Don’t Info Dump Your Book Cover

I have a philosophy now that I’m designing book covers and it goes like this: Just because you want it, doesn’t mean you need it.

To be fair, I’ve had to tell myself that a few times over the years before I even designed book covers. 

When designing a book cover, I have a vision in mind after receiving a summary of the plot. For example, I am helping a fairly new author to redesign his urban fantasy books. I envisioned what the heroine looked like, what her magic entailed, and where she’d stand inside a city.

However, I can’t place a whole scene on the book cover. It should look similar but not give away the whole book. There’s magic in keeping some things ambiguous in the actual story, and there’s even more magic in drawing the reader in with a stunning book cover, but not turning the reader off by giving spoilers on the book cover. 

My client wanted it a little different, but after talking to him and showing him other urban fantasy covers, he realized that he wanted to tease the reader enough for them to buy the book. 

In a perfect world, I’d only have to blend less than 3 images for the cover design but I understand there are certain expectations for genres such as urban fantasy and it can turn into over 48 hours of work instead of the usual 2-3 hours I take to design a book cover. 

Think of your design as you would your brand. You want the perfect logo, the perfect catchphrase, or the perfect opening page that hooks the readers, but you don’t want an info dump because you want that reader to hang around and finish that book.

Writing is a whole other beast, that I’ll address at a later date. 

Sometimes less means more.

An example of less means more is my book Margo’s Lullaby.

I used 3 images on this book cover. The model, torn notebook paper, and a beach.

I remember darkening the beach and trying to find dirty notebook paper everywhere before I finally found an image on Adobe Stock.

I say upfront the book is about a school shooting by a female, but I only used 3 images on this cover. The note and the colors make it powerful with its message.

I showed this to my professor and surprisingly; he loved it. He said it told the story without giving away too many details. He said it conveyed the genre I was aiming for. I’m still shocked he liked it. This book was when I was transitioning out of New Adult and thought crime thrillers would be my new voice. However, I found I love horror better and settled on that, but I’m still very proud of this cover and the story it tells from only 3 images.

This is the first in a series of blogs I’ll be writing about book cover design.

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