This guest post is from book cover designer Joshua Jadon.

Have you thought about what might be holding you back as an author? Well, there are actually several things that it could be. The one that you might not even be thinking about is the book cover design. Who hasn’t heard that judging a book based on its cover is wrong? But who actually listens to it? You’re probably guilty of this too, and your readers may be, as well.

But what should you be doing to improve your book cover design? These tips will help you figure out how to get it right the first time.

Myth #1: Your name should be front and center

If you’re famous, like J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, then put your name in big, bold letters across the front cover. Those names mean something and someone will pick up that book just because of who wrote it. If you aren’t well-known, then putting your name to big across the cover isn’t going to help you sell the book, and it takes away from what potential readers are looking for.

Myth #2: Get as creative as possible

In general, being creative is a great idea. But if you’re getting a little too creative you could be overwhelming your potential readers. Too many fonts are confusing and too many images can draw the eye away from the main focus. You want readers to check out your book and everything you have to offer.

Myth #3: Tell your reader what the book is all about

You want your reader to look at your cover and have an idea of what’s going to happen in your book. Two characters staring into each other’s eyes says that it͛s probably a romance. Blood dripping down the front says it’s probably crime or another gory genre. But you don’t want to be too on the nose about it because you’re going to give away some of the mystery that makes your book so good. Instead, you want to make sure that you’re giving just a hint of what’s inside.

Myth #4: You can design the cover yourself

While not 100% false, this is not a good piece of advice. You want to have an image that everyone (or at least a lot of people) are going to like. That’s not an easy thing to do if you are not an artist. You need something unique and specially designed. If all you can do on your own is clip art, then you’re really not doing yourself any favors. Your professionally crafted book cover design will make your book look, well, professional.

Myth #5: Make your design cool before anything else

Cool is great, but it shouldn’t be the number one thing. Instead, make sure that the image you select matches the book that you’re writing. If you put a dramatic image of the moon on your book, that’s great. But if your book is about a boy who wants to be a professional gymnast, that cool picture really isn’t related. It’s not going to help you once people read the back cover and realize more about the book.

Myth #6: Use any title you want

Again, we won’t say this is 100% false, but if you have a long title, people are more likely to keep looking. Check this out – The Marvelous Tale of the Amazing Mr. Frog and the Dragon Prince as They Escape the Marsh. Now be honest, you got tired halfway through that title, didn’t you? Now imagine if there was a subtitle to go with it. Now you’re really done, right? Even if you have a really interesting title (not like that one) people aren’t going to read it if it͛s too long, and they’re not going to enjoy looking at a book cover that’s only big enough for the title and nothing else. Shorter titles are easier to design and make for a more appealing cover.

Myth #7: Don’t worry about the back cover

Most people put a simple blurb about their book (or maybe about themselves) on the back cover of their book, but that doesn’t mean you should completely ignore the design. You need to focus on your spacing, sizing and definitely how much you’re going to write. Make sure you’re not overloading this section with words either. If you can’t get to the point and let the reader know what the book is about quickly, they’re going to think the same rambling happens in the book, too.

Myth #8: You have to design your own cover

A lot of authors think they need to create or at least have input on their own book cover design. This is actually not true. Sure, you should take a look at it, and if you absolutely hate it then you should say something, but for the most part, there’s a reason that you’re the author and not the artist. A graphic artist is going to know what designs are going to help your book sell. If you don’t have a preference for a cover design, let the artist take over.

Myth #9: The spine isn’t as important

While you do want to put your title and your name on the spine, you don’t want to forget about the design. This section is small, so a lot of people think they can ignore it. But you can do a little more. Most books have enough room to add a small picture or a publisher’s logo on the spine, and you can add little things like a butterfly over the words or a slightly different color font.

No matter what you want to do with your book cover, you first need to make sure that you’re paying close attention to what you’re going to need. Remember, your reader is going to spend only a few seconds looking at your book to determine if they want to read it or not. Make those seconds count.

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