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Top 5 Myths of Cover Design

Updated: Oct 19, 2018


Whether sitting in a book cover meeting with publishers and sales execs or reading comments on an indie author Facebook group, I often hear the same myths about cover design being used as truths. So I thought I would do you the honour of popping the bubble of a few of the most famous of untruths.


1. NOBODY BUYS GREEN BOOKS

I have heard this my entire career. You can swap green for brown and, less frequently, blue. Not only are the majority of books on sports green, but many bestselling contemporary romance and sci-fi novels use tones of green too.


2. ONLY BESTSELLING AUTHORS HAVE LARGE NAMES

This is what people say when they think, often wrongly, that you are too big for your boots. How dare you! they shout. Only Lee Child has been afforded that privilege. It’s piffle, as you know. If your genre has a plethora of authors with their names on two lines, with the title coming in second-place, then feel free to emulate that style. The same works the opposite direction: if your genre tends to have the name on a single line, then you should follow that style instead.


3. EVERYTHING MUST BE LEGIBLE AS A THUMBNAIL

I was a junior designer when Kindle-fever took hold. It felt like every marketing director and editor had lost their minds overnight, screaming about thumbnails like there had been a mishap with a hammer. Suddenly we could not sell a book unless the title and author name were ten times the size they originally were.


What they had seemingly forgotten was we had been selling books on Amazon using thumbnails, without any problems, for years.


Not unlike the book you spot from across the store, you won’t truly know what the book is about until you read the blurb. And that is the same for online stores, too. So don’t

worry about everything being legible. Care about how your cover looks and how your blurb reads.


4. WHITE COVERS DON’T WORK ON AMAZON

This is myth that was born of the concern authors, sales execs and editors had when the saw the thumbnail online and worried no one would be able to see it. I completely understand the concern too, but it’s similar to the legibility myth in that it has absolutely no basis in truth.


Another myth about white covers is that they give some people an uneasy feeling that buyers will think the design is unfinished, or they fear the amount of open space. So long as the design works, that is all that really matters.


5. PEOPLE CAN’T READ VERTICAL TYPE

Out of all of the many myths on book design, ‘People aren’t able to read type vertically’ makes me laugh and roll my eyes the most, simply because mere inches away both the title and author name are written horizontally along the spine (and have been for many, many, years).


Originally printed in The Author's Guide to Cover Design