You have probably heard the saying you can’t judge a book by its cover. It’s true and it goes for business books as well.

The reality is most people do judge business books by their cover, just like most people make immediate, unconscious judgements about people based on the way they look.

Think about it.

What do you do when you head into a bookshop (a physical one) looking for a business book or even online.

  • The cover catches your eye;
  • You pick it up (or scan) the book, turn it over to read what’s on the back;
  • If something you’ve read and seen has caught your attention, you open it up (or scan more) and look at the contents and maybe even the introduction;
  • Then you make the decision to purchase or not.

The front and back cover matter

The first step in the exploratory journey is the front cover of the book. This is where most people focus their attention, and you should to.

Equally important is the back cover of your book. This is where there’s a short summary of what the book is about and how it is going to help the reader solve some of their challenges. It should also include endorsements from well-known/respected leaders in your field.

If the front and back cover of your don’t grab the reader’s attention and encourage the next step your book won’t be purchased.

So it’s vital that you give serious consideration to what the front and back cover of your book looks like and the content that’s on it. Here are 5 tips to help you with your cover and brief a graphic designer.

5 tips on how to create a great business book cover

1. Think about your target audience and what would appeal to them.

You need to put your preferences aside and think about your target audience and what would appeal to them alongside your own objectives. This is not the time to unleash your creative visual potential. It’s about creating a book cover that appeals to a specific target group – and you can’t appeal to everyone.

If you book is good enough it and you will secure the exposure you are seeking.

2. Create the best title and sub-title that you can. These two work together and need to capture the reader’s attention.

It’s important that they convey clearly and concisely what the book is about and HOW it will help the potential reader.

3. Select an image that at least supports if not reinforces the key theme/message of your book.

The image (whether it be a photograph, illustration, graphic) needs to work with the title and sub-title.

If the image is of you get this photograph professionally executed. Make sure that the colour scheme you are wearing fits with the colour scheme developed for the cover.

4. Select a colour scheme and typography that,works with the title and image selected.

The typeface you select will have a subliminal impact on whether someone picks up your book. Again, think about what your audience would respond to.

If you’re not sure, head into a bookshop or look online in the subject area you are writing about. See what covers appeal to you and which ones don’t. You might not know why but a good graphic designer will. 

5. Don’t forget the back cover.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the back cover of your book is the second step most people take when they pick up a book, so it needs to retain their attention. There are three core elements to back cover copy.

i) a short summary of what the book is about and HOW it will help the reader;

ii) a brief description of the author and their credentials;

iii) endorsements from recognised leaders in the subject matter.

Share with me a book cover you love or hate and tell me why in your comments.