Tips for Book Cover Design Contest

in contest •  5 months ago

Thinking about trying your hand at book cover design for our High Kill contest? That’s awesome! We’ve put together some tips that will hopefully inspire and instruct those who may not have much experience with this type of commercial art.


If you haven’t read about the contest yet, find more information HERE. The first chapter of the novel, “High Kill” by Diane Ryan, is available HERE.

Understanding Purpose

The most important aspect of book cover design is understanding the purpose of the cover. It’s to show what the book is about, right? Wrong. It’s to sell the book? Well, sort of. The proper function of a book cover is to make people want to know more about it. The front cover, combined with a well-written back cover blurb and feedback from other readers (most often in the form of reviews) is part of a package that can impact sales in a very significant way.

Genre Dictates Style

The cover should fit in, not stand out, when shown side by side with other books in the same genre. Yes, the author should want to make an impression, but a cover with bright primary colors and blocky font is going to play badly in a lineup of cozy mysteries. “High Kill” is literary suspense, which means it’s a nontraditional mystery that’s highly focused on the characters and their personal arcs rather than a linear plot. This type of novel appeals to a certain audience, one that enjoys the rousing tension of a good thriller but may enjoy the poignancy and slow-burn drama of “A Thousand Acres” just as much.


Colors matter with book covers. Ideally, no more than two colors should dominate, and they should provide plenty of contrast with each other. Complementary colors on the color wheel are good pairings, like orange and blue, or red and green. For a suspenseful mood, teal is a good choice. Opposite on the color wheel from teal is maroon, which is easily diluted into earthy tones of copper and tan. Muted blues and grays also work for suspense, although there are no hard and fast rules about this.


Be Mindful of the Thumbnail

Also important is that the cover look good and be readable at thumbnail size. The majority of books are purchased online these days, where their covers are presented alongside rows of others in ever-decreasing dimensions. This is where clean lines and simple color schemes come into play. Anything that’s too complex or detailed gets lost at smaller resolutions.

The Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds is important, too. While many successful cover designs don't adhere to these guidelines, it's always a good bet to keep them in mind when thinking of designs. A good article can be found about this HERE.

We'd like to see a good turnout for this contest. It's a way to bring creatives on the platform together, working toward a common goal. Not to mention the 50 Steem we're awarding to the winner! Collaboration is the key to successful community initiatives, and we're ready to collaborate!

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