The Importance of an eBook Cover Design

The old adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” never rang truer than when applied to a professional cover design for an eBook.

The visual effect of a stunning graphic, enhanced by skillful placment of attractive, legible typography for the book title, subtitle, byline and descriptive text on the book’s imaginary front cover speaks volumes about the quality and professionalism of the book’s contents. In the mind of the potential buyer, it goes a long way toward closing the sale by making the book worth every penny of its retail price — a bargain, in fact.

With all three of my eBooks, the two that have been published and the third, which is about to be submitted to all three publishers, I have been extremely fortunate to have our daughter Meghan, as my art director and graphic designer. Each time, I would e-mail to her the chosen graphic, the text for the cover and the cover image specifications of Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook and Smashwords.com; each time she would return to me the finished .jpg image, ready to upload to the conversion process. I am equally fortunate that Meghan majored in graphic design at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, after which she has served as graphic designer and/or art director for St. Louis Business Journal,The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Rochester Magazine, The Hamptons Magazine, Gotham Magazine, and Philadelphia Style Magazine. She now raises our first grandson, while she freelances from home for two of her former employers to design special projects. Thumbnails of her cover designs for my three books are shown above.

If, unlike me, you have the talent and skill to design your own book covers, you are very fortunate indeed. If, however, you are like me, why not shop around for a talented, but affordable graphic designer in your area, who has the documented training and experience to put a sense of what lurks in your manuscripts into pleasing visuals on your product covers. Perhaps there are colleges, universities or graphic arts schools in your area. Contact their human resources departments in your search for an affordable, talented graphic designer for your covers. Otherwise, check your local or regional Yellow Pages under the headings “Advertising Agencies and Counselors” or “Graphic Designers”.

OR, if you are handy with Microsoft PowerPoint, you might try this experiment I just did per an article by Danny Pollard published at http://www.suite101.com/content/using-microsoft-powerpoint-to-create-book-covers-a343117

Here is how my experiment turned out:  

Regardless of who is designing and producing the product cover, there are certain requirements for the finished product that I submit to my three publishers: Kindle, Nook (PubIt!) and Smashwords. Here are the specs for each:

Amazon Kindle Specs: 

Must be .tiff or .jpg image, ideally 500 pixels wide x 1200 pixels high to be displayed digitally on the various sizes of Kindle screens at 72 dpi (dots per inch), using the  RGB (Red-Green-Blue) color mode.

Barnes and Noble (PubIt!):

The maximum viewing size of the nook screen is 600 x 730 pixels. Images should be optimized for web delivery and can either be .png, .jpg or .gif. The choice of format is optional and should be based on a compromise of image quality and file size. Typically, .gif supports a maximum of 256 colors while .jpg supports 16.7 million; .png supports 24-bit color. Cover images typically range between 500 pixels x 600 pixels to 600 pixels x 730 pixels.

Smashwords:

A product inage is absolutely necessary for inclusion in the Smashwords Premium Catalog. It must be a .jpg or .png image file, ideally 500 pixels wide x 800 pixels high, to be displayed digitally at 72 dpi, using the RGB color mode. The cover should include the book title and author’s name (a descriptive subtitle and refernce to one or two previously published titles by the author, may also be useful). Since the lonline bookstores use your cover to merchandise your book, it should be a book-like cover, the shape of a vertical rectangle, approximately 500 pixels wide by 700 pixels high. Images cannot be square (e.g., for CDs or DVDs) or three-dimensional.

Author’s Note: If your designer is unfamiliar with the size of these digital specs at 72 dots per inch, there are online conversion sources that will translate the digital dimensions, say, 500 pixels wide by 700 pixels high at 72 dpi into inches on the computer or eReader screen.

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