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What Makes a Great Book Cover?

Dec 08, 2021

What Makes a Great Book Cover? 

Start with the Basics

Ask yourself which fonts and colors you like and find examples of covers you like; the best place to start is, where you can see famous book covers and nail down ideas. You can also go to the bookstore and look at where your book would be; see what's there and why certain books catch your eye.

Your cover has to go with your genre and feel of your book is. In other words, even though you might love pink and floral and it looks so beautiful and whimsical, if you're writing this deep, dark book, it's not going to work.

Of course, make it original. It’s really easy to make covers that look like everything else but having something that's really distinguished is going to be important because that's what people are going to gravitate to.

What Else to Think About

You also need your cover has to match your story and communicate clearly what your book title is about while also standing out from other books like it

Don’t make it too weird; think KISS: KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.

Don’t make it too crowded. A lot of times where you'll have people will want their blurbs, a long subtitle and extra visuals. But if the cover gets really busy, it takes away from what you're actually trying to accomplish, which is having people be attracted to your book!

Fonts and Colors

Make sure your font is not too small so people can actually read it when it’s postage stamp size on Amazon but also make sure it’s not big and wild—like a loopy font where it’s really stretched out because then people can’t even read it

Make sure your font color works on your background color—don’t have a cream font on a light pink background; you want something that pops and you can see it clearly

If you’re going to have images, choose elements from your story as images (as opposed to doing that in the title)

Get the Right Kind of Feedback

Once you have it, give it to a few select people for feedback; we had a client whose mother-in-law had a pretty hilarious response which caused us to switch an image on the cover but we’ve also had clients who have asked everyone and their mother for feedback and gotten so twisted by not listening to themselves and us that it’s caused no end of revisions.

Though it’s tempting, don’t ask people on social media to vote. Study after study shows that what people say they like is different than what they buy and people get really influenced by what previous commenters say. If you’re going to do A/B testing on social media, you can do what Tim Ferriss and James Altucher did and create different websites and run ads to them to see which people click on more.

Other Things to Consider

You can be on your cover if it makes sense but most people who aren’t famous aren’t on their book cover.

Remember, you’re the boss so don’t let a designer go too into their own vision (many times your designer won’t have read the book) but DO listen to experts who can tell you what they think works.

On that note, don’t be too attached to your ideas; we see visuals that are really beautiful and they call to us but they're not great for marketing. We’ve had clients who really loved images artists had created and though they weren’t right for the book cover, they got so attached to what they thought their book should be before they came to us that they stuck with that lesser cover.

My Re-Launch of Party Girl

For my re-launch of Party Girl, I decided I wanted a cover that would really take advantage of the current trend of beautiful, bright, Instagram-worthy letters but also be completely original. So I sent my designer images of covers I loved, both ones I snapped in bookstores and ones I took from online—and it’s my favorite cover I ever had. It was also the first time I went in with a really clear vision of what I wanted—but was also open to partnering with my designer to get his take on my vision.


→ You can get my 5 steps to creating a life-changing book

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A Play-by-Play Breakdown of How James Altucher Launches a Book

A Play-by-Play Breakdown of How Tim Ferriss Launches a Book