10 DIY Book Cover Design Mistakes That May Stamp Unprofessional On Your Book

Unprofessional book cover design can hinder book sales, true or false? True, experts agree ugly or unprofessional book cover design can make or break book sales from the start. Seventy-five percent of 300 booksellers surveyed, half from independent bookstores and half from chains, agreed that the book cover is prime real estate for promoting a book.

In my review of the BookCoverPro software, I mentioned that BCP cover templates helped me create my first indie cover. But, even the templates could not compensate for my lack of skill and design knowledge.

I made some basic but subtle cover design mistakes that stamped UNPROFESSIONAL on the cover. Which brings me to why I wrote this article, you don't have to make those same mistakes or read tons of books to find out. Still include practice in your book design development, but here are ten mistakes you don't have to make:

1. Ignoring title kerning. Kerning is the space between the title letters. Just applying fonts, you might not think to apply kerning to the letters of the title. Yes, it's a paradox, it will make a subtle but obvious difference in how your book title and overall cover design looks.

2. Disregarding complementary color choices. In my opinion nothing shouts unprofessional louder than poor color choices. For example, pink or red prints poorly on most shades of blue, purple or black. Some colors clash with each other. Using the wrong colors, you could end up with a Sci-Fi vibe instead of giving your business book a professional stamp. It's worth noting, the BookCoverPro templates or most book cover templates will help you use complementary colors that enhance your message.

3. Using too many different fonts. Choosing more than two fonts on a book cover can make your book look busy and confusing. Actually, I learned this lesson early. Because whenever I used too many fonts, the design would just look WRONG to me. Maybe, you can see that intuitively too. When you are developing your skill, stay with the rules. Use a combination of serif, fonts with the little feet on the letters, and sans serif, straight up and down fonts. For example, Goudy Old Style and Garamond are serif type fonts. Impact and Helvetica are sans serif fonts.

4. Shouting with script or italic fonts. Script and italic styled fonts are meant to be an accent. If used in a whole phrase or sentence, it usually renders impossible to read. It will shout unprofessional equally loud in the overall design.

5. Illustrating the title or part of a title with a wrong image. Especially, avoid using an image that has little or nothing to do with the content of your book. The image should speak the message. For example, if the title 'Overcoming the Hard Knocks of Cancer' and using an image of a football player taking a hit. The football player image speaks sports. The book is about overcoming cancer not making a hard hit in sports.

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6. Focusing on the problem your book's message presents. If your book is non-fiction, always illustrate the solution not problem. Bring your potential reader's focus to the solution your book is presenting. If your book is about landing a dream job in a tough economy, don't display a stressed out, hopeless, carelessly dressed person. You would put a happy, smiling and professionally dressed person in an office. Likewise, you would not put an over-weight person on the cover of your diet plan or fitness regimen book.

7. Choosing dated and outdated pictures and elements. In the Digital Age and Technology Age, don't use a picture of a manual typewriter or clunky computer to reach writers and expect them to relate. Many of whom go online everyday and are used to seeing eye candy of sleek desktop computers with flat screen monitors, laptops, iPads and tablets. Also, avoid using people with dated looking clothing unless you are aiming for the retro or throw-back styled design. Remember, you can always go with a text only cover and embellish with background patterns and flourishes.

8. Overusing tired, cliche type elements. For example, your book is about friendships and building influential relationships. Don't use the handshake or the smile emoticon. Stay within the basic design rules but think outside the box. Don't be in such a rush; wait for that magical concept. Be creative; keep looking and noticing good design. Practice using the good elements that please you; pretty soon the concept will come.

9. Selecting tired fonts that are overused from the past. There are certain fonts that were once popular but became overused. Certain fonts, you won't find professional book publishers using anymore. Fonts like Helvetica, Arial, Times or Comic Sans are overused and rarely used by anyone that knows better. Of with the Self Publishing Revolution going on, many are using any old kind of font because they don't know any better.

10. Creating a stale background with frame. We've all seen it and maybe you've committed this book cover design sin. You know creating a frame with plain background with poorly spaced title and name placement. If you've done that, don't do it anymore. Make sure you are putting your best creative foot forward. You can use a great background image as a starting point for your design. Keep it simple but interesting.

Just haphazardly placing your elements on the cover with no regard to basic good design will not sell your book. It will not speak the message inside your book. It will not tell the story. Worst of all, it will not invite your customers in for the read. Now that you know better, you can avoid the UNPROFESSIONAL stamp by following the tips above. Use your valuable book cover real estate to speak your message and invite your potential buyers in for the read.

Source by Earma Brown

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