The Complete Guide to Book Cover Design for Authors

The Complete Guide to Book Cover Design for Authors

The Complete Guide to Book Cover Design for Authors

Everything you need to know about book cover design!


When it comes to your book cover design, you have two options. Do your novel cover design yourself or hire a professional book cover designer who provides cover design services.

While, as authors, we would like to believe that customers don’t judge a book by the cover, especially our own book, it’s unfortunately true. According to WordsRated, there are approximately 11,000 books being published each day. Can you afford not to invest in the cover of your book?

Luckily, as an Australian author, you have book and cover options available. Regardless of whether you’re a self-published author or not, a professional book cover could set your book apart from the rest.

If you have tried to design your own book cover, and DIY book cover isn’t cutting it, hiring a professional book cover designer specializing in book front cover design or ebook cover design is a great choice.

There’s no shame in admitting that your DIY cover design skills aren’t up to scratch. After all, you invest so much in your book, including professional editing and book formatting, it would be a shame if your book front cover design let you down.

At Author Services Australia, we provide a full range of professional cover design services tailored for Australian and New Zealand self-published authors. Don’t hesitate to contact us today for a quote on affordable cover design services for your next fantasy book cover, paperback cover, ebook cover,

In the complete guide to book and cover design, we’ll be covering the following topics including:


As An Author, Can You Design Your Book Cover Yourself?

Of course, you can design your own book cover. If you’re a self-published author with a tight budget and a strong background in graphic design, then a DIY book cover design is definitely an option worth considering.

However, the cover of your book is your ultimate marketing tool. If your book cover isn’t perfect, you’ll directly impact book sales. Less book sales equals fewer book royalties, which means less money to invest in marketing or the production of your next book.

If you’re not 100% confident in your graphic design skills, we strongly recommend investing some money in a cover design artist. You wouldn’t go for budget editing or formatting, so why try to cut corners with the most significant marketing asset your book has?


What Does Your Novel Cover Design Tell Readers?

Great book covers send a clear message and answer potential readers’ questions. A beautiful book cover should answer the following questions:

          • What genre is the book?
          • Is it a non-fiction or fiction book?
          • What is the age category of the novel?
          • Generally speaking, what’s the book about?
          • Is it a professional book, or does it look self-published?

The following are essential tips to remember when planning your book cover.

Always be honest. Work out the best marketable components or elements of your novel, and then display them on your front cover. If it’s a romance book based on firefighters, then a shirtless fireman on the front cover is a good representation of the novel.

Don’t mislead potential readers. If your book is about zombies, but you know dragons are popular, don’t put a dragon on the front cover. While you may experience a bump in sales at the start, that will be quickly offset by a bunch of negative reviews after readers get annoyed there are no dragons.

Some excellent programs exist if you’re committed to designing your own book cover. Reedsy did a great article on different book cover design programs, along with their pros and cons. However, even the best program is hard to use and can’t replace decades of experience making professional covers.

Another potential use for these programs is as a tool to create a draft design to give to your cover designer. They’re great for coming up with cover design concepts. Even if you can’t pull the design together, it will be an excellent way to show your designer what you’re looking for.


Book Cover Design Information You’ll Need To Know!

Before we look at the 7 essential steps you need to know to create a professional novel cover design, there’s some information that you need to collect.

Does the book’s genre have an established book cover style?

The principal fiction genres include romance, science fiction, fantasy, horror, and thriller. When you look at a few books within these genres, you’ll start to identify specific characteristics that these covers all use within the same genre. Of course, there will be exceptions to the rule, but the majority will stick to a similar style.

Ultimately, your goal is to sell books. So, if you want to sell books in a competitive genre such as romance, your book cover will need to fall within the general style of the genre. The trick here is to embrace the genre but find unique ways to ensure your cover stands out.

Romance Covers Example - Amazon KDP

Suppose you look at the covers above, taken from the romance category on Amazon KDP. In that case, you’ll notice that most covers stick with the same general theme of an attractive man or woman and a straightforward typography with a photo background.

Science Fiction Cover Examples - Amazon KDP

When we check out these best-selling fantasy books, we start to see their similarities. While two are by the same author, you can clearly see that the first three are fantasy books based on style and design.

So, you can see that while it’s always good to think outside the box and come up with something unique and exciting, you need to remember the general style of your genre if you want to attract readers of your genre.


Where are you planning on selling your book?

Where you plan on selling your book will play a massive role in your decisions during your book cover design process. If you’re planning on going ebook only, then you’re only going to be concerned with the front cover design.

If people are only looking at your book online, as a small thumbnail in most cases, the text needs to be a little larger and more eye-catching. Print books have a little more room for movement because if someone’s picking your book up in a bookstore, they’ll be looking at all aspects of the cover.


The Book Format

What format is your book going to be? Ebook, print, or both? If you’re planning on doing a print version, then start thinking about different trim sizes. While Amazon KDP and IngramSpark are the biggest self-publishing platforms, and both offer Print-On-Demand (POD) and share some trim sizes, typically IngramSpark has a bigger selection. You can learn more about Print-On-Demand here.

While ebooks are all essentially one size and format, you have a few options with print formats. You can choose from paperback, hardcover, or casebound. Hardcover or hardback books can be produced with or without a dust jacket.

Think a lot about book size. The smaller the book, the more pages, and while a big book can look better, it will also have fewer pages and a smaller spine.


The Book Cover Copy or Text

Your book’s cover copy will include the front copy, back copy, blurb/description, author bio/photo, and any endorsements you get from readers or other authors.


Book Cover Graphics

These could be your publishing logo, company logo, and barcodes where your ISBN is displayed. If you’re an Australian author and want to learn more about ISBNs, including where to get them, check out this article, Do I Need An ISBN In Australia?


Your Cover Design Budget

Get a clear idea from your cover designer what the total cost for your cover design will be, including any additional costs that could arise. At Author Services Australia, our cover design services are fixed price, with no extra costs unless the project scope is changed.

We include two design concepts: ebook cover, paperback cover (if ordered), covers for multiple self-publishing platforms, and promotional ebook and paperback mockups of your cover.


7 Essential Steps For Creating A Professional Novel Cover Design!

Now that you have your information ready, it’s time to begin the cover design process. The more you understand about great book covers, the easier it will be to design cool book covers for yourself.

Parts of a Book - Credit Book Printing

One. Understanding the Different Cover Elements

As you can see from the image above, courtesy of Book Printing, your book cover has three main parts: a front cover, a back cover, and a spine that connects these two elements. Your paperback book is the economy version of your print book. The hardcover or hardback is where you can incorporate a lot more fancy elements to make a beautiful book cover.

Two. Research Your Potential Market

Here are some tips. Genres will sell a lot better in paperback, while thrillers, biographies, and literary fiction do well in hardcovers. If it’s the kind of book a reader will take with them on a trip, like a plane, it needs to be a paperback and compact. Libraries love hardcovers.

If most of your genre publishes in paperback format and prices their books $14.99-19.99, then a hardcover priced at $29.99 isn’t going to be competitive.

Three. Focus On One Design Direction for Your Book Cover Ideas

While it’s easy to get side-tracked with a lot of book cover ideas, great book covers pick a design direction and stick with it. If you love a cover, take a photo of it and establish which parts of the design you love and why. Keep a collection of beautiful book covers as inspiration. Make notes about what you love and hate and why you think different elements work together.

Four. Establish What the Book Cover Needs to Emphasize

When you’re looking at the cover, understand what you’re trying to emphasize and what role that will play in your author’s marketing plan. Is it the typography, a logo, an image, the colors, or perhaps the location? Your cover design elements should be carried through your marketing plan, and the two should be instantly recognizable.

If you’re planning on creating a series, then how will this cover work as part of the series? It’s never too late to go back and change the cover, but if you start the design process with a series of books in mind, it’ll make it a lot easier later down the road.

Five. Choosing Your Cover Fonts and Images

Narrowing down a style and font for a cover can be a challenge. You may not realize how hard it will be to simply ‘pick a font’ for your cover until you start. When choosing fonts, pick fonts suitable to the period your book is set in. A modern font on a historical fiction set hundreds of years ago isn’t going to work.

Your cover could include illustrations, photographs, cartoons, pure typography, or an abstract design. If your book is set in Los Angeles, then a Hollywood skyline works well. However, if it’s not, then it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

When using any stock images, remember everyone has access to the same images. If you choose a common stock image, you can find it on other book covers.

Six. Get Feedback from Beta Readers, Friends, and Other Authors

Sometimes, the perfect book cover, or even a beautiful book cover, isn’t perfect for the book it was designed for. Don’t be afraid to get feedback, but be careful how you send your book cover and who you send it to. The last thing you want is for your upcoming book to leak before you’re ready to share it yourself.

A simple feedback form is a great way to determine what potential readers may think or feel when they see your book cover.

Seven. Find Out What Your Printer Needs

Before you start laying out the cover, check with your printer on what size specifications they need, including trim. It’s no use laying out the cover and getting everything placed perfectly if you then have to adjust to allow for trim and bleed during the printing process.


Ebook Cover Design Size and Dimension Requirements

If you’re just doing an ebook cover design, you have a little more flexibility with sizing. However, there are still size requirements for your ebook digital cover. It’s all about choosing the right width-to-height ratio.

Different platforms, including Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and IngramSpark Publishing, have different ebook cover size requirements.

Ebook Cover Sizes for Self-Publishing PlatformsAbove is a chart that shows the recommended dimensions and sizes of ebook covers for the most popular ebook self-publishing platforms.

Amazon KDP gives you a lot of flexibility with the ratios on their ebook covers. Their only big cover requirement is that one size of the image be at least 1000 pixels long. Their recommended ebook cover ratio size is 1.6:1. Below is a table showing some comparison images.

Amazon KDP Ebook Cover Design Sizes and RatiosIt’s essential to choose the best cover ratio for your book. If you’re self-publishing a children’s book, the 1:1 ratio often makes a good choice because it accurately represents your children’s book’s square trim size (8.5 x 8.5).


Expert Tips, Tricks, and Information About Creating the Best Book Covers!

Below are some critical cover design tips recommended by experts for anyone considering designing their own book cover:

        1. Sneak Peek – Always try to give potential readers a sneak peek of what they should expect to discover when they read your book. Please don’t give away the whole plot, but let them know when they see your great book cover what to expect when they read it.
        2. Genre – Try to indicate what genre your book is to potential readers with your novel cover design. A reader should be able to instantly see from a beautiful book cover what genre the book is.
        3. Know Your Audience – Understand who your target audience is and what they’re typically purchasing. If you know what those covers look like, you can replicate some of the elements in your design.
        4. Set the Tone – Use a beautiful or cool cover design to set the tone for the rest of your book.
        5. Don’t Ignore Small Details – Cool book covers are all about the small details. The best book covers never ignore the small details.
        6. Rules – Rules are meant to be broken, but not in all cases. Please pay attention to the cover design process we set out above. Don’t skip steps. Don’t send mixed messages with your cover.
        7. Think About the Future – If you’re planning on releasing a book series, remember that when you are designing the first cover. You need to be able to carry through elements from each cover as you progress through your book series.
        8. Consider Hiring A Professional – If you get overwhelmed or are not blown away by your DIY cover design, consider hiring a professional cover designer. At Author Services Australia, we provide a full range of professional cover design services tailored for Australian and New Zealand self-published authors. Don’t hesitate to contact us today for a quote on affordable cover design services.


Working with a Professional Cover Design Artist, Tips, and FAQs

If you are considering hiring a professional cover designer or creating your own book cover, we’ll go through some of the pros and cons of working with a cover designer and some tips to make the process a little smoother.

Just because you’re a self-published author, it doesn’t mean that you need to cut corners when it comes to the design of your cover, and it shouldn’t prevent you from having a beautiful book cover that looks cool and sells more books.

Pros of Creating Your Own Book Cover

  • 100% Creative Freedom
  • Freedom to Experiment and Explore
  • Cheaper

Cons of Creating Your Own Book Cover

  • Lower Quality Cover
  • Potentially Lower Sales
  • Cover Design that Looks Self-Published

However, if you have graphic design experience or cover design experience, the cons to creating your own book cover aren’t going to be the same.


Working with a Professional Cover Designer FAQs

Should I have some idea of what I want my book cover to look like before I start the cover design process?

Yes! The more ideas you can give your cover designer, the better. However, don’t overwhelm them, and give them some room to interpret your ideas and add their own creativity.

If we have a client that is already 100% determined to have a specific cover design, I always recommend letting the designer create one draft to those specifications and then one using their creativity. You’d be surprised what another opinion can come up with!

Should I give the cover designer my blurb/synopsis?

Yes! A blurb/description/synopsis is a great way to give your cover designer a snapshot of your book.

How much will a professional cover design cost?

The average price for a professional cover design package ranges between $500 and $2000. However, there are also freelance cover design services that charge less, and pre-made covers are available for about $150-250.

What are the advantages of hiring a professional cover designer to create a great book cover for my novel?

You’ll receive a professional cover design that looks amazing, is sized correctly, sells more books, and can be directly used for your author marketing and social media.


The Complete Guide to Cover Design for Authors – Conclusion

As you can see, a lot goes into a book cover. However, if you want to create a best-selling book, you need the best book cover to put on the front of it.

Your book cover is a significant part of your book and can directly influence your sales and also play an essential role in your author marketing and social media. So, don’t take shortcuts. If you think a professional cover design service could create a better cover, go for it! Invest in yourself and your book. It’s worth it.

Our friendly and professional team at Author Services Australia is happy to help! Need help with self-publishing, such as ghostwriting,  editingformatting, cover design, or manuscript uploading? Our experienced team is standing by!

If you need any assistance with author marketing or social media, please don’t hesitate to reach out and contact us directly.

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