Design a Great Book Cover in Two Steps

What the #$%?! Is Going On?

I’ve recently published my fifth book: What The #$%?! Is Going On? Naturally, I had to design a book cover. That’s the image on the top of this blog post. Unfortunately, a week after publishing this book I discovered a great book at the local library on… yep, you guessed it, How to Design Book Covers.

Cover by Peter MendelsundIt’s by Peter Mendelsund, the associate Art Director of Alfred Knopf books. The book is simply called ‘Cover’. And, even more simply the book cover is an anonymous red book with the word ‘Cover’ placed on top. Brilliant. Eye-catching. Simple. A great marriage between words and image!

Design a Great Book Cover in Two Steps

In his book, Mendelsund shares his simple two-step process for creating great book covers…

  • One, pick a small detail out of the greater mass of ideas.
  • Two, let that small detail become the symbol, emblem and representative of the whole.


[Tweet “Two steps to designing a great #bookcover by one of the world’s best”]

And, you can use this approach for naming things and designing covers of almost anything. Think products, movies, services, promo pieces, emails, etc. You name it the list of possible uses goes on and on…

I use this simple approach in creating new titles and visual themes in the 50+ issues of Book Rapper.

Whilst we’ve obviously dumbed this design process down to two steps it’s a super powerful and useful one. It still means you’ll need to do a lot of trial, error, testing, exploration, suggesting, critiquing and designing to come up with something worthy of your work. And, in my world, that’s the fun part!


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