Book covers are the first thing any potential reader sees. A book shouldn’t be judged by it’s cover, but first impressions are really important. I’m writing this to explore my ideas about how to decide what should be on a book cover.
I learned a lot by watching these videos from Chip Kidd. He talked about a few theories of graphic design. Don’t put a word in text and show a picture of the same thing.
Mystery or clarity. The cover should gently nudge a reader in one direction or clearly show what the book is about. Carefully decide on a balance.
The final video is a collection of book titles, book descriptions, and cover iterations.
Also, keep in mind, the cover should fit the conventions of the genre. The advice I’ve heard is go to a library, find a lot of books in your genre, and identify trends. I’ll give the covers of books I’ve read and what I think are the conventions for each.
Science Fiction: Frequently shows something that’s different in the world that’s created inside. Basically, the story element that’s makes it Science Fiction. Sans-serif font.
Fantasy: The person or object that makes the book fantasy. Frequently a person. Sans and Serif fonts.
Thriller: Person or text. Big font. High contrast. Simple lettering usually.
Young Adult: Sans. One main graphic or image. Background that isn’t too distracting. Clear images.
Romance: Two people together or something symbolizing love. Slightly interesting font.
Literary: Interesting text. Simple background. Setting, object, or overall idea.
Fiction: Person, place, or thing of focus in the story.
Mystery: Something that relates to the scene of the crime, victim, or perpetrator.
Non-fiction: Person, place, or idea the book is about.
I hope this helps. Graham Kar out.