If you are publishing a book – be it is an ebook, paperbook or hardback – and you really are serious about seeing it in print and making money from it, then the cover will be a key element in its success. Think about one that caught your eye when you last went into a bookstore, or even browsed some online. Usually ebook covers are flat images (which online bookstores might use), plus an alternative ‘curved cover’ for a sales website display. These can be easily designed using free software and some effort – even I managed it!
Cover Design Complexity
If you want to see your books on bookstands and you are considering using a print-on-demand (‘POD’) printer, then you will need an outstanding cover that sells first to the bookstore and also to manage the design process yourself. There are many items that need to be sourced, such as a barcode and ISBN. There are strict technical specifications to be met if it is to get through the POD printing cycle without additional expenditure. If you want a really outstanding book cover, then unless you are a graphic artist with the requisite technical skills, get it done by a professional. Once you have located a professional, then you should provide a specification.
To avoid misunderstandings, write a Book Cover Design Brief. You can refine it with your designer, but at least you will both be looking at the same cover specification.
The cover artist will need to start somewhere, so a book synopsis will need to be included, and you may have your own ideas on an overall design concept. Be flexible though – the designer is the expert and don’t limit his or her artistic scope excessively. The classification should fall out from the synopsis, but do be clear. Without knowing the book, what genre does ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ suggest to you? You should take this into account when you select your designer, as some specialise.
If relevant, it can be helpful to the designer to include single sentence pen-portaits of the principal character(s). Will this be the first in a series?
Key Ingredients of a Book Cover Design Brief
You should specify the ‘trim size’ of the book – its final size – as this will dictate the amount of space the artist has to work with. If you require a hardback cover, then you will probably need a dust jacket design and the particular thickness of hardcover will be important.
The final version of the brief will need to be specific about the exact pagecount, ISBN, cover price unless stickering, binding format and many other items, but the designer can prepare some rough layouts whilst you are pulling together the final items.
What about Reviews – perhaps other authors, newspapers (most often on the rear cover)? These can be an important part of marketing and you will need to advise the artist on this, so that the provision for text can be included in the overall design (though the reviews themselves may not be available at the time you formally engage the designer).
Your design brief must specify the print-on-demand company you intend to use. Each has its own technical requirements that the cover design must adhere to (by satisfying a ‘pre-flight’ test which software such as Adobe Professional offers). Re-work can be very expensive if you miss a print deadline say for the summer holiday read sales peak.
You may need images for advertisements, for email campaigns, and for book catalogues such as Nielsen Bookdata. Will you be producing a Kindle ebook? If so you will need a cover image, and you may even choose to add a rear cover image within your ebook.
These are just a few of the specifications that your Cover Design Brief must include. There are several others, but once you have your first template brief set up, then you can improve and re-use it in the future with the obvious changes.
About the Author
Click and see a cover design brief which we put together for one of our authors, James Marinero at ==> New-Publications If you are a new author looking for a micro-publisher or maybe marketing support, then may we help? Contact us at www.ezeebooks.co.uk
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