What Makes a Good Book Cover?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Such is also true, I believe, for book covers. Where one person will be drawn to a book cover due to its image and design structure, another will find the design a turn-off.

A book’s cover is one of the book’s most important marketing tools. The cover is displayed wherever a book is listed. Publishers should put great thought and effort into obtaining the best cover design they can find for their books.

Finding the right cover design for your new book is always difficult. Yes, there are some guidelines that all book covers should follow. For example, the title should be able to be easily read from at least 6 feet away and preferably from across a standard room. Cover art should follow what is popular. If fiction book covers are using painted art, then so should yours. If they are using photos, then so should yours. Otherwise, your book will look out-of-date or out-of-sync.

However, there are many other elements of a cover design. Just go to a local bookstore – or online bookstore – and browse the covers. They vary greatly.

One way to get a good feel for what makes a good book cover is to look at books that have won awards for their cover design.

The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) recently announced the winners of their 2010 Book Cover Award, sponsored by ECPA and Dickinson Press. This award recognizes the industry’s outstanding and most effective book covers that best connect the book design to their intended consumer.

The award was given for three books.

Domesticated Jesus by Harry L. Kraus, Jr. and published by P&R Publishing was one winner. The book’s cover strengths included atypical imagery, edgy design, copy that challenges, and an image that evokes curiosity.

52 Things Kids Need from a Dad by Jay K. Payleitner and published by Harvest House Publishers was another winner. This book’s cover strength was cited as a strong appeal in image and copy toward cultivating strong family relationships.

Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller and published by Thomas Nelson also won. This book’s cover strengths included bold images, color and design, entertaining, and the cover copy emphasizing new.

I hope viewing these cover design winners inspires you in the design of your next book’s cover.