Our Senior Graphic Designer, Ricky, gave these tips for designing a cover that stands out:
The target market and subject matter: It’s very important to keep the target market in mind when designing for any project. If the design doesn’t appeal to the intended audience, we fail. It’s also necessary that we have a solid understanding of the subject matter of the book. Aside from the genre, we try to present a cover design that aligns with both the author’s writing style and the content itself. Some authors have a very serious writing style while others may be a little more casual. Keeping those characteristics in mind, we try to make sure the overall theme of the cover design is indicative of the content within. Show or Tell, not both: This one is my favorite and something I strive to do with every cover design I work on. Chip Kidd, a renowned book designer, does a great job of explaining this concept. The basic idea is to either show a concept or tell a concept — never both. In Kidd’s example, he recites from a graphic design class: (full article here)
In his quirky Ted Talk, Kidd explains that on his first day of graphic design class in school, the teacher drew a picture of an apple, then wrote the word Apple and said: “Listen up. You either say this,” pointing to the word apple, “or you can show this,” pointing to the picture of the apple. “But you don’t do this,” he said, pointing to a picture of an apple with the word Apple beneath it. “Because this is treating your audience like a moron. And they deserve better.”I like this rule for book design because I think it can lead to a cover design that is more intriguing for a potential reader. It also pairs well with one of my favorite rules of design: Less is more. The competition: It’s imperative to also know what other books of similar content or genres look like. Checking out Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or other book sellers can greatly influence the cover design I end up with. I like to look at other books in the space to see what works, what doesn’t work, what’s overdone, and most importantly, what I can potentially create that’s different and may not have been thought of before in the respective genre.