As a reader, you’ve probably thought something like this: “Wow, her characters pop right off the page!”
As an author, you can now actually allow your characters to pop right off your book jacket—by creating animated book covers.
What are Animated Book Covers?
An animated book cover can be super simple. Some people who offer book-cover animation do things like add sparkles, or lightning bolts (which is fine; just be sure you don’t pay very much for something in that vein), while others work with you to add layers of movement that tell their own tiny story.
However, the most important thing for an author to understand is that all book-cover animations are forms of GIFs. A GIF (pronounced jiff or giff) stands for graphics interchange format file, which plays back a sequence of images over a set amount of time (or a loop). Sort of like a small film!
Here’s why it’s important to know that: If your cover contains a high-resolution photograph that you don’t want to jettison, an animated book cover might not be for you. GIFs are compressed and don’t support a full range of colors; they are not powerful enough for complex photographs.
How do they work?
They are perfectly powerful for illustrations, and many of them go far beyond sparkles. Figures can move, fonts can change, a title can slowly appear, all depending on your preferences, needs, and marketing ideas. Think about your genre, your themes, your characters, your plot, your denouément: How can any or all of those be highlighted through manipulation of your cover?
Perhaps, as with this series of animated Harry Potter characters by Jeca Martinez, you would choose to emphasize the magic in the books by having simple objects appear and disappear suddenly.
You might underscore “a stranger comes to town” by having one piece of a repeated motif move back and forth, or appear in a different color. Long locks of hair can drift in the wind, the eyes of a wolf can gleam with flames, and so on.
The most important thing to remember about animated book covers, though, isn’t how to make them (there are plenty of creative out there who can help you do that) or what to do with them, but why you should consider them, and that can be summed up in one word: Sharing. Now that many social networks support animation, these kinds of images will get more and more attention and become more and more intricate. If you want to raise the profile of your new book, having an attention-grabbing cover animation can make a real difference, especially if it contains some kind of surprise (delightful or shocking, doesn’t matter) that makes readers want to share it with their own social networks.
Where do I start?
If you already have a book cover designed, start thinking about what parts of that design might be animated. If you still don’t have a book cover? It’s going to be really important for you to have it designed with animation in mind. Just as an excellent book trailer can add to your marketing plan, an animated book cover can increase your book’s visibility in more and more places.
One day, sooner rather than later, we’ll see bookstores adding screens that allow animated book covers to entice shoppers towards one shelf or another. For the short term, adding your animated book cover to your own website (linked to your favorite bookstore, of course) is a great way to welcome potential readers into your world.
Bethanne Patrick, one of Flavorwire’s 35 Writers Who Run the Literary Internet, created the #FridayReads meme. Her book reviews appear in The Washington Post, the LA Times, and many other publications. Find her on Twitter @TheBookMaven.
If you enjoyed this post about the best bookstores check out: The Top 5 Alt-History Books on Earth, and their Book Trailers.
Need a book trailer? Film 14 offers book trailers for authors and services such as audiobook recording, book cover design, and more! Check us out here, or shoot us an email! Want to make your own book trailer? Check out our free guide!