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A closer look at book cover design, Part III: Creating your own book cover

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Most self-publishers wear the task of several positions: writer, editor, and graphic artist among other duties. Most self-publishing applications provide user-friendly tools for the aspiring author to design his or her own book cover.
As mentioned in Part II, it may be more beneficial to hire a graphic designer who may be able to create an attractive visual synopsis for your book. However, should you choose to wear the hat of a book cover designer, there is technical information that will help your cover design process go a bit smoother.

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Visual Design expert Anita B. Carroll offers helpful layout tips in addition to explaining some of the technical factors involved with the book cover design process.

Q. What should the author keep in mind when creating their own book cover?

A. Focus on the important copy of your cover, such as the title, subtitle, author name, and review blurbs when available. Don’t clutter your front cover with too much info or images; zero in on one image. With regards to type, certain fonts have a very specific mood and tone so be creative with the type, but ensure it complements your imagery and sets the right ambiance. With regards to fiction, you have much more flexibility and can get away with the use of short titles. Keep in mind that the space on the cover is very limited, so you want to make an impact.

Q. What are the technical issues authors ought to know about the book design process?

A. When designing for both print and eBook, it is important to realize that the print resolution (DPI – Dots Per Inch) is different when designing for the internet. If you plan to print the cover, make sure you have at least 300 dpi, for eBooks anything from 72+ dpi will work. Your printer will probably also request this but, when saving your file for the printer I recommend you saving it as a PDF file. This will ensure that the layout and colors stay intact. Also, always order test prints before submitting your entire order. Designs printed always look different than on the screen, so you want to have one last look over before you commit to it.

Q. What is the best advice for authors designing their own book cover?

A. The best advice I can give a self-publisher may not come as a surprise since selling your book will probably be the biggest challenge you are going to face. Writing it was the easy part. Therefore, it is important to recognize your overall strengths and weaknesses, and make good business decisions in order to reach your business goal.

If in addition to being a writer you also have a good understanding of cover design guidelines and overall design principles for creating artwork that presents quality and know how to use designer software, I would definitely say yes, go for it!

However, if you are not, it is good practice to keep in mind that the cover design is the very first interaction your readers will have with your book. So don’t skimp on the very thing that will grab your reader’s attention, but again, it is important to recognize your strengths and weaknesses.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you always should. Take a step back, look at your cover, remove all personal attachments you have to it, and ask yourself “is this cover a true representation of my brand, of my story, and would I pick it up at the bookstore?”

In conclusion, always keep in mind what your goal is. Is it to sell your book or feature your skills in graphic design?

To learn more about Anita B. Carroll and Racepoint.com, visit her website here.

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