Let’s face it: people do judge a book by its cover. Good cover design is essential for drawing in an audience and grabbing a potential reader’s attention. If your book cover design is boring, people will walk right passed it without taking a glance.

“Even worse, if a cover is just plain bad it will discredit the information inside,” explains George Stevens, Creative Manager at Advantage Media Group|ForbesBooks. “The cover isn’t just your book’s face, it’s your book’s expression.”

Your book cover should give a glimpse of the story that is waiting to be revealed when the pages are opened. The look and feel of your book are a crucial part of its success.

Book Cover Design: Why the Look and Feel of Your Book Matters

At Advantage Media Group|ForbesBooks, cover design is a vital element in your book’s overall success.

“It is paramount that you take into account the way you want your book to look as well as the way your target audience would want it to appear,” explains Katie Biondo, Graphic Designer at Advantage Media Group|ForbesBooks. “Attracting your customer to pick up your book is half the battle.”

Why fight a battle when you don’t need to? If you choose a cover design that your target audience is aesthetically attracted to, you won’t need to put on your armor— the battle can be won.

When selecting the look and feel of your book, consider asking yourself these questions:

  • Is my target audience professional? Or, do they represent the mass market? A hardback book with a dust jacket communicates authority and higher perceived value to professionals seeking a successful advisor. Paperback books are attractive to anyone buying in bulk or traveling with it, explains Katie.
  • Is my target audience male or female? This answer will dramatically affect your book packaging, which includes trim size, cover design (such as prominent colors) and cover type. Think about who will be purchasing your book. Also, note this fun fact: 82 percent of book purchases are made by women.
  • What genre is my book? Is your book a reference book, a cookbook, a gift book, a biography, or a non-fiction book? “Reference books are typically printed in hardback to be able to handle wear and tear from being constantly being handled,” says Biondo. “Gift books are typically printed in hardback with a dust jacket in hardcover.”
  • How many pages should my book be? Like most things in life, quality over quantity. Every author should strive to get their message across succinctly but effectively. Most business books will be about 200 pages or less. Add length if your audience is detail orientated, prefers a step-by-step approach, or benefits from industry examples of your ideas.

In the end, make sure every aspect of your message, cover design, and overall look match your target audience’s preferences. Your book is going to capture your brand, voice, and overall ideas.

“It just so happens that a book’s cover is one of the first (and possibly only) things a potential reader might review before making a decision,” says Nick Thacker from “By investing in a great design, you’re helping them stick around your sales page a bit longer.”

Other fundamentals of design apply to a fantastic book cover such as scalability, balance, and pleasing aesthetics. But, beyond that it has to generate a reaction in your target audience.

“It has to tell a story in an instant. It has to engage the reader,” Stevens explains. “A great way to go about this is to suggest action that just happened, or is about to happen. For example, for a book about shark attacks, don’t show a shark attack—show someone lounging in an inner tube and a fin in the water behind him.”

Keep these targets in mind when you’re designing your very own book cover. People do judge a book by its cover. By making sure it’s engaging, your sales can keep going up and up.


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