An engaging and colourful cover design is important for all books, but it becomes doubly crucial for children's books. A young person is drawn first to the images on the covers, since, in most cases, they are just learning to read. Graphic design software, scanners and computers make experimenting with kids' book covers easier than ever. This new technology gives book authors and designers more freedom to create an inviting world for preschool and elementary school readers.
Decide on a theme. Read through the book and focus on the characters and setting. Determine what images illustrate the gist of the book's message. If the book is for preschoolers, a colourful drawing of the characters enacting a scene from the book will suffice. For middle school kids, consider a more abstract approach, like a backdrop of stars and the solar system for a science fiction book.
Choose illustration type. The book cover may contain simple line drawings, a digitally enhanced version of a painting, a collage of different objects or a combination of all of these elements. Determine which technique will best display the characters and storyline for the book's age group. Brightly inked cartoon characters, for example, are often used for preschoolers' book covers.
Experiment with different fonts for the cover. According to Typophile, the plain but welcoming font complements books for younger children. Fonts like Minion, Adobe Garamond and Trade Gothic were used on award-winning book covers for adults and may also appeal to middle school kids.
Compile design tools. In most cases, this means choosing a software program. Book Cover Pro, specifically designed for print book covers, offers tools to create book covers with and without flaps as well as soft and hardcover books. Designers can use Adobe Photoshop, CorelDraw or a free or low-cost graphic package like Inkscape. Children's authors using CreateSpace or other self-publishing options may use a book design template offered on the company website. If you are drawing or painting freehand, you will need to scan and size the artwork and place it on the software design template.
Layout the cover. Open and name a new file in the software program of your choice. Experiment with the design elements like font, photos, drawings, comparing different sizes, shading and colour combination until you achieve the perfect fit for your book. If you are a design novice, most software programs have built-in tutorials and help guides to teach you how to crop pictures, layer images and arrange type to spell out the book title and author.
Send the finished cover to the printer or a professional designer. Once you are satisfied with your design, e-mail the cover design to your publisher. If you feel it still needs tweaking, have a professional book cover designer improve on your version. Your publisher may accept the cover design as is or offer suggestions for improvement.
Self-published authors should double check designs before sending them to the printer since they have no editor to correct mistakes for them before going to print.