Why redesign an existing book cover?
There are many reasons why you may want to makeover (redesign) your book cover, but these two are the most common and in my opinion, the most important:
Redesign to Increase sales to improve the author’s branding.
Redesign a book cover to increase sales
Poorly designed book covers usually means poor book sales. It’s that simple.
I subscribe to BookBub and I get to see four or five new books every day. One book will usually be outstanding and two or three will be very nicely designed and one will be very plain–a good candidate for a redesign. When I shop for Kindle books I always see a lot of covers that are extremely basic and look like they were DIY projects.
Redesign to improve the author’s branding
For authors with several published books behind them, redesigning the book covers is a great way to improve the author’s branding so the books have a visual identity.
There are many authors today who have very recognizable book cover styles so it’s easy to pick their books out from the competition. James Patterson, Jodi Picoult, Sue Grafton and Clive Cussler are a few examples.
For fans, it makes spotting a favorite author at the grocery store, an airport bookstore, or online in the Amazon store an easy task.
Start with goal setting
First, start by defining specific cover redesign goals.
- What are you trying to achieve with the redesign?
- Is the purpose of the redesign to create a design standard for all your books or just to improve one book?
- What elements from the current cover need to be kept?
- What visual elements on the current cover need to change?
Having clear goals for the book cover redesign will help you when initially communicating with your graphic designer.
Determine if you need to keep any imagery from the current book cover so there is some continuity. Even if you are improving your brand, if you have a main character with whom fans identify with, you may want to consider keeping the image.
The discovery process
Before you begin any redesign work, it is important to have a discovery meeting with your book designer. The discovery meeting is a great way for your designer to learn first-hand what your redesign goals are, and for the two of you to brainstorm and discuss new design approaches.
Typically the discovery meeting will involve you providing information about the book such as: who the main characters are, where the book takes place, important events in the book and potential visuals to focus on. It is also a good idea to provide the designer information about your readers and the genre you are working in.
After the meeting, your designer should have a good idea of the redesign direction to take.
New cover design concepts
Typically a designer will provide two to three book cover concepts based on the discovery meeting and redesign goals.
In some cases one design will clearly be spot on, but sometimes each concept will be so different that it may be difficult to choose between them and occasionally one design will show a lot of potential, but will require additional refinement.
The review process should help both the author and the graphic designer understand the strengths and weaknesses of each design and provide a forum for additional discussions.
During the concept review, be sure to talk not only about what you do not like, but also discuss what elements of the design you like and why.
Revision and final artwork
Revision meetings should also allow for feedback and followup discussions to make sure that the designer and author are in agreement as to what needs to be refined and in what way.
The revision process may take a few rounds of tweaks to the design to refine all the cover elements and for you to approve.
During the revision process and before completing the new cover artwork, make sure your new cover design will work as a small thumbnail so there are no surprises when viewing the cover online.