Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Creating Ebook Covers: Less is More

Profile #1:
"What's Great About This Ebook Cover?"

By Susan Kendrick

My partner, Graham Van Dixhorn, and I are two of the judges for the Ebook Cover Award category in Dan Poynter's Global Ebook Awards competition. In addition to picking the best covers from those submitted--and being on the team that decides the ultimate winner--we will be featuring many covers right here on this blog with a brief "What's Great About This Ebook Cover?" write-up. We will use each ebook cover we feature to point out important ebook cover components and strategies. Think about entering your ebook. There are dozens of award categories. Check out 10 Reasons to Enter on YouTube.

Request a Copy

Participants in the Book Cover Award category receive our "10 Steps to Ebook Covers That Sell." It contains checklists for creating ebook/book titles and subtitles, back cover sales copy, and book cover design. Request a complimentary copy at

Selene of Alexandria 
A Novel by 
Faith L. Justice

There are many reasons we chose to feature Selene of Alexandria as an example of a successful ebook cover. Overall it has a highly professional look and feel, which seems simple but is often difficult to achieve. Here's what makes this cover special:

Visit author Faith L. Justice's website. The ebook is also available on Amazon.

Ebook Title

Short and Clear
Many book titles try to be clever at the expense of clarity, but there is power in simplicity. Selene of Alexandria also suggests a certain stature, that this is a story worth knowing.

There are no other books or ebooks on Amazon with the same title. This ebook cannot be confused with any other book, old or new, or in any way be diminished by sharing its name with other books, music, etc.

Search Engine Key Words
Selene of Alexandria is about a fictional character in a real place and time--the ancient city of Alexandria, Egypt, during the fifth century. For historical fiction, which has a large following, using the key word "Alexandria" helps lead readers to this period piece. A search for "Selene of Alexandia ebook" currently shows up as #3 in Google.

Ebook "Back Cover" Sales Copy
Click on the cover above to see larger images. 

The question comes up, "Does an ebook need a back cover?" The short answer is, yes. Ebooks should take advantage of all the book marketing opportunities available to print books, including buy-me-now, 10-second sales copy. Request the PDF above and see the introduction to the "Back Cover Sales Copy" section. See why your back cover text is the most important ad copy you will draft for your ebook and where you will use it.

Selene of Alexandria had already been published as a softcover in November 2009, so it had its back cover sales copy ready for use in marketing the ebook version. 

A headline can take many forms, one of which is a high-profile testimonial. In this case, praise comes from an award-winning author. This gives the book immediate credibility--we're willing to trust that an expert in the field thinks this is a great read. 

Clean, Crisp, Inviting Copy
Right away we get a feel for the setting and the conflicts in this story. The copy is energized by colorful language that reaches out in subtle ways to a wide reading audience.

Author Bio
Faith L. Justice's author bio is a refreshing counterpoint to the setting of her 5th century story. It starts with "a self-styled science geek and history junkie ..." It wraps up with her significant accomplishments and a call to action to engage prospective buyers in her other offerings, "Visit her website to read her award-winning short fiction, articles, interviews, and sample chapters of upcoming novels."

Ebook Cover Design

Available on Amazon
Here is where Faith L. Justice's Selene of Alexandria shines. Here are just a few of the ebook cover design criteria that this book embodies so well.

Make One Strong Visual Statement
She uses one powerful graphic image with a color and lighting that stands out against the black background. This cover looks good in any size, even as a thumbnail image, from iPads to smart phones.

Avoid Clutter
Imagine for a minute what could have happened to this cover. In addition to the sculpture it could have had a cityscape in the background to play up the Alexandria part of the title, or the added real image of a young woman. The classic sculpture all by itself gives this book the feeling of, well, a classic.

Title Is Easy to Read
It's big and easily readable. And, with a longer word like "Alexandria" in the mix, emphasizing "Selene" in larger type is a smart move. Trying to put the whole title in the same size font might have looked cramped or just made the whole title illegible. Again, this strategy will ensure the title stands out even in smaller viewing formats.

Author Name Is Big Enough to Read
Again, no fancy fonts, no special effects. Just the author's easily identifiable name.

Easy-To-Read Font
Interestingly, even with straightforward font choices, the name Selene is big, bold, and contemporary like a living, breathing character. By contrast, just like in the story, "Of Alexandria" evokes the time and place of the ancient setting.

A Few Strong Colors
Black, gold, and white create a strong, authoritative feel. This is a book you pay attention to and an author you take seriously. The quality of the cover image--color, lighting, resolution--all play a part in the high-quality feel of the entire cover. Choose any cover graphic and colors with great care.

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Subscribe to this blog to see all the ebook cover entries and comments we post as judges in Dan Poynter's Global Ebook Award. For one-on-one feedback on your project, contact Graham and me, Susan, at

© 2011, Susan Kendrick, Write To Your Market, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Dusty White said...

This is a really good cover on so many levels. It is obvious (now) that I wasted $59 submitting my book for the cover contest.

Eldo Barkhuizen said...


What a striking cover design.

The marble statue against the black background, the rich golden tones of the marble echoed in the title "SELENE", the thin white frame around the statue graphic all lend an elegance rarely found in book cover designs.

You chose a stunning example of the master book designer's craft.

Delighted I've found your informative blog and website.

Faith Justice said...

Thanks so much for featuring my book cover. I thought it was gorgeous the minute I saw it. Here's a shout out to the person who designed it: Todd Engle at Thanks for making my book so beautiful!