10 Cover Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

I love, love, love this brilliant advanced training by Becky Bayne. For one thing you get to learn from the gal who makes all my books so beautiful – and for another thing, her tips are genius. So whether you’re planning to do your own cover, or need to know how to work with a designer to achieve your vision for your cover, this is going to help you out.

As always the replay is available with an audio download but I highly suggest you take the time to watch the video so you can see the examples given in the presentation

Ten Design Mistakes (and tips to avoid them)

1. Creating too complex a Design

Remember that Amazon is now the common denominator for audience reviews and many purchases. You want a cover that will not only stand out visually on a bookshelf, but also be readable as a tiny Amazon thumbnail.

You want to capture the reader’s attention in a short snippet and then use a subtitle to clarify further if needed. “Getting Prepared” vs “How to Prepare Your Family for Emergencies.”

2. Poor Image Choice

Watch out for things like fashion, technology, and hair styles that will be dated sooner compared to the relevance of the content. Choose an image that will help you by giving you white space that you can use.

Try searching for photo using creative ideas or creative concept tags instead of specific details.

3. Purchasing the Wrong Size and Resolution

*Warning! Never take an image straight off the web. Use your own image that you took or purchase an image from a legitimate stock site. Check out the handout about image copyright for a refresher if needed.

Kindle books need to be 1563 pixels on the short side and 2500 pixels on the long side but only needs a resolution of 72 dpi.

Print book, however, needs 300 dpi resolution and many marketing materials will want that also. Check your sizes carefully because a trade paperback 6×9 inches needs extra space on the side of at least .125 bleed space.

If you think you might eventually do print items you’ll want to purchase larger resolutions and then decrease the size for the various formats as needed. This gives you a lot more flexibility. If taking your own photos set your camera at the highest resolution even though it takes more space.

When in doubt, print out your cover on your home printer and see if the resolution looks OK in print. Becky always has a professional quality copy of the cover before finalizing any design to double check all the elements.

4. Using Illegible Fonts

It has to be able to be read on a thumbnail image. Be careful about download free fonts from sketchy sites because some have viruses in them.

Have a clear font that is easy to read.

5. Using Too Many Fonts

Match the font to the subject and tone of the book.  Choose one or two fonts for the cover and then create variation through changing the bold or italics, and the size of the fonts. Notice in the examples of the right and wrong how the fonts on the second example enhance the tone of the book.

6. Using Too Many Words

You want to communicate the concept in a way that creates interest. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming and give everything a way with a slap in the face. Let them have a sense of interest and  curiosity and be able to easily get all the information they need.

7. Text Too Close to the Edge

Give your words room to breathe. Too close to the edge and it isn’t as pleasing to the eye. Also, it can be cut off during the printing process. I find it hilarious that my homemade cover was so bad Becky put it in there twice.

8. Color Chaos

Don’t use color just to add color. Usually you don’t want pure primary colors on your book without a good reason (ie child’s primer book). Most adult books will use more complex colors.

Here’s something I didn’t know – ebooks are rendered in RGB and print books are rendered in CMYK. You’ll need to make the transition for your various formats.

9. Preparing Final Files Incorrectly

For the final steps you need to know what you’re actually creating. If you’re doing multiple things you need a print version, an ebook version, and marketing materials. (I have often asked Becky to make web graphics and banners in addition to the book covers to make marketing and sharing easier.)

For CreateSpace – under 100 pages your spine will be blank while a larger book will allow words/graphics on the spine. CreateSpace wants the full cover in a single PDF file while Kindle ebook covers are .jpgs.

10. Unaware of Branding

If you know you want the book to relate to additional products, future books, etc. you need to consider those elements in your book cover planning.  Don’t be afraid to go to the bookstores and see what’s popular in your area right now. Think about what you like, what you don’t like, your personal style, etc.

Handout of Resources Mentioned PLUS Discount on eBook Cover Design for Course Students:

Resources for DIY Cover Design Plus Discount

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