How To Design Your Own Book Cover

By on February 8, 2016

If you choose to go down the self publishing route (as many authors do these days) one of the most important decisions you will make is about how to design your cover.

While it is relatively easy to knock up a simple cover design, or in fact  just to chose one from the generic stock that Amazon offers, it is by far the best option to create a professional cover for your book, before you start trying to sell it.

Unless you are a whizz with Photoshop and have access to a stock of pictures we would recommend getting your cover professionally designed. There are lots of places out there that offer this service, and when you choose a self publisher to work with, you should certainly research exactly what they can offer you with regards to your cover design, and take that into account.

Your book cover is your store front, it is what potential readers will first see, and therefore making sure it is noticeable and interesting is important. Most self publishers are happy to work with their authors creating a cover design that works well for them. Therefore it is important to think about what kind of cover you want, and to pull together some ideas for the publisher to look at before they start work. You are likely to be given the opportunity to make some suggestions for change once the design has been created, but these will be extremely limited, so without giving a brief you could end up with a design that you are unhappy with, and have little choice but to go with it, or spend a lot of money trying to get it changed.

If you do want to design your own book cover, or have no idea what kind of things work on a book cover, here are some top tips you should consider including to make your cover stand out.

Make sure the title is large

People want to be able to read your title. No doubt your title is something you have taken great care in thinking about too, so let people see it. Remember these days many people are looking at books on their phones or tablets so the image will be smaller than on an actual book. It needs to be readable. Also consider your font carefully, there are some fonts in the industry which are looked down upon, namely Comic Sans or Papyrus. Avoid these if you can.

Select your artwork carefully

Using your own artwork may be a great idea to you, but is unlikely to look fantastic on your book cover. Don’t use low quality images such as cheap clip art. Think about what will look striking, but not overly complicated, an image that will compel readers to want to, at the very least, find out more about what your book contains

Keep it simple

Too many colours, loads of different font types, font placed in an arch or at a gradient, borders around pictures, overuse of caps - the list goes on. Try to keep your book design simple, eye catching and classy. Having an overly detailed cover will make it difficult to see and could put people off. While you want your cover to be relevant to your story, don’t try to tell the story with your cover, you want to hint at what is inside, not shove it in people’s faces. Keeping your cover strong and symbolic is the best way to keep your book visually exciting and interesting to potential readers.

Take your time and do your research

There are hundreds of thousands of book covers out there. Have a look at them. Understanding the many different ways in which you could design your cover before you start is a great idea, and will help you ‘think outside the box.’ Take pictures of some of the book covers you love and build up a picture of the design elements that appeal to you the most so you can include these in your own cover.

Know the technical guidelines

If you are going to design your own cover, make sure you know the technical guidelines required for a professional cover. If you don’t your design will be useless and you’ll have to go back to the drawing board, thus wasting all your time and hard work.

Designing your own book cover can be great fun. Just remember however that unless you have experience in the field it might be a good idea to leave it to the professionals. This doesn’t mean you can’t give direction, but ensuring that your cover is one that readers are drawn to is what will make it sell, so working collaboratively with your self publisher is often the best (and safest) way.

Bethany Cadman -contributor

Bethany Cadman -contributor

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