by Jill Ronsley

Interior Book Design and Typesetting

Book Cover Design

Inside Scoop on Copyediting

Self-publishing Helpful Hints

11 Steps of Book Production

Setting Up Your Title on Bowkerlink

Brief Description of Self-Publishing

How to Maximize Book Expo America
by Jerry D. Simmons

How Can I Get an Agent?
by Rick Walton

Good Picture Books
by Rick Walton

Writing Tip for Children’s Books
by Eileen Spinelli

Tough Love: An Open Letter to Kids' Book Publishers
by Diantha McBride

What is the first thing you see when you browse in a bookstore? Rows and displays of book covers! People pull books off the shelf just because the cover attracts them—sometimes before reading the title. As a writer, you want your book to be the one they reach for.

After the front cover attracts a person’s attention, he reads the title. If the title doesn't interest him, the book goes back on the shelf, never to be looked at again. If the title is good, the reader quickly flips the book over to glance at the back cover. The back cover needs a few elements to be effective: a catchy headline, color, and a design with interesting or inspiring information that make your reader want take the next step—to open the book and look inside. What’s next? He buys the book, takes it home, reads it—and hopefully, recommends it to others!

An Appealing Front Cover
The colors should be attractive. The design should match the content and the title. You won’t find many computer manuals with a Renaissance painting of a bowl of fruit on the cover. The cover of a children’s book will not sport a political cartoon.

The concept for a cover design starts with the book title and subject. The designer can use a painting, a photograph, graphic art or a combination of color and image. He or she adds other design elements to create your cover.

Basic design elements, such as shape, line, color and composition, go into the design process. The designer chooses a suitable font for the title and author’s name. The title of a book about volcanoes and lava will not use a calligraphic font suited to wedding cards. The designer decides how large the title and author’s name should be in relation to the colors and images. I like to make sure that the title and graphics do not compete with each other. Both the colors and the words should appeal to the reader. If they rival each other, the reader may feel bombarded and move on to another book.

An Effective Back Cover
The back cover has to be catchy. Its design should serve its main purpose—to maximize your marketing potential. When preparing the content for your back cover, think of the following points.

Write a headline. Pen a concise paragraph or two, or an inspiring phrase. Include a quote (or a few) from a reviewer or from someone who is well known in relation to the topic of your book. (A celebrity's name always grabs people's attention; this may or may not be appropriate for your book.) You might add a small picture of the author; other possible places to put a photo are on the flaps of a dust jacket for a hard cover book or on an interior page. If your book tells people how they can be happy, make sure your photo shows you smiling. People enjoy knowing what the author looks like. Be sure to have your Web site at the bottom.

Bookstores catalogue books using BISAC categories, such as Nature/Flowers, Self-Help/Motivational, or Education/Elementary. A book cover designer should be able to supply you with the BISAC code and category and place it in the upper left or bottom of the back cover. The BISAC code is optional. The designer can also place an ISBN bar code at the bottom, which is required by most bookstores. Include the price of your book and the publisher.

The Front, Back & Spine Should Be Complementary
For the front cover, an artist may paint a painting or a photographer may photograph an image. The cover designer completes the cover—front, back, and spine. When I design book covers, I generally work with an image provided by an artist or photographer. This is the basis for the rest of the design. Inspired by the combination of the artist’s image or photograph and the writer’s text, I complete the front cover design and create the back cover to complement it.

The smallest part of the cover design is the spine. You want your book title and the author’s name to stand out when your book is on a shelf and all a viewer sees is the spine. Your logo can go at the bottom.

Dust Jacket
If you are printing a hardcover book, your designer will create a dust jacket. The front and back covers should have all the elements mentioned above, but you have additional room to attract your readers: the front and back flaps. A description of the book and a complimentary quote or two from a reviewer may go on the front flap. On the back flap, have a picture of the author (instead of on the back cover) and a short biographical note.

Printing—the Final Step
Finally, the designer must have the expertise to prepare files that your book printer can work with. He or she should be familiar with different printers and know how to prepare and send files that work with your printer’s equipment. The beautiful design you see on the screen should translate into a book cover that you are proud of and one that your readers will enjoy looking at whenever they pick up your book.

Copyright © 2006 Jill Ronsley. All rights reserved.

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