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How to Design a Book Cover To Make It Stand Out

Do people judge books by their covers? Yes! We all do it.

We look at the cover to see if the book is well put together, hoping to get a glimpse at what is inside. A quick look at new releases on Smashwords will show that not everyone achieves the goal of a good cover.

More than a million books were self-published in 2018, and most of these are lucky to sell a handful of copies. A good cover is one of the ways to make your book stand out in the crowd.

What Should Your Book Cover Design Include?

If nothing else, your cover needs to include the following three components:

  • Your name and the title of the book.
  • A captivating, genre-appropriate image or graphic. Look at the covers of other books in your genre, especially ones published by the veterans. Different genres and subgenres tend to have specific conventions about cover design, and straying too far away from them can cause readers to misidentify the genre of your book.
  • A good, legible font.

For ebooks that is all that is necessary. For print books, add the following:

  • Your title and your last name on the spine of the book, along with the number if the book is part of a series (not all publishers do this, but many readers appreciate it).
  • A blurb describing the book, or even a few stellar reviews if you have them.
 how to design a book cover

Should I Design My Own Book Cover?

The answer to this is: it depends. Sadly, a lot more writers think they can make their own cover than actually can. You need to be honest about your own graphic design skills. If you have graphic design training or talent, by all means, save the money and make your cover. If not, then you are better off hiring a cover designer. This is also a good option if you are short on time or would rather focus on the writing part of things. A good designer can also do the research on the best images and often has a stock image subscription that gives them access to a lot of creative assets that would otherwise be expensive to obtain.

How Do I Know if My Book Cover is Any Good?

The best way to know if your cover works is to test it. Showing mockups to your friends and writing buddies can help. There are Facebook groups for writers, some of which will happily let you market test a cover. If you already have interested readers, ask them for advice and to take a look. Your best resource for testing a cover is people who read the genre you write, which generally includes other writers.

Remember that you have to be happy with your own cover so it makes you enthusiastic about the book, but it is even more important that it interests readers and tells them something (accurate) about the book.

When looking at your cover, make sure that the title and author’s name are clearly readable and do not blend into the background. Use a nice, but not overly fancy font. The title and author name need to still be readable if you shrink down to the standard thumbnail used on book sites, and elaborate fonts can interfere with this.

 how to design a book cover

Where Can You Find Good Ideas?

Working out what kind of image or images to put on your cover can be hard. Here are some great sources of inspiration:

  • Other people’s books, especially new releases in the same genre. In some cases these may be good demonstrations of what not to do, but in others, they may spark inspiration.
  • Pinterest is a great resource for images that might look good on a cover.
  • Stock image sites may also help with the creative process (and you may be able to buy the image you like or get your cover artist to).
  • Articles about cover art, such as this one from 99designs.

How to Design a Book Cover–Resources

If you are like most people just starting out, you don’t have the money to get a drawn cover or even the $50-150 it will cost to get a stock photo, there are still some resources you can use.


For making your own cover, Canva is a good option. You can also use Canva to mock-up and design your own marketing materials such as postcards, bookmarks, a cover image for your Facebook page. A basic Canva account is free. Upgrading may be worth it if you plan on doing a lot of marketing materials.

Adobe Spark

Adobe Creative Suite is expensive, but Adobe Spark, their specialist book cover making software is free. With a friendly user interface, it can be used and adapted by people with little to no design background. Even if you are just beginning to explore designing a book cover, it is a good starting point.

Fiverr and 99Designs

You can often find a reasonably priced designer on Fiverr, but be cautious of the design experience you are paying for. Look to pay more than the standard $5. An alternative site for finding a designer is 99designs, which allows you to find a designer through their system or run a contest for the best design. You can also ask other writers who they use and like.

It’s Okay to Judge a Book By Its Cover

Your book’s cover is important, as it is the first impression to land when it is presented to a potential reader. Think of your book cover as the extension (and often times finish line) of your long and tireless creative process.

Authors excel in the creative writing space and often need help switching gears to think about covers, but the cover should be an integral part of the book, part of how it all comes together. Finding a good designer or tool will help you make a cover that captures what is vital about your book.

Lean on BookBoro as a resource to help you through the creative process, from start to finish! Register for Bookboro and get valuable feedback about your book cover, as well as your book.

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