Cover Design: Contemporary

November 16, 2015 by Kylee Unrau


When authors sign up for publishing, they often have a very specific idea of what they want their cover to look like. Part of our Blueprint process and our communications with authors is to find out what the feel of their book is, and to help them to match that to the audience they hope to reach through a effective cover design. Which cover theme is right for you? In June, we focused on vintage and weathered cover themes, but today, we’ll focus on the contemporary theme, which can be a bit more complicated.

As with most things, what makes up a cover “contemporary “ can be quite subjective. There are some obvious elements: the book must look modern and should be uncluttered, but other than that, what separates a contemporary cover from that of the simple or classic style?

There are a few items that we watch for when creating a cover with a contemporary theme. A common factor is that the book has a solid and clean background colour. See Life is Good, Just Spit the Pit. This cover has very clean lines, and a solid white colour, which draws the eye in to the title and the cherry placed playfully within the title.

Another thing that we look for is very minimalistic artwork. Images can portray a lot with very little. We don’t recommend including many main aspects from your book on the cover, as this can create something that is confusing to the eye; instead, try focusing on one important central idea. This way the contemporary cover style works particularly well for non-fiction books, as it allows you to portray an idea that makes people curious about your content, without having to spell it out for them. Take the cover for Being Content While Spiritually Single, for example. What do you think this cover image represents? There can be a lot of interpretations, which is likely what the author is intending.

The contemporary style is not only for non-fiction, however. Plenty of fiction books execute this style well. This style makes your novel look modern and attractive, and is especially appealing for teen or young adult fiction. Take Chelsey’s Gift for example. Our designer included one element that plays a pivotal part in the story, and allows readers to connect the symbolism between the wagon and what it means in the book.

I’ve included a few other examples of contemporary covers done by Word Alive Press as well as other publishers. Some of these cross the lines between a few different styles a bit. Let us know in the comments if you have a favourite from these, or any other examples. Feel free to give us a call if you’d like to talk about a book that you have in the works that you feel could suit the contemporary cover idea well, or if you have any questions about any of our cover styles!



About this Contributor

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Kylee Unrau is a project manager at Word Alive Press. She is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg with majors in both English and Theatre. She enjoys fantasy and science fiction, horseback riding and video games, tea and coffee (most people prefer one or the other. I say, “Bring on the caffeine!”). Kylee hates Winnipeg winters and loves bonfires and camping.