How to Design a Book Cover

How to Design a Book Cover

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Teachers will often assign book jacket designs as school projects because the design of a book jacket (or cover) contains intimate details about the book it encases. This is a combination of a literature assignment and craft project.

Elements of the book jacket could include:

  • an image that hints at the book's content
  • a summary of the story
  • a review of the book
  • a biography of the author
  • publication information

When you design a book cover, you have to know a lot about the book and the author. Creating a book cover is like creating an advanced book report - with one exception. Your summary must not give away too much about the story!

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Designing a Book Jacket

Grace Fleming

When designing your book jacket you'll first want to decide which elements you want to include and where you want to place each element. For example, you might want to put the author's biography on the back cover or you might want to place it on the back flap.

If you're not sure, you can follow the placement in the image above.

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Preparing an Image

Your book jacket should contain an image that intrigues a potential reader. When publishers design book covers, they put a lot of time and money into designing a look that will lure people into picking up the book. Your cover image should also be intriguing.

One of your first considerations when sketching an image for your jacket is the genre of your book. Is it a mystery? Is it a funny book? The image should reflect this genre, so you should think about the symbolism of the image you come up with.

If your book is a scary mystery, for example, you could sketch an image of a spider in the corner of a dusty doorway. If your book is a funny tale of a clumsy girl, you could sketch an image of shoes with the shoestrings tied together.

If you are not comfortable sketching your own image, you can use text (be creative and colorful!) or you could use an image you find. Ask your teacher about copyright matters if you intend to use an image created by someone else.

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Writing Your Book Summary

The inside flap of a book cover usually contains a brief summary of the book. This summary should sound a little different from a summary you write in a book report because the intent of the inside flap is (like the front image) meant to intrigue the reader.

For this reason, you should “tease” the reader with a hint of the mystery, or a single example of something interesting.

If your book is a mystery about a potentially haunted house, for example, you could suggest that the house seems to have a life of its own, and explain that the members of the household are experiencing odd events, but then you would want to end with an open end or a question:

“What is behind the odd noises Betty hears when she wakes each night at 2:00 a.m.?”

This summary differs from a book report, which would contain a “spoiler” explaining the mystery.

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Writing the Author's Biography

The space for your author's biography is limited, so you should limit this segment to information that is most relevant. What events in the life of the author are connected to the topic of the book? What makes this author particularly qualified to write a book like this.

Things that might matter most are the author's place of birth, number of siblings, childhood experiences, level of education, writing awards, and previous publications.

The biography should be two or three paragraphs long unless your teacher provides other instruction. If it's up to you to decide, the length will depend on the space you have available. The biography is usually placed on the back cover.

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Putting It All Together

The size of your book jacket is determined by the measurements of your book's front cover. First, measure the size of your book's face from bottom to top. That will be the height of your book jacket. You can either cut a long strip of paper that height, or make it slightly bigger and fold the top and bottom to make it the right size.

For length, you should measure the width of your book's front and multiply that by four, to start. For example, if your book face is five inches wide, you should cut a sheet of paper 20 inches long.

Unless you have a printer that can print an odd-sized piece of paper, you will need to cut and past your elements into the jacket.

You should write the biography in a word processor, setting the margins so that the segments will print out a little smaller than the front and back of your book cover. If the face of the book is five inches, set margins so your biography is four inches wide. You will cut and past the biography onto the back panel.

Your summary will be cut and pasted onto the front flap. You should set margins so that the segment is three inches wide.