Hello designer. To save you much wasted time and energy, please carefully read this overview of our likes/dislikes:
Readability: All titles must use a very readable typeface treatment. Titles should be legible 5 to 10 feet away.
Image, Texture, or Depth: All jackets should include some kind of image or texture, or at least some sense of depth. This can be accomplished by drop lettering, shadows, overlapping items, subtle gradations -- and a million other creative things you can come up with.
Contrast: most jackets ought to include some sense of contrasting colors
General Aesthetics for Amacom Books
Amacom likes books that are:
Very contemporary and clean, with an evocative image (if appropriate)
We're happy with either serif or sans serif title type (depends, of course, on how it's used)
No type that runs vertically (except in rare exceptions where it's very readable and there's a reason for its verticality).
Make sure title type dominates, is easy to read, and has some character to it. Everything else is secondary to the title. (Only exception to this rule is if we have a "conceptual" jacket in which case there may be a strong, simple image that draws attention first, then sends attention to the title to find out what's going on. We love these kinds of jackets, but they tend to be used for only a few books each season.)
People images -- be really careful with how you use images of people -- if you use a guy only, all the women are unhappy because they're not represented. If you use a woman only, no guy will buy it. In general we use a guy AND a girl, or a distorted image where it's not clear what the person is. Also, if it's more than two people, we don't want an all-Caucasian group.
Glows behind type -- they add a wonderful dimension to designs, but they should be handled so deftly that people don't really notice the glow, but feel its affect. Otherwise it looks sci-fi.
General No-No's for Amacom Books
- Images to avoid: gears, shaking hands, business buildings, briefcases, unsophisticated illustrations, unalterated photos of businesspeople.
- Extremely condensed type.
- No gradations as a general rule -- unless they're used VERY subtly, they look very 1980's to us.
- ALMOST NEVER use browns and beiges, or olives . . . earthtones in general are not liked by our sales reps. Also do not use red/orange/black combinations that tend to look scarey, dark, hellish.
Technical Hint: If you are doing a bleed background, you ought to create an extra 1-1/4" on the left which can be used to wrap onto the spine. This will save you a lot of time later when creating the final art.