BookCoverZone Blog - Covers Makes Books

Why are Serif fonts seen as more formal and Sans Serif not?

A question designers hears all to often. Nevertheless an important one. For while political thrillers and historical fictions are almost exclusevly designed with Serif fonts, action and adventure novels are almost always designed with bold, powerful Sans Serif characters. And while every government building around the world, every presidential seal is created with Serif fonts, all car races are Sans Serif.


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The main reason, one could argue is that it’s simply because serif fonts are generally accepted to be more classic, elegant and established. Sans Serif fonts have a more utilitarian goal - they are mainly used to convey short, direct messages in the simplest form possible (hence their use in road signs, plate numbers, TV commercials and modern company logos) whereas sans serif fonts are used to convey larger chunks of knowledge and data. While sans serif fonts are easier to recognize it small or low-resolution surfaces, serif typefaces are generally easier to read because the added strokes make each character more distinctive. More distinctive letters means words that are easier for the eye to recognize quickly.


There is also a historical context, nevertheless. The Latin alphabet, which comes from Greek and Latin was mainly written on stone tablets and the strokes (serifs) were usually a technical necessity. However since most of the Western legal and “formal” culture is based on Greek and Latin, this “original” writing style (based on classical Roman capitals) has always been accepted as being more deep rooted. While sans serif fonts can be traced back thousands of years, sans serif fonts were designed only in the late 19th century. It’s only with the advent of mass production, mass marketing and technologies such as digital printing that sans serifs has gained popularity. So one has a vast historical and artistic heritage behind it, while the other is modern, practical and geometrical.

5 Compelling Book Promotion Ideas for Self-Published Authors

Writing is writing. Publishing, however is marketing. Once you have your book out, you will seriously need to start thinking about ways to promote your title. A good cover design goes a long way, but is by no means enough. There are millions of books out there and so as not to get lost there, you need to find your target market and set realistic goals for yourself. Here are 5 ideas worth thinking about:

 

Create A Blog

And fill it with relevant (but always interesting) information aimed at your target market segment. You do not need to openly talk about your newly published title here, as people who will find your articles interesting will definitely want more and therein comes the book into play. A few simple links to Amazon will do the trick, once you have some readers hooked.

 

Use social media

The idea here is basically the same. Social media won't create miracles but is an excellent means to spread the word out. Again, do not just advertise your book. Make interesting posts that will eventually lead the observer to your book.

 

Get reviews for your book

You do not need to be reviewed by Stephen King. All kinds of reviews are useful and helpful. Amazon's review section is a wonderful place to make this happen. You can also promote your pre-release book in Goodread’s network of over 60 million members through a featured giveaway. Reviews are a wonderful means to get people to be interested in your title. While paid advertisements are good to get the word out, the best advertisement is when others speak highly of your book.

 

Write an appealing book blurb

The blurb is the readers second contact with your book (the first one being the front cover). A catchy blurb will do wonders. Pay attention to write about what makes your book interesting, different, worth the read, worth paying for. Are you answering some serious questions, ask the questions. Is the finale breathtaking, let them feel it (without giving away too much).

 

Get a professional cover

While this one is obvious, it should never be underestimated. An amateurish cover will give the impression that the content is also amateurish. A boring cover will mean that the content is boring. Get a catchy, but genre-friendly cover for your book. Being too experimental on the cover can also lead to the readers expecting something experimental. And readers are generally more conservative than you will imagine.

Where to publish your next novel and how we can help you while designing your book cover

Over the years the publishing alternatives have skyrocketed. Today you can opt for both an e-book and a printed book through these services. Below you can find some of the alternatives that you can go to. As BookCoverZone, we have over the years worked with all of these companies and rest assured we will create a cover that is not only catchy, but also one that is technically ready to be uploaded directly to any of the services listed below.

1. Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

Still the leading self-publishing alternative on the market Amazon KDP (with it's recent merger with CreateSpace) account to more than %60 of all self-published books worldwide. About 80% of all English-language ebook sales occur via Amazon, and self-published titles alone account for 42% of this figure. 

2. CreateSpace

It's slowly winding down and transferring it's entire catalogue over to KDP. However it's still a solid system that's worth checking out. Just bear in mind that CreateSpace does not offer the hardcover format, however their paperback quality is top-notch. But bear in mind that Amazon takes a 40% cut from every standard sale, and a whopping 60% from sales that are done through their Expanded Distribution program. Royalty is paid after deducting Amazon’s commission (40% or 60%), a fixed charge, and a per-page charge from the book’s list price. ISBN's are provided free by their system.

3. IngramSpark

As we're working with hundreds of authors each month we can easily say that number 3 on our list for the most popular self-publishing services is Ingram Spark. Their quality is on par with Amazon and they also offer hardcover versions. IngramSpark is a servcie established by Ingram, the world’s leading distributor of print books, connected to 39,000 bookstores, libraries, and online retailers in more than 150 countries. IngramSpark also distributes ebooks to all the top online retailers, including Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. So it should definitely be on your list!

4. Lulu

Lulu is one of the oldest players in this industry. One can easily say that they are the ones who started the whole self-publishing craze. Lulu offers both hardcover and paperback formats and their e-book conversion, publishing, and distribution services are free. However you would still need a book cover before paying them a visit. 

5. Bookbaby

Over the years more and more authors have come to us to prepare book cover designs according to Bookbaby's specifications. It's safe to say that this company is growing. Printed books generate royalties between 10% and 30%. E-books earn 100% royalties after deducting the retailer’s commission. Sales made through Bookshop, however, earn 85% royalties. Bookbaby also has a print-on-demand service that is worth checking out. 

Honorable mentions: iUniverse, Xlibri - these are respectable players in the market and we will write more about them in the future. In the meantime good luck preparing your next book! 

 

 

 

Number and symbols in business book design

These are exciting times not just for authors, but also for publishers, designers and everyone who has one foot in the publishing industry. While the century-old process of getting published changes rapidly, as does the means in which we publish, the quantity of books published is skyrocketing. Pre-made book cover designs are the new kids in the block and a great way for authors and publishers to find a easy, professional and budget-friendly solution to to their publishing needs. Pre-made book cover designs are a great way, not just for literary/fiction authors but also for self-help, science and business books. 

Turning ideas into symbols...

Fiction book designing is about creating a world, an atmosphere and setting an overall mood; a good business book cover is all about ideas, abstractions and clever use of typography. It's a personal corporate branding project. It's rational, rather than emotional. It's attentive, rather than passionate. Instead of working with textures, shades and perspectives, it's a genre where striking symbols, challenging ironies and clever use of analogies is there to make the best use of. A piggy bank is a symbol of personal saving, an arrow symbolizes growth in venue, keys are real estates and a sand glass is time management. A short browse through business books will immediately present dart boards, light bulbs and gearwheels in the plenty. And while these are clichés in every sense of the word, they still work. In fact, symbol are delicate things, and "over-symbolization" can easily have an undesired effect and make the whole design ambiguous and confusing. A designer has a tendency at times to forget that not everyone is a designer. Conventional approaches, on the other hand, works all the time. As of the writing of this article, the top ten business book covers on the New York Times Bestseller list consists of personal portraits, pencils, rubbers and gear wheels. Not exactly a beacon of imagination but a definite proof that clichés work.


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... and numbers into narratives


And then we have numbers. Since business is eventually about statistics and numbers, using them on covers might seem to make good sense. But there is a problem - numbers are cold, impersonal and to many, openly frightening. So how do we make them intimate and alluring? By clever use of typography and color. Numbers can be exciting and as personal as it gets, once we start looking at them not as digits or mathematical symbols but as geometrical shapes. Every shape has some imminent emotions attached to it. Squares, lines, and triangles suggest structure, strength and organization. Circles imply positivity, relationships, and community. Symmetrical shapes suggests balance, while sharp angels brings dynamism and suspense. The number 8 is so full of meanings that it couldn't fit inside a whole book. It's rounded, it's symmetric and it's shape is continous. It's as sexy as a number can evet get (sharing the spot with 6). More interestingly, while the infinity symbol ∞ is symbolically completely unrelated to the number 8, it's visual similarity is indisputable and to the observer, many of the positive feelings attached to ∞ are also unconsciously present in 8. Apart from its geometrical meanings, it's non-mathematical symbolic meaning is also powerful. In Buddhism, the 8-spoked Dharmacakra represents the Noble Eightfold Path. In Christianity it was the day God created light and also the day Jesus resurrected. In Islam it's the number of gates of heaven and also the number of angels carrying the throne of Allah in heaven. Eight is also the lucky number in various cultures. It's power is so vast that the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in China began on 8/8/08 at 8 seconds and 8 minutes past 8 pm. Spiders have eight legs, octopus has eight arms, there are 8 planets in the Solar System, and the light of the Sun reaches us in 8 minutes. All these interesting attributes of 8 has turned it into a powerful symbolic numeral in our psyche. 3, an equally compelling number, is symbolically rich because it is present in everything we observe around us. (In fact, it's the number of dimensions in which we observe the world). Optically it's pleasing to look at, since it's repeating, it's got two incomplete circles and it looks very much like organs such as breasts and buts. For mathematicians, physicist as well as designer it's simply the holy number due to it being π. Three also has religious significance because it represents the Trinity, the soul, the union of body and soul in human in the church. Hegel's Dialectics is based on 3 states or moments (Nothing - Becoming - Being). [Dialectics in design is a fascinating matter in itself. It is based on the idea that the expressive potential of design for the maker, the user and the designer exists in tension with other desirable properties of the designed artefact.] In everyday life, we have three prizes in competitions, we count to three before starting on something. It is the first number that forms a geometrical figure – the triangle. With a little bit of imagination, we could base the entire human civilization and the fabric of nature on the number 3.


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The untold advantage of purchasing a pre-made book cover design

Renowned book designer Chip Kidd (who designed the cover to Jurassic Park and many others) once said that a good book design is about giving form to content but also appreciating the balance between the two. Book cover design might turn out to be a very complicated process. While the designer is after creating a catchy, bold and unique identity for your book, you will want as much of the story to be told through the design. Just because of this, there are many reasons a pre-made book covers might be the best idea for your forthcoming book. 

You will get a unique design, not specifically done with your story in mind, but still a cover that has been worked on from scratch and one that you have have found be fit to tell your story. This cover has also been made sure to convey all the different aspects of great book cover designs. Secondly you will know what you're paying for. A great idea might not always turn into a great design (or more specifically the vision you had in mind might look different from what the designer will create). So there's always an element of risk-taking when paying for a unique design. Many authors prefers pre-made covers just because of this. They know what they're paying for, before making any payment. And then there's the element of price. The reason you will usually pay hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars for a good design is because you will have many revision rounds. These takes time and effort on the designers side and naturally he or she wants to get paid for the extra miles. However when you buy a premade book cover you only pay for what you see and don't have to pay for the numerous revision rounds involved (hence the lower price). 

But the greatest reason to buy a premade book cover might be one that is not that obvious at first sight. Great designs usually fail during the many revision rounds. What starts as a clean and bold statement usually gets lost as the author wants the designer to experiment with other design elements or ideas. In the end, without the author knowing it, the main design turns out to be something mediocre at best. When you buy a premade book cover, your book is spared this disastrous process. You see it, you like it, you pay for it and you use it. In short you get a professional, catchy book cover without lifting a finger or paying too much. 

Our secret to good covers

Naturally when something turns out bad, we look for someone to blame. Well let's get it straight, bad book cover designs are fully the designers and publishers responsibility, but actually part the fault lies in the author as well. When an author wants to have his/her book published, they naturally want the cover to tell the story in the book. But a book is full of things, and trying to put them all on the cover usually leads to an over-crowded, chaotic cover. Throughout our careers as book cover designers we take full credit in our good designs, but also acknowledge that we are responsible for some really bad covers as well.

The problem we face is usually trying to convince the authors that a book cover should convey ONE vital and catchy element in the story, and leave the rest out. A truly great book cover is one that has lots of empty space, an elegant use of typography and a good and easily noticeable hierarchical layout. These are elements only the book cover designer knows about and can implement in a satisfactory way. So part of the designers job is actually to convince the author to leave the designing process to him/her. In fact, half of the challenge any designer face and has to take care of, is to convince the client not to ask for things that simply wouldn't look good on a design. An author that wants to put everything on the cover usually ends up with a mediocre cover that he or she won't be fond of in the end either.

This is also one of the reasons, buying covers from a premade archive is usually less risky. These are done by true designers and it might not reflect everything in your story, but so it shouldn't either. You buy a cover that has all the right elements in just the enough amount with a correct layout and hierarchical structure. In short a book cover that is a book cover in every professional sense.

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