how your book compares to other books in its niche or genre. Is it the deluxe version of a beginning carpentry book? The quick guide to fixing your Volkswagen? Advice for love-struck teens?
The design of your e-book cover has to reflect these differences between related books to give potential buyers the information they need to make a purchase decision. While a tiny cover image can’t do that all by itself, it is a part of your positioning strategy overall and should coordinate with it.