5 Essential Tips for an Effective Book Cover Design and Title

When it comes to selling more books, a great cover design and title can make all the difference. To help your book stand out from the crowd, there are five essential tips you should consider when creating your book’s title and cover. Read on to find out what they are!


Choose Colors That Reflect the Genre

Different genres have different associated colours, so your book cover should reflect the genre you’re writing in. For example, lighter colours like blues, greens, and pinks are associated with romance novels while darker shades of purple and grey signify mystery or suspense. Pick colour combinations that match the mood of your book and will intrigue prospective readers.


Don’t forget to use a colour contrast checker to ensure the readability of text with your chosen colour combinations. There are loads of free tools online, if your initial colours don’t work, play around with the colour tones until you find a winning combination.


Take a walk to your nearest bookstore and look at the shelves, what stands out most to you, especially those in your genre? I’d also advise taking a look on Amazon, most people consume their books having bought them online, whether it’s as audio, ebook or ordering a hard copy. Your design needs to grab attention even as a thumbnail so make a note of what’s standing out to you. 


Pick colour combinations that match the mood of your book and will intrigue prospective readers.


Make Your Title Pop

The title of your book should be distinctive, captivating, and direct. Using big, bold font can help make a quick impression on readers; think about the titles you see on bestseller shelves in bookstores, and again online. 

You want your title to pique curiosity and stand out from the crowd. Simplicity is key; don’t use too many words or overly complex language. Make sure it’s easy to read and get right to the point of what the book is about.


Having done your market research, you’ll know the importance of getting the title right. If I’d stuck with “Follow Your Yellow Brick Road”, rather than changing to “Becoming the GOAT*” it would not have had the same impact. The latter is far more aligned with my audience. 


The title of your book should be distinctive, captivating, and direct.


Make It Visually Appealing with Creative Layout Techniques

Including a combination of visually appealing and strategically placed design features can make your book cover look more appealing to prospective readers. Techniques such as starring elements of the titles, using different typography styles for different text, highlighting words with colour, using shadows or reflections, or combining font with illustrations can all be used to enhance your book’s visual appeal and make it stand out from the crowd. Having said that, don’t go overboard with differing fonts, you want to be using 2 different fonts, 3 at a push if they aren’t too different. Any more will become distracting and you need to make sure your fonts are legible. Too curly and people can’t read at a quick glance. 


One thing to bear in mind is, to make sure your name is big enough. Now, obviously, you don’t want it bigger than the title and taking up all of the space but too many new authors hide their name away or forget about it altogether. Be bold, be proud.


Incorporate Subtitles and Taglines to Maximize Your Message

Subtitles and taglines are additional components that can be added to your book cover and title. Along with incorporating words, you should also consider using a phrase that complements your title. This isn’t necessary for fiction writers unless you feel the title needs a little explanation. For non-fiction, the subtitle should be a snapshot of what the reader will get out of the book, without being too long or detailed. Taglines, on the other hand, should be brief and punchy - a small collection of words or a single phrase that captures readers’ attention and helps them remember the title.


Exercise Caution with Borders and Backgrounds for Professional Results

Opting for flashy or overly busy images as a border around your book title and cover may be visually appealing but it can also detract from your title's legibility. It’s important to remember that the more attention-grabbing elements you use, the less easily readers will be able to make out what is printed on your cover. To ensure maximum clarity and professionalism, keep backgrounds and borders clean and simple yet effective.


The more attention-grabbing elements you use, the less easily readers will be able to make out what is printed on your cover.


If in doubt, use your audience. It’s great content to engage your audience on social media or through a focus group by asking their opinion on a couple of ideas. If you’re not already in my Aspiring Author’s Community, come and join us and ask the group’s opinion about your ideas.

An Easy Guide for Aspiring Authors in Identifying Your Audience

If you don’t know who you are writing for, you’re essentially writing for yourself. Having a thorough understanding of your target audience is essential in creating meaningful connections with potential customers. Yes, you may well have readers from beyond your inner circle but you cannot cater for everyone in your writing. 

What is a target audience?

Let’s start with the whole population. Whatever book you are writing, there is no way it will be appealing to the whole population. So narrowing it down from there, you have people who like reading books, not all of those are interested in your genre. 

Narrowing it down again, you get to those people who buy books and ARE interested in your genre but aren’t might not be ready to buy your book. You can build awareness with these people to transfer them into the next category. Those who know, like and trust you and are ready to buy your book. Those who will be entertained and or helped by your book.


Define Your Target Audience

The first step in understanding your target audience is to define who they are. Consider demographic questions such as age, gender, location, income, and family size. What kind of activities do they enjoy, what values and beliefs drive their decisions, and how do they perceive your brand? Where so they hang out, both in person and online? Create an image of this person, give them a name and focus on them as you write. Focusing on your target audience doesn’t mean other people won’t find and buy your book. It just helps ensure your writing is focused on those who will relate to and get the most from your book.


Analyse Your Current Database

Analysing your current database gives you valuable insights into who might make good prospects for your target market, whether these are personal connections or those from an existing business. Examine how many customers purchased from you in the last six months, what types of products they bought, and how much they spent. You can also look at how long customers have been with your company and their social media activities to get an idea of which customers are most engaged. Finally, review any surveys or customer feedback collected while they were interacting with your brand.

On a personal level, who are the people who are always there for you, supporting you, interested in what you have to say and will potentially buy your book. Do any of these people fall into your target audience? Will they go above and beyond to help you promote your work to your target audience?


Market Research for book readers

Surveys and questionnaires are one of the most effective methods for understanding your audience. They allow you to find out what consumers think about your existing products or services, what they would like to see improved in the future, and even new product ideas. Be sure to craft questions that will give you useful feedback from customers – open-ended questions are the most effective for gaining insights into customer preferences and opinions. 


Why not ask your existing customers and/ or personal connections what three things they associate with you. These will likely be the things that resonate with your potential readers and give you a starting point to narrow your audience down. 


Market research can help you find out what consumers think about your products or services, what they would like to see improved, and even new product ideas.


Why is it important to know your target audience?

To write for an audience, you need to know how that audience speak. You would not write a book for 10 and 11-year-olds the same as you would for an adult, or for a 3-year-old. 


If you’re writing fiction, is the age group you have in mind going to be interested in your characters and plot. If it’s non-fiction is the content relevant and appropriate for your target audience. In 2022, I wrote Becoming the GOAT*, it was a book for teenagers. I started off with a different title but after doing some market research of my target audience it became apparent I needed to change the title. It’s a personal development book and while adults have bought, read and loved it, some of the content is not aimed at adult readers. After requests I am planning on re-writing it as an adult version. 


Knowing your target audience is also key in knowing where to market your book . . . TikTok, Facebook, LinkedIn, they all have different demographics of users and you’ll be more likely to reach your ideal reader on the right platform. 


Knowing your target audience is key in knowing where to market your book.


Market research and identifying your reader is something I dive deeper into in my Aspiring Author’s Programme.