Recently an author asked about having a friend design their book cover. Left Hand Publisher’s response was: “If it can save you money and you get a great cover that helps you sell books, ABSOLUTELY!” We provide ALL of our Optional Services as strictly conveniences to our authors. No extra service of ours is mandatory. We do need to approve third-party work before we can offer a publishing contract, only because editing, and especially cover designs, significantly impact the sales and a bad design cuts into our commission as well as yours. Plus, since there is very little money in publishing, one of our most significant concerns is maintaining our reputation for quality work.
The problem arises with outside design when amateur designers are not aware of some of the intricacies involved in good cover design. Here are just a few.
A good book cover design…
- will make or break sales, so make sure it is competitive with what’s out there.
- incites curiosity or adds depth to a story without giving away too much. It’s a delicate balancing act.
- is not too on-the-nose, but vague enough to allow the reader to use their imagination a bit.
- is not too busy or has too many fonts.
- in the case of new authors, emphasizes the book title, not the author’s name since they are not a big name draw (yet!)
- will also have a subtitle or slogan or tagline to convey the essence of the story if need be.
- will wrap around to include the back in its design to pull the prospective buyer there, if it’s in a bookstore.
- will bleed off the edges
But, WAIT! There’s More!
There are more, but we didn’t want to overwhelm you. We won’t go into details, but for example, other factors a good designer may take into consideration are. …
- Back cover summaries
- Blurb placement
- White space for the bar code and ISBN number and price
- Contrast between background and fonts – Amazon uses that as one of its algorithm factors in ranking books
- Stock vs. painting or illustration, cost changes, variations
- Utilizing a cover design style for future volumes or work for consistency in branding
And unfortunately, the list goes on and on. Experienced book designers are well aware of these and take them into account when designing a cover. If your designer does not, please contact Left Hand Publishers at