When should you begin choosing and designing your book cover? My answer is: the moment you know your title or have the concept of your book. Your book cover is your number one branding and marketing tool and there’s no reason to wait until your book is published to start working on it.
Here’s a step-by-step process I teach my book coaching clients and students. I’m going to call it essential because in my book (heh,heh) it is. It’s the one I use for my own books and I’ve also found it to work well for others. Even if you think you’re not creative, if you’re working with a book cover designer–which I would suggest–you can contribute ideas that zero-in instead of flailing about.
Visit a Bookstore
What’s your genre? Go to that section of a bookstore and look around until your eye catches a book cover. Snap a picture of it. What attracts you? Is it the colors? The font style? After you snap a few shots of other books a pattern might emerge. Note any similarities between the books that draw your attention. If you prefer to look on Amazon, go ahead, but a bookstore gives you access to authors and covers you might not find easily on Amazon.
Be sure to look for books from bestselling or established authors of books in your genre. Chances are their publishers spend a lot of money on book covers to secure their investments. You might also note the branding techniques. Some authors are so consistent you could recognize their books even without the titles or their names. Here’s an example of one of my favorite authors and book cover designs: John Maxwell
Notice the author’s name is at the top; large, distinct print. These 3 books all have numbers written in digital format, not words. Large print. Note the use of bright colors. I would instantly recognize John Maxwell by his design alone.
Choose a Designer
It may be tempting to go with your brother-in-law the graphic designer. RESIST! It’s important to work with an experienced book cover designer. There’s a difference. Book covers sell for $150-$2,500. Some go for more. Ask for referrals from fellow authors. Look at other self-published books. What do you like? What do you want to avoid? I won’t embarrass anyone by posting a shot of their cover, but please take my word for it, I’ve seen some absolutely awful covers designed by authors who want to go cheap. Again, RESIST! It’s worth the investment. Scrimp somewhere else.
Create a Mockup
I usually have ideas in my head but I’m not a talented artist. When I draw people they are skinny little stick-figures. Regardless, I do my best to put the pictures from my head on paper to illustrate my ideas and give the designer some direction. Example:
Here’s what I sent my designer as I was pulling ideas together for the brand of my Writer to Writer book series. It’s not pretty. Thank GOODNESS I didn’t attempt it myself. This gave my designer a concept to work with and here’s what he came up with as a result. Click on the graphic for the full cover shots.
(I can’t wait to show you the finished products of the series.)
Design your book cover as soon as possible, even if you’re still writing. Use it to promote, pre-sell books, and build visibility. Advertisers will tell you ANYTHING needs to be seen 9-11 times in order to “stick” in viewers’ minds. Familiarize your audience with your brand as soon as you can. You’ll build a following and as people share, you may even sell more books!
Judith Cassis is a New York Times Bestselling ghostwriter, blogger and book coach. She is the founder of The Golden Pen Writers Guild and Writers Mastermind Alliance and publisher of theWriter to Writer series. Follow her blog: www.judithcassis.com and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/judith.cassis. Private and group sessions are available for scheduling. Judith offers free group lectures and teleseminars based upon availability.
Judith’s Clients Say This:
“I am fortunate to have had Judith Cassis has my book coach, mentor, advisor, and editor for the past year. It has been a privilege for me to know her and to study under her tutelage. For someone like myself who is passionate about becoming a published author, I can think of no better counselor. She helps me reach deep within to draw out my finest writing, never letting me accept second best. At the same time she keeps me well grounded in the reality of today’s publishing world as it changes constantly under the ceaseless impact of social media.”
Bill Blowers, Author Dangerous Betrayal
“Expertise and generosity comes to mind when I think of Judith Cassis. I’ve had the pleasure of having Judith as my book coach for over three years while working on my memoir. I am always in awe of her ability to see through to the bottom line, helping and directing me towards my goal. Judith earns my highest, heartfelt recommendation.”
Diane Wheaton, Memoir Writer
“Judith Cassis is a born teacher. She has a guiding spirit that shows that you CAN do it, whatever it is. She gives of her time and knowledge to help you accomplish your goal because she believes – in giving – and in you.”
Elaine Martin Author, Too Many Doors
“I have worked with Judith Cassis for several years and have nothing but great praise and respect for her. It did not matter if she was working on her personal events, a client’s book she was ghost writing helping someone with a question she was always professional, reliable, and willing to put in all it took to get the job done with the highest quality.
Judith has worked directly with my company in many areas using her expertise in all of them – writing press releases, writing promotional materials for events, brain storming to assist making my company products and services more accessible to the public.
Christina Littrell Williams, CEO VAaGoGo.com
Judith Cassis has the heart of a mentor and the skills of a championship blogging/book coach. She keeps her finger on the pulse of an ever-changing marketplace and teaches writers and bloggers of all skill and experience levels what it takes to achieve highly personalized goals. Her coaching services are delivered with remarkable warmth and patience. I’m so glad I connected with Judith.
Maureen Fowler Author, Mom’s Messy Legacy
“Where ever you are with your project, Judith will meet you; with knowledgeable guidance, encouragement and enthusiasm. She works with you at your pace.”
J.A. Bunten, Poet and Author
“I registered for a writing class never thinking that decision would change my life forever. I met the most wonderful person – the teacher – Judith Cassis. She made it so easy even for someone who was not the best in punctuation. I learned so much but didn’t realize how much I had learned until I published my first book of suspense stories, then two children’s books.
Judith always encouraged, she can inspire you when you just draw a blank. Judith had changed my life and opened new paths for me to follow.”
Jeanne Wray, Author