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Colours for your Book Cover.

You’ve written your novel, now it's time to create an ebook cover that will grab attention, jump off the screen and sum up your story at a glance.

As an indie author your cover is a priority. Vibrant, eye-catching, intriguing. Easy to do? Well …

We would all like a cover like Joanne Harris’s “Five Quarters of the Orange” with all its intricate detail that is a pleasure to study (it was only on my third look that I noticed the hand-grenade!).

But, sorry, my fellow independent authors, we can't have intricate designs. We are not selling in a shop, we are selling on the web, where most of the time, our cover will be thumb size. But how do we Wow! a prospective reader with a picture that’s as big as a postage stamp?

Keep it simple

Don’t clutter. One image against a plain background is very effective. Of course, there are historical romance covers that need background - a castle, for instance - which informs a prospective reader when the story was set, but for the most of us, it's best to keep it simple.

Colour is the key

Remember: The human brain will reject bland, under-stimulating information. At the other extreme, is a visual experience that is so overdone, so chaotic that the viewer can’t stand to look at it. Therefore, you need to create colour harmony, which delivers visual interest and a sense of harmony.

As an artist I know something about colour. Did you know that certain colour duos when put together make each other more vibrant? Look at a basic colour wheel then pair up the colours opposite each other - for example, violet + yellow. See how one colour makes the other colour more intense and bright?

A tip to help you remember basic complementary colours: blue/orange, violet/yellow, green/red.

Take a look at ‘The Dinner’ by Herman Koch. No background clutter. One image. Complementary colours of Blue + Orange. White lettering against blue. It works, don’t you think?

Take a look at ‘The Help’. No background clutter. With complementary colours of Violet + Yellow. It works, too.

Black + white is effective. This combo gives a sophisticated feel. (See ‘Noah, Noah’ by Paul Wilson).

How will your reader react?

Blue: This is the colour of clear communication. Also, it is a known fact that people generally like this colour. There are so many shades: turquoise, cornflower, and teal. White lettering on teal really does the job! See my forthcoming novel: ‘The Double’. See how the letters jump out?

Red: Physical. Energy. Strength. Masculinity. Pure red is stimulating and lively but at the same time it can be perceived as demanding and aggressive.

Yellow: Emotional. Optimism. Friendly. The right yellow will lift our spirits, but too much of it, or the wrong tone in relation to the other tones, can cause anxiety.

Green: Balance. Harmony. Restful. Environmental awareness. Being in the centre of the colour spectrum, it is the colour of balance. It can also be bland if used in excess. Choose a light pastel green and team it up with red.

Pink: Femininity. Love. Sexuality. Too much pink is physically draining to the eye.

White: Clarity. Purity. Sophistication. Visually, white gives a heightened perception of space.

Orange: Sensuality Passion. Fun. Too much orange gives a suggestion of frivolity.

Grey: Dampness. Lack of Energy. Pure grey has a virtual absence of colour, which is depressing.

Black: Glamor. Sophistication. Works well with white. Too much portrays a sense of menace.

Brown: Warmth. Nature. Earthiness. It is a solid reliable colour that most people find quietly supportive.

Remember: Colours are fun to play with! There are so many exciting shades to discover. See:

Now, go back and look at The Five Quarters of the Orange. Don't you think the orange jumps out at you? That's because it's against a background of its complementary colour, blue.


My next blog will be about How to Choose the Right Image, Designing Tips, and When do you use a professional designer?

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