Choosing a photograph or illustration for your book’s cover can obviously be a daunting task. No matter how imaginative writers can be, visual imagination is not always included. For many authors, the fact that an entire novel requires only one picture to illustrate it is a blessing. The problem is that you still need to come up with that one picture — and it needs to be a good one. Because it’s just one picture. One. The following are a few book cover design tips to help you formulate and execute a concept for your cover’s imagery.
1. Solidify Your Ideas
Is your book about the plight of a young waitress trying to make it in the cut-throat world of fine dining while juggling her love life? If so, an illustration of a moving truck is probably not your best option for a cover graphic. Think of elements from your story that would fit well in a background image. For the story of our struggling server, a photograph of an abandoned apron could be complimented by a matchbook with a suitor’s phone number scribbled in it. Focus on items or scenes that suggest your subject matter. If you’ve hit a roadblock for image ideas, consult with a designer. The pros handle images for a living and simply leave the words to you.
2. Be Aware of Legal Issues
You may be thrilled when you use Google Image Search to locate that perfect photo for your cover, but beware — licensing issues will probably prevent you from using it. You will need to find the copyright owner (usually the photographer) and acquire written permission to use the image. Some photographers will be happy you’re using their work, some will ask you to pay a fee, and a few will flat-out refuse to let you use their work. In some cases, you may not be able to track down the copyright holder at all. Be prepared for this scenario and have a back up plan. The last thing you want is to have your book ready to go to press, only to be held up by a legal battle over an image.
3. Browse Stock Photo Websites
If you’re really lacking in inspiration for your cover, there are hundreds of stock photo websites that have plenty of imagery available. Search for words that have something to do with your story and see what pops up. You may just find yourself flooded with ideas after seeing what the internet thinks! In the best case scenario, you may even find an image that you want to use for your cover. Stock photo websites sell conditional and exclusive licenses for every image on the site, so securing rights to use one will be a breeze. If you’ve chosen a designer to work with, talk to him or her about using stock photos. They can help you through the licensing process and anything else that gets complicated.
4. Take Your Own Photographs
If you’re looking for something with a little more of a personal touch, try to create your own image. Even cell phones these days have high resolution cameras that can take brilliant photos. There are also thousands of apps that can help you add filters and effects to the photo you’ve taken. When choosing to go this route, however, you must make sure that your photos are being taken in (and staying in) high resolution formats, otherwise they won’t be printable. If you have a photograph that you would like to use but you’re not sure if it will work, show it to your designer. Designers can apply filters and alter photos so that they look great on a book cover.
5. Work With a Professional Designer on your Book Cover Design Tips
No matter how you end up finding and selecting the images for the cover of your book, it is advisable to work with a professional designer to put everything together. They can help you choose fonts and colors that will compliment the imagery you’ve chosen and can even adjust the images you have to better suit a book cover.
If you’re really at a loss for a cover concept, a designer can also help you get those ideas together into a cohesive presentation. You’re the author; no one expects you to be a graphic designer, as well. Working with a professional can help relieve a lot of the stress that comes along with tackling this project.