Wed | Mar 21, 2018

Make your book cover stand out

Published:Sunday | February 21, 2016 | 12:00 AMCorine La Font

I have been asked by a client to address this topic and I gather it would be of benefit to all of you, my dedicated readers, aspiring authors, and writing enthusiasts.

The one thing you need to keep in mind when designing your book cover is that it is the only thing that determines whether a potential customer will pick up your book. Notice I said pick it up, not buy it. The first move is to get their attention and that?s what the cover does.


Then when you get their attention, the next challenge is to make them feel that what is inside is something they absolutely need to have or else they would be the only ones missing out on the action; and action here can mean a juicy read of a novel where they can live vicariously through the characters and the story or some self-help tips that can literally be the game changer in their life or business.

Now what does a cover have to do with all that? Simple. There are a few things to pay attention to:

1. The title: First, the spine is the only thing you will see if placed on a shelf on a bookstore unless the store owners have decided to display your books prominently, if it fits a particular genre that is being promoted at the time, or you may be doing a book launch at the store. Other than that, you are left with only the spine to help you. If so, the title is what will attract and it has to be one that speaks to the potential buyer. If the title doesn?t give rise to emotions, then you have lost them. It must have an affective motive behind it and the title must give an indication from the get go what the content is about.

2. The typeface or font: Romantic titles tend to have curly fonts. Horror titles tend to have bleeding fonts. It just goes without saying because, over time, it has been drilled into our minds this is what to expect. If you have a self-help book with bleeding fonts, well ... I am not sure if I would want to pick up that book for any type of help at all!

3. Colour: Again, we go back to emotions. Red speaks to love. Earthy colours, like browns, oranges, and yellows speak to health and wellness. Get to understand the type of book and emotional response you want to evoke in the reader and choose the best colour scheme to develop the design.

4. Images: You can either create your own image by setting your own stage or going to a particular location and take your own pictures. Take for example ?Sex and Scrambled Eggs? by Jennifer Grahame, a local author. She went to a location and set the stage for that cover design for her book. You can also shop through stock photo sites online and purchase what you need there. The thing with doing that is other persons also have access to the same photos or if you are a cheapo, you can download creative common photos for free. Again, others also have access to the same photos. So I reckon if you wish to stand out from everyone else, it wouldn?t be a good idea to use a stock photo whether paid or free. Remember they must be crisp and clean and more than 300 dots per inch (DPI) large so that when used in the design, it?s not blurry or pixelated.

5. The Blurb: This is where it gets interesting as the blurb basically gives a one paragraph of what your book is about. It has to be well written and not ?sales pitchy?. It needs to compel the potential buyer that they can?t do without this book; so pick out the most compelling areas that you think will do that and get it into one paragraph or if it is a self-help book, using a bulleted list of what the reader will learn or see as results once they apply what you have written in the book.

6. About the author and author picture: This is optional as you don?t want to crowd the cover with too much text that will detract from the others mentioned above. If the author is well known, then sure, write a condensed bio, nothing more than 2-3 lines. There is no need for more and yes, you can add your image there; just make sure it is a professional image.

You may be wondering how can this be applied to getting you book seen on a site such as Amazon, the largest retailer online?

The thing is, the principle remains the same. Amazon is a virtual book shelf and, as a matter of fact, I, personally, think you have a better bet on Amazon that on a traditional book shelf because Amazon shows your book cover fully. It?s interactive so you can flip to the back with the click of a mouse and you get a peek of the inside which some bookstores do not allow. You have to buy the book to read it.

Once you follow the steps above and push your promotion and marketing, you will be good to go. Feel free to email me your questions like my client did, and you may just see the response here or on my blog.

l Corine La Font is a speaker, author, coach and self-publishing consultant. She is also an award-winning publishing resource in the 2013 Small Business Book Awards. Get a copy of her book at, Subscribe to her magazine at tune in to her radio programme at and check out her website at She can be reached at