Want to design your own book cover? Here’s what to know…

It’s finally here, the moment you’ve been working so diligently towards: you’ve completed your book. Actual publication has been in your thoughts, too. After all, the first thing audiences see is a book cover, so you have to make sure it properly reflects the tone of your words.

Sure, you could employ a professional to design said book cover, but you have your own vision, your own vibe to present to the world in a way that only you can create. The thing is, your book cover has to reach a balance between your own likes, and the preferences of your intended readership.

Color quality considerations.

In a perfect world, audiences would admire a book cover, but really make their purchase decision based on a perusal of the actual content. We all have to admit, though, that it’s a certain something about a well-designed cover that peaks our interest. The only exceptions to the cover design marketability rule are, of course, if it’s a famous author or a well-known title.

So, begin by thinking about your book cover’s color. Darker colors, unless punctuated by a bit of brightness here and there (such as white), tend to get lost in the proverbial shuffle. The noticeability factor heightens with vivid hues, whether the book cover is in digital or physical form.

However, if the colors are too bright, there’s the risk of obscuring the book cover text. Research contrasting color combinations to determine which ones most closely match the overall book cover look you’re going for.

Tip: check out the post, “Best Colors for Book Covers” by Cover Design Studio.

Maintain high artistic aspirations.

Designing a book cover is so much more than a marriage of photography (stock or otherwise) and pretty fonts. Take it a step above by creating several paintings, collages, drawings, sketches, etc. that serve as the truest, most unique visual representations of your book’s focus. Then, narrow the images down to one (or two, for the back cover), and try different fonts with the chosen medium until you find that ideal match.

Remember to choose the right resolution.

Pixelated images probably have their place in an abstract, intentional setting, but in book cover land, they are no fun. Your cover image must always be the correct resolution for both printed and online formats.

Tip: Just Publishing Advice’s post, “Does Your Book Cover Work for You in Thumbnail Size?” will teach you more about image sizing.

Ponder a publisher’s perspective.

Whether they’re independent or mainstream, book publishers look for what’s already been mentioned here, plus certain back and front cover content. For the front, remember to have more than just your name and the title. Subtitles give readers a clearer sense of what to expect. The summary on the back cover also needs to provide clarity. All text on back and front covers should be as concise as possible.

For the back cover, consider implementing a recent headshot and a pull quote from the book. Don’t forget the book spine, either which should have the title, your byline, and publisher info (if applicable) as well as a corresponding logo – this is especially helpful if you’re planning a book series.

Tip: “Judging a Book by Its Cover: What Book Publicists—and Media—Want to See on the Outside of a Book” is a BookBaby blog post filled with excellent examples.

Find the fun in it all.

Lastly, and most importantly, designing a book cover should never be marred with stress. Put good energy and patience into the process. You just might be very happily surprised at just how cleverly creative you are.

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