Many publishing experts claim that after writing excellent copy for your eBook (see my last post, Becoming a Writer, Mapper and Synthesizer), the next most important thing to do is create a good cover design. As Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, states: “A great cover design makes a promise to the reader.”
Mind mapping to design your cover can help you keep that promise.
The 4 Cs
Steven Spatz, marketing director for BookBaby, feels that a great cover should be a billboard on the Internet Superhighway — a place where people are speeding along at “60 miles an hour” and barely give themselves time to glance at anything in particular.
For my eBook How to Get Your Money Back From Big Companies, I wanted the cover to shine, so I mind mapped the four Cs of diamond quality: color, clarity, cut, and carat (weight), in order to be sure that my design had the right attributes. Here’s how.
The smart use of color attracts the attention of the viewer immediately, and since my book was about money, I chose a design that incorporated the color of US greenbacks. And as Coker suggests, I tried to envision the cover in black & white, as well as greyscale, in case it ended up appearing on a website or document that was devoid of color.
It is obvious that an eBook cover must be genre- or topic-specific. That’s why I chose an image that made it absolutely clear what the book was about: one lone person collecting money from a large, looming entity. And with my book being sold on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers, the cover graphic couldn’t be too complex — it needed to look good in thumbnail size, too.
I went with a clean design to provide a laser-like focus to the point of my book. With only the image, the title, and my name, the design was uncluttered. For me, this meant that what didn’t make the “cut” was just as important as what did.
4. Carat (Weight)
I initially considered a comical, more colorful design to reflect the humor of some of the stories in the book. However, a whimsical cover was not “heavy” enough to convey the David vs. Goliath message I wanted, so I decided on the one that BookBaby designed. The fact that it was described as “Mad Men-esque” by at least one reviewer was an added advantage that made the cover more topical and current.
By the Cover
The bottom line is that a great eBook cover has a lot in common with a piece of jewelry. It has to communicate a lot of information in what is, generally, a pretty limited space. It has to send a message about taste and value. And, quite frankly, It has to catch people’s eyes. Using the classic diamond quality model of the four Cs provides a great framework for assessing your ebook cover — and making it shine.
To see my evaluation process, download my eBook Cover Design mind map here.