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2. After choosing a package, you’ll be redirected to our client portal. Add extra services to your order and complete checkout (we offer 100% money back guarantee)

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How to Design a Book Cover: An Ultimate Guide

1 minute read

When you pick up a book, have you ever noticed how the cover catches your eye? It hints at what’s inside and makes readers interested in the story.

But not each cover can do that. Sometimes readers pass by without noticing a book.

We have prepared this guide to prevent this from happening to your story. Keep reading to learn how to design a marketable book cover.

Why does the book cover matter?

People consider several criteria when choosing which book to read or buy. The book cover is one of them since it:

  • can capture a reader’s attention among the vast array of books available
  • creates an initial impression of the book’s content, quality, and professionalism
  • helps potential readers quickly assess if the book aligns with their interests
  • has the power to evoke emotions and set the tone for the reading experience
  • can generate interest, entice readers to learn more about the book, and act as a tool for effective branding and recognition.

Thus, while a book’s content determines its success, a compelling book cover is vital in grabbing attention.

Where to start?

However, book cover design begins long before you work in a graphics editor. First, do some research to find out what elements and colors will work best for you.

1. Analyze your target audience

Start by studying your target audience in detail. You should consider demographics and psychographics. Let’s take a close look.

  • Demographics means who your audience is and includes the following: gender, age, income level, education, family status, occupation, and social status.
  • Psychographics means how your audience thinks and what they like: interests, activities, and opinions. 

Additionally, you can analyze their values, life challenges, cultural background, desires, fears, needs, and more. 

2. Research the market

Check out the current trends and popular cover designs in your genre. All you need to do is open Amazon and browse the bestseller category. You should consider imagery, colors, typography, overall composition, and type. For example, the fantasy genre boasts character-based covers and serif typography. Science fiction covers usually include bold sans serifs and space attributes.

Book cover design by Getcovers

You can also learn from your competitors. In book cover design, you often don’t need to reinvent the wheel but rather use what already works. The fact is that the target audience already has certain expectations about what the cover of a book they would like to read should look like.

3. Understand your book’s message

Finally, you should define the message of your book. Start by reflecting on your intentions as an author. What ideas and themes do you want to convey through your book? 

You should also analyze your book’s plot, characters, settings, and conflicts. Look for recurring motifs, symbols, or metaphors that may hint at deeper meanings. You can include these elements in your book cover design.

Consider the emotions you want to evoke in readers. This will help you choose essential elements such as the color palette and typography style.

How to design a book cover?

Now that you have gathered and analyzed all the necessary information, it’s time to get down to practice and review the examples.

1. Decide on visual elements.

Find images, symbols, and other visual elements representing your book’s theme and ideas. It may be one picture if you prefer minimalist book covers. Otherwise, consider each detail, starting from the foreground and central elements to the background, if you want a complex image.

Visual elements also depend on the book cover type. For example, character-based book covers usually need more images than object- or typography-based ones. However, regardless of your chosen type, all elements should look harmonious and balanced. 

Book cover design by Getcovers

2. Choose a color palette

Colors have immense communicative power, signaling action, setting moods, and evoking emotions. And it would be a sin not to use it in book cover design. 

When people choose which book to read, they expect a certain emotional experience. Readers want to fall in love, get scared, or feel adventurous. A certain color helps them subconsciously understand whether they will get the desired emotions when they look at a book cover.

Here are some examples of how different color works: 

  • If you write horror and aim to scare readers, choose black and red hues as they are associated with the dark side and blood. 
  • Blue colors work great for science fiction since they stand for intelligence. 
  • Pink is an excellent option for romance as it spreads love vibes.

So, you should choose colors according to your book’s message.

Book cover design by Getcovers

3. Select typography

Fonts also have emotional meanings, so they should match your book’s tone. Moreover, each genre has certain standards concerning typography. Thus, science fiction and horror usually feature bold sans serif fonts, while fantasy and romance boast elegant text elements with curls.

Speaking about emotions and tones, various fonts work in the following way:

  • Sans serifs are considered to be progressive and open. They stand for stability, tradition, intellect, and formality.
  • Slab serif fonts mean enduring, strength, power, and masculine.
  • Scripts are about playfulness and romance.
  • Serifs stand for creativity, fun, and amusement.

Another essential factor when choosing typography is its readability, legibility, and visibility. Your book cover will appear on different websites, so its title should be well-seen in various sizes, including thumbnails.

Book cover design by Getcovers

4. Remember about technical requirements

Technical requirements are important because, without them, you won’t be able to upload your cover to the desired platform. Usually, each publishing company has its requirements, so always check them out.

For example, Kindle Direct Publishing needs the following format:

  • The ideal size of your eBook cover art is a height/width ratio of 1.6:1.
  • The minimum image size allowed is 1,000 x 625 pixels.
  • The maximum image size allowed is 10,000 x 10,000 pixels.
  • The image file size should be 50MB or smaller.

The good news is that you can edit your cover according to certain technical requirements at each stage.

Consider book spine and back cover designs if you want to release a paperback or hardback version. In this case, you should pay attention to the page count, paper type, and cover material.

Thus, designing a full book cover with DIY tools can be challenging. That’s why if you’re planning to print your book, contacting a professional book cover designer with relevant experience is an excellent idea.

Summing up

Designing a winning book cover may seem like a big task, but this guide gives a better understanding of where to start and what to consider. 

Remember that research and analysis of your target audience and market are essential as actual work in the graphics editor.

Have you got some insights about the book cover design process? Tell us in the comments below.

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Vasylysa In her spare time, Vasylysa likes reading books, writing fiction, gardening, and walking. She hopes to publish her own book and become a famous author one day.
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