Book Design

OK, so I can’t remember the last time I posted here. I’d love to post at least once a week, but designing takes so much time that I don’t know when I’d write! And there’s running the business, kids’ schedules, you know. 😉 Anyhow, I was recently interviewed by a colleague, Michael Dowling, for his newsletter, The Write Stuff. He’s a fantastic editor, ghostwriter, and publishing professional. If you’ve ever wondered whether book design is a luxury or necessity, you’ll want to read this article. You may want to sign up for his newsletter, too, as it always contains great info about publishing and writing.

I’d love to know your experience with book design, good or bad! And I’ll do my best to start posting here much more often. Thanks bunches and blessings to you. 🙂


Hi, guys!

This week I was asked by Marika Flatt of PR by the Book (great book publicity firm!) to write a guest post about the importance of book design. I was honored to do so. Hope you like it!


Blog | PR by the Book | PR Campaign and Media Consulting Services.

Before and after covers for "Cinco de Mayo" by Don Miles

As the subtitle says, “What is Everbody Celebrating?” In the first cover, I have no idea. There’s nothing here to celebrate! OK, the title and author’s name are readable. While suitable, the map is neither compelling nor original as the cover’s sole artwork.

The use of bold colors, appropriate Mexican objects, and photos from celebrations and Cinco de Mayo locations in the final cover share the excitement of this topic. Their arrangement is dynamic and elements are cleverly placed to point to the ever-important title. While developing your book’s cover, you and your designer should be aware of how color, scale, font and image choice, and placement of these affect the reader’s impression of your product.

– Tami

Series covers designed by TLC Graphics

Designing a successful series is all about planning — for the publisher and designer. This task can be an added challenge for your designer, as graphic elements and typography must be created to specifically work for future volumes.
At the beginning of the project, your designer will want to know the longest and shortest titles in the series to ensure titles of every size will fit in their allotted space. Color schemes will be developed. Each book can carry an identical color application or the books’ colors may vary while staying within the determined color palette. A series must be visually branded. To achieve this, often a logo for the series is created as seen in the examples above. Finding several photos or illustrations of the same style, shape, and/or size will also be important for future volumes. Design parameters are more strict when creating a series, but with thorough planning, your volume of books can reflect a valuable and saleable brand, asking customers to keep coming back for more.

By alerting your designer up front that your book is or may be part of a series, you can ensure branding consistency from book to book. You should save money on the design of each book cover after the first, as adapting the pre-planned design will take less time than starting from scratch or trying to adapt an established “one-time-use” design to a series.

– Tami

"The Mystery Shopper's Manual" before and after cover designs

What happens when you want to take your back-of-the-room-only seller to a more mainstream market? It usually needs a redesign! That’s something Cathy Stucker knew when she came to us looking for a new cover. The original had all the right elements—prominent title, readable subtitle and author name, accompanying graphic—but there was nothing unique about the cover and it lacked dynamics. It needed an upgrade to reach a more competitive market.

We gave the new cover a fresh look with retro art, typefaces, and color palette to attract female shoppers—the majority of the book’s buyers. Each element, with its relative size and placement, work together to attract and move your eye through the cover’s space and directly off the right side of the page, causing you to open it up and see what’s inside. In the words of a Barnes & Noble rep, the new cover gives the book “curb appeal.” This cover is fun, reflecting the subject matter and bringing all-important enthusiasm to its potential readers.

– Tami

"99 Days to Panama" before and after cover designs

Why will the second cover sell better than the first? I bet it caught your eye in a captivating way. The second cover tells a story and asks the reader to participate. The first is difficult to read, has a subdued color palette, and uses a photo that is less than engaging. While white space can be a uesful tool, there is way too much of it in this case.

The use of native colors in the final cover emphasizes the location of the story. Incorporating colorful, descriptive photos in scrapbook-type borders shows that this is a journal and makes this inviting. Other hints that this is a travel journal include the parchment-type paper behind the title, relaxed typeface used for the title, and the burnt-orange edge on the left. A dynamic layout that moves the viewer’s eyes around the page ensures that each element will be noticed. Which would you rather purchase?

– Tami

Which is a more salable book cover? While the first has a striking photograph, the second is the better choice. A good — or great — photo does not make a great book cover. After grabbing your attention, the rest of the cover does nothing to encourage a sale. Many have asked if the girl is dead! The title is difficult to read and has no attention-getting value. The subtitle in the pink vignette is also difficult to read, cuts the bottom of the cover in half, and leaves nothing interesting below. Speaking of that dead space, where’s the author’s name?

The second cover is well-organized and has an attractive photo that’s encouraging to readers. The title is fun and highly readable. There are “girly” aspects to the cover without it becoming too soft and frilly. It’s a great balance between business-like (for the informative aspect) and attractive to the female crowd (a majority of its potential buyers/readers).

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