Are you designing a book cover that’ll become part of a series or boxed set? If so, you’ll need to think ahead! There are a few design considerations to take into account when you plan your book cover design. Not only should your cover design be successful using different title lengths and images, but more importantly, it must create a look or brand that’ll easily identify all future books as being part of the same series. Sound challenging? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
It would be really handy to know in advance what all the titles in the series will be, but usually you won’t have that luxury. So it’s important to design the title (its typeface and size) to accommodate various lengths of titles. The book title appears on the front cover and the spine, so make sure you allow enough room in those two places for both short and long titles.
Take a closer look at the EPIC series. What ties them all together and makes them look like a series or brand? It’s the common design elements that are repeated on each book. All the books have the same treatment and placement of the title and author’s name. They also include a black bar running around the top and bottom of the cover. On the front cover, the top bar contains the series name and book number, and the bottom bar contains a tagline that sums up the action in the story. The book number also appears at the bottom of the spine, so you can see the order the story follows, and this also helps to tie the books together as a series on a bookshelf. (If you were missing Book 3 from your collection, would you have to buy it to complete the series? I know I would!)
It helps to achieve a consistent look if all the books are the same trim size. That’s not to say they’ll have a similar spine width, as the number of pages will vary from book to book. But you want the books to look like a set when the spines are lined up on a book shelf. If you’re considering creating a boxed set, then it’ll be crucial that the books have the same trim size.
Now look at the Darcy McClain and Bullet Thriller Series by Pat Krapf. Each book in the series uses a different color for the text and background. The author is limiting all the book titles in her series to one word, which simplifies the design. Each title is set in a different typeface; however, all the titles have the same placement on the front cover, and each one incorporates an item from the story into one of the letters.
Every series of books includes a series title that forms its brand name. You might choose to feature the series title more prominently than the book title or the author’s name for marketing purposes. In the Millennium Shakespeare series of children’s books shown below, the series title is displayed prominently down the front cover.
In your design planning stage, first decide which element should be the most prominent—the series title, book title, or author’s name. Find suitable treatments for all the text that allows consistent placement despite varying title lengths. I like to start by finding an appealing layout of the text elements using black; that way I know the layout will work with any image, color, or title length. Then, once I know the book title, I start looking for appropriate images and then extract a color palette from the final image (see Book Design Made Simple, page 394).
When choosing colors, consider a few options. All the books in the series could have the same background color (such as black in the EPIC series above). If each book will have a different color, keep the boldness or softness of the colors consistent throughout the series. Note how bold the colors are in the Darcy McClain and Bullet Thriller Series above, and how soft they are in the Millennium Shakespeare series.
Designing a series is a special and interesting challenge that will use all your organizational, planning, and design skills. I hope these ideas have inspired you! For more ideas, take a trip to your local bookstore or library to see what others have created. Happy designing!