Book cover designer Scarlett Rugers is giving us the low-down on how to get a great cover today.
Design can be overwhelming.
There’s so much to think about and consider when putting together a book cover, so to make sure you prioritise the right things.
I’m going to share with you what I consider to be the three most important things when designing it yourself.
1. Do you have a clear message you want to portray?
This does not have to be specific, as in, ‘an 18 year old German girl falls in love with a rock star and she also discovers a plot to steal the magic blue diamond’. A story like that, with so many elements, is probably best off not saying any of that. When I talk about a message I’m talking about a concept, a simple visual. Something that encompasses the cover’s personality, character, and mystery.
What single image can sum up your story? If you’re not sure, turn to brainstorming. Write a list of words you want your book cover to encompass. Love, passion, stormy, arrogant, dark, terror, family. By always checking this list you can ensure you’re staying on track for a well-designed cover
2. Consult other designs.
You don’t have to start from scratch, you’re allowed to be inspired by other design. See how others in your genre have done it, and learn by example. Some of the best sites to get feedback is the bookcoverarchive.com, goodreads.com and pinterest.com. Take note of the image layout, the type faces used, where the type has been placed, the colour schemes.
What sort of covers are trending? Is a whole face used, or perhaps it’s more about texture, or sweeping landscapes.
3. Get honest feedback.
I’m not talking about your mum, girlfriend, or dog. I’m not talking about your fan readers, I’m talking about people who are not afraid to give you feedback because they know it will help your chances, not hinder. This could be your beta readers, your local writing community, anyone in your circles that you believe are willing to give you constructive critique. I’m not going to pretend it won’t hurt, but it will help your chances of higher sales.
Overall it’s important to be open to change. I confess that I’m a repeat offender when it comes to sticky ideas. I get an idea, even if it’s idea #2, and I think THIS IS IT, THIS IS THE BOMB. When I get feedback for it I’ve been known to defend and fight off all the critique I didn’t want to hear. It’s taken a long time but, in the wise words of my University teacher, ‘ideas are currency, the more you have the richer you are’.
Be prepared to let go of ideas that just aren’t working and start fresh. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it means you’re a scientist. You test, experiment, and analyse what works best for your book.
What do you think are some of the most important things to remember when it comes to designing your own book cover?
Scarlett Rugers is a professional book cover designer, from Melbourne Australia. She’s worked with both self-published authors and traditional publishing houses, dedicating her time to make authors feel like best sellers.
Her goal is to help change the stigma of self-publishing and show it’s a professional field of high quality. She does this by designing beautiful book covers and working together with authors to produce the best book they can, and to encourage development of their skills in writing and publishing.
She has also been writing since 1998, and has published the non-fiction book of 1001 First Lines, and Oscar & Josephine, a fictional novella.
You can find her here: