What makes a good indie book cover?

Image - iStockphoto: Baber Photography
Image – iStockphoto: Baber Photography

Duck and cover

By this time next year, there will not be fewer mobiles in the world; there will not be fewer videos uploaded to YouTube; or fewer ebooks published; or fewer tweets sent into the ether. There will not be fewer authors—and there may not be any more readers.

That’s my colleague Philip Jones at The Bookseller in his leader piece to this week’s edition of the magazine on the stands in London. His point, in context, is about the inexorable march of the digital dynamic.

Much of what we will deal with at Author Day on 30th November at 30 Euston Square in London—and then, certainly at The FutureBook 2015 conference on 4th December at The Mermaid in London—will be hinged on that dynamic, of course. (Note, please that the £30 savings of Early Bird on both events are scheduled to end today, Friday, 30th October.)

And Jones is touching on what I think is about to be the central issue facing the industry, the overwhelm of content, even of our own comment. Digital has enabled and exacerbated this, of course, it’s no one’s fault. Canelo’s Michael Bhaskar put it bluntly for us at Frankfurt Book Fair in the live “Hug the Alien” event he agreed to do at my invitation: “There are too many books.”

This, of course, is why I’ve titled my introductory piece for Author Day in the FutureBook preview, In the Path of an Avalanche. That snow sure looks like books.

In all probability, the book cover is the essential element that we look to as a way to try to punch through the deluge and reveal work to readers (who surely have not multiplied in our midst as fast as have authors).

And for a long time, we’ve heard the jokes, sometimes all too accurate, about “indie covers”—”I can spot them a mile off,” “one look is all you need,” and “go ahead, judge it, fast.”

Many professional independent authors have worked hard on this potentially pivotal element of marketing and presentation, biting the bullet and hiring artists, using less expensive bookcover banks, and some of them—yes, still—thinking they can do it themselves. Or that their talented mothers can.

I’m glad to have an article today from Sarah Juckes of CompletelyNovel.com (@CompletelyNovel on Twitter) here today, about their recent competition in independent book covers. I’m going to give you her text here, and then let’s take this up in #FutureChat today. As Juckes asks it, “What makes a good indie book cover?”  You see her write of “a network of authors using their book cover as a canvas to communicate with their readers.”

Let’s talk about that. See you in #FutureChat.

This story was written as the walkup to #FutureChat on 30th October. Join us every Friday live on Twitter at:

  • 4:00 p.m. London (GMT)
  • 5:00 p.m. Rome (CEST)
  • 11:00 a.m. New York (ET)
  • 10:00 a.m. Chicago (CT)
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What makes a good indie book cover?

This month, CompletelyNovel.com launched a competition to find the ultimate book cover design for an independently published book. What we found, along with some rather striking designs, is a network of authors using their book cover as a canvas to communicate with their readers in a way that makes sense for their careers.

So what makes a good indie book cover design? And is there an opportunity to change the parameters of what good cover design is within the indie space? Here’s what we found.

Finding the ‘Lord of the Book Covers’ competition

We have long seen interesting book cover designs come through our platform, and we wanted to create a space where those, and others could be shown off. The ‘Lord of the Book Covers’ competition received hundreds of submissions—a testament to the number of indie authors who recognise the importance of a good book cover. Authors we spoke to were proud to show off what had been a labor of love, and the majority of book covers we received were of a really high standard.

The shortlist included 20 of the best entries and was opened to a public vote. It was a close-run contest and the winner, crowned ‘Lord of the Book Covers’, was announced last Friday.

Never ones to miss an opportunity to learn from indie authors, we asked each entrant how their book cover was designed and found an interesting, if not altogether surprising, result.

75 percent of shortlisted covers were professionally-designed

Of all the entries submitted, more than half were designed by a third party, and this figure rose to 75 percent within the shortlisted entries. It seems that authors have no problem outsourcing their cover design to good designers.

The covers what weren’t designed by a professional, but by the author themselves, were built using more modern, web-based design software such as Canva. These new tools are far more affordable and user-friendly for non-professional designers. This makes it much easier for authors to create something of quality on a small budget.

There’s more: Read on


By Porter Ander­son  

The Bookseller: #FutureChat today: What makes a good indie book cover?

Read the full post at: TheBookseller.com/author-day/2015


AND don’t forget to register for Author Day, 30th November in London at 30 Euston Square

Visit our Author Day site here.

Our full programme is here.

Our terrific team of speakers is here. 

Directions to 30 Euston Square are here.

And info on our superb sister conference. The FutureBook 2015 

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