Judging a Book by Its Cover: How Indie Authors Win Book Cover Design Awards
Visibility is crucial for indie authors, and accolades are an excellent avenue to bring increased visibility to your work. Most authors don't know that there are award programs dedicated to evaluating and honoring excellence in book cover design.
In recent news, BolognaBookPlus (an extension of the Bologna Children's Book Fair) announced its inaugural Indie Authors Book Jacket Award. Since a book cover is often the first element that attracts a reader, the goal of this award is to overcome prejudices against self-publishing and highlight the best of independent editorial graphics.
This important announcement is part of the fair's initiatives dedicated to self-publishing, which aim to give visibility to the best covers by independent authors and highlight the importance of self-publishing in the book world. The inaugural award will enable the discovery of new talent through a variety of covers that represent the indie author community.
For this particular award, the judging panel are considering graphic-editorial quality, innovation, and creativity as the main criteria in the judging process.
But what does it take to create an award-winning book cover? What are the most common criteria considered when submitting for a cover design award?
Qualities of award-winning book covers
Award judges evaluating book cover designs typically consider a combination of artistic, aesthetic, and technical elements.
While requirements vary among award programs, here are some common criteria that judges look for when making their assessments:
Does your cover design draw in a potential reader at first glance? Elements such as color scheme, imagery, and overall design contribute to your cover's attractiveness and aesthetic.
Judges may also consider if your book cover evokes an emotional response or immediate connection. Covers that create a strong emotional impact can be particularly memorable.
Typography is also a common consideration of visual appeal. Font selection, color, and arrangement are all important factors: do they look professional and polished, and do they accurately convey the tone of your work?
Judges frequently consider whether a cover design is appropriate for its intended audience and market. The imagery and design of your cover should be relevant to your story (in terms of genre, theme, and mood) and also to reader expectations.
If you are curious how to craft a book cover that is relevant to your genre and resonates with your target reader, ALLi has a great guide on how to create the perfect book cover.
Creativity and innovation
Cover design judges appreciate original and creative designs that stand out on a bookshelf.
Uniqueness in concept, layout, and execution can make a cover memorable and impactful.
Creative use of symbolism and visual storytelling can contribute to a standout cover. Tasteful placement of awards and reviews can also contribute to a well-executed design, further enhancing the overall visual experience and professional quality of a cover.
Tips and takeaways to amplify your submissions and story marketing
By pursuing cover design awards, you can showcase your book in a different light and celebrate a special attribute that is so important to your book's success. Keep an eye out for award programs which offer specific cover design categories.
Include your cover designer in the process as you pursue these accolades. Keep them apprised of nominations and news, and consider collaborative announcements to highlight your work together. Not only does this share a unique story with your audiences, but it also allows your work to be seen and discovered by new readers.
About Hannah Jacobson, ALLi Awards & Story Marketing Advisor
Hannah Jacobson is the founder of Book Award Pro: the company that leads the industry in helping authors find the perfect reviews and awards for their books.
Book Award Pro is the industry expert on accolades, operating the world's largest database of legitimate reviews and awards. Every year, authors spanning 6 continents win thousands of new awards, receive valuable reviews, and market their books in one easy-to-use platform.
Book Award Pro has been a trusted ALLi Partner Member since 2020. Hannah is the ALLi advisor for awards and story marketing, and contributes to ALLi resources including the Book Award & Contest Ratings page, Book Prizes & Awards for Indie Authors guidebook, and the Ultimate Guide to Winning Book Awards.
Find out more
For more information on applying for book awards that are open to indie authors, you can purchase our short guide, available in multiple formats on our bookstore: Book Prizes & Awards for Indie Authors.
Members enjoy free access to the ebook.