Rachel Lawston is the founder of Lawston Design, and is freelance designer and illustrator for publishing and digital media. Rachel’s worked with the likes of Penguin Random House, Walker Books and Orchard Books. Here are her 5 tips for simple and creative cover design.
1) Read the book
That way you can ensure you give an honest and true representation of the book itself. If it isn’t possible to read the manuscript before I start then I ask if I can read a detailed synopsis.
Gather together your thoughts regarding the direction you feel would work best. The research I do is varied but can and often includes; target audience, relevant imagery, possible artists, typefaces that may work, the subject matter, author brand and successful covers in that genre.
Examining what is on trend and the direction it may take is essential. What may be fashionable at the moment could be obsolete when the book is released.
3) Stock Imagery
When using stock imagery, I try to avoid using just one single image and instead blend several together to create something new. That way I can avoid the heartache of discovering my perfect image has already been used many times before.
4) Test the cover
Often there are several stages where you will evaluate and wonder whether the current direction is the right one. Testing covers on an unbiased group of the target audience is very helpful in establishing if everything is on track.
Legibility is vital, especially as most people now buy online. A useful trick when determining whether the title will stand out on Amazon is to drop the file onto your desktop, if you can still read the title when it is an icon then success!