Tips and resources
Designing a Book Cover

Following a book design basic is a good place to start, before creating an actual book cover design! While emphasizing and aligning the contrast and repetition, a book design is the art of incorporating the basics of a book such as content, format, design, and sequence of the various components into one complete unit.

A great book cover design will help readers take you and your book seriously. In order to make your book stand out, and do well in the market, the design has to match or better exceed the standards of the competitive companies. The book cover image should reflect the true essence of your book. 

So, what makes a book cover stand out and jump off the shelves? 

Your front cover is what your reader is going to use to judge whether they want to invest their time and money into reading your story. So …

-Introduce your main characters and outline the plot.

-Get the readers engaged with an interesting hook, and lead them onto the journey with the characters of the book and make them feel connected.

– Ensure the blurb represents the exact tone of your book; a serious blurb will mean the book deals with a serious topic.

“The purpose of a book cover design is to draw the attention of your potential readers away from all those other novellas and sell them on the idea that your page-turner is the next book they need on their nightstand”.

We might think that well-written books are the most popular, but that has never been true. And self-publishing has changed the game further. With more than one million books being published each year, readers will get lost and would not discover your merit unless you grab the reader’s attention with your creativity and uniqueness. You need to impress them enough to compel them to buy your book and read it.

Book cover design is a complex symmetry of images, narration, and information and you sure need someone who understands how each of these elements interacts with the others to best sell your book.

Let’s focus on designing a book cover and create a complete look that will impress and draw the attention of your readers:

  • Creativity and design plan that gives a sneak peak of what’s to come!

The most important aspect of book covers is their ability to connect with the target market; meaning the people who are likely to buy the kind of title you’re writing. Therefore, your first stop for inspiration should be the other books in your genre. Most people love to add variety to their book collection. But they also prefer some specific genres over others. Take a look at the bestselling titles in your category and you will see visual styles and motifs popping up again and again.

Even within the limitations of a genre’s visual style, one can easily play around with out-of-the-box ideas, striking imagery, and innovative typography.

  • Pick your cover design software

Graphical software is used to design book covers usually. Some programs are suitable for non-professionals and some are specifically designed to cater to authors. They are usually quite easy to use and can produce some smart-looking covers. However, sometimes the designers might feel constrained by the limitation of the number of templates they have in in their disposal for any given genre. Professional tools like InDesign and Photoshop (both offer free trials) can help you learn the nuances of producing superior designs.

  • Find free images

Unless you’re looking to use your own photography, head to a free stock image library — which has thousands of images that you can use without attribution. Or, to gain access to a wider choice of images, the large libraries like Shutterstock, Pexels, Pixabay and Unsplash are very useful.  Depending on the library and the kind of image you wish to download, the license fee may only be a few dollars or it might even be free for some libraries.

  • Determine the dimensions

Amazon suggests an ideal size of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels — although you can play around with different aspect ratios. Other retailers and distributors have similar specifications. If you stick to the Amazon guidelines, you’ll be safe.

Consider standard book sizes within your genre, then feature the page count and paper density so that you know exactly how thick the spine needs to be. Then comes in the matter of typesetting the back cover — which is an art in itself.

  • Get your font right

Using inscriptions on the cover is something almost all non-professional cover designers struggle with. Follow the below tips:

-See how the text is handled on popular covers in your genre. Is the font serif or sans serif and how ‘heavy’ the text is.

-Find variety, avoid using the same typeface for the title, author name, and tagline — but also don’t use more than 2 or 3 fonts.

-The author’s name should never be in bigger font size than the book title.

-Keep the cover simple.

-Give the reader some credit.

  • Export the correct files 

If you can’t actually deliver your cover in the right format, even the best design in the world won’t matter. For an eBook, you simply need to export your front cover as a good old-fashioned JPEG. But if you are using a Print on Demand Company to sell print copies, you will have to closely follow their individual requirements — which will usually involve producing a PDF of the front, spine, and back cover that has the right resolution and uses the correct colour system.

  • Test your designs

If you find it difficult to decide between two cover designs, you may test them with your target audience. One method is to use Facebook advertising run an A/B test. Here you get two sets of viewers from the same audience who will be able to see the options. Some audience will see the ad with your first cover, and the some other will see one with the second cover option. The ad that gets more clicks will be the chosen one!

If you look forward to your book being accepted well by your readers, it requires to make its mark with a distinct visual style. Not only does this grab your readers’ attention, but it can also help build your author brand; if you integrate your distinct visual style into all of your book covers, it will make it easier for your readers and the world at large to recognize your work.

Engaging more readers in an over infused market is not easy, but the physical quality of your book, including your cover, is the key to getting your self-published book off the shelf and into the hands of your readers!