I read a really useful article on the fundamentals of successful book cover design. It really helped me to understand what is good and what is bad when it comes to designing conceptual book covers. The article is as follows:
Let’s be honest, we all judge a book by its cover most of the time (and there are legions of blogs dedicated to the pastime). Books with good graphics, eye-catching font and good quality covers sell more copies than those without – simple fact. Despite what some people say, book covers are not in decline. Book cover design is booming and even has its own awards. Design Observerpromotes an annual award for book cover design with a 35-person judging panel! The traditional process of getting a book cover design can be extremely time-consuming and the result is often disappointing for the author. This is all changing with the digital age ushering in an era of author-led e-book publishing and with a little help from crowd sourcing.
The Internet has also enabled fast and effective circulation and exchange of documents, ideas and feedback. Now that people can ‘Pin’, ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ graphics, (in other words help advertise your book!) communities of book lovers (and design lovers) are sharing their favourite book covers across the Web. The same activity is becoming commonplace among designers and authors, sharing book covers for feedback before they go to publishing.
Before you get started on creating a brief for a cover design, or before starting to design one yourself, you need to decide on the message you want to send.
Ask yourself: What is the book’s single-minded value proposition? What is the target audience of readers looking for – Inspiration and Aspiration, Success and Achievement, Knowledge and Power, Romance and Passion, Murder and Revenge?
Boiling it down to the motivation, incentive and emotion will help you generate tons of ideas or visual metaphors that determine the imagery, choice of color palette, typography, and layout that help you capture what the book is all about.
Generate excitement. Grab attention. The main goal of every book cover is to generate excitement. The cover is one of the best tools in your marketing arsenal. That’s why you should create something that will stop people in their tracks and evoke interest. The book cover is the hook that will help you to promote your book.
How to do it wrong
It is good practice to look at bad design examples too. In fact crap, trashy book covers has become a meme in itself, whether it’s the romance genre or the aptly titled ‘funny as shit book covers’ board on Pinterest. Unfortunately there are so many bad cover designs.