So, you’ve got your manuscript ready and now you are looking into book cover designs. Should you go it alone or hire a professional service to do the job? Below are some tips on book cover design and what to think about when creating one. At the end is a list of design service companies that cover a wide range of prices and genres. Also, here is a video talking about the creation of a book cover and why it is of the most importance to your sales😉
By: Guest Column
Contributed by Reedsy.
A book’s cover is a key marketing tool, reflecting the contents of the book. As you might guess, the typeface of your book title and other cover text (the style and appearance on the page) are just as important.
First impressions count. Even if you’re not likely to pay a lot of attention to fonts on book covers, they make the difference between a book that will be picked up and a book that looks unprofessional, cheap, or simply misleading.
This post will dive into this crucial component of a book cover. Read on to find out how to handle book cover typography — and how to make yours stand out and sell your book.
All things considered, you want the appearance of your text to convey the message you are trying to get across. Whether that’s signaling that the book is a romance, a thriller, or an informative non-fiction book, the typography is going to be a crucial element of tying it all together.
For example, for Tara Westover’s non-fiction memoir Educated, a simple serif font is used for the title, and the subtitle (‘a memoir’) and author name are sans-serif (have noembellishments at the end of letters). Many say that serif fonts look more ‘trustworthy,’ and feel modern. This is because they are simple and matter-of-fact: all moods that a non-fiction book will want to elicit.
Readers of certain genres will, consciously or unconsciously, be expecting certain things from your book cover. Fantasy book covers are often home to sweeping calligraphy-style fonts, for example. Ilana C. Myer’s Fire Dance does this subtly — the embellishments on the ‘R’ and ‘N’ signal the genre, but it is still reasonably simple and easy to read.
A general rule of thumb: don’t use a font that comes pre-installed on MS Word. Typefaces like Comic Sans and Papyrus are instantly recognizable and will make the cover look ‘handmade.’
If there’s one that’s very close to what you’re looking for, you can build up and edit fonts with programs like InDesign to alter spacings and the length of existing letterings, or even just remove the very edge of letters.
You can find ideas and free fonts to use on sites like myfont.com and dafont.com. There are also plenty of other websites to search for where you will be able to access a variety of fonts without plagiarising (and also without spending dozens of dollars).
An effective approach can be to make typography the focus of your cover, or the only visual element. Playing with minimalism, space, and letter spacing is often an interesting way to make the absence of image or text just as effective as filling the cover. Dolly Alderton’s cover design is literally just the title, but it playfully hints at the narrative voice you’ll find within.
Particularly, conjunctions like ‘and,’ ‘the,’ or, ‘of the,’ can interact inventively with your background image or illustration, like in this novel by Tsh Oxenreider. The ‘less important’ words are made significantly smaller, which foregrounds the confusing pairing of ‘home’ and ‘world’ — central to the book’s idea of finding a home and belonging while travelling all over the globe.
Remember that you don’t have to use the same font for everything. However, don’t use more than, say, two or three, depending on if you have a subtitle, or reviews, etc — it will look messy and confusing.
And if you think you might have a potential series on your hands, aim for a simpler design. They are more transferable, and easier to be manipulated further down the line.
Having said all that, your title does need to be big! There are debates as to whether it should be legible in thumbnail form, but it certainly needs to be the focus of the cover.
When your creativity is completely set free, your typography may end up looking like an image in and of itself.
Thinking of your imagery and typography as overlapping working parts can give you space for visual puns (like the small bombs on Karan Mahajan’s cover), hint at the characters or plot of the book, or even just allow you to exercise some creative license.
If your lettering is large and simple, it also adds character and room for some fun ideas. David Nicholls’ Us, similar to the design of some of his earlier novels, plays with this idea by having figures hang from and walk along the lettering of the title itself.
An awareness of the visual hierarchy of your text will make your book cover look professional and easy to navigate. Readers will assume what is important by the weight and size of the lettering, and you can direct their gazes accordingly.
The title, the author name, and (if applicable) your subtitle should be easily identifiable. Lisa Manterfield’s book cover strikes a balance between title and author name. It also follows the golden rule: if in doubt, keep it simple.
Natural contrast (light text on a dark background, for example) is a seamless way to highlight and make clear the information that you want your reader to receive.
What you’re seeking is balance: a delicate chemistry between image, text, and other information. Simply put, if your image is super busy, keep the type simple. But if you’ve got a large chunk of text that needs to go on the front cover, keep the imagery pared back.
The crux of typography on book covers is the potential to maximize the impact of your book title, and your book cover as a whole. When done well, it is an effective tool to utilize in order to give your book the best chance on the shelves, and hopefully you now have the tools to do just that.
A couple of years ago, Martin Lake’s book sales were dismal. As a self-published author, he was selling just 15 books per month.
Well, Martin didn’t just accept those sales and move on. He changed his book cover design for the first book in his three-part series…and his sales of all three books tripled!
Two months later, he changed the covers of the second and third books to match the first in quality, and his sales doubled again.
He didn’t change his writing, or even his marketing plan…he simply changed his book cover design.
How did Martin improve his cover to triple then double his sales?
Well, that’s exactly what we are going to cover below. And don’t worry, whether you’re design talented or a design n0t-s0-inclined, I’ve got the steps that will work for you.
In this article you will learn:
The five steps to creating an awesome book cover design
Great places to find your book cover ideas and inspiration
Dimension requirements your ebook cover design must follow to sell online
The best tools, tricks, and tutorials to create your book cover art yourself
Who to ask for help if you need a professional book cover design artist
How to decide which cover potential customers like best
First things first: Creating your book cover should come after you’ve picked the right book title. If you haven’t yet picked your title, tackle that before you start designing your cover because your title and cover should be symbiotic and in sync.
Once you’ve determined your title, you can move on to designing your book cover.
Step 1. Find Book Cover Ideas
Your book cover should send a clear message. In general, nonfiction speaks to the brain while fiction speaks to the heart. Novel book covers do great when they send an emotional message congruent with the story, while nonfiction book covers that are witty and intriguing sell well. Since you’ve selected your title, you should have a clear idea of what message you want your book cover to send.
Stick to Your Genre Expectations
When you browse the Amazon bestsellers in your genre, you should notice patterns in color schemes, fonts, layouts, and images. You’ll want your cover to stand out by looking awesome, yet ensure it naturally fits into your genre.
If you go against what readers of your genre expect to see, your book will end up in front of the wrong readers (and not sell). Once it’s in front of the right readers, with a great cover, title, blurb, and reviews, it should get a lot more sales.
Shop For Your Cover On Amazon
As you shop on Amazon, keep your eye out for any book covers that stick out or that you find appealing. Although, you may not need a book cover for that particular genre or topic, it can be very helpful to look at the book covers you like and find inspiration.
When you find a book cover image you like on Amazon, just right-click and save the image as a file on your desktop. I personally have a file on my desk that is filled with covers I saw when shopping or doing research that I loved for one reason or another.
Find Inspiration on Pinterest
One place that’s awesome for finding book cover ideas is Pinterest. You can browse boards and pins, then save the ones you like to your profile to refer to later. There are plenty of book cover boards you can browse to see which covers you’re drawn to and serve as inspiration for your book’s content, message, and genre.
(Psst! Did you know Kindlepereneur is on Pinterest? We have an entire board just for book cover design tactics, and here’s my good friend, K.M. Weiland’s place for storing book covers she loves, like the ones below)
Step 2. Choose Your Book Cover Design Tools or Designer
Decide if you are going to tackle this project yourself or hire a professional cover designer to do it for you. This is a super important step.
Podcast Episode – Case Study of Reviving a Dead Book With a New Book Cover Designer
Below are some of my favorite design software, book cover design templates, and places to find book cover designers.
If You Want To Design A Cover Yourself
DIY Book Covers – This is my personal favorite. You can design your own cover with Free templates and tutorials based on the principles that work for bestselling books from the go-to book cover design guy himself, Derek Murphy. It’s a tool, a guide and a template system all in one.
Canva – a Free design tool you can use with tons of book cover templates for just about anything you’d want to design, including book covers for each genre. Very easy to use, but very limited in what you can create. View a tutorial here.
Adobe – If you have Photoshop or InDesign software already, you can learn how to use it to create book covers. Super advanced, but it does allow for much better designs. View the Photoshop tutorial and InDesign Tutorial.
If You Want To Hire A Professional Cover Designer
Reedsy – A marketplace for vetted book designers with high accomplishments in the industry. You’re sure to find a cover designer or interior designer with experience in your genre here.
Ebook Launch – Professional quality book covers at an affordable price.
Damonza – Professional cover design team with hundreds of books under their belt. Also offers a 5% discount with the use of this code: KINDLE5
100 Covers – A very affordable option for those who need a legit cover.
99 Designs – You create a design contest by telling them what you’re looking for, and you’ll get lots of options in return. At the end of the week, you get to pick your favorite design. If you don’t like any of the designs at the end, you get your money back. You can even get design help for other parts of your author brand here too, like logos and business cards.
Deviant Art – Is an online community where artists post their work. There, you can find an artist with your kind of style and contact them for creating the job.
Author Packages – Affordable custom ebook and print cover designs available as well as formatting and proofreading service.
MIBL Art – High quality yet affordable cover designs with fast turnaround. They offer ebook and print cover designs along with other author materials, such as bookmarks and author logos.
Just a note: If you are using a designer, it is best if you’ve completed Step 1 above because this will help give your designer direction. You’ll have a much better chance of success and happiness with the results if you clearly communicate what you’re looking for. Here’s an article I wrote about how to get the most out of a Fiverr Book cover designer – although I don’t recommend Fiverr, I do believe the concepts from this article can be applied to your working with any designer.
Step 3. Select Your eBook Cover Dimensions
Before you start designing your book cover, you need to make sure that the dimensions of your book meet the market’s requirements. Then, you need to choose the right width to height ratio so that your book looks like it fits.
Book Cover Dimension Requirements
Each market has different requirements and recommendations for book covers. Here’s a handy chart with the basic dimensions and file requirements for the most popular self-publishing book sites:
|File Format||Cover Size Recommended||Cover Size Requirements|
|Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing||JPEG or TIFF||2,560 x 1,600 pixels | Ideal ratio of 1.6:1||between 1,000 x 625 pixels and 10,000 x 10,000 pixels – one side must be at least 1,000|
|Apple iBooks||JPG or PNG||1400 x 1873 or 1600 x 2400 pixels||at least 1400 pixels wide|
|Barnes & Noble||JPG or PNG||Rectangle height & width at least 1400 pixels||minimum of 750 pixels for height and width|
|Kobo Books||JPG or PNG||1600 x 2400 pixels||minimum of 1400 pixels wide|
|Smashwords||JPG or PNG||1600 x 2400 pixels||minimum of 1400 pixels wide|
|Draft2Digital||JPEG||1600 x 2400 pixels||must be a tall rectangle|
Search Result Ratios on Amazon
Amazon is pretty flexible about your book cover size ratio. They only ask that one side is at least 1000px long. This allows you to make your cover width/ratio different. This is very noticeable when searching the Amazon results. You’ll see things like the below:
Amazon recommends that your book cover height to width dimensions be a ratio of 1.6:1. So what does that look like compared to a different ratio when customers scroll the results for a book search?
So, choose the right ratio for your book and make sure it looks great…because this is what the shopper is going to see.
PS: I personally use a 1.5:1 ration on my book covers by setting my cover dimensions to 1500 px height and 1000 px width. I feel as though it’s the right combo. However, if you’re creating a textbook or something that should look “thick,” then you might want to use a 1.3:1 ratio. See how the ratio can augment perception?
Step 4. Design Your Book Cover: Tips and Tricks
Designing your cover is part art, part science/psychology. Here are a couple of book cover design tips and tricks to think about and use when you go about actually designing it.
Select a Good Cover Font
Sometimes people really only focus on the cover image, but the font and title design should definitely not be overlooked. I’ll even go so far as to say you should treat your title like a logo, and you should create one that stands out and is memorable. It’s so important, we have an entire post dedicated to book cover typography. Plus, there are certain fonts that are perfect for each genre, and there are fonts you should never use on your cover.
Here’s a little more on fonts & typography that might help to spark something.
Use Colors to Draw Attention
The 2-3 cover colors you choose should help create the mood and message you’re trying to send. Complimentary colors (across from each other on the color wheel) tend to work well together, as do analogous colors (next to each other on the color wheel) of combined dark and light tints. Many Blockbuster movie posters feature a blue and orange design, or black, white, and red one, because these colors work well together. (I guess I was onto something when I created the blue & orange Kindlepreneur logo.)
Choose the Right Picture
Contrary to what many people think, simple is better. Make sure your cover is not too busy or a mix of too many colors. The cover image should cause an emotional reaction when people look at it, such as suspense, lust, or intrigue.
If you’re looking for images to use on your cover, you can find just about anything you want on either free or paid sites. Here are a few:
Use Free Book Cover Images
The photos on these sites are free for you to use and alter as long as you give the artist credit. If you use an image for your cover art, check the attribution guidelines to see if there is are specific locations (such as back cover or title page) where artist credit should be given.
Find Paid Book Cover Images
Here are a few of the sites that have a cost per photo, or you can use unlimited photos with a paid subscription.
Brand Covers in a Series
If you’re an author of a series, choose some element of the covers to keep the same, such as a theme, image, or font, to strengthen your branding as an author. Here’s an example from Ted Dekker’s The Circle series (one of my favorite series of all time btw):
SUPER IMPORTANT ADVANCED TIP: Don’t forget to look at the small version of your final book cover product. When designing your book cover, you absolutely must look at your design in the size Amazon (and other sites if you’re using them) will show your customer when they are shopping. Your ebook has to make an impact at a thumbnail size. Most importantly, customers should be intrigued and be able to tell what type of book it is at a glance.
One common mistake that people make is that their title either blends into the background or is just too small to read. So, before you finish, make sure to look at your cover in the size it will be on the Amazon results to check that it still looks good.
Step 5. Test Your Book Cover
Here is the BEFORE & AFTER of Martin Lake’s book cover, mentioned earlier in the intro. The cover update was completed by master cover designer, Derek Murphy. This is a perfect example of how subtle changes like font, color, and organization can have a huge impact.
The case study results for Martin and several other authors who sold more books by replacing an old cover can be found here.
And if you have a couple of covers and you’re not sure which will sell best, I highly recommend using PickFu to split test your covers and see which one people like better. This helps you get honest feedback from potential customers (people you don’t know) so you can more confidently make the final decision about your cover.
Create a Mockup
After you’re done making a book cover design that impresses both you and people you don’t know, turn your flat 2D image into an awesome 3D Book Mockup to create more professional looking advertisements for your book.
Some cover designers will include a 3D cover in the package you pay for (or will add it for super cheap). Alternatively, you can download templates yourself for free or hire someone to create a mockup for you for super cheap (like $5 or $8) as I explain in this guide to create book cover mockups.
See how much better your book cover design can be with just one simple trick?
The Art and Science to Book Covers
I’m a big fan of Ted talks, and this one is a perfect cap to the article.
Have you ever wondered if just a simple change of your book cover design could be what your book needs?
The truth of the matter is, people do judge a book by its cover. If your book cover design doesn’t follow these key guidelines, your book–no matter how well written–will fail.
So make sure you can answer “Yes!” to all of these final book cover design questions:
Does your cover send a clear message?
Did you stick to genre expectations?
Did you select a font that’s proven to be great?
Did you use colors that compliment and pop?
Did you choose a powerful picture that intrigues?
Does your cover make an impact in the small thumbnail size?
Did you brand your covers if you wrote a series?
Did you test your covers to see which is truly the best?
Implement these steps and you’ll be well on your way to designing a book cover that’s perfect for your market. You may even double or even triple your book sales.
Your book cover is one of the most important aspects of marketing your book. However much time you spend on getting people to your book sales page, they won’t download a sample or buy the book if the cover isn’t enticing.
I absolutely recommend that you use a professional for your cover design in order to make it the most effective for your book. As an author, you don’t have all the skills needed to create a great book and this is one area you can’t skimp on. Professional editing is the other one you should be spending money on.
Below are some designers I recommend and at the bottom of the page are a number of articles about the book cover design process that might help with your own. Many of these guys are busy because they are so good, so make sure you book in advance for any covers.
Book Cover Designers
Damonza – Books made awesome, specialist book cover designs for bestselling books. You can also get 5% off by using promo code: TCP5 on checkout.
Author Packages – ebook and print book cover design, plus formatting services
Ebook Launch Cover Design: Beautiful cover designs for ebook and print
[Please note: I am an affiliate of the services above because they are excellent quality and have been recommended by readers of this blog. That means I receive a small % of the sale for the referral, but with no extra cost to you. Thanks for checking them out!]
More book cover designers
JD Smith Design: Jane is my current designer as well as doing my interior formatting. She designed Stone of Fire, Crypt of Bone and Ark of Blood, as well as some of my non-fiction books.
17 Studio Book Design: A great selection of reasonably-priced pre-made covers as well as design packages for covers and ads.
Derek Murphy at Creativindie Book Covers : Derek did some of my earlier covers – Desecration, Delirium, A Thousand Fiendish Angels & my non-fiction books Career Change and the original How To Market A Book. He doesn’t do much design work these days, but he has also written this article on How to create your own book cover in MS Word which can help if you’re cash-strapped.
Books Covered. Design agency creating market-leading book cover design.
Ant Puttee at BookCoverCafe.com: Ant is an artist and graphic designer and can do some really special custom work
Carl Graves at ExtendedImagery.com : Although I don’t know Carl personally, he does Joe Konrath’s covers and also has some sales on ready-made covers now and then which is a great idea to keep costs down.
Cover Design Studio: Need cover design on a budget? Customize template book covers for your books.
Robin Ludwig Design: Robin does book design for some friends of mine so I can recommend her services.
Bookfly Design: Ebook and print covers. Recommended by one of my community.
Mars Dorian does ebook covers that stand out for $150-$200
Dane Low at Ebook Launch does ebook cover design for $99 – $279 and is #1 on Smashwords recommended designer list
The Book Cover Whisperer -“Big 5” book cover design and book marketing. Design ethos: visually stunning covers and promotional products your readers will love. Researched, quality production. Unlimited changes until you’re 100% satisfied. IBPA member. Listed on IngramSpark Publishing experts page.
Syd Gill – graphic design and book covers
Alexandra Brandt – Cover design (and more) for all flavors of sci-fi and fantasy.
BEAUTeBOOK – Includes ready-to-go and custom covers
Book Designer Fiona Raven – Fiona is a freelance book designer providing worry-free book design for authors worldwide. She specializes in working with first-time authors who are self-publishing.
Scarlett Rugers book design agency – Great cover designs and useful articles for indies
Book Design by Ana – including urgent designs and budget options
Karrie Ross Book Cover Designer – print, ebook plus interior design
Streetlight Graphics – cover design, formatting and typesetting, print media and other art
I do book covers – includes tips for indie authors
Covertopia – bestselling predesigned covers
Cover my book – includes premade covers for lower prices
Best cheap book covers – beautiful covers for independent authors
Hazel Lau at Kindle Station
Audria Wooster at Design by Indigo. Over 20 years’ experience.
Candescent Press. Recommended by a student of mine. Design and formatting.
Epicenter Creative Branding by Design
Eden Graphics, Book Covers and more
Kingwood Creations, Affordable pre-made book covers
DesignOnClick.com Book cover design and more
Grace My Cover Book cover design and more
WordSugar Designs. Professional graphic design for authors by an author
The Book Cover Designer The largest selection of pre-made book covers online.
Brandi McCann, Book Cover Designer
Bienvenido A. Swinton Jr., Book Cover Design
Sanja Gombar Book Cover Design For You
Breeze Books Book cover design without the breeze.
Hudson Valley Book Design Ebook and Print covers
Elena Dudina Book and CD cover design
dePinho Design Small but mighty graphic studio with a nose for design
Sam Wall Book cover design and art work
Van Garde Imagery Book interior and cover design
Dissect Design Bespoke book covers
Andrea Reider Design Graphic Design and Editorial Services
Dave Kessler Art Direction and Design
Good Life Guide eBook formatting, design and publishing
Michelle Watts Book cover design, art & multi-media
Fiction-Atlas Press LLC Book Cover Design, Editing, Marketing and Publishing
MaryDes Book Cover Design and Graphic design
MoreVisual Award-winning book cover design
The Frontispiece Book Design
Laura Duffy Book Cover Design & Graphic Design
River Book Cover Design Fiction and Non-fiction
MIBL Art Specializing in Urban Fantasy
Working Type Studio, Book Cover Design and Layout Solutions, and Print Design Services
Lance Buckley Design Print, Publishing, Branding
I Love My Cover Independent book design and marketing
Juan Padron Book cover design
Clarity Book Cover Design Book covers, social media banners, memes, swag.
Greg Simanson Design Book covers and more.
Book Covers For You Professional covers. Affordable prices.
Historical Fiction Book Covers Jenny Quinlan specializes in book cover design for historical novels.
Jeff Brown Graphics Sci-fi and fantasy book cover design.
The Book Cover Shop Book covers that fit your book and story.
seed Book Cover Design A boutique studio with global reach.
WolfSparrow Covers Premade and customer book cover design.
You can also check out the monthly eBook cover design awards at TheBookDesigner.com and find designers that you like there.
Split testing your book cover design
One of the issues with book covers is deciding which one you think will sell best. A great way to decide is to split test them with people who don’t know you or want to protect your feelings Check out Pickfu for a quick and easy way to test.