Cover story

6 things to think about when designing a book cover

The Penguin Random House Student Design Award is an opportunity for students interested in pursuing a career in design to experience real cover design briefs first-hand.

We are pleased to let you know that the 2017 Design Award is currently open for submissions with a closing date of 12 noon on Tuesday 7 March 2017. More details can be found here

To celebrate the launch of this year's Award, cover designers Rosie Palmer and Lauren Wakefield share 6 essential things to think about when designing a book cover.


1. Think about the target market and who you want to pick up the book as the cover needs to appeal to them.

Caitlin was writing about politics in her Moranifesto but the cover still needed to look fun and enticing.


2. What do you want to tell the buyer about the book. What kind of genre is it? What do the other books in that genre look like that it will compete with?

This wonderfully bright and jolly cover will attract the right target market for all fans of The Dinosaur that Pooped . . . 


3. You need to have read/have an understanding of what the book is about, so you can instantly visually communicate the story, characters, message, settings and ideas.

Ian McEwan’s Nutshell is narrated by a foetus who is also Hamlet, “bounded in the nutshell” and the cover couldn’t have been designed by somebody who hadn’t read it.


4. Make sure the author name and title are readable 

Quentin Blake and Beatrix Potter are two of the brightest stars in children’s publishing so the names of both author and illustrator needed to really stand out on The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots.


5. Identify what the key symbols and motifs are that run throughout the book.

This cover brilliantly captures the secret world behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel in Robert Harris’s Conclave.


6. Try to create something that captures someone’s attention and makes a strong first impression, whether that’s through the tiny details, typography, choice of colour or imagery.

Clever use of colour and typography make this unforgettable Zadie Smith jacket for Swing Time really pop - without the need for illustration. 

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