22 April 2015

Creating Your Book Cover

Which crucial element is missing from the above image? You are correct! The book has no cover design. As I get closer and closer to publishing my newest book Living with Canine Epilepsy, the question of what kind of book cover it should have came up. Taking a little care with a book cover can produce big results. Look at lots of book covers for inspiration. A stunning book cover is the dream of every author, traditional or indie. Whether you create the cover yourself or hire someone, there are certain basic elements you should keep in mind:

The Book Title

Make your book title big and bold! The best book covers have a large, easy-to-read title. This makes it much easier for readers to identify the book. Reduce your cover design on-screen to the size of a thumbnail and see if you can still read it. If not, you might want to simplify it.

The Cover Image

The book cover should focus on one idea or image. Simple and striking works best. There is no need to put an image of every character, setting and theme on the front cover. Your book will do that for you. Your aim should be to entice your reader into picking up the book. Don’t give away the ending on your cover!

The Author

The author’s name is considered, by many, the third most important element on a cover after the title and the central image. Don't be afraid to display it in a prominent manner!

If your biography is part of the cover, it should be brief. It is important to emphasize the areas of yourself that resonate with the book and with the times. If you have other published works, consider mentioning them, as this adds to your credibility. Keep in mind that you only have this little biography write-up and your picture to introduce yourself to the reader. Which brings me to my next point...

Don't forget about the author portrait! While an author photo is not always used, it is a chance to add your personality to the book. Readers have a natural curiosity to see what the writer looks like. Get a professional portrait, if possible. Are you writing a book about animals? Then have a photographer take a picture of you with your pet. Are you writing a gardening book? Then perhaps a photo of yourself surrounded by oodles of flowers would be a good idea. No matter the circumstances, the author should always look approachable and respectable.


We are all familiar with the effects of colour on emotions. So, don’t forget about it when you are thinking about a cover design. I try to avoid white backgrounds, which disappear on retailer’s white screens. I prefer to use a colour, texture, or background illustration instead. If you don’t feel comfortable picking colours, look at some colour palettes for inspiration. 


Use a font that is easy to read. It makes no sense to use a font that’s unreadable when it’s reduced. Watch out for script typefaces, you know, the kind that look like elegant lace at full size; they tend to disappear when small.


The book cover should show which genre the book belongs to. A good book cover "speaks" to its readers through the typography, title, and imagery.

I hope you found this short list at least somewhat useful. Since it isn't all inclusive, feel free to add to it in the comment section!

Piper is the author of military lifestyle books and RV travel journals. When she isn't busy typing away on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebookGoodreads and Google+


  1. These are all good pieces of advice. To them I'd add three more:

    1. Don't use more than two fonts on the cover. Just one might be enough.

    2. Use typefaces that are not only legible, but attractive and professional.

    3. Print out a copy of your book cover draft, then take a trip to your local bookstore and compare. Does your book look professional compared to the ones that made it into the store?

    4. If the answer to #3 is no, hire a professional to design your cover.

    Full disclosure: I'm a professional cover designer, so I personally benefit when people follow tip #4. It's the truth, though. Some writers can come up with a decent design concept, but fewer can translate it into a professional design.

    5. If you do decide to hire a professional, browse different portfolios to find somebody whose style best suits your book.

    1. Ha. To them I'd add FIVE more. I thought of two additional tips and didn't go back and revise.

    2. Thank you for sharing, Susan!

  2. Pretty! This has been a really wonderful article.
    Thank you for supplying these details.