Happy Friday, everyone!
You’re in for a treat, because today, I am once more going to bless you with my all-knowing graciousness!
You see, while discussing the merits of international book covers, Marta @ Monogamist Reader and I happened to stumble upon the absolute gem that is the Italian edition of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. And immediately, we were struck speechless by its beauty! 😍🤩😍
Isn’t it perfect? Between the positively stunning girl, her deadly glare, and the new and improved title, it has everything a good cover needs, and it draws you in immediately!
Don’t despair, though. You may think that no book of yours could ever shine in similar splendor, but I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth! All you need are a few well-guarded secrets of the cover designing industry, and in my extreme graciousness, I have deigned to share them with you.
In eight easy steps, we will be learning how to make the perfect cover that is guaranteed to make a book sell. Just follow along, and you will be astounded at what you can accomplish if you truly believe in yourself!
Step 1: Do it yourself, even if you have no graphic design skills whatsoever!
Nobody likes a show-off, okay? You may think that you need lots of glitz and glam, but in reality, a cover that looks too perfect is extremely off-putting to readers. To make a book appear relatable, it needs to be clothed by a down-to-Earth designer! Besides, cover designers are EXPENSIVE. You don’t want to pay all that money, especially when what you can do yourself is way better than a professionally done job anyway.
Luckily for you, I happen to be precisely such an individual. I have no graphic design skills extending past my third-grade gifted program’s GIMP crash course, which makes me an expert cover artist and the perfect person to teach you. So pay close attention and follow along as we make a stunning book cover with nothing at our disposal other than GIMP and Microsoft Word!
Step 2: Start designing as soon as possible. In other words: Don’t bother to read the book first or even get feedback from the author.
Seriously, guys. Reading and talking takes up a huge amount of time, and if you want to make money, you don’t have that! It’s perfectly possible to design a cover with only a vague idea of what a book is about. You can simply copy popular designs you’ve seen on other books, such as Sarah J. Maas’ spellbinding Throne of Glass series. Who cares if those don’t really portray the protagonist’s personality or give them a completely different hair, skin, or eye color? By the time readers figure that out, they’ll have already bought the book anyway. The most important thing is to make a cover alluring, so adding totally random details that intrigue the reader is the best way to go!
Obviously, this step won’t be a problem for us! We will simply make a cover without even knowing which book it is for! That way, we won’t have to worry about contents and can focus fully on trends. However, since we will eventually need to integrate a title and the author’s name into our design, we’ll just use “An Absolutely Amazing Book” and “Anau Thor” as stand-ins for now.
Step 3: Have people on your cover. The less clothed they are, the better.
Now that we’ve got the preliminaries out of the way, we need to focus on what should actually be on the cover. The most important rule here is: Do whatever it takes to make that book sell! You need to grab people’s attention! And the one thing that grabs more attention than any other in this day and age is 🔥HOTNESS🔥. You want to feature abs and lots of cleavage to make sure lusty bookstore browsers see your cover and immediately start drooling!
Like I just explained, we need to find a picture that screams 🔥HOTNESS🔥, and since we don’t want to run into any copyright issues, Pexels is our best friend. Just type in search terms like “hot tattooed guy” or “six-pack” and you’re good to go! To speed up the process, I’ve already found us the perfect image and cropped it to a book-sized format that focuses on those muscles:
(Source: estoymhrb on Pexels.com)
Step 4: Smoldering half-faces staring into the void – A Cover Essential
Abs and six-packs are all very well, but if you want to keep up with true 21st-century 🔥HOTNESS🔥 trends, smoldering half-faces are the way to go. It is important to pick a face that extends over the whole length of the cover, that the eyes are wide open and gleaming, and that the mouth is closed, with round, full lips. Having this look is a guaranteed way to success in your designing process!
Unfortunately, I already cropped off hot tattooed guy’s face in the previous step, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have the smoldering half-face look! After all, it’s guaranteed to make our book a bestseller, so we are just going to include it in our design in addition to the six-pack:
Please take particular note of the jagged edges surrounding the cropped face. In addition to being in adherence with Step 1, they also give our protagonist a rugged, mysterious look that is sure to draw readers in!
Furthermore, we also had to take great care to make sure our cover was relevant to today. Trends that worked ten years ago won’t fare so well in 2022 because, honestly, does anyone even remember what faces looked like without masks on? Obviously, COVID regulations were strictly adhered to by our cover model!
(By the way, the model was photographed by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com. And his round, full lips are most certainly closed beneath the mask, so don’t start complaining!)
Step 5: Utilize unique color combinations
What every good book cover needs is a bit of color – and if you can’t decide which hue to go for, just use multiple ones! Blue and yellow go particularly well together, as do blue and pink. But if two is still too little for you, you’re also more than welcome to make use of the full spectrum! Why stop at red or indigo when there’s also infra-red and ultra-violet to choose from? And glitter? You definitely need lots of glitter.
Since we want our cover’s focus to remain on the six-pack and the smoldering half-face, we can’t go too overboard with color. So instead of shading everything, I just decided to add a dash here and there – while making sure to still include lots of variety and glitter, of course:
Step 6: Snakes – They’re everywhere, no matter whether they actually play a role in the book or not; so if you include one, you’re all set!
Every book, no matter how old or how new, how good or terrible, or how popular or unpopular, should feature a snake of the cover. Bonus points go to books that actually include the word “serpent” in the title. Seriously, guys, every second novel has one, so if you think your cover is missing something and you want to give it a bit of extra pizzazz, adding a snake is the way to go!
Again, we need to make sure that we don’t cover the six-pack or the smoldering half-face, so the bottom righthand corner is the ideal place for our serpent. Any talented designer should see this immediately!
(The snake is also from Pexels.com; it was photographed by Donald Tong. Please note that, like the smoldering half-face, it features my flawless cropping skills.)
Step 7: Choose a unique title font
As far as titles go, you have two options. If you don’t want them to be too prominent, so that the focus remains on your amazing imagery, go for more standard fonts such as Times New Roman. I guarantee you, no one will notice those! On the other hand, you can also go for bold, curly, or glittery fonts if you want your title to stand out. If you do it right, your special font will always be associated with your novel!
For our novel, we will obviously be using the most specialest font of all: Comic Sans!
Let’s be honest – compared to Comic Sans, ever other font simply pales in comparison, and by using it, we are basically already guaranteed a bestseller! And the yellow makes it even more striking, if I do say so myself.
Step 8: Add a sticker
No book cover is complete without a sticker. Whether it tells the reader that the novel in question is a book club pick, the inspiration behind a movie or Netflix series, an award winner, or a bestseller, nothing screams prestige quite like a sticker. Especially when it’s a fake sticker, so that removing it is simply impossible!
The best stickers are big, gold, and annoying, so that is obviously what we will be going for as well! Plus, it’s always good to mention that the book will be getting a screen adaptation; that will get more people to buy it:
Whoops, I guess we just covered up the snake 😱 Ah well, everybody knows that to be a true sticker, a sticker has to cover up parts of the cover that you actually would have wanted to see. That’s simply the price we have to pay!
And thus, we have ourselves a finished cover! Isn’t it positively gorgeous? 🥰😍🤩 Look me straight in the eye and tell me you wouldn’t proudly display it on your bookshelves!
That being said, though, I would be lying if I said the above process was the only way to go about designing book covers. There are also alternatives that are sure to lead you to an equally, if not more, beautiful design, so obviously, I’m not going to withhold that knowledge from you!
Alternative 1: If you’ve read the book (even though that is not advised), you may include details from the story. But make sure to represent them in a memorable way.
If you happen to have read the book in question already, then OF COURSE you are allowed to utilize that knowledge for your design process! Just make sure that your cover still manages to grab lots of attention. For example, making it disturbingly beautiful is a good way to go about this.
Alternative 2: Just use a scene from the movie
Why do the work when someone else has already done it for you? If there is an adaptation of the book that you’re supposed to design a cover for, just use a scene from that! It makes things super easy, much more realistic and beautiful, and besides, this option is miraculously compatible with stickers! And we already know from above that stickers are guaranteed to make a book sell.
With that wisdom, young fledgling cover designers, I leave you to make your own way in the world! Make sure to credit me whenever you design your first bestselling cover, and if any of you authors out there would like to use my template for your novel, just let me know! I think prices will probably start at around 5,000,000€ 😎
(And before you complain that that is too expensive, just remember that with this cover, your book is sure to become a bestseller!)
Anyway, let me know what you thought was most perfect about my design skills down below, and be sure to tell me about any great cover elements I may have forgotten about!