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How to Design a Book Cover

Updated on September 28, 2013

They say don’t judge a book by its cover. Forget about what they told you regarding the book cover. Unless you are Dan Brown or J. K Rowling, you will not be able to sell decent copies of your book, if it does not have a great cover.

For an indie publisher, a first time author, or an author who chooses to publish on CreateSpace, Kindle, Smashwords, Lulu, Barnes & Noble, Scribd.com and other platforms, spending huge money on the cover design may not be viable. If you are not hiring a professional book cover designer, you may want to do it yourself. You worked hard on the content, now it’s time to do some garnishing.

Book cover designed with art as the background image.
Book cover designed with art as the background image. | Source

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Great Book has a Great Cover

Your mother knows you have written a great book, but how does the world find if the book is worth reading. People buy a book when...

  1. They believe the author is worth reading.
  2. The author has a great profile.
  3. The author is a bestseller.
  4. They read and like the book review.
  5. There is a good word-of-mouth publicity.
  6. They know the author personally.
  7. The title and the subject are great.
  8. They read the blurbs and like it.
  9. They like the book cover.

If you are a new author, you can simply dismiss #1, #2 and #3. Unless the reviewer is your friend, your book will possibly never come under the reviewers’ eyes.

You can sell books through word-of-mouth publicity but for a new author, this is quite impossible because people want to read established authors.

Your friends will be interested in buying your books, however, how many books do you expect to push-sell, 200, 500, 1000? But surely not much.

Let us assume that your book has a great title and the subject. However, the title and the subject cannot garner readership if the author is unknown.

Blurbs are the part of book cover. If you can get encouraging words on your book with good cover design, you can surely lure the readers.

Now that the book has a good title and the subject, let’s focus on cover design.

Text based book cover design
Text based book cover design | Source

Types of Book Cover Design

Book cover means the front cover as well as the back cover. If your book is an ebook, it may not require back cover, however, for a print book, back cover is as important as the front cover.

Front cover includes title, subtitle, author’s name, quote from the book, and praise for the author and the book. In the case of new author, book cover may only include the title, subtitle, if any, and the author’s name. Book cover also contains background photo/art/illustrations; however, some book covers have plain background instead of background image.

Back cover includes excerpt from the book, blurbs, author’s introduction, author’s photo, publisher’s logo, and ISBN and Bar Code.

There are different kinds of book cover design; however, it can be broadly categorized into:

  • Photo based
  • Art/Diagram based
  • Text based

Some book covers also incorporate two or more aforementioned themes.

Photo based book cover design
Photo based book cover design | Source

How to Design a Book Cover

You can easily design a book cover, if you have knowledge and skills of image manipulation programs such as Photoshop, GIMP or Paint Shop.

Before you begin to work on your design, you must decide what kind of design you want. Is it photo based, art/diagram based, text based or the one that incorporates all themes?

Book cover design begins with the background. What kind of background you want on the cover? Do you want to use a photo, art/diagram or plain colors on the background? You have to choose the theme of the design according to the theme of your book.

If you are working with a photo, your photo should have good resolution. You can also blend or merge multiple photos and create a background image.

If you want text based cover, chose a nice background color or pattern that suits the theme of the book.

If you are designing a book cover with art/diagrams, get your illustrations ready before you do the actual designing. You can either draw directly on your photo-editing program, or scan your drawing and open the image on your program. You can also create pencil sketch from the photo by turning a photo into a cartoon. Remove noise and tint from your drawing.

Illustrations based book cover design
Illustrations based book cover design | Source

Play with the presets on your photo-editing program and add effects to your photo.

If your photo has a person on it, you may apply makeup to the photo and remove distractions, if any.

You can also change angles and perspective in the photo.

After you are ready with the background for the cover, choose a nice font and write text on the photo.

The text color should be in contrast to the dominant colors on the background.

Add styles and strokes to the text. Text on the background must be simple. Don’t overuse fancy font and styles.

Color theme on the back cover should match with the front cover. If you are using the same photo for your back cover, blur the photo so that blurbs can be visible.

Place author’s photo and other necessary information on the back cover.

If you are publishing a print book and it is thick, you must have an area for the spine between the front cover and back cover. Write author’s name and the book title on the spine.

A sample design for the back cover
A sample design for the back cover | Source

If you think, book cover design is not your cup of tea, you may commission the author to do it for you. You can contact the author by clicking fan mail tab on the profile page.

Book Cover Design Tips for the Beginners

Before you sit to design a cover for your book, you must have some photo editing skills.

Book cover themes should be compatible with the content of your book. You cannot have adult couple on the cover if your book is a children book with animal characters.

Color theme on the cover should match with the subject of the book. It does not make sense when you use dark color if your book’s title is “How to Love Yourself

Fancy fonts and styles are fine but don’t overdo it.

The book title must be readable even on thumbnail reproduction.

Don’t use too many bright colors on your text and the background.

Try to make your design simple.

Look at the book covers and get inspired. However, never copy the design.

© 2013 Vinaya Ghimire

Comments

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    • Besarien profile image

      Besarien 3 years ago

      I hope I can one day use this advice. Beautiful covers!

    • Ninasvoice profile image

      Ninasvoice 4 years ago from England

      Very interesting read and highly useful tips. Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      suzettenaples 4 years ago

      Very interesting and informative. Your tips are great and your book covers beautiful. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
      Author

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      PegCole

      Rcorcutt

      I hope the ideas presented in this hub will help your book. Thanks for reading.

    • profile image

      rcorcutt 4 years ago

      Hmmm. Hopefully I have something published soon so I can use some of these tips. Thanks.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Good information here. This is one that I'll use in the near future (hopefully). Thanks for the great ideas and tips.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
      Author

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      Mckbirdbks

      Teaches

      Angel

      Thanks for taking time to read and comment. Cheers

      PS: Mike, I will surely consider your suggestion. Thanks

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 4 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Another item you might consider offering is Facebook timeline collages.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 4 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Your Photoshop skills have progressed to a very high level. Your jacket designs are very becoming. I agree with most everything presented here. This is a very professional presentation.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I will keep your suggestions in mind when it comes time to publish my book. Thanks for the list of why people buy books. Your advice is excellent.

    • profile image

      angelme566 4 years ago

      It looks superb , go for it !

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image
      Author

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      My dear writers and friends, thank you very much for appreciating, both the sample book cover and the tips.

      Jackie

      Ryane

      DDE

      jonmcclusk

      Billy

      Flourish Anyway

      Always Exploring

      Happyboomernurse

      Rosemary

      Frank

      Faith

      Eiddwen

      Thank you very much for always being around. God bless you.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      Interesting and useful Vinaya.

      Eddy.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Wonderful presentation, Vinaya. Your book cover designs are great. Yes, I can see why it is most important to have a great book cover design. Great advice here throughout.

      Up and more and sharing

      Blessings, Faith Reaper

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

      very helpful Vin.. I like the way the pic in your sample design folds pver the bar-code.. great info my friend and great share

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      I will be bookmarking this to use for future reference, this is exactly what new authors need to know. Thank you for going through this step by step with such great tips and advice.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 4 years ago from South Carolina

      Great advice and wonderful illustrations. I particularly love the artwork on the first cover and all the covers look very professional.

      Thanks for sharing this useful information. Voted up across the board except for funny.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I have a feeling your name and picture will be on a best selling book. You are very talented, Great advice. The cover of any book must be appealing to catch my eye.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      I hope one day I will use this information myself in publishing my own book. It is useful information that walks you through the options. Thanks for presenting it.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Perfect timing...you just answered all the questions I had about this...thank you my friend.

    • jonmcclusk profile image

      Jonathan McCloskey 4 years ago from Cinnaminson, New Jersey

      Good tips, I have a few artist friends that I like to bug for things haha. Thanks for the insight.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Wow! Most impressive about cover design you have done this so beautifully. An informative and helpful hub I had to use the launch creator on KDP to get my kindles published you have done an awesome job here,.

    • profile image

      Rayne123 4 years ago

      I am going to have to read this in depth.

      I am so trying hard to get my book of poems published. Do not even know where to start or how to make anything to do with a book. So hopefully this hub will be of great inspiration.

      Thank you

      Laurie

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Interesting read Vinaya. I remember it is not to hard to go wrong if you aren't careful and with all the books by everyone you see some sometimes that look a little shabby. They could sure use your advice. Great info. ^

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