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  • Book Cover Design: A Definitive Step by Step Guide

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    Books - Perfect Bound, Self-publishing

    Book cover design is essential to the success of your book. Whether your book is fiction or nonfiction, the cover is the first impression your book makes on potential readers. It’s simple: Covers sell books. A book cover design that attracts readers is key to marketing your book and making it a success.

    Know the Elements of Good Book Cover Design

    The layout of your book cover is the foundation of a good-looking, eye-catching design. With book cover design, it’s important to know what goes into a successful cover.

    Structured layout

    The core elements of every book cover design are the title, author name, and main image. The way these are combined and placed on the cover differs from book to book. If you check out the books on the shelf in a store or library, you’ll see that most use one of three basic layouts.

    Balanced: In a balanced layout, the book designers use a structured grid to place the title, author, and image in a row of balanced columns. This gives the design a balanced look. A balanced look is clean and elegant, and it’s an excellent choice for almost any book cover design.

    Image-first: In an image-first layout, the designer makes one element the priority. If the author is well-known, their name may become the main part of the design. In other cases, the design might feature a large image that covers the page while the title and author name are in small print and less obtrusive. This approach of prioritizing the imagery can work well for first-time authors because the author’s name isn’t the main selling point.

    Eclectic: Some designers opt for a style that doesn’t fit neatly into either style. So-called eclectic book cover design breaks all the rules while creating a unique, beautiful book cover design.

    Powerful imagery

    Successful book marketers know that pictures are more memorable than text. You may forget the title or author name of a book, but a powerful image will linger in your mind.

    Don’t settle for a lackluster cover picture. When designing a book cover, spend time finding a powerful image. That might be a photograph, painting, or collection of graphic images. You may even want to commission special artwork from an illustrator for your cover.

    You don’t have to spend a lot of money on these images. Look for free, copyright-free photographs and pictures from sites like Pexels, Pixabay, and Unsplash. These free or low-cost sites are perfect for authors on a budget. They can be sources of beautiful pictures that are perfect for your book.

    Striking typography

    Typography refers to the font and size of the text on your cover. When designing a book cover, graphic artists use typography in creative ways. As a rule, a serif font is easier to read than a sans serif font, but some book cover designers successfully break that rule.

    To get ideas for using text on your cover, look at bestselling books in your genre. What stands out about the text treatment in those covers? Use them as an inspiration to create your own.

    Compelling color

    Color evokes emotions. When designing a book cover, consider which emotions you want your book to convey. Think of how soft pinks expresses romance, yellow expresses happiness, and pastels give off a bright, summery vibe. If you’ve written a history or biography, deep reds or purples help give your book a more serious, elegant look. Ultimately, the choice of color comes down to personal preference. Which colors make you happy? Use them in your book cover design.

    Color is also a clever way to unite books in a series. If you’ve written a sequel, use the same color palette when designing a book cover for every book in your series.


    The format is the final decision when designing your book cover. You can publish your book in hardback or paperback, and that will affect how you design the cover. In the U.S., the standard sizes for books are 5.5 x 8.5 inches for paperbacks and 6 x 9 inches for hardbacks.

    Put it all together for a winning book cover design

    Designing a book cover that sells your book starts by understanding these fundamentals of cover design. Spend some time studying the covers of popular books in your book’s genre. They’ll give you a good sense of what readers of that genre respond to when choosing books.

    Use a Book Cover Design Template

    If you want to simplify the process of designing a book cover, templates are the solution. Here are some easy-to-use templates that can walk you through the process of designing and formatting your cover.

    Canva: The free Book Cover Maker from Canva is easy to use and fully customizable. It is designed for people who are not artists and not technical experts.

    To use it, start by opening a free Canva account. When you log in, search for “Book Covers.” You can also go to the Book Maker site directly, and click on “Open a New Book Cover Design.”

    Once you’re there, look over the selection of book cover templates to find one that appeals to you. You can use the search engine to filter by genre or style.

    The Book Cover Maker comes with more than 1 million free stock images you can use as part of your book cover design.

    Adobe Express: Adobe Illustrator is an expensive software package, but you can get all the features you need to create a book cover with the free Adobe Express version. There is never a charge, and you get access to thousands of templates and Adobe’s royalty-free images.

    To get it, go to Adobe Express, and create a free account.

    Click on “Create Your Book Cover,” and you will be taken instantly to a design page. On the left side, you’ll see dozens of beautiful book covers you can use. Click on the one you’d like to use, or use Adobe’s search engine to look for more.

    Once you choose your design, right-click to bring up Adobe’s editing tools. You can use these to change the colors, words, and images on the book design you selected.

    Microsoft Word: If you have Microsoft, take advantage of the many free templates that come with the program.

    To use them, open Word, click on “Templates,” and double click on the “Books” tab. You will see a choice of templates available for use. These are fully customizable.

    You can add images by first saving them to your “Pictures” file on Microsoft. To include them in your book cover design, click the “Insert” tab, go to “Pictures,” and select the one you want to use.

    Designing a Book Cover Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

    Don’t let the idea of designing your book cover scare you. Even if you’re not a professional artist, and even if you’re not sure how to use design technology, you can use templates, free artwork, and inspiration from successful books as part of your design process. The most crucial step is to get started.

    We hope you found this guide to book cover design useful. When you’re ready to print your book, contact Dazzle Printing to check out our great pricing and services.


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