Xavier Comas

Written by

Xavier Comas

10 March 2023


7 Expert Tips for Designing Your Own Book Cover

Design your own book cover - Photo by Monstera for Pexels

As a self-published or indie author, designing your own book cover is an exciting and daunting task. A book cover is the first impression that a potential reader has of your book, and it is essential to make sure that it stands out and accurately represents the essence of your story. I’m here to provide you with expert tips for designing your own book cover that captures the attention of potential readers.

What Message Is Your Book Cover Conveying to Readers?

Before starting the design process, it is crucial to ask yourself what message you want your book cover to convey to readers. A book cover should capture the essence of your story and create an emotional connection with potential readers. A cover that accurately represents your story can create intrigue, generate interest, and compel readers to purchase your book.

Put yourself in the headspace of a potential reader. Can you easily identify the genre of your cover? The age appropriateness or intended audience? How about the tone? Your goal is to clearly communicate all these things inside just one design.

Expert Tips For Designing Your Own Book Cover

The best book covers are products of your imagination. These tips are not restrictive rules but suggestions and best practices to get you started.

Eliminate Unnecessary Items

Keep the design simple and avoid cluttering the cover with too many images or text. Stick to one or two central images (characters, locations, symbols, etc.) that convey the theme or genre of your book. Use a minimal colour palette to keep the design cohesive and easy on the eyes.

Keep in mind genre conventions, as well. A memoir book cover, for example, should depict the subject and not much more. On the other hand, a fantasy book cover often features warriors, mages, or fantastical creatures in medieval settings.

Collect Ideas for Book Cover Design Inspiration

Look at other book covers in your genre to see what works well and what doesn’t. Walk through a bookstore or browse on an online storefront and simply observe what your eyes are attracted to. This will give you a good idea of what readers expect from a book cover in your niche. You can also search for design inspiration on sites like Pinterest or Behance.

Don’t just look at other books to generate book cover ideas – look at art in museums, album covers, and architecture that inspires you. Watch films and take screen grabs of striking compositions. Take a walk in nature and notice the natural beauty around you. All of this and more can be a source of inspiration for your book cover.

Keep exemplar covers in a file on your desktop for easy access and inspiration when designing your own. Take inspiration from design styles or individual elements to feed into your own covers.

Utilise Size and Scale in Design

Play with the size and scale of different elements to create visual interest. For example, you could make the title more prominent than the author name or use an oversized image as the focal point.

Your most important characters should usually be bigger than the side characters, but you can also play with perspective to give a sense of power and wonder, or conversely, convey more negative emotions like fear or sadness.

Opt for Vector Graphics Instead of Pixels

This is a technical thing, but it’s so, so important. Using vector graphics will ensure that your design looks crisp and clear no matter what size it’s displayed at. Unlike pixel-based images, vector graphics can be scaled up or down without losing quality.

To tell the difference, you can zoom in. Eventually, pixel images will start to blur as you zoom in on individual pixels. Another way is to look at the file type: Pixel-based images are more common: JPEG, PNG, BMP, TIFF, and GIF file types. Vector graphics are usually saved as AI, EPS, SVG, or PDF file types.

Incorporate a Teaser to Entice Readers

Add a tagline or a brief summary of the book on the cover to give potential readers a taste of what’s inside. This will help to pique their interest and encourage them to pick up the book.

A compelling tagline will reinforce a book’s message, succinctly encapsulating the novel’s tone while nudging the potential reader towards your book.

Take the Cover Size into account

Consider where your book will be sold and in what format. Know the size of your cover and whether the printing will be hardcover or paperback. Compact designs that look great on a small printing might not look great on a larger special edition hardcover.

Additionally, a cover that looks great on a physical book may not work as well on an ebook or audiobook. In particular, minimalist designs tend to look better in digital storefronts, where book covers are displayed as small icons on a big screen. 

Because you generally want your design to work well in all formats, minimalist covers are more popular in today’s world, where audiobook sales amount to 1.5 billion dollars of revenue.

Avoid Solely Relying on Trends

While it can be tempting to stay current, don’t rely solely on design trends to create your cover. Trends pass. Remember that your book is unique and deserves a cover that reflects its individuality. Focus on creating a timeless design that will still look great years from now.

Study covers that have withstood the test of time. If the choice is between a cover that is true to your book and a cover that follows one of today’s trends, you should choose the former.

Designing your own book cover can be a challenging task, but by following these expert tips, you can create a cover that not only looks professional but also reflects the essence of your book. But remember, these are only tips. Truly great covers will come from within. Do what feels right! Get inspired, make drafts, collect feedback, and don’t be afraid to let your creativity soar and create a cover that you’re proud of!