Book Cover Design Tips

On 2020-08-04 by Karen M. Dillon

So I decided to attempt the whole ‘regular blogging’ thing again… and thanks to me finally discovering the schedule post option on the site (why didn’t I know about this before, why am I so unobservant?), it is now possible for me to actually stick to a schedule.


Now the issue becomes thinking of things to bore you with.


So anyway, I need something to write about, so I’m going to talk about book covers.


The saying goes that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but that’s just impractical. Since the cover is more or less the first point of contact that many potential readers will have with a book, the cover is one of your main selling points. You want it to look interesting, and if you’re self-publishing as I am, you want it to look as professional as is possible.


Professional looking covers are tricky to do when you’re not a professional designer, but there’s always Google, the almighty power with the answers to any and all questions the human mind can come up with. If you Google how to make a professional looking cover, Google will tell you.


And here are some extra tips from me:

(PS: I do actually have a certificate it Graphic Design, so I’m not just making this shit up.)


Less is more:

That’s what everyone says when it comes to cover design, and it’s perfectly true. Less is always more. If a cover is cluttered up with words and images and seven different fonts it’s going to look very off-putting.


You want your cover design to fit well and for everything in the image to harmonise nicely.


Some of my less is more tips include;


    1. Pick one image. Unless you are skilled in the use of Photoshop, don’t try to paste a load of different images together to make your own cover. Unless you have photo editing skills, the end result is not going to look as good as you think it is.
    2. Don’t use the entire colour wheel in your image. Be careful if you are using colours, or adding colour hues to your image. Too many colours is an easy way to make a picture look busier than it needs to be. If you are using colour stick to complimenting colours. If you’re not sure what colours complement each other, Google it. Colours are amazing, use them, but use them wisely.
    3. Choose your font wisely. The font and image that you use should complement each other and should work together to make the cover. The font shouldn’t overpower the image. It should make your title stand out without taking over the whole thing. It’s also okay to use more than one font on your cover if the fonts go together nicely and the addition of two fonts doesn’t overwhelm the overall look of the cover.
    4. Avoid over use of font definitions. Sometimes people can get a bit carried away and give their font a strong outline, and an outer glow, and a drop shadow and then bevel and emboss the font too. As I mentioned above, the font is part of the image so you don’t want to go overboard with the decorations as it will only end up taking away from the finished product.


Research the trends:

Book covers are kind of like fashion in the way that there are certain market trends that come and go. If you image search 2020 fantasy book covers and look through the images that appear you’ll see what I mean by that.


At the time of writing this, when I searched 2020 fantasy book covers I saw a compilation image of 18 book covers for the 2020 sci-fi and fantasy must reads. Obviously all of the covers were different, but, there were the following common denominators:

    1. Small, simple background images
    2. Large centre aligned font spanning the majority of the cover
    3. Simple fonts used – no overly decorative fonts
    4. Cover images mostly inanimate objects or location, not a large number of covers with people on the images
    5. Colours mostly muted blues, purples, grey and gold


So that’s what I mean by trends. The easiest way to make your book look mainstream is to look into the cover trends for your genre and age group at the time you’re publishing your book and take them into consideration in your design.


Cover templates:

Where possible, avoid using the premade book cover templates from publishing sites such as CreateSpace, KDP etc. Though they may be a useful aid or guide to those new to book cover design, when you use one your cover is more likely to look self-published. And though there’s nothing wrong with self-published books, a lot of people are likely to steer clear of books that look like a DIY.


As I said, books are judged by their cover and if someone thinks it looks like it was slapped together by a random person rather than looking in some way professional the book is going to be judged poorly without being given a proper chance.


Using images or fonts from the internet:

Be very careful when using images you found online. A lot of self-published authors tend to type some keywords related to their book into a Google image search and then save a few images they think look good and then use those images on their book cover.


All images you find online, or anywhere else, belong to someone, and when you use someone else’s image to promote your own work that’s theft. If you find an image that you like, track down the owner and get their permission before using it for anything. If they don’t give their permission, or you can’t find the original owner, don’t use the image. Simple as.


If you want to find some good quality images to use for your covers, I recommend paying for a subscription to a reputable stock photo site so that way you are paying for the right to use the work of a photographer or artist and it’s all above board and legal. There are also some stock photo providers on DeviantART who allow their stocks to be used commercially for free or in exchange for a free copy of your product. If you are using a purchased stock photo, make sure that you check the details on the license you purchase to ensure that you are buying the right to use the image for commercial purposes.


When it comes to fonts very few people are aware that special fonts that you find online or download are also protected by intellectual property rights as they are created/designed by an artist. If you are using a special font, make sure that the one you use is either marked as free for commercial use, or ensure that you have paid for the licence to use it commercially.


Basically, just don’t steal from other artist in the process of making your cover.



So, apart from splurge on a professional designer/artist to make the covers for you the above are all of the tips I have for now.


Until next time,



Comments are closed.