Book cover design: How to make a memorable book cover

  • A good book cover should perform 6 key functions. It should include the title and your name, indicate the genre, grab a reader's attention, have a distinct design style that captures a theme or concept, and relate to the story.
  • Consider typography, dimensions, images, and spacing. If you’re designing your own book cover, you’ll need to consider all these elements to make a memorable cover that’s representative of your book.
  • Professional book design will make your book more attractive to readers. Now the book is written, you want people to read it - and a professional cover designer can boost sales of your book.

According to the most recent available data, the Publishers Association says the e-book market is worth £538 million.

Many authors choose to self-publish their work rather than work with a publishing company. There are many benefits to this, such as having more control over the publishing process.

If you're ready to publish your book, you might be wondering how to design an attention-grabbing cover that stands out and impresses your audience. After all, despite the old phrase "don't judge a book by its cover," many people do.

We'll walk you through everything you need to know about how to make a good book cover in this guide. Let's get started so you can begin designing!

Traditional covers vs e-book covers

Before we dive into the finer points of design, it's important to cover the differences between traditional paperback covers and e-book covers.

If you want to know how to make a book cover, you need to consider dimensions first. Traditional book covers are bigger than e-book covers.

Also, some e-readers only display in black and white. If you plan on using colour for emphasis in your design, you would lose the effect.

Price also plays a big part in the difference between the two. Designing a cover for a physical book tends to cost more than designing for a digital book.

If you're working with a design company, make sure they offer the services you need for your book. You don't want to plan on publishing your book as a paperback only to find out a company only works with e-books.

Why the cover matters and what to consider

When it comes to e-books, there are so many options that a customer can often feel overwhelmed by their choices. With so many e-books online, many readers gravitate towards the ones that have attention-grabbing covers.

When you're self-publishing, one of the worst mistakes you can make is to cut corners with your cover design. Amazing covers stand out because they all follow a similar formula.

Here's what a good cover should do:

  • Include the title and author's name in a readable font
  • Give an indication of the genre and story with the design
  • Grab a reader's attention
  • Have a distinct design style that captures a theme or concept
  • Relate to the story

If you're not up-to-date with the latest trends in book design, it's tough to create a book cover that stands out. You have to consider typography, dimensions, images, and spacing. Even if you're familiar with design, you might find it hard to create a cover that represents your book in a meaningful way.

Let's look at one of the most important aspects of cover design next: choosing the right image.

Free images vs paid

You've written your book and you're excited to share it with the world. The next step is finding an image the captures the spirit and theme of your novel.

You have a few options when it comes to finding pictures. You can pay for an illustration, use a stock image, or use your photography.

1. Stock Images

Using stock photography is one of the most common ways to create covers. It's often cheaper than hiring an illustrator and great for people that aren't professional photographers.

Before you choose a stock image, you must have the license to use the picture. Never use pictures that you find online without permission or you could find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

When you buy stock images, you also buy a license that gives you permission to use it. Some images are free to use without any restrictions while others have limits on how you can use the picture.

2. Photography

Using your pictures is another option, though there are key points to keep in mind if you want to know how to design a good book cover.

The first is that you want to ensure you're using a high-quality photo. You don't want a dark or grainy picture to represent your book.

The next point to consider is whether or not you have permission to use the photo. While it's your picture, you need to consider the subjects in your photograph.

If you're photographing people, you need their permission. Certain buildings are also copyright-protected so make sure to understand the laws.

3. Illustrations

If you have a specific vision in mind for your book, you may want to consider working with an illustrator. This is an expensive option but can produce more unique covers.

Illustrations extend beyond the cover, as well. You may want an illustration inside your book to convey a scene or character.

While you can search for an illustrator through recommendations or post your job and look for bids, it's often best to find an illustrator through a design company. This way, the company can pair you with a suitable artist that fits your book and target audience.

4. Finding Inspiration and Book Cover Ideas

Need to find inspiration for your book cover? Take a look at some of your favourite books and examine the different styles used. Compare and contrast physical book covers with e-book covers. Go to your local Waterstones and just browse around, go to the section which features books of your genre. Look around and see what catches your eye.

Check out list online of the best book cover examples and learn from them. You can even use Pinterest (or other software of preference) to collect ideas which you can then share with your book cover designer.

The benefits of using a book cover designer

While you can design your cover, you may not get the results you want. You worked hard writing your book, so why not go the extra mile and leave the cover design to a company that understands the latest trends and styles?

A professional book cover designer knows all the technical aspects of design including file types, formatting, spacing, and more. Book cover designers know how to manipulate and edit images for the best effects. They can also design the spine and back cover. Learn more about the book cover design cost - our guide goes in detail and explain how the price is worked out.

Designers know your target audience and what grabs their attention. All you need to do is to brief them. A budget option can also be buying premade book covers - these are not as complex but can kick-start your self-publishing career.

Briefing a designer

To brief a cover designer, you need to have an idea of what you want. You'll need to provide them with important information about your book including a brief synopsis. Providing them with elements and themes is also useful during this stage.

If you have any covers that you like, give them a few examples. Let them know if you like minimalist design, specific colours, or font types. Make sure to discuss your intended result. Equally important is understanding what you dislike.

You can often work with them during the process and some companies offer unlimited revisions (psst we do!).

How to make a good book cover and wow your audience

There's a lot to think about when it comes to understanding how to make a good book cover. That's why instead of choosing the first image you see, consider working with a book cover design company. Not only do they understand the laws regarding images, but they also work with you to create a cover that stands out. An experienced book cover designer will guide you through the process and get the most out of your brief.

At Book Beaver, we know what it takes to create book covers that make an impression. Tell us about your book and get a quote to get started today!

Advice from a published writer
This article is always evolving and being updated regularly by our expert writers. Information featured in it has been fact-checked and verified.
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