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014 - Branding: Book Cover Design and Defining Your Platform

branding platform Jan 15, 2020

I was just having a conversation with a client this morning about some design ideas for her new book. I have been designing book covers for the last decade now and I have identified a few topics for discussion for today’s show as it relates.

My client is a therapist and she was telling me about the kind of therapy she does for her patients. She was telling me it is not uncommon to be called at strange hours of the night to pull someone off a bridge or to remove a gun from their hand and in the process of clearing their trauma… and some traumas of her own… she realized that she wanted a book that would showcase peace. 

Today we had a discussion about that and some of the attractive features geared toward someone who might buy her book. I told her that there are a few ways that we could approach this… 

We can approach it by having an image on the cover that would pull in the reader that is dealing with traumas and issues of their own… Possibly a cover that would be a bit darker indicating the troubles that they are presently walking through. 

We could also put the book together to showcase the end result of her therapy or after effects of reading the book… Something a bit lighter in color and tone. We also discussed the idea of having something darker on the front to speak to her buyer and then as they turn the book over it blends into a lighter image on the back… Appealing to their healed state and their wounded state.

These are some of the discussions that go on as I work with a new client on book cover and design but, there are also a few other things that need to be kept in mind as you design the perfect cover for your book.

You have to look at where are you are selling the book and how much interaction the buyer will have with you… or if they will have any at all. If the buyer knows who you are they will have an understanding of a kind of content they may see inside but if you are selling your book on Amazon or any other distribution outlet you have to ask yourself some deeper questions about who your audience is.

I have been going through a set of exercises myself… in order to brand or define my business and my image for my business. I’m looking at the kind of person I’m looking to attract to my business. There are some fundamental things that can be pulled from a branding exercise for your business that also work well in defining your book cover and image and design. In the world of books this would eventually be called your platform…because the image on your book is the what represents the branding, purpose, or reason the book exists in the first place.

You will generally go about writing your book as a new author with a little voice in your head guiding you through as the words fall onto the pages. But, more experienced writers or business entrepreneurs may look at things a little bit differently as they are writing… What am I trying to do with my book? Who am I and what am I all about? And who am I speaking to or who is my audience for my content and my book?  

Lets go back to the book my client is writing for her trauma cases…

So, do you think if someone is about to jump off a bridge they are reaching for a self-help book. It’s not very likely. But, once you get them off that bridge they need to make a choice about how to live thereafter. Of course this is an extreme case, but if they never engage with you they may never come across the book…and that thing you do outside your book. 

In my client’s case, the transformation often begins with a personal interaction and the book is likely that thing the reader does in their free time. She has a practice that guides her clients before, during, and after trauma. If she has engaged patients that are willing to do the work then she has an audience seeking extended care and support. She can use the book to give them homework and she can also engage her patient in workshops and other exercise material…using the book as a kind of guidance tool that works off the clock…giving follow up care for the patient willing to do the work. And it can lend itself to building a foundation for all things related to her practice. 

She wanted the book to look like a state of peace had been achieved. It is very likely people will come upon the book as they engage with her for care. I would venture to say that there is a relationship built with her directly that builds trust and this is where she will sell most of her books. But, we also have to consider where she is trying to take her practice in the future and what she’s all about and align with her message, purpose, values, and visions. Often times the book becomes the foundation where all branding and image stems from. The fonts, colors, and images begin to build the visual platform.

If you are using your book for teaching, coaching, and training then you’ll want to consider themes, logos, and images that can be repurposed or leveraged in those environments. With my Let’s Get Your Book Published program I knew I wanted to create a logo and colors that would carry through all environments. In my program I talk about the meaning of colors and I chose my colors because they have elicited a response that I deemed favorable for my image. My logo and colors were chosen to attract a business owner looking to speak through the heart as they carry out their message in their book project. I chose content that gave enough of the good stuff without giving it all away. Everything was purposeful from the beginning…targeted!

So ask yourself what your end goal is and go into the design of your book knowing clearly what this is and you’ll have no trouble defining your brand image and book design as a result…because you came in with clarity. As a Designer I can always tell who will be successful with their book based on how they approach the design process. Clarity builds the foundation for a positive end result for all things book cover! Honestly, if you’ve come to be to design your book and you don’t have clarity I question if you are aligned with your books purpose to begin with. But, I can guide you.

Here are a few tools to help you in defining your books look and feel…

  1. Who are you and what are you all about? 
  2. Do you know your strengths and does this book convey that?
  3. Who are you talking to? Do you know your audience? 
  4. Can you pinpoint the perfect reader, follower, or client right down to the very last detail? 
        • How old are they, what do they look like, what do they do for a living, and what are they seeking personally or professionally when they come to you or your book? 
        • How do you serve them?
  1. What is the value you provide? 
  2. What are you good at? 
  3. Does this come across in the book design?

You only get a few seconds to showcase who you are…what can you convey with your book, brand, and image that quickly? And something else to consider…those leverage-able assets…can you use a trinket on your book that you give out physically at an event? A domino, dice, a heart, a tack or push pin, a string or piece of yarn…what does this represent to you and the overall message? 

If you're using your book to build your platform…think about the environment afterwards. This is about so much more than selling books! Afterall, selling books is not what I’m all about. And becoming a best-seller is a one time thing…we are going for long-term here! It’s about engagement, building relationships, and stepping out from behind the book that will build more awareness than the book alone.

I will leave you with one question to ponder…what value statements are you making with your message and how does that translate into a book?

Keep going and keep up! Get clear on your vision and in no time you’ll work yourself into becoming an author. 

I can help you with all phases of the project when you’re ready. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! 

Let me know what topics you're interested in and we can add those to a show for you to keep you going. 

Eyes on the prize! 

Until next time…

Note: Repurposed material from podcast #14


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