How to optimize your KDP book cover

10 Jul

Most people won’t read your book description if the book cover didn’t attract their attention.

I am not a designer and when I was publishing my first book I had no budget to hire one, so I had to figure out on my own how to deal with the book cover issue.

So, here is my advice on the matter:

Make an effective book cover

  • Which emotions do you need to trigger ?

I have noticed that buying a fiction book is not at all the same process as buying, let’s say, some sort of a manual. The purchase of a non-fiction book is mostly a logical decision coming from your mind, while for fiction books in most cases emotions take control and we buy « from the heart ». Fiction means entertainment or experiencing emotions.

Thus, while designing your book cover, think of the mood it will convey. Make it vibrant and focused on “the heart”, on the emotional response it will get from whoever will look at it.
To make it easier, what I always do is look at other similar books in the market, especially the books that do really well. There are similarities in patterns and color schemes that you can observe and then use in your own design.

  • Keep it simple

Too many details and small elements can make the design look busy and will have a poor visibility while displayed as a thumbnail (KDP ebooks, for example). However, some quite simple covers featuring just one central graphic element often look great. Look at these examples:

book cover-tips for authors

As for the text elements, some say to avoid catchy quotes and other small text, others say that it gives the impression of a traditionally published book. I think either is good, depending on how you feel about it. However, I believe that of all the text elements, the title must be readable on the thumbnail : it’s part of your branding and it is very likely triggering or emphasizing the emotions. In addition, if your book is already a worldwide bestseller, people will recognize it by the graphic elements only, but if you are an indie publishing your first book, your title better be visible.

  • Look at it through your audience’s eyes

All marketing begins with knowing who your audience is. What speaks to these people? What do they like? What do they wear?… Try to imagine what they will feel while looking at your cover.

Some technical points

KDP accepts 2 formats : JPEG or TIFF that are compressed after you upload them. (For better results, reduce the compression to the minimum while creating your cover). Amazon automatically adds your cover (uploaded separately) to the book file, so there is no need to include it in the book. However, if you are planning to use other distribution channels, you might want to add it into the book file.

The same stands true for the cover dimensions. Amazon requires the height/width ratio of 1.6 which is long and thin, like the iPhone screen. (A little explanation: 1.6 means that if the longest side of your cover is 4500 pixels, which is by the way the size that Amazon recommends, the shortest side should be 2820 pixels). This ratio corresponds to the print size 5 x 8 inches. However, the most popular book size according to the different surveys in the book industry is 6 x 9 inches. This one corresponds to the ratio 1.5. Keep that in mind if you are planning to distribute on other platforms.

For KDP ebooks the resolution (.dpi) of your picture doesn’t really matter (however, I am always keeping it as high as possible;-) ), but the height/width ratio must not be overlooked. The tip here is not to go under 600×800, because larger images can be shrunk to fit the smaller screens, whereas when you stretch a small image, its quality worsens.

Now, if your cover’s background is white or very light, to make it stand out consider adding a narrow border of about 3-4 pixels in grey or black. And, don’t forget to keep your cover image in RGB format (CMYK is only for the print !).

Good luck! 😉

Kateryna Kei, Author of Raven Boy, adventure and romance young-adult saga

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Posted by on July 10, 2014 in Author Resources


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