Guest Post: The 3 Keys to Designing a Book Cover that Sells

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 RugersScarlett 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:
http://booksat.scarlettrugers.com
http://www.facebook.com/scarlettrugersdesign
http://www.twitter.com/thebookdesignr

What You Can Do When Your Books Aren’t Selling

We’ve all had those moments when the numbers on the KDP  dashboard stubbornly refuse to move no matter how many times we hit refresh. Instead of waiting for sales to come to you, here are a some fundamental things you can do to to bring buyers to your book.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

At first glance, these may seem basic but most authors overlook the obvious when their books aren’t moving. Ready to roll up your sleeves? Let’s get to work!

Change Your Book Cover

Your book cover is the first thing a customer sees on Amazon. If your book isn’t selling, chances are the cover has something to do with it.

The most important feature of your book cover is that it be legible at a small size.  Your cover may be breath-taking full size but a blurry mess when reduced. Contrast is key when it comes to small covers, so view your cover at a small size as well as in greyscale because that is how readers see it on their Kindles. And yes, there are a lot of eInk Kindles in use!

Your cover must reflect your genre. Take a look at the covers for Amanda Hocking’s Watersong Novels. You know they are YA when you look at them. Now is not the time to be cutting edge or try to separate yourself from the pack.

Take a look at the covers on the best seller list in your genre. Then spend some time browsing through the images at Dreamstime to get ideas of what colors and images reflect your book. (Whether you are designing your own cover or not, create a lightbox and save the images you like for later use or to share with your designer.) You can find a list of very affordable designers at the Kindle Boards Yellow Pages.

For more information on book covers, please see Secrets to Super eBook Covers that Sell. You can also find detailed information on creating covers in The Self Publishing Toolkit.

Re-Write Your Book Blurb

Your book description is what motivates your potential buyer to sample or buy your book. If your book isn’t selling, your book description is a great, easy thing to tweak. So many authors waste this precious space by slapping a random sentence or two up and calling it a day. This is not good enough. Use this space to sell your book.

The most important thing to know about your book description is that it isn’t a summary of your book. It’s a tease meant to raise more questions than it answers. Do a little recon and look at the blurbs of books that are selling well. Make sure you style your text with bold and italics so that it is easy to read. You are essentially writing ad copy, so spend some time on it and tweak it until you’ve got it just right.

The easiest way to edit your book description is through Author Central. You can add bold and italics with a rich text editor. If you know a little html, you can also add headings and such. Your edits will also show up on your page within an hour or two versus having to wait a day or more through the KDP Dashboard. Once you edit your book description in Author Central, you can no longer edit it through the KDP dashboard.

Please don’t load up the front of your blurb with quotes from reviews. Put your reviews in the Editorial Reviews section of your Product Page. This is also accessible through Author Central.

Check Out Your Book Sample

Your book sample should be primed to sell. That means that it should not only be irresistible, but your writing should be front and center. Download your book sample and look at it from the reader’s perspective.

If you’ve got a lot of front matter taking up space in your sample, get rid of it. Put your dedications and appreciations at the end of your book or on your website. If you must put reviews, limit yourself to three at the most and they should be snippets, not the full text.

Your sample should be error free, well formatted and compelling. Pull the reader in so that they have to click the buy button to find out what happens next.

Amazon.com is the Best Place to Sell Your Book

As long as you are offering a well written book, there are buyers out there for your book. Amazon is a sales machine; they have three hundred million credit cards on file and millions of people that access the site with the intention of purchasing books.

We’ve just covered three of the most important things that you can do to help your book sell–so remember when your book isn’t selling, you don’t have to sit back and take it. The beauty of digital publishing is that nothing is ever set in stone. Your book sales are under your control, so get to work!