You know the old saying “Never judge a book by its cover”? Well, it’s terrible marketing advice! A great book cover design represents your first—and often only—chance to grab a reader’s attention. The right book cover can mean the difference between a book’s success and failure.
To create a book cover capable of attracting your target audience, you’ve got two choices: hire the services of a professional cover designer, or design your own self-published book covers. Of the two choices, professional design services yield the best results when marketing your book, but free book covers are also an option.
How do you create a book cover from scratch? You start with the most important aspect of your book—its contents. Whether you choose professionally designed covers or look for free book covers online, your cover must reflect what the reader will find inside.
Spend time online searching for similar books in your genre, paying special attention to covers. You’ll start to see patterns in color, font, images, and other elements. The big publishing houses know what their target audiences look for in book covers, so draw on their covers for inspiration.
If you lack visual design skills, a quick internet search for “book cover design templates” will yield hundreds of results. However, proceed with caution if you choose a template. While it’s possible to find cheap or even free book covers online, they often have a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter appearance that can make you book look rushed or low quality. Readers are quick to spot—and judge—book cover shortcuts.
Image-manipulation software is necessary to create a book cover. Although many people know how to use Photoshop to perform simple image manipulations, relatively few can make the best use of the software’s complicated features. Unless you work with graphic software regularly, you won’t get the most out of the program, and your book cover will suffer as a result.
Self-published book covers often take advantage of stock image sites, where thousands of images are available for attractively priced licensing fees. Once you purchase the license, you can manipulate and alter the photo to make a unique cover image. Bear in mind, however, that image manipulation is a complex process.
Creating a compelling image for physical or e-book covers is only one part of the design process. The cover’s images need to complement your book’s title and cover text. As one of the great challenges of book cover design, this is best handled by a design service.
If you’re designing your own self-published book covers, there are a few considerations as you position text and choose fonts. Consider using different fonts for your title, the author name, and the tagline. Don’t go overboard, though—use no more than two or three fonts. Here are a few more tips:
What is the size of a book cover, and who determine that size? Most self-publishing book covers are measured in pixels, and each publishing company has its own size requirements you’ll need to consider. You’ll also need to submit your book cover as a specific file format. Here are some examples:
|Publishing Company||File Format||Recommended Book Cover Size||Cover Size Range|
|Amazon Kindle Direct||JPEG or TIFF||2,560 x 1,600 pixels||Between 1,000 x 625 and 10,000 x 10,000 pixels, with one side at least 1,000 pixels long|
|Apple iBooks||JPEG or PNG||1,400 x 1,873 pixels or 1,600 x 2,400 pixels||At least 1,400 pixels wide|
|Barnes & Noble||JPEG or PNG||Height and width of at least 1,400 pixels||Minimum height and width of 750 x 750 pixels|
|Kobo Books||JPEG or PNG||1,600 x 2,400 pixels||Minimum width of 1,400 pixels|
|Smashwords||JPEG or PNG||1,600 x 2,400 pixels||Minimum width of 1,400 pixels|
|Draft2Digital||JPEG||1,600 x 2,400 pixels||Must form a tall rectangle|
After you’re designed your book cover—or better yet, if you have two or more possible designs—do a little market research before publication. Show potential readers your cover options through your website and social media, and ask them to rate how intriguing each cover is. Any feedback you receive can be used to fine-tune the cover’s effectiveness.
Don’t be afraid to change e-book covers after publication. Authors have seen previously underwhelming book sales spike after changing their book covers.
Although it’s possible to create your own book cover using stock images and free book cover design templates, most writers lack the design skills needed to create effective, beautiful book covers. In such cases, professional book cover design will provide you with a high-quality end product.
Why hire a professional design service for your book cover? To begin with, professional designers have a deep understanding of how text, images, and other visual elements should interact on your cover. They know what the latest cover trends are for your genre and how readers respond to cover layout and typography. A professional designer also possesses image manipulation skills far ahead of most people’s abilities.
To provide you with the best possible cover, a book cover designer needs information about your book. You should provide the designer with a comprehensive brief that includes the following:
Most book cover designers will produce two or three sample designs for you to provide feedback on as you move toward a final product.
Professional design services such as those provided by Elite Authors give you an attractive return on investment. You’ll receive a high-quality book cover in much less time than others take to make their own e-book covers, allowing you to become a published author sooner. Marketing your book is more effective with a professional cover design because it allows you to focus on what you do best—writing a great book.