An Interesting Book Cover Icon

The book group I belong to recently decided that the next book we would read and discuss would be It’s Good to Be Queen by Liz Curtis Higgs. So, I needed to purchase the book.

I called my local Christian book store to see if they had the book in stock. Sadly, I got handed around to three different sales staff before getting an answer. Obviously, this store needs to work on their customer service—something I think is important since many Christian book stores are struggling. Fortunately, they did have the book in stock, so I stopped in to pick it up.

Pulling the book out of the bag when I got home, I notice something new on the cover. Being in the book business, I tend to notice new trends and ideas that are useful marketing gimmicks to pass along to you, my readers. So, I am bringing the “new” thing on the cover of this book to your attention.


The front cover of this book totes a little icon of an open book and reads “Study Guide Inside”. Now, it has been a trend for quite a few years to include either a discussion guide or a study guide in the back of both fiction and nonfiction books. These discussion guides are meant to make the book practical for reading groups or study groups to use.

Including discussion or study questions in the back of your book provides an additional selling point for your book. You can market your book as great for individual reading or a group study. I believe that it is best to put the discussion questions right in the book. Some authors choose to include a link to the study or discussion questions, but putting the questions or guide right in the book makes it convenient for the consumer—increasing the chances they will act on the information.

The publisher of It’s Good to Be Queen has run with the idea that having a guide in the book increases the book’s potential for sales. They have taken the concept one step further by adding a little icon to the book’s cover to immediately draw people’s attention to the fact that the book contains a study guide. This increases the likelihood that readers will consider using the book for a group study.

The Study Guide Inside icon is a great little marketing strategy that costs nothing. By simply adding a small icon to the front cover of the book, this publisher has raised the awareness of the book’s usefulness for another purpose besides just reading it.

The idea of adding this type of icon to a book’s cover is a solid marketing idea. If you produce a book that has a study or discussion guide, you, too, can add an icon to your book’s cover to alert readers to this additional resource you are providing with your book.

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Book Cover Design Tools to Know

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

This old cliché, while true, is not often practiced in everyday life. People do judge books by their covers. I know I do. God created us to be visual.


Think about these statistics:

  • In conversations, 55% of what is communicated is done through body language (visual), not words or tone or voice (auditory).
  • Facebook posts that have the most engagement contain photos.
  • Tweets on Twitter that receive the most retweets boast images.
  • 74% of people in the United States regularly use emoticons or emojis in their online communication.

Your book cover design is extremely important in the success of your book. Your cover is your most important marketing tool. It is what readers see first when they look at your book. Your cover can draw people in or turn them off.

For many independently published authors and small publishers, hiring a book cover designer is not in their budget. While having a professional design a book cover is one way to ensure that your book’s cover is appealing and engaging, a good book cover design can be created without a professional.

Amazon allows authors and publishers using their CreateSpace or Kindle Direct Publishing programs to create free book covers. The good news is that if you want your ebook in more places than Kindle, or you are not using CreateSpace to produce your print book, there are other programs you can use to create free or inexpensive book covers. Two of these programs include:

  • Canva
    Canva is a free, browser-based design tool that offers templates in all sizes for social media and print media uses. They have a book cover maker that allows users to create a book cover for an ebook or a print book. With Canva’s book cover templates you have access to over 130 fonts and over one million stock images, or you can upload your own image.
  • Pressbooks
    Pressbooks is a book creation tool for ebook or print books. The service includes a cover creator for both ebook and print books. For print books, Pressbooks’ cover creation tool uses the number of pages and type of paper you want to calculate the correct spine width. All you need is a background image for the front cover. The service has fonts and background colors to choose from.

There are a few important things to keep in mind if you are creating your own book cover.

1. Make sure your title is clear and easy to read.
Your title should be able to be seen clearly across a room or in a one-inch-sized thumbnail sketch on your computer. The size, color, and font all matter.

2. Use a professional photo or illustration.
Your book’s cover helps you stand out from the competition. An engaging, colorful image is important.

3. Conform to industry standards.
Your book cover needs to look like other book covers in your genre, but still be different. In other words, if your cover looks odd or out-of-place, or lacks essential elements, it will scream self-published and readers will pass it by. Study your competition so you can create a book cover that sells.

A lot of independently published authors and small publishers use templates to design their book covers. Beware, though, that an overused template will also keep you from standing out in a crowd. If you choose to use a template, be sure to customize your book’s cover for your message and audience.

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The Next Generation Book Cover?

3D printers made the headlines in 2013 with their ability to print a plastic gun. Still relatively new on the scene, 3D printing is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model.

3-D Book Cover

3D printing is a sizable market, but according to the market research firm Gartner, it has even greater potential for growth. Due to the cost, however, most of the growth predicted for 2014 with 3D printing will be fueled by enterprise customers. Maybe some of these enterprise customers will be authors and publishers producing 3D book covers.

Yes, you read that right: 3D-printed book covers. The first one has been done. More may follow.

Riverhead Books, has printed the first-ever 3D book slipcover for a new novel by Chang-Rae Lee titled On Such a Full Sea. The company reported that each individual slip cover took 15 hours to print. The covers were made for a special-edition run of 200 signed copies for sale—a number partially decided by how many could physically be printed in time for the shelf date.

Being the first to print a 3D cover is novel and may well garner this author and book much publicity. However, until the price of 3D printing comes down, I doubt we will see a slew of new 3D book covers on new books.

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The Thumbnail Rule

I have a dear friend who is an artist and owns an art gallery. For years, she has provided art instruction to artists seeking to improve their skills. Here is what she tells her students:

I always tell my artists that composition is king. If pieces don’t hold together and look good in a thumbnail size, where you can see the composition at a glance, the art won’t work in person or up close.

Consider: The cover of your book is a work of art. It too must hold up to the rule of looking good in thumbnail size.

YG3 Cover

For years, I have told authors that the title printed on the cover of their book needs to be easily read from across the room. Now, with more and more books being purchased online, it is also important that your book cover also look good in a thumbnail size.

I have found that most books whose titles can easily be read from across the room generally also look good in the thumbnail size.

I recently went round and round on this issue with the cover designer for the third edition of my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace (releasing next month). She was not sending me designs where the title was easily read from a distance or in a thumbnail sketch.

Now, I know that the title of this book is long, and thus the task before the designer was not an easy one. I told her that not every word needed to stand out since the title was so long. I just need the important words to stand out.

Finally, after going back and forth a number of times, and beginning to think we were never going to get there, I finally have a design that is legible from a distance and in a thumbnail size.

I urge you to follow this simple rule of thumb for your next book cover. Make sure the title is legible from across a room and also in a thumbnail size.

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Are You Stylish?

I have often said that your book cover is your number one marketing tool. It is. Don’t skimp on your book cover.

A well designed book cover is important. Just as important is a book cover that is stylish. Just as you would not wear a suit from the 1970s to an important meeting today, neither should your book cover look like it was created in 1980.

One way to stay on top of book cover trends is to watch book awards and see what covers receive awards. One award to watch is the Top Shelf Book Cover Awards hosted by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) for their member publishers. This award celebrates the year’s best book designs in Christian publishing. Covers are judged by top designers in the industry for their merits in appropriateness for the market, level of conceptual thinking, and quality of execution.

Take a look at the seven winning nonfiction book cover designs:

Top  ShelfThe designs of the covers that were chosen as the winners for this year’s award are significantly different in style from the last couple of years.Since each of these titles was put out by a large publishing company, take notice of this new trend.

While staying on top of the trending style for book covers is essential to keeping your books looking fresh and relevant, I would add one word of caution. Hip book covers may not always sell the most books. Consider carefully what is fashionable in book covers and compare this to the book covers of best sellingbooks when choosing the cover for your next book.

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