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Just as you want to make a good first impression by how you look, your cover must do the same for your book. If your book cover fails to make a good first impression, a reader is unlikely to buy it. Your book cover has to appeal to your readers as this is your first chance to sell your book to them. A well-designed book cover shows the reader that the content and packaging is high quality, and worth spending money on.

A cover is made up of three parts – front cover, spine and back cover. The front cover has to be striking and is what will attract readers to your book. The back cover gives the reader more information about your book and should convince them to buy your book. You will use your blurb (book summary) to do this.

Not sure where to go from here?

Ask yourself these questions:

1. What do you want your cover to say to readers?
2. What elements do you want on the cover?
3. Who are your readers?
4. What genre is your book?
5. What do other books in the genre look like?
6. Do you want to use a photograph or an illustration?

The answers to these questions will help get your cover design idea juices flowing. Cover design is a specialised skill and you should consider using a professional. A cover designer will take your input and translate it into a beautiful book cover. There are three broad categories of cover design: typographic, photographic and illustrated. 

Typographic covers:

A typographic cover uses only typography to express themes or ideas in a book, without using a photograph or illustration. In some designs, the typeface becomes an illustration itself, for example, words fading in and out. 

Photographic covers:

A photographic cover uses one image or multiple images to create the book cover. The designer strikes a balance between the photograph(s) and the typographic elements. There are two sourcing options for photographs: stock images and organising a photoshoot. Using a stock image is the preferred options for most independent authors as they are cheaper and readily available, which means you save time and money. Stock images can be purchased through platforms such as Shutterstock, Adobe stock and Getty Images, and some free stock images can be found on sites like Pixabay. Illustrations can also be purchased through these sites. A photoshoot can be arranged if it adds value to the cover design or where images are not easily available. 

Illustrated covers:

An illustrated cover uses a unique illustration to showcase a theme, character, idea or scene from the book.  It is created by an illustrator and a cover design is create around this illustration. There are various illustrations styles such as watercolour, charcaol, pencil and more. 

Based on the information you provide, the Jacana design team will come up with as many as three cover design options for your book. Along with referencing the visual vocabulary you gave to inspire the designs, they will use their expertise to apply sound design principles, will consider genre ‘coding’ (think of typical cover designs for sci-fi or romance books – signalling to the reader something they’re familiar with) and use their knowledge of the industry to establish what will work for the reader/buyer, salespeople/the bookseller and you.

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