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Keep Your Book Cover Simple

The Grotto's Secret is a historical time lapse conspiracy thriller by Paula Wynne

The 'keep it simple stupid' principle is a design rule that states that systems perform best when they have simple designs rather than complex ones. I have always hated this saying because to me it sounded derogatory and negative. But when it came to creating a cover for my new self-published novel, I had to admit the phrase is ... well, quite, perfect on some occasions.

I follow Joel Friedlander for lots of reasons, including his constant great advice for self-published writers and his advice on books and book covers. On this occasion, when I was throbbing with excitement to see my first novel's book cover, yet wondered why some things bothered me, I popped over and read his great article on on keeping book covers simple.

In Book Covers, Simplicity Works!

Take Joel's advice and keep your cover simple. He tells us self-published authors to pick one element that gives a good idea of what's in the book and use an appropriate typeface, and you'll be much closer to avoiding that dreaded "amateur" look.

Simple graphics with a clear message about the type of book it is, and a very limited amount of type.

Book covers work best when they combine simple yet powerful elements together in a unified whole that tells, at a glance, what the reader can expect from the book. If you try to tell the whole story on the cover, it will fail. If you try to load up all the symbolism that's in the book, the cover will fail.

What readers are looking for is an indication of what kind of book it is, what genre, and a sense of the tone. Is it dynamic, fast-paced and exciting? Is it a contemplation on our own mortality? Is it a romance? This information can be delivered to the potential book buyer quite easily.

Now, with all that in mind, can you please help me? Does this cover below hook you into wanting to read my book? Does it make you want to dart over to Amazon and grab it off the online shelf and read it?

What does the title do for you?

Here is my journey to keeping my book cover simple ...

First, I wrote my brief after reading Dee Blick's book on how to write and market a bestselling book. Next, I found my book cover designer. That's a whole other story, but in a nutshell, after a search on elance, I asked a few authors and found ProBookCovers. Back to my brief, I gave Travis a lot of things to consider, and ideas of things that could go on the cover.

Here is the first draft.


Too much?

I found that my eye was immediately drawn to the timepiece. I wanted that to show that time was running out for my heroine as well as the time slip back to the middle ages. That is not the main focus, so we tossed it in the designer bin.

The red twine was an important prop in that the Mr Baddie uses it to tie up parcels of body parts when threatening the goodies. That, I realised now looking at the first draft, would only confuse the reader. So out it went.

Read the synopsis of The Grotto's Secret.

The next version is below.

The Grotto's Secret by Paula Wynne

Another version came my way with a smaller old book image, but I personally feel that the bigger image gives a great impact.

the grotto's secret cover with smaller image on cover

Which do you prefer and why? Please, please do give me your comments below, I would very much apprecaite any ideas and feedback ...