+1 800-338-4329
  • Book Cover Art: How to Design an Outstanding Cover

    book cover art icon
    Books - Perfect Bound, Self-publishing

    How important is book cover art? A beautiful cover can mean the difference between a book that readers eagerly grab and one they leave on the shelf. When designing a book cover, you need inspiring, eye-catching images. Should you use illustrations or photography? The choice is yours. Both are equally good at creating memorable covers. What matters most is a well-executed design that makes the most of your chosen image.

    Get Royalty-Free Photographs for Your Book Cover Art

    If you want to use photos in your book cover art, it’s important to use royalty-free photos. That means you don’t have to pay anyone to use them. Be careful when using pictures you find on the internet. Many of them belong to individual photographers or agencies, and using them could land you in legal hot water.

    Fortunately, you can find royalty-free photographs that you can use without worry. In some cases, you may have to pay a small fee. In others, the images are free to use.

    • Unsplash: This site features hundreds of high-resolution photos that anyone can use for any purpose. It’s free with a choice of a paid upgrade.
    • StockSnap: Free for all users, this site features an immense variety of photos and an easy search function.
    • Image Apothecary: This site features images specifically for book designers, authors, bloggers, and others who want to market their products. Photo sets start at $30 for fully designed, stylized photos.
    • Period Images: This site is a go-to for historical photos you can use in histories, westerns, romances, and fantasy novels. A one-time license costs around $20.
    • Getty Images: Nearly every famous picture—or famous person—has a Getty-copyrighted image. You must pay to use these pictures, but you will find everything here. Prices range from $150 to $500 and up for the most popular images.
    • iStock: Owned by Getty, this affordable alternative offers millions of photos at budget prices ranging from $10 to $50 for a one-time license.

    Find Artists and Book Cover Art on Social Media

    It seems everyone has an Instagram page or other social media account these days. That’s good news for anyone looking for an artist because artists have joined the club. They now use social media accounts, especially blogs and Instagram, to highlight their work.

    Instagram is available to everyone, and it’s free. To get started, set up an account dedicated to your search for great book cover art. You may already have an individual account, but it makes more sense to set up a new one dedicated to this purpose. Make sure your account shows that you’re interested in seeing artists and original artwork.

    Once you’ve set your account up, you can go looking for great book cover art. You are likely to find a vast variety of artists working in every medium and at every experience level. Some may already be professional book illustrators. Once you find artists whose work you like, use Instagram to ask them about rates, fees, and availability for book cover art.

    Communicate Clearly about Book Cover Art

    Once you find an artist you’d like to work with, make sure you communicate exactly what you have in mind for your book cover art.

    • Make sure the artist’s style matches your vision of the book. You may be drawn to a particular artist, but their work might be a mismatch for your book’s theme or mood. Move on to the next one.
    • First, figure out if the artist in question works on commission or charges a standard fee.
    • Explain what you are looking for in a summary of one or two sentences, for instance, “I am looking for an artist to design book cover art for my gothic romance novel set in the 17th century.” This will help you filter out artists who aren’t right for your book cover art.
    • Don’t ask for sample artwork unless you are willing to pay for it. No artist—or any professional—appreciates being asked to work for free.
    • Use a signed contract. It protects both of you. You may have to consult a lawyer who can draw up a standard contract.
    • Once you’ve hired an artist, ask for three mockups of your book cover art. After some detailed discussion about your book, your intended audience, the mood you want to convey, and your preferred style, the artist should have several ideas for book covers. Three mockups are standard, but some artists may provide more.

    Contact Art Schools

    Local art schools or art departments can be a terrific way to find budding talent. Artists who are still in school may be willing to take on a project that they can add to their professional portfolios. That doesn’t mean you should ask them to work for free, but it does mean you have some leverage pricewise because they are not yet proven, experienced artists.

    Know the Elements of a Great Book Cover

    Why is a book cover important? Consider what it must do.

    The purpose of a book cover is to give visual form to a story told by the book. It has to do a lot of heavy lifting by conveying the mood, tone, story, and emotional impact of what the author has written over 100 or more pages.

    A great cover sells the book. It makes a potential reader say, “That looks interesting!” Combined with a catchy title, it becomes an irresistible invitation to a reader who’s interested in the subject or genre of your book.

    Because it’s so important, we strongly encourage you to hire a professional book designer to design your cover, especially if you want your book to have successful commercial sales. If that’s not possible because you don’t have the budget for it—or you’re self-publishing primarily for yourself or your family—all hope is not lost. You can design an attractive cover yourself by remembering these elements of a great book cover.

    Arresting book cover art

    Your cover needs one compelling image that commands attention. You can use a photograph or an illustration. Some books don’t have either one. You’ll see some books where the cover artist has designed a cover made entirely out of text treatments. That may work for a professional designer, but if you’re not an artist, you are better off using a powerful image as the key part of your cover.

    Clean, uncluttered design

    Keep the design simple to enhance readability and make the graphic elements pop. Stick to one or two main images that best express the meaning, story, or mood of your book.

    Skilled graphic artists can turn a seemingly random collection of text and pictures into an eye-catching design. If you’re not an experienced designer, it’s best not to try that. You’ll end up with a jumbled mess. It’s better to stick to a clean, uncomplicated design that emphasizes your chosen image.

    The same is true for text and font treatments. Don’t use more than two font styles in the design.

    Images that appeal to you

    You may have started your search for inspiration by looking at published book covers. That’s an excellent place to start because commercial publishing houses spend lots of money on their book covers. These are high-end covers created by top graphic artists. Spend some time studying them to see what works.

    On the other hand, don’t ignore other sources of powerful imagery. Some movies feature beautiful cinematography. Watch them, and notice the way certain scenes are framed and staged. Note the colors used and the way the characters are placed against the backdrop.

    Take a walk outside, and marvel at natural beauty in the form of flowers, animals, and the colors of the sky. Try taking photos of all the beautiful, inspiring things you see in a day. Collect inspiration everywhere you go.

    Style that matches the book’s genre

    Certain conventions are standard with specific genres. If your book is a memoir or biography, the book cover art must feature the subject of the book. If it’s a romance, you need a lovely setting or an attractive couple—maybe both. Fantasy calls for mysterious shadows, wizards, and swords. You get the idea. These may seem cliched or timeworn, but they are what readers of these genres expect.

    Book Cover Art Is Key to a Beautiful Cover

    Writing your book is the hard part, but it doesn’t mean your work is over. Once that’s done, you must work on giving it the best packaging possible in the form of a gorgeous cover. Whether you hire a designer or do it yourself, you can find the right illustrations or photographs to make your cover stand out. If you need help with any aspect of printing your book, talk to the experts at Dazzle Printing.


Leave a Reply

© 2024 Dazzle Printing

Email Quote