What to Consider When Designing Your Book Cover

authors header image

Explore Author Services

You may have just written the most brilliant book ever, but few people will pick it up if the cover design isn’t appealing. Yes, we’re all told not to judge a book by its cover, but everyone does—a well-designed cover can arouse intense interest in your book, while an ugly and lackluster cover can turn away people who would have been interested in the plot. 

Whether your book is on a shelf in a brick-and-mortar shop or in a virtual bookstore like Amazon, total cover design matters because it can mean the difference between a potential buyer lingering to read your blurb or moving on to the next book.

Your book cover has to convey the genre and the kind of story you’re telling while grabbing the reader’s attention in the split second it takes for their eyes to flit over it. If the cover doesn’t allude to what’s inside or sends the wrong message, you could be setting yourself up for failure, which is why we suggest hiring a professional to design your book cover. Even if you think you know exactly what you want, unless you’re a design expert yourself, you should leave your book cover to the professionals because, honestly, most people suck at design. 

First impressions

Romance, literature, sci-fi, YA—they all have their specific aesthetic, and although you want to be creative and original, you don’t want to stray too far from the conventions of your genre. Readers have certain expectations for the type of design they’re looking for and will skip right past yours if it doesn’t fit that style. 

Even if you’ve written the best book in the world, it’ll never be discovered if it’s hiding behind a poorly designed cover. You should have a cover that easily communicates the genre and atmosphere of your book even before the prospective reader sees the title or the blurb. You want your cover to be trendy, attractive, and recognizable without being trite, which is why it’s important to study comparable titles and understand their essential design characteristics. 

Title and font choice

The only thing that will matter as much as the overall design of your cover is your title. Obviously, it has to be catchy and sufficiently intriguing to pique the interest of the reader because they’ll judge your book on its combination of cover and title. 

The font you choose must also be easy to read even in thumbnail size and match your genre. Think about it: You wouldn’t buy a children’s book that uses a font associated with horror or a political biography with a decidedly fantasy-like font, right? Basically, you want a reader to be able to correctly guess what kind of book they’re holding when they see your cover.

A busy cover

A busy cover might draw a potential reader’s attention at first, but too many design and narrative elements can also put them off because it can feel confusing and overpowering. The rule in design is “less is more” because simpler designs that home in on particular motifs are more impactful. For this reason, it’s best to choose one element that conveys the most important aspect of the story or theme rather than try to stuff everything on the cover. Also, a more sparse cover will look better as an online thumbnail. You may be able to get away with a busy cover in certain genres, but you have to truly know what you’re doing.

High image quality 

Nothing says “amateur” quite like a poor-quality image on your cover, which is why having a high-quality one is key to making your book look professional. Just like your font choice and design, the type of image you choose has to fit the genre, style, and narrative of your book, be appealing, and look well thought-out. 

The actual size of the image matters as well since your cover must render well in both low and high resolutions. Larger-sized images are necessary for print books and eReaders, but you also want the image to be discernible at a small scale, so check that the one you’ve chosen works in every size. 

A professional cover designer will be aware of all these elements and unwritten rules about genre, style, and font choices, and they will work with you to ensure the best outcome for your book. Since readers tend to choose books based on the cover, hiring a professional to do your full book cover is a worthy investment. Maybe you already have a solid grasp of what you want yours to look like, or maybe you have no idea what cover is right for your book. In either case, an expert can help. To take your cover design to the next level, check out our book cover design services

Explore Author Services