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How to Make a Cover for a Book


The content of a book is critically important to the reader’s enjoyment of it. Before a reader even gets to the first line of a book, however, they will be looking at its cover. The right cover will entice readers to pick up the book to see what it is about. The wrong cover will cause a potential reader to ignore the book and look for something else.

You obviously want someone to pick up your book. That means you’re going to want to know how to make a cover for a book that’s enticing, especially if you are thinking about self-publishing. Here are some of the components the best book covers tend to have.

#1. Make your title as easy to read as possible.

Maybe the title of your book doesn’t have to look like the large-print edition of a Reader’s Digest issue, but it does need to be noticeable. This is because most people today will encounter a thumbnail image of your book cover first. Shelf discoveries are become rarer every day. So rule #1 will always be this: make your title bigger.

#2. Review your thumbnail image before proceeding.

A cover must be compelling, no matter what the size of it may be. Before you proceed with the publication of your cover, make sure to personally review the final thumbnail image of it. A potential reader should be able to understand the message of your cover even if it is teeny-tiny.

#3. Fonts matter.

There are some really great fonts out there today. You can add a lot of ambiance and personality to a book when you use a unique font. There are also some fonts that make it difficult for some readers to understand what your title actually says. Think about the personality of your book and then choose a font for your title and byline that reflects the message you’re trying to convey.

#4. Clip art, public domain art, or royalty-free images are a no-no.

You might also want to add “your own artwork” to this step, but that isn’t always true. Original images and graphic designs are almost always the best way to go when it comes to designing the cover for your book. Choose artwork that also reinforces the atmosphere and mood of your book so that a prospective reader gets a glimpse of the emotional roller coaster you’re about to put them on.

#5. The frame within a frame look is out.

Have you noticed how some books create a frame within the cover image? It’s like those old clip-art frames that were on the first versions of Windows in the 1990s. Images inside of a frame or box on the cover of a novel do not generally create an attractive marketing image. Sometimes simple is better. A solid color cover with title and byline may be just as effective.

#6. Let someone else design your cover if you can.

Even those who work as a professional designer will often hire someone to create their cover. Authors tend to have a bit of a personal bias when it comes to their work [and understandably so], but that also tends to create an unintended message to potential readers that can be off-putting. Let someone else put their creative spin on the cover and you may be surprised by the results you receive.

#7. Colors matter.

There are some color combinations that just don’t work well together. Sometimes garish colors can attract the attention of a reader, but that doesn’t mean it creates a positive first impression. Some color combinations can even be almost painful when you see them. So use complimentary colors whenever possible for your book cover to achieve the best possible results.

#8. Gradients should be avoided whenever possible.

A background color gradient can be effective for some covers if it is used for the background. If the color gradient is being used to colorize the font, then you have a different story. Rainbow gradients are your worst case scenario and should be avoided at all costs. Linear gradients in the background are usually the best option if one has to be used.

#9. Be straightforward.

Most book covers have just one font being used. At most, you may see one font for the title and byline, with a second used for a secondary title or tag line. Using more fonts than that creates reader confusion. Shaping your fonts is also not a good idea in most circumstances.

Knowing how to make a cover for a book often means hiring someone to do this job for you. Focus on the book and let someone else focus on the artwork. If you do want to tackle this task on your own, then follow these steps during your creative process for the best possible results.

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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