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072 - Working With A Book Designer - Part 2 of 5

cover design Sep 26, 2020

The Book Cover Sets the Tone

This is part 2 in my 5-part series of working with a designer. In this podcast we are going to talk about how the book cover sets the tone.

  • The book cover sets the look and feel of the entire marketing campaign—business cards, event banners, letterhead, etc.—for the life of the book (unless it gets revised in the next edition).
  • If you know that you are going to write multiple books, you may want to carry a theme throughout.
  • If you are writing your book to begin your platform, then the book cover might set the stage for your entire branding image, look, and feel for all the work you do going forward.
  • A good designer will pay attention to the trends in the industry for all the components that make up the book cover. Be sure to tell your designer why you think something would be a good fit. He or she will also ask to get an understanding of your book project’s goals and objectives.
  • A current trend that has been going on for some time: women are big decision-makers in the book-buying process. Take this into account if the book’s material isn’t clearly made for men.

So, let's talk about some of these elements that set the tone for your book or branding message or image…


  • A designer will generally keep a list of the most common fonts used in today’s book covers and interiors. Certain fonts are a little easier to read than others and give your book more impact.
  • There’s a rule in design called K.I.S.S.: “keep it simple stupid.” What this basically means is that less is more. Remember that when your book is sold online there will be a small thumbnail image of it next to hundreds of others. You want your book to stand out, so if there’s less on the cover it will be far easier to read. It’s the same for all stage presence and marketing materials.

If you’re writing something other than a business or self-help book—a memoir, a book of poems, a novel—you can go with something that’s bit more soft and sweet. But if you’re writing a book to enhance your business you want to make sure the fonts are:

  • Consistent with anything you have in place currently
  • Speaks to the brand of you or your product or service
  • Represents well when compared to other books of the genre
  • Screams your message when you are on stage speaking about the content

Book fonts will be different based on the genre of your book.

  • A more romantic font might be used for relationship coaching, wedding books, romance novel
  • Bold, blocky, crisp, sans serif fonts are most popular in business, self-help, or even cookbooks—creating strong powerful messages.
  • Using a more traditional serif font is generally a safe font that most new authors feel comfortable with.
    A handwritten-looking font might work better for memoirs or biographies.

Some the Most Popular Fonts Currently:

A serif font is typically found in the interior of a book, but this may also depend on the author’s choice, the designer’s choice, or the overall look and genre.


  • Trajan
  • Minion
  • ITC New Baskerville
  • FF Scala
  • Electra
  • Fournier
  • Janson Text
  • Palatino
  • Sabon
  • Garamond Premier Pro
  • Utopia
  • Bembo

San Serif:

  • Avenir
  • Neue Helvetica
  • FF DIN
  • FF Scala Sans
  • Trade Gothic
  • ITC Franklin Gothic

You can go to many different websites ( and look at font samples for ideas, but honestly you really don’t want to get too creative here. The wrong choices will give your book a self-published look and if you’ve spent all this time doing everything the right way and go wrong here you will distract from all the hard work and the material you’ve worked so hard to put together. Less is more. Count on the designer to guide you. They do this for a living.

So Let's Get into the nitty gritty of the book jacket...I may loose some of you here, but this is important to know as it's all really a part of the branding and strategy!

The Book Jacket or Dust Cover

If you are going to a job shop, an online designer, or any other designer that doesn’t specialize in book design, this is where you will begin to find challenges in comparison to a professional book designer. A professional will align to work with a professional printer for all the bleeds, folds, margins, etc. A designer you find elsewhere will not understand how these work and will just give you a design that looks pretty but it’s won’t be functional unless you can get them the design specs for the printer. But, generally this means you’ll have to do more work coordinating. So, since time is money, plan to spend some time here in order to save some money. This is just not something you will know til you are well into it with a non-book friendly designer.

  • When the designer completes the front cover, and has all the other details for the remainder of the jacket (usually after the editor is finished), they’ll be able to move into the full jacket design.
  • The jacket of a hardcover book is the removable piece of paper that wraps the book. The jacket on a softcover book will sometimes have French flaps, which is a similar design to the removable jacket but are attached to the book. Sometimes the flaps will be a bit narrower on the French flap.

Let’s talk about the elements involved in the creation of the jacket…


5 Hardcover Jacket and French Flap Elements

It is pretty typical all of this information will be gathered at the completion of the editor’s work and they will often help you write it, write it themselves, or, at minimum, review and edit what you have written.

The elements are:

  • Back Flap/Author Bio
  • Back Cover
  • Spine
  • Front Cover
  • Front Flap/About the Book

There is a sample image in this presentations video on YouTube if you need.

Front Flap/Author Bio

  • Author Photo: 300 DPI or greater professional author photo (not an iPhone pic)
  • About the Author: 2-3 sentences about the author. The remainder can easily fit inside the book in the “About Author” section in the back pages.
  • Social Media: Even if you don’t actively use social media, you will want to have some representation here. This will give you and your book credibility and “legs” showcasing it’s reach. If you have a page you do use regularly—provide the name or link to the designer.
  • Editor/Designer Names: Most New York books today are giving credit to all image sources, editor, photographers, and book designers.
  • Publisher Logo: Your publisher will provide this.

Back Cover

  • Testimonials: You may have testimonials for yourself, your business, and/or your book. You will want to choose the top four or five for the back cover.
  • ISBN/Price Barcode: The publisher will provide this for you. Pricing will be determined by you and based on whether your book is hardcover, softcover, the page count, special features in the book, and/or personal or corporate objectives or pricing strategies. You will need to email the BARCODE image to the designer for placement, unless you are doing print on demand. If you do print on demand, the ISBN number is a sure sign that you are a self-published author. If people look it up by ISBN, it will show the company you bought the number from, so you will want to consider carefully the source from which you acquire this.
  • Publisher Logo: Your publisher will provide this.


The spine will contain:

  • Title
  • Author Name
  • Publishers imprint
  • A special character, logo, or design may be added. Sometimes an element from the front cover is captured and reproduced here.

Front Cover

The cover will contain:

  • Tagline
  • Title
  • Subtitle
  • Author Name

Back Flap/About the Book

The front flap will contain:

  • Pricing: List for countries sold in. Primary country in bold.
  • Book Overview: Description of the book. This may include bullet points for quick call out, slogans, quotes, or special words and phrases. Your editor will help with this

The hardcover and the French flap book jackets will look much the same in terms of the content. You can use the following template to understand the placement of all of the elements and be sure to note what you need to provide to the designer.


3 Softcover Jacket Elements

You have to be smart about the content on the softcover because you have far less space to work with. Everything counts. You can place all of the content on the inside that would have been on the cover of the jacket. If you are working with any online system, you will not likely be able to produce hard cover jacketed books. This will be your only option. The professional printer can do a French flap soft cover book that is much like a jacket, but it has a lower cost than a hard cover book.

The elements are:

  • Back Cover
  • Spine
  • Front Cover

Back Cover

All of the same elements are here, there’s just less space, so each element must be consolidated. All of the following must fit here:

  • About the Book
  • Testimonials
  • Author Photo
  • Author Bio
  • Publishing Logo
  • Genre
  • Pricing
  • Barcode
  • Editor Name, Designer Name, Photographer Name


The spine will contain:

  • Title
  • Author Name
  • Publishers imprint
  • A special character, logo, or design may be added. Sometimes an element from the front cover is captured and reproduced here.

Front Cover

When it comes to a softcover book, You can use the following template to understand the placement of all of the elements and be sure to note what you need to provide to the designer.

  • Tagline
  • Title
  • Subtitle
  • Author Name

Get Educated for the Best Result

You don’t need to know too much about these templates, but know that you will be responsible to tell the designer what you are looking for and it’s best to educate yourself on all the terminology and know what you are capable of doing so you can get the best result.

You may have no involvement in the book templates at all. But when you go to print you’ll need to make sure the designer and printer are working together to get the correct files transferred.

I’ll talk about the printing process in more detail coming up, but for now, tune into the next episode in this 5-part series to learn more about cover design and the interior layout…

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