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How to Make a Book Cover for Your Book: Tips and Guide

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Oct 2, 2020 • 4 min read

Have you ever browsed a bookstore, come across a beautiful book cover, and—for no other reason—picked up that book? Perhaps you even chose to purchase that book, knowing little more than that it had a great book cover. A book cover is a fantastic tool for drawing in readers, which is why everyone from indie authors to mass market traditional publishers place great emphasis on book cover design.

A good book cover won’t make your book a bestseller all by itself, but compelling covers have been shown to drive book sales, which has helped make careers in the field of professional book cover design. Even if your goal isn’t to produce a New York Times bestselling book, do put some careful thought into how your book cover looks. It’s the easiest way to make a first impression with your readers.



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Why Is a Good Book Cover Important?

A book cover serves as your first impression with potential readers—and though book covers don’t always look the same, they do tend to contain the same essential elements. Design standards may be different in the world of traditional publishing than they are in self publishing, and book cover templates for physical paper books may differ from those of the ebooks that are consumed on Kindle or an iPad—but they all serve the same purpose. Here are some of the functions a book cover serves:

  1. A book’s cover provides essential information. At its most elemental, a good cover includes a book’s title, the author’s name, the publisher, and the price.
  2. A good cover offers clues about your book’s content and tone. Your cover design indicates whether your book is a work of high-minded literary fiction, a pulpy page turner, or a compelling work of non-fiction
  3. A front cover reveals a book’s genre. You can usually tell if you’re holding a thriller, a memoir, a sci-fi epic, or a nineteenth century classic just by looking at a book’s cover art and typography.
  4. A back cover offers broader context. It may feature quotes from reviewers and fellow authors. Softcover books may contain a plot summary or author biography on the back; those summaries and bios are typically moved to the inner flaps of a hardcover book.

How to Hire a Professional Book Cover Designer

Book covers are marketing materials, and a well-designed professional cover can make your book stand out among the competition. If you want someone with expertise in the realm of cover design to work on your book, you may want to hire a professional book cover designer. Here are some steps to consider when hiring creatives to design your book cover:

  • Hire a cover artist. A cover artist produces the cover art and imagery that will appear on your book cover, either on their own or with heavy input from an author or publisher.
  • Hire a graphic designer. Certain graphic designers specialize in layout; they incorporate cover art that you provide them—whether that’s an original illustration, photograph, or even a stock image—into the overall design of the cover.
  • Find a cover designer online. Reedsy is one of a number of online resources for independent authors, self-publishers, and anyone connected to the world of books. Many professional book designers list their services on Reedsy.
  • Use your personal network. Seek out writers’ groups, either locally or on Facebook. In these groups, people share professional referrals and help support one another when a member has a new book in the works. A group of like-minded individuals can be an invaluable resource when creating your own book cover for the first time.
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How to Design a Book Cover Yourself

If you don’t have the budget for a pro designer or just have a DIY itch you want to scratch, it is easier than ever to design your own book cover. While it may not be quite as rudimentary as when you covered your textbooks in a brown paper bag back in fifth grade, modern technology has made cover image design accessible to anyone with a computer. Here are some tips:

  1. Use a template. There are numerous websites that offer book cover templates and step-by-step tutorials covering basic cover design skills. Some even have a free book cover creator tool, along with cover ideas, design tips, pre-made design templates, and digital cover image tools.
  2. Use standard design software. Book covers can also be made using standard home computing software including Photoshop, Microsoft Word, and even (with a little sweat equity) Google Docs. This is particularly easy if you are importing a pre-made cover image from another source.
  3. Make a prototype. The process for assembling a book is straightforward and satisfying. If you want to test out how your book will appear in print, you can learn to bind a copy yourself.


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