March 24, 2015
Don't Put it All on the Cover!
"I need a great book cover or no one will pick it up! What should be on the front? I need to make sure I cover all my bases and target every possible audience and topic I cover--"NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Cough! Sorry about that. But now that I have your attention (I do, don't I?), let's take care of some of them of that cover anxiety right now. I know there is a lot of pressure to create a "killer cover", but overreacting is not the way to go about it. So take a breath, and read a few of my personal dos and don'ts.
- Say too much. If your cover is trying to communicate too many ideas, scenes, or topics, people will be just as confused as you are. Get to the point. What is the big idea? Also, if you reveal it all on the cover, why should they read the book?
- Overwhelm and clutter. No one wants to spend time feel frustrating trying to navigate an incoherent design or message, and likewise, a full neon color scheme? I know we want to grab attention, but...my eyes!! THEY BURN!!!
- Set the wrong tone. If your book is a murder mystery, a witty and humorous cover might not be for you. Unless it's a murder mystery comedy, maybe. (Is that a thing?)
- Keep it simple. Remember, it is THE Big Idea, not "the big ideas".
- Pack some punch. It's easy to do this when you have a clear, straightforward message to communicate. Whether it's a clever play on the title, a simple photo and type combo, or full-blown illustration of an epic moment...it still needs to say something that can be understood in an instant. The "punch" is what gets those gut reactions you want, where people say: "That's funny!", "This looks interesting.", "Hm? What's this?", or "Cool!" Know the reaction you want and plan backwards to get there.
- Take your time. Great ideas don't happen overnight, no matter how often you e-mail your designer in a minute. Brainstorm together, give time to think. and let the ideas breathe a while before picking the winner.
- Have fun! Experiment, try new things, and play with every idea no matter how "dumb". Concepting should be enjoyable and exciting, not overwhelming!