January 10, 2015 in 

In the world of books and publishing, there is an expression called “knock out.” In this context, it refers to a process in which a visually compelling cover design for a book is created. Creating a successful knockout is crucial because it could greatly sway potential readers into picking up that book. An effective knockout can entice them before they learn anything about the plot or author.

It starts with analyzing every facet of what’s inside the covers — content, genre, target audience, and market trends, so the designer understands completely what the book embodies. Mood, tone, and message must all come together on its face.

That’s important because bookstore shelves are crowded with physical books and online catalogs, offering thousands upon thousands more titles from which to choose.
A good knockout also communicates genre via visual cues, along with them quickly.

The designer usually makes several variations before settling on just one for review by authors, editors, design teams, gatekeepers, and decision-makers at publishing houses, generally big and small. Of course, they submit feedback, input, etc., then revs may go back and forth a few times ’til the final sign-off is locked down.

Because readers often decide whether or not to buy something based solely upon its cover these days, nailing these looks like this is a big deal. It needs to be pretty, say something fundamental about what’s within, and telegraph the work’s genre via visual shorthand.

Ultimately, creating that knockout is as critical to the overall success of a new title as any other kind of marketing effort. The goal here is an appealing look, a strong sense of the book’s identity, and a great reading experience. When done well, the knockout cover design can deliver on all counts –certainly more than worth doing correctly from the jump.


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About the author 

CJ McDaniel

CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!

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