Book Cover Ideas: The Ultimate Guide To Bestselling Book Covers
You’ve written a book you’re proud of, and you can hardly wait to share it.
So, it’s about time you or your chosen designer created some book cover ideas that will help your book sell as well as possible.
Maybe you’d like to design your own, but you’re not sure how to do it or where to start.
Or maybe you’d rather pay someone else to create one, but you don’t know where to find a good designer who doesn’t charge more than your budget will allow.
Thousands of self-published authors have been where you are now. And the information that follows will help you create something — on your own or with a professional designer — that will stand out in the best way possible.
And the more you learn, the better you’ll get at knowing the kinds of cover designs appeal to your readers.
The Ultimate Guide To Book Cover Ideas
This article is all about helping you create the cover your book deserves — either by developing and making the most of your DIY skills or by finding a fantastic cover designer that won’t exceed your budget.
To that end, we’ll cover the following:
- What book cover design is all about
- How to get inspiration for your book’s cover
- What you need in order to create a cover that fits your genre
- What tools and online resources you can use to design your cover
- How to find a cover designer who can create a cover you and your readers love
- What dimensions your finished ebook cover should have
- What you can learn from the best covers in your book’s genre
Let’s start with why book cover design is so important.
Book Cover Design
You know as well as any reader and book collector that having an attractive book cover vastly improves the odds of your book selling in large enough quantities.
The right cover will more than pay you back for the money you’ve invested in its creation.
Readers judge a book by its cover all the time. Given a choice between two books with identical interiors, you’d probably pick the one with the more attractive cover, even if it costs a bit more.
The main purpose of your book’s cover design is to get your ideal readers to click on your cover, so they can read the book’s description on your sales page.
And they won’t click if your cover doesn’t make them feel something — whether that’s excitement, empathy, lust, curiosity, vindication, or something else.
What do you want to feel when you look at your book’s cover?
With a poorly designed cover — one that gets either an “Ugh!” or a “Meh” — your book is more likely to sink like a rock to Amazon’s seven-digit circle of oblivion. With a great cover, though, your book has a chance at becoming a bestseller.
Cool book covers sell themselves — at least enough to get the sales page.
Now comes the question: can you design such a cover on your own — after learning the elements of design and putting in the hours of practice — or are you better off (at least this time around) contracting the services of an expert in ebook cover design?
First, let’s explore the first option.
How to Find Book Cover Ideas
One of the best ways to find great ideas for your book’s cover is to check out the covers of bestselling books in your genre — on Amazon and other sites. When you’re looking over those thumbnail-size covers, ask yourself the following questions:
- Which ones look most attractive to me?
- Why do these covers stand out?
- What do I feel when I look at them?
- What colors do those covers use — and how many?
- What fonts do I see on those covers — and how many?
- What do the images say to me, and how are they positioned on the cover?
When it comes to book cover art, where do you find free or budget-friendly options that will draw the eyes of your ideal readers to your cover more to any other cover on the page?
Some design programs — like Adobe Photoshop and Canva — provide free or low-cost images to use in your designs. Otherwise, you can check out the following for free images:
You can find other free images on the web, but you need to make sure they’re free for commercial use.
If you’re doing an image search, your browser should allow you to filter your search to focus on images you can use without paying the artist or photographer.
Otherwise, you might find just the image you want on one of the following image sites, which charge a certain amount per image but that discount those rates if you pay for a certain number up front.
One thing every professional cover designer knows that beginners should learn as soon as possible is that image collages are almost universally terrible and will out your cover as the work of an amateur.
What collage covers say is “I couldn’t decide what image to use, so I used all of them.”
If your cover looks thoughtlessly cobbled together, why should anyone think your book’s interior isn’t, too?
It doesn’t matter if you group the images in a geometric or more freestyle pattern. If it’s obvious that you’re using multiple images, the result will never look like something a professional created.
You don’t have to tell the whole story with your cover. Choose a unified background that hits your ideal readers where they live.
The consensus regarding the optimal number of colors to use on a book cover generally limits you to three, and using contrast is a great way to make your cover stand out among its competitors.
Movie theater posts often use a combination of blue and orange — or teal and orange — because it’s an attractive pairing of two opposite colors on the color wheel.
Red usually looks best with just black and white, but the right color combinations with red can make a cover pop. And you’ll also see purple and yellow paired together, though less frequently.
If you see one of the colors you want in the image for your cover’s background — but you don’t know the exact code (hex, rgb, hst, etc.) for it, an eye-dropper or color pick tool is indispensable. You can add an eye-dropper extension to your Chrome, Edge, or Firefox browser.
Choosing a light color from somewhere in your cover’s background for text set against a darker backdrop (or vice versa) will make your cover look more unified than if you were to choose a stark white or black that wasn’t repeated anywhere in your cover’s background.
An eye-dropper tool can identify the exact hue, so you can enter the code for a specific bit of text — whatever design tool you’re using.
Check out these sites for inspiration and help in choosing the best color palette for your cover:
- “Build Your Brand: 20 Unique and Memorable Color Palettes to Inspire You”
- Creative Market Blog: Downloadable Color Palettes
- “100 Brilliant Color Combinations and How to Apply Them”
- “Best 25+ Book Covers Ideas on Pinterest”
In general, you’ll want to use no more than three different fonts on your cover, and two is usually enough. You’ll see plenty of covers on Amazon that use a sans serif font for the title and a serif font for the author name (or vice versa).
The font style might also be driven by the book genre or topic. The Mindfulness Journal (see image below) uses a font with the word “mindfulness” that reflects what the journal is about.
The 201 Relationship Questions book has a font that is simple and clean and leaves it to the cover design to communicate the topic.
Many fantasy novel covers feature a more ornamental font for the title, along with a simpler font for a tagline, subtitle, or series title — and a different, simple font for the author name.
It’s a sign of amateur design when the title and author name bear the same ornate font.
You can find free fonts at the sites listed below:
As with images, you do need to make sure your font is free for commercial use.
If you’re not finding a free font that appeals to you, it can’t hurt to check out the fonts available at the following sites.
They’re not free, but if you find just the right font, the prices are reasonable, and creating the right impact is worth a small investment.
Book Cover Design Software and Tools
If you’re a passionate DIYer, and you’re itching to try your hand at creating a cover that will get as many Wows and clicks as the best professional covers out there, you have plenty of book design resources to choose from.
- DIY Book Covers: This book cover design package created by Derek Murphy provides not only helpful tutorials but downloadable book cover templates to help you create a stunning and genre-appropriate cover for your book.
- PickFu: Create a poll to market test your book cover designs and help you choose the one most attractive to your ideal readers.
If you’re looking for a book cover creator that won’t break the bank, check out the following options and see what works best for you.
- Canva: The free version has its limits but this online tool is easy to learn and to use. The paid version (Canva For Work) gives you more flexibility with fonts, along with a customizable branding page. They also have some helpful, free design tutorials at their Design School. And this book cover design tutorial on YouTube can help you design a cover in 15 minutes.
- Adobe Photoshop or InDesign: These design programs are not free, but with a good tutorial (like this one for Photoshop — or this one for InDesign), they’re fairly easy to learn and give you far more design options. Once you get the hang of it, you probably won’t bother with the rest.
- Microsoft Word: You can even design your book cover using Microsoft Word, and this tutorial will help you get started.
You can also find free book cover templates — at DIY Book Covers and elsewhere on the net.
You can also take advantage of premade covers. Plenty of designers out there create premades — usually to fit a particular genre or group of genres. If you search “premade covers fantasy” on the web, you’ll find a wide variety of options to choose from.
Your favorite social media channels can also be a great help here. If you’re on Facebook, try joining some groups for fantasy authors, and ask if any of their members have used premade covers and whose they recommend most highly.
How to Find A Book Cover Designer
If at this point you’re thinking, “I’d like to at least know how to find a good book cover designer — just in case,” or even “Show me some professional designers now, please,” we’ve got you covered.
Here are some great options to consider:
- Archangel Ink — This group provides a variety of professional services for the self-publishing author — including cover design, professional interior design (formatting), comprehensive editing, and book marketing. You won’t find a better bunch of people to work with, either.
- 100Covers — If saving money is a necessity, but you still want a cover that will immediately grab — and hold — the attention of your ideal readers, give this outfit a look. Check out their display of some of their best work right on the homepage.
- 99Designs — This service will not only give a certain number of designers a shot at designing a fantastic cover for your book, but it’ll also create a poll you can share on social media and on your blog to gather votes for the different options.
- DeviantArt –Here you’ll find a community where designers post their work. If your cover requires an original illustration (think Rick Riordan YA Fantasy), you may find an artist here whose work is just what you’re looking for.
- AuthorPackages — a site that offers both ebook and print cover design packages, as well as interior design (formatting). They display several of their best covers on their home page to give you a sense of what you can expect.
- HappySelfPublishing — another outfit that provides a variety of services for self-publishing authors — including cover design, editing, formatting, and book marketing.
If you’re on Facebook, you can also join groups for writers in your genre (or writers in general) and ask if any of the members can recommend a cover designer for your book — providing an “elevator pitch” description to help narrow down the options.
You don’t want just a general “I’ll try anything” designer, after all. If you write YA Fantasy, for example, you probably don’t want a designer whose portfolio features mainly nonfiction or cozy mystery covers.
You can also do a simple internet search for “book cover design [your genre]” or “cover designer [your genre].”
Book Cover Size and Book Cover Dimensions
Depending on where you’ll be publishing your ebook, you’ll need to have your cover designed to fit that particular book seller’s preferred dimensions.
- Kindle cover dimensions: Amazon prefers a 1.6:1 aspect ratio, but there is some flexibility here. Their recommended cover size is 2,560 x 1,600 pixels, with a minimum 1,000 pixels for at least one side.
- Kobo, Smashwords, and Draft2Digital recommend a cover size of 1600 x 2400 pixels, with a minimum width of 1400 pixels.
- Apple iBooks recommends a size of 1400 x 1873 or 1600 x 2400, with a minimum width of 1400 pixels.
- Barnes & Noble stipulates a rectangular height and width of at least 1400 pixels, with an absolute minimum of 750 pixels for either dimension. They don’t have a set preference for aspect ratio — leaving that completely up to the publisher.
You’ll want to take your genre into account when choosing your cover’s size and aspect ratio since some genres have standards of their own.
Textbooks, for example, are generally wider than Kindle covers, so their ratio of height to width is smaller (more like 1.2 or 1.3 to 1).
You or your designer will have to do some research in order to find the dimensions best suited to your book.
As for print books, there are standard sizes to choose from that have the widest distribution options. To save money on printing, you might opt for a slightly larger size to reduce your book’s page count.
Now for some examples of eye-catching and genre-appropriate covers. Look them over and ask yourself the questions posed above — regarding what covers stand out to you and what they make you feel.
If you feel nothing, chances are, neither will those browsing on Amazon when their eyes land on your book’s cover.
Fantasy and Sci-fi covers generally require more artistry than thrillers and hard-boiled mysteries. Compare the covers below:
Even with nonfiction books, you want the combined effect of your cover’s image, colors, and font choices to make people feel something.
That something may be a surge of hope that your book contains the information they’ve been looking for.
Or it could be a jolt of recognition when your title, subtitle and cover design strike a potential reader with a strong feeling of resonance or familiarity.
If your book covers a subject about which many others have written, it’s not enough to have your own spin on it. Your cover should also convey something your ideal readers want. And it should hint at something no other book can give them.
Ultimately, you buy a book more because of an emotional response than because of its practical or intellectual appeal.
And if you can’t create a cover that gets people to say things like, “I need to read your book!” (not just “That looks interesting,” or “Huh. I don’t hate it.”), it’s worth the investment to find someone who can.
Did you find your book cover idea?
Now you know the importance of book design — and you’re armed with the information you need to either create a beautiful cover for your book or find a professional designer to make one for you.
I hope this article has helped you decide which path you’d like to take for your current work in progress. There’s no shame in either route, as long as you follow it with open eyes and an open mind.
It sounds contradictory to say “Make your book look like others of the same genre — but also make it stand out,” but that’s essentially what your goal is.
You want a cover that has more emotional impact than most, if not all, its competitors.
Otherwise, potential readers won’t get as far as your book’s sales page.
Book design doesn’t stop with the cover, though, and I hope you’ll check out other posts on Authority.Pub that cover other critical parts of your book’s creation and marketing — including interior book design (formatting), thorough editing, and staging an effective book launch.