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I'm new in the field of book design. I'm not really sure what I should focus on to excel in this area. What characteristics, experience or requirements would an expert in book cover design have to have? What are the three most important things a book cover designer needs to master to excel in their field?

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    The most important thing to master is how to make money doing this (otherwise it will fail). Secondly I think would be to master your communication skills so your dealings with others flow smoothly. Third would be to study design in all forms so you have the aesthetic sense, as well as the practical sense, of how to do your work.
    – Kyle
    Jun 4, 2022 at 3:30
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    Hi and welcome to GDSE! Besides doing some book covers myself, I check a lot of covers from other designers. Often there are some technical misunderstandings that requires me to assist or take over which results in a waste of money and loss of control for the designer. I would say having a good understanding of how a physical book is produced is essential. Learning how to see it as a three-dimensional object instead of just a front a back and a spine. Not make the design too dependent on 100% precision but leave some room for inaccuracies in the right places.
    – Wolff
    Jun 4, 2022 at 15:20

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One of the most important things is understanding the actual printing, binding, and construction of how books are made. This will greatly affect how you go about designing a book cover. Publishers want designers that are able to send off files to printers at the correct specifications. Try and find out where books are being printed and get an inside look into the printshop. Talk with the printers directly. They will typically be pretty open with how to correctly set up your files.

Secondly, find out who the big book designers are. Names like Chip Kidd, Rachel Willey, and Rodrigo Corral stand out. Each of them have a pretty distinct style that is also pretty versatile. You don't need to master illustration or art to be a great book designer. The biggest take-away from these people is their understanding of the content and translating it in a way that is exciting and engaging for the viewer.

Thirdly, you're undoubtedly going to be using InDesign as your main source of layout for book design in addition to Illustrator and Photoshop (or any non-adobe programs). Learn the lingo of typesetting. Slugs, bleeds, gutters, etc. are all important stuff to know when it comes to the print industry. - N

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