Thursday, March 18, 2010

On The Subject of Book Covers

The eBook Publishing Experiment Continues....

Book covers are big subject. There are a whole lot of things that go into a cover, from the art, the design, the typography, the spine and the back cover. Embossing. Gloss and paper type.

eBook "covers" however have simpler criteria. They are just a single image - no spine, no back - and they are generally displayed in small thumbnails. The customer can click on the cover to get a better look, but usually they've made the decision as to whether it looks interesting based on the thumbnail.

I've been studying the covers of ebook bestsellers, and I notice they seem to have very prominent typography. When the image is shrunk down to a tiny thumbnail, you can still read the title and usually the author name too. You probably can't make out the illustration, but the design looks good even so.

So that is goal one - good clear typography designed for thumbnail viewing.

From there other elements help send signals about genre and flavor. A thriller will usually use the illustration as a secondary graphic element. Category romances will have a full cover illustration heavily featuring one or both of the major characters, which gives a hint of whether it's "hot" or "chaste" or paranormal or contemporary. (Certain publishers use a specific layout for each of the specialized lines - but those are a whole different marketing approach, so I'm ignoring those, mostly.) However, as romances cross over into other genres, they take on elements of those other genres' cover style. Which leaves me a little leeway.

In addition to those considerations, I have my own budget to consider. Literary and mainstream covers often use classic (public domain) art for the illustration elements in a cover. While eventually I might pay for my own cover illustration, I have decided that for my novel I need a suggestion of historical period, as well as a good human figure, so I will probably use something from George Stubbs or George Romney for the illustration part of the cover.

This will help give the flavor of being a little mainstream/literary while still being solidly in the romance category. And I'll certainly go with the large typography of the overall "commercial" category. I'll go into the issues of each element more later.

Now, about that title....

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