When it comes time to design your book cover you should begin by looking at other covers of books that have sold well in your genre. The Internet and your local library are excellent places to begin your research. Find out first if they were a best seller and if the cover was a factor or not if you can. Art is of course a very individual thing, but layout on the other hand has rules that apply to good design.
When I was working for the newspaper designing display ads I would first start out with the size I was working with. It was a broadsheet paper so if I had a full page ad I had all the space I needed to be creative. It was the smaller ads that proved to be the challenge. As an author your size is going to be limited to the size of the book, which can vary from the typical paperback size you see in the dollar store to the large hardback books found in bookstores and the like.
The size of your book is your first decision, though it can be changed if what you have in mind is too cramped or to loose. It might even be best to note the size of the best selling book covers you like and choose the size of your book from that. Like I said before the Internet is a good place to start, but the library is where you want to go to actually touch the book and determine the size.
You will find a large variety of styles from photography to artistic renderings that range from abstract to finely detailed drawings of characters. Many of these drawings will use sex especially in the romance and fantasy novels. Some will just be plain like Michael Crichton’s “Disclosure”. The possibilities are literally endless and it is up to you to decide which way you want to go.
Since most authors are not graphic artists it is best after you decide the size and the general appearance you want to hire someone that specializes in book cover design. They not only can design the cover to maximize the effect and draw the potential buyer attention, but help you to make the sale.
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