Book Covers: Tips and Resources

 Cover design is an incredibly important part of the publishing process. If you are published by a publishing house, you probably won’t have much say in the matter. But for self-published and indie authors, this is a key topic.

You want people to pick your book out from the others in the store, or from the website. Here are some tips and resources you can use to stand out. 


Get some inspiration

·         Book cover examples : lots of book covers to give you ideas for yours . Some are terrible covers but probably sell a lot of books (Warren Buffett), some are brilliant and eye-catching (Leather Maiden), and others go for plain and simple (Secret of Scent).

·         The Book Design Review Blog – examples and commentary on book covers

·         Archive of book cover designs and designers – over 1000 covers to view

·         Cover as brand – how Penguin uses the classics look. Also, think “For Dummies” range and other book brands where the cover distinguishes the content.



Top Tips for book covers:

·         Remember you are selling on the internet (as well as bookstores). Your cover needs to be clear and legible even at Thumbnail size. Make it clear and eye-catching. Always include your website somewhere on the cover.

·         Spine Tips: Keep plain colours near the spine. I learnt this the hard way by having multicolours which bled onto the spine on some print runs. I will keep plain colours as background in the future to avoid this. If you are making your own files for upload to a Print-on-Demand site, use a spine calculator to check the width.

·         The back cover is sales copy. It should include headline and blurb text. Make it like a sales letter so they want to read inside.  The headline should be in different size font so it stands out.


·         Don’t print the RRP (Recommended Retail Price) on the back of the book. If you are selling overseas then it will be in the wrong currency and you will sell it for different prices to different people anyway. Bookstores will price it if they take it and you can sell it for whatever you want.



Make your own cover – here are some helpful sites:


·         Dan Poynter (guru of self-publishing) has a fill in the blanks Book Cover worksheet.He also has a short document for sale which has some interesting points.

·         Interactive book cover creator – quite a cool gadget

·         Publishing learning centre at Cafe Press – lots of great technical information about how to design one yourself.

·         Buy images online at a number of sites. If you find an image online that is not for sale, then approach the photographer or site for permission to use. has millions of images. I use this site for book cover images as well as for my websites.

If it’s all too hard, get it designed for you – here are some of the sites I found online (although I have not used myself).

·         Book Cover Express – email for price list

·         Book Cover Designer – various options from ebooks to hardcover, can also do type-setting

·         Book Cover Pro – some very nice covers on here. You can buy their software, use their templates or they will do a custom cover based on a template for US$275

·         Killer Covers  – for ebook covers that look good as thumbnails – for $117

·         Get a professional designer from Elance – post your project and get bids from professionals 

(First posted at The Creative Penn)  

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