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Book Covers

Book Covers
by Fern Reiss, CEO,

Have you fallen prey to the classic mistake of new self-publishers? Have you spent a lot of time and energy on your book’s content—and then whipped off your own book cover?

Don’t do it. Although the technical aspects of designing a book cover are not that difficult once you have a command of the software, book design is a specialized field—for a reason. Designers, whether they have obtained their professional training at an art institute or are self-taught, have years of experience in what makes covers look good—and bad. They spend hours of time in bookstores, perusing the current offerings. They know how to combine fonts and colors. And they know how to make your book cover your strongest sales piece.

Your book cover is one of the most important elements in whether or not your book will sell to—and in—bookstores. Your cover needs to look good even when the colors are seen in black and white (like, when you fax the media a press release with a graphic of your cover.) Your cover needs to look good when it’s shrunk down to an inch in size (ever notice how small the book graphics are on Amazon—and how often you can’t read the cover?)

Don’t neglect the spine of your book. It’s the first thing bookstore and library browsers will see—and the only thing, if they don’t like the looks of it. And be sure to avoid yellow and white covers in general—yellow tends to fade, and white can show scuff marks easily.

Many new publishers think they’ll save costs by printing a black and white or one-color cover—but that is foolish economy. Your cover is going to sell your book—so make it the liveliest, snappiest cover you can.

If you have any related books, even if they’re not published yet, consider adding their (front) cover art to the back cover of your book. That way, you’ll get people interested in your forthcoming titles even before they’re published.

You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover—but people often do. Make sure you’re putting your best foot forward when they judge yours.


Fern Reiss is CEO of ( and ( and the author of the books, The Publishing Game: Find an Agent in 30 Days, The Publishing Game: Bestseller in 30 Days, and The Publishing Game: Publish a Book in 30 Days as well as several other award-winning books.  She is also the Director of the International Association of Writers ( providing publicity vehicles to writers worldwide. She also runs The Expertizing® Publicity Forum where you can pitch your book or business directly to journalists; more information at  Sign up for her complimentary newsletter at

Copyright © 2011 Fern Reiss


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