Here’s a book cover case study to illustrate that point.
Cherita, a first-time author, contacted me about my book-design services. First, I wrote her a contract that included a cost to design the cover. She responded, “I already have a book cover, so I won’t need that service.” I deleted that cost from my estimate.
When I began the design work, I asked to see the book cover, so I could match the cover fonts with the interior typefaces.
Yikes! This was not a professionally designed cover. I marked up the pdf and sent it to the author with these comments: “Please read and review the comments on the attached pdf. Share with your artist. Ask him/her to make the changes.”
Even though marking up the pdf was not in my contract, I wanted to show the author these problems:
- The print size was not correct.
- The layout did not include printing bleeds.
- The title was too close to the trim edge.
- The spine was too wide—.84 inch! The manuscript calculated to sixty-eight pages, which is roughly .14 inch.
- The spine and back cover had different colors. I suggested using the same colors as the front cover was a wrap-around, and change some of the type colors so the text could be more easily read.
- The cover illustration was distorted—it was stretched vertically.
- The drop shadow on the cover type was too big and didn’t look “fun.”
- The bar code wasn’t the right size and needed a white background.
- The back cover was missing a URL, publisher’s logo, and price.
- The subtitle was buried! I suggested making it readable because the subtitle is a huge selling point.
The author sent my comments to her artist, and another round of changes occurred. The new artwork was better, but most importantly, the size was still not correct. On Zoom, I showed the author how the revised artwork was still not correct. I asked Cherita if I could get the original files and re-do the artwork. She agreed.
With all the graphic elements, I was able to redo the cover file quickly so that the size was correct, including the spine width. The background color flowed from back to front, and font colors had more contrast. The biggest change was improving the subtitle to be larger, more readable, and attention grabbing. Best of all, the author was very pleased with the updated layout. Some book designers have better sensibilities and experience than others. Make sure you choose a designer who knows how to do your book cover correctly.
Thanks for reading!