Posted on April 23, 2019 at 9:16 AM by Guest Author

Want to know how to design a book cover that sells? We’ve provided five helpful tips on book cover design for self-published authors.

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How Book Cover Design Can Increase Sales

“A book cover is a distillation of the content, almost like what your book would look like as a haiku.”

— Chip Kidd

A big hurdle that authors — especially self-published ones — run into is determining how to design a book cover. 

There are a number of factors to take into consideration when deciding on the look of your cover, including…

  • Fonts

  • Colors

  • Images

  • Layout

And when you have to make such choices largely on your own, it can be overwhelming — so much, in fact, that you may just throw something together and push it out there, hoping that readers will take a chance on your work regardless of its exterior. 

The fact is that book cover design is an art in itself, and one wrong decision could result in your book being cast aside by a potential reader.

But on the flip side, a well-crafted book cover can take you one step closer to achieving levels of success you only dreamed of. 


A book with an attractive cover that grabs the reader’s attention is hard to resist. It demands to be given a closer look, pulling the reader in so they can learn more about the content within it.

If you can hook someone with your cover, they’ll be more likely to read the synopsis; if they read the synopsis, they’ll be more likely to purchase the book, thereby increasing your sales. 

Ultimately, it all starts with how you present your book, which is why we wanted to provide a brief guide on how to design a book cover — specifically for those with little to no outside help.

By using these tips to guide your vision, you can approach a designer knowing exactly how you want your cover to look. 

Pique the Reader’s Interest

Of course, every aspect of your book cover design should get your reader curious about your work. However, if you can intrigue your reader right off the bat, the greater your chances of reeling them in will be.

So, how do you do that?   

Don’t give away everything at once!

Your book cover should give some indication of what the content is about, but don’t assume you need to illustrate a scene from the story or put the main character front and center.

Most readers like to imagine what characters look like anyway.  

In fact, creating an imbalance of some sort can throw the reader off (in a good way), giving them no other choice but to dive further into the book to learn more.  

If you’re struggling with how to design a book cover, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. You want to grab and keep the reader’s attention, and raising questions with your cover is a great way to do that.

Just make sure you don’t stray too far from what your book is actually about, as doing so can irritate the reader when they learn that the cover doesn’t relate to the story at all. 

Conform to Genre Expectations

Now, it may seem like we’re doing a 180, but just bear with us... 

It’s true that you need to create a little suspense with your book cover design to get readers to look closer, BUT that doesn’t mean you should completely disregard your genre.

Readers want to know what category your book falls under, and your cover should reflect that. 

  • If it’s a romance novel, your cover should contain elements that incite feelings of warmth, passion, and love.   

  • If it’s a piece of science fiction, your cover should possess characteristics that relate to time, space, or technology.

  • If it’s a thriller work, your cover should include features that demonstrate mystery, suspense, and (sometimes) violence.

When thinking about how to design a book cover, remember that conforming to your genre doesn’t mean relying on clichés.

You can use your fonts, colors, images, and layout to speak to what genre your book belongs to without having to sacrifice originality.   

Choose Appropriate Fonts, Images, and Colors

When it comes to book cover design, selecting the right artistic elements is key. Each one has an impact on the overall look of your cover, which determines whether a reader will pick it up or push it aside. 

As previously mentioned, it’s in your best interest to enlist the help of a professional designer (one who understands the importance of choosing the right fonts, colors, etc.), but it’s also worth educating yourself on such elements. 


Make sure the font you select fits the type of book you’ve written. There are thousands of fonts out there, so you should have no problem finding one that lends itself well to your futuristic thriller or historical romance.

However, don’t forget that the text on your book cover will appear smaller in thumbnail images, so if you go with a decorative font, it may not be legible on a small scale. 

Further, it’s recommended to limit the fonts you use on your cover to no more than 2. Trying to mix things up by including different fonts for your title, subtitle, name, and any other text on the cover will only give it a messy, chaotic appearance.  


When looking at how to design a book cover, don’t underestimate the power of images.

Choosing an image that hints at what lies beneath the cover is a great way to engage potential readers and encourage them to look inside. The trick is to use photos or graphics that cause an emotional response. 

Is your book about man’s best friend? A minimalist image of a dog may tap into a reader’s love of animals. 

Is your book about the hunt for a serial killer? A simple graphic of black gloves may send a chill down a reader’s spine. 

Is your book about a couple’s broken marriage? A photo of a wilted wedding bouquet may resonate with a reader going through such an experience.

Moreover, be sure your designer uses high-quality images that don’t appear pixelated when they’re enlarged. 


As with fonts, you should limit the colors you choose for your book cover design to just a few. Too many shades can be distracting to a potential reader. 

Select colors that fit with the theme of your book. For example, darker shades tend to pair well with true crime novels and mysteries.

Lighter shades are better for self-help books and fun reads. However, don’t rule out using the color wheel, as complimentary colors stand out and can draw a reader’s eye. 

The good news is that a professional designer will be adept at selecting colors that pair well together and increase the aesthetic appeal of your book. 

Keep It Simple

If you’re struggling with how to design a book cover, it may help to ask yourself the following question: What should be the primary focus of the cover? 

It’s not uncommon to come across a book with an extremely busy cover — so busy, in fact, that people can’t make heads or tails of it.

And if a potential reader is hit in the fact with a cacophony of colors and graphics, they’ll likely shake their head and move on. 

That’s why it’s in your best interest to keep your cover simple. 

Pick one element to be the primary focus — be it the image or the title. Some authors even incorporate the title in the image, completing the picture and adding to the tone.

However you choose to go about it, build out that element so the eyes are drawn to it naturally. 

Further, consider playing around with white space, as you can actually use the absence of text and color to your advantage by giving the reader’s eyes a break or even creating an image out of the space itself.  

Find Good Resources

If you’re self-publishing a book, you won’t have access to the professional designers who work for big publishing houses.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t still obtain a cover that’s both aesthetically pleasing and effective at selling your book. 

  • Search online for additional tips on how to design a book cover from industry experts, using their knowledge to guide you along the way. 

  • Look at websites that allow you to connect with independent designers. Many times, you’ll have the opportunity to describe what you’re looking for and then choose the best submission.  

By taking the time to do some research, you can not only come up with a general idea of how you want your cover to look but also get help from a designer who can bring your vision to life. 


Every new author struggles with how to design a book cover. Even seasoned writers sometimes hit a snag when it comes to creating a book cover design that’s relevant to the content inside and visually appealing. 

However, if you use these tips to guide you, you’ll be able to create a solid template that a designer will then be able to transform into an attractive, eye-catching cover. 

As a result, you can look forward to higher readership and greater book sales.   

>>> Looking for other ways to improve your book’s chances of success?
Download our free 5-Step Guide to Increased Book Sales!<<<

Categories: Behind the scenes

Comments has some beautiful covers for all genres. They are very reasonably priced for the struggling author. I highly recommend them.
Theresa Parker | 5/10/19 at 8:08 AM
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