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Designing a book cover for today’s Internet marketing

If you’re self-publishing a book, you need a cover design that not only attracts the eye, creates intrigue, and reflects something about your story, it needs to work well on the Internet.

Most book covers look all right at the size displayed on the pages devoted to the book by Amazon.com and the Barnes & Noble’s bookseller website. That’s not too tough a test, even though one example design below fails. 

But the real test comes if you publish a Kindle edition. You can create a signature that includes your covers for your posts to the Kindle Boards (a valuable marketing opportunity), and there’s a serious size limitation. Here’s my signature:

Kindle signature

The cover images are only 89 pixels wide and 125 tall, yet for the first two books it’s easy to read the title and the author name. I didn’t do as good a job as I’d like on the name part of the first cover I designed, The Vampire Kitty-cat Chronicles--it could be better. Your goal should be a strong, attractive image with the title and your name easily readable.

Your name is your brand. It’s key to have your name be readable because that’s the primary ingredient in your brand identity.

For contrast, let’s look at covers for other novels reduced to this size.

Taker Kindle footerThis is the U.K. edition cover for The Taker. You can make out “Taker” and maybe “The.” The imagery is meaningless to me, and there’s no author identity at all. I suspect this cover is gorgeous in print, but it doesn’t serve the author or the publisher well on the web. To the right is the image size that will appear on Amazon. The author name is still problematic.

Taker 2 Kindle footerThe second The Taker cover is for the U.S. edition, and it has problems at the smaller size, too. Still no author name that you can read, and the title is, at best, “AKER.” It works better in the size for an Amazon page, but the name is still not strong.

The Taker black
The Taker blu

Satans Chamber Kindle footerThis is the cover for a novel by a writer friend. In print, the vivid colors are striking (as they are on a web page), and there are design subtleties that add information.

Actually, there are two writers who collaborated, and their names are on the cover. But you’d never know it with this design. The title is difficult to read. At the bottom, there’s an image of flames superimposed over the desert scene. At this size, though, it just looks muddied. In terms of branding and clarity, I think this could be better done.

Satans Chamber Amazon searchHere’s the Satan’s Chamber cover at two other common sizes-- the one on the left is what you see when you search Amazon for a title.

To the right is the image from the book’s Amazon.com page. Only on the latter is the title really clear, the flames looking like flames, and a chance to read the author’s names.

Enemy Amazon searchrevIn contrast, here are those sizes for my We the Enemy cover. I don’t think you’ll miss either the title or the author name.

It might be worth exploring having two covers: one for the in-store print experience, and one for web pages. But you’d have to make sure that one instantly evokes the other. And, if you can design the print cover to play well on a web page, why not just keep things simple?

Satans Chamber Amazon page
Enemy Amazon pagerev

Below are the tiny and Amazon page sizes for another of my designs.

front Magic color title 73011 75W BThe protagonist of Finding Magic is a troubled woman who faces danger in a story with a fantastic element.

front Magic color title 73011 200W B


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