A Great Book Jacket Design for Ebooks
- The image
- Special effects (if any)
Do’s and Don’ts of Book Jacket Design
The following tips when conceiving a book design may help:
- Keep it simple. Avoid needless clutter and too much detail in your design. Close-ups, oblique lighting or something punchy will make the book cover more eye-catching.
- Ensure the quality of the photograph is top-notch. This means high resolution, good lighting and a carefully-arranged composition.
- Keep in mind that the thumbnail view of the book’s cover as seen on Amazon is quite small, and detail will not be perceived well.
- Ensure the image is in keeping with the book’s content and feel. It would be misleading to feature an idyllic village scene if the plot centres upon secret agents at work in the inner-city.
- Allow large area of a particular tonal area to dominate where the text will be. A fade-out effect, mist, sky or shadow can be used. Patchy colours will render parts of the text invisible.
Copyright-free images and stock photos can be found on the net, such as Amazon’s Createspace or Creative Commons, but I prefer to create my own cover image. Any good digital camera will serve well. I use the highest resolution setting (usually portrait). Consider the following when creating the visual design.
- Take time to set up the scene, be it a landscape view, a figure or a still life setting. This can often be more time consuming than the shots themselves. Of course, a painting can similarly be photographed or scanned, if the cover image consists of this medium.
- Take several photos rather than just one – there will always be dud photos which can be deleted. Camera-shake, poor lighting or blurred focusing are demons to be avoided. I took around 30 photos for my cover design of Domestic Bliss. I wanted just the right lighting and viewpoint. This meant shifting the binoculars around and tilting the eyepiece at different angles.
- Lighting is crucial for mood. You don’t need lots of lighting equipment. In fact, I prefer natural daylight, (unless you are after a candlelit scene). I wanted a moonlit shot for my cover A Hard Lesson, and of course, dim light requires tripods and lots of luck. So I took some shots in bright sunlight. In Pictures Programme, I increased the tonal contrast, muted the colours and shifted the overall hue to blue. The scene looked moonlit.
Allow plenty of background area. This superfluous area will be trimmed off when uploading onto Amazon’s print on demand division, Createspace. Incidentally, Createspace offer ‘Cover Creator,’ which enables you to design your cover from scratch for free. Templates, fonts and images can be used. I use ‘the Palm’ for my novels, a blank template, as this gives the author complete control over the appearance of the book cover. The feature enables you to view your book cover and fix any issues, such as elements cropped off or off-centre.
Best Fonts for Publishing
Paintshop or Photoshop enable you to play around with different fonts and effects. You can adjust the transparency of the font, fade from one colour to another or stretch them out. Choose your fonts carefully; avoid anything too fancy or indecipherable. Is the title of the book readable in thumbnail? Try different sizes. Simple and bold are often best, although elegant can be good for historical or romantic novels, impact suitable for thrillers.
Design Software for Book Cover Designs
There is an array of software out there, but all I use are Paintshop Pro, Pictures and Paint. You can do a surprising amount with just a few simple features. Lots of special effects are really unnecessary, but worth experimenting with, such as art media effects, distortion and aged effect. I always save a copy of the original photo before playing around in case something goes wrong.
Tips for a Great Book Jacket Design
- A good digital camera is often all that is required to take photos. Use high resolution. Take the time to compose the image and take plenty of photographs.
- Experiment with different effects as can be found on Paintshop Pro but keep a copy of the original image in case something goes wrong.
- Try out different fonts but ensure the title of the book can be made out when viewed as a thumbnail.
- Retain superfluous background area for trimming areas, as will be found when uploading the image onto Createspace.
- Uploading the image onto the Kindle platform is easy. Simply browse and select the relevant image. I would insert an image of the cover design within the first page of your Kindle ebook, as this image will be in view in the customer’s kindle library.
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