Friday, November 4, 2016

How Do You Design a Cover?

Even if you’re published by a publisher they usually ask about how you visualize your cover.  You feel out the form but it doesn’t always look like you hoped.

And if you self publish you find a cover artist and fill out a form and they design a cover. At least now you have a little more control.

When you think about a cover what do you include?

Here are tips from Writer Digest

 1.The title should be big and easy to read. This is more important than ever. (Many people will first encounter your cover on a screen, not on a shelf.) This is such a well-worn cliche of cover design that I have a designer friend with a Facebook photo album called “Make the Title Bigger.”

2.   Don’t forget to review a thumbnail image of the cover. Is the cover compelling at a small size? More people are buying books on a Kindle or mobile device, so you want the cover to read clearly no matter where it appears. You should also anticipate what the cover looks like in grayscale.

3.   Do not use any of the following fonts (anywhere!): Comic Sans or Papyrus. These fonts are only acceptable if you are writing a humor book, or intentionally attempting to create a design that publishing professionals will laugh at.
4.   No font explosions! (And avoid special styling.) Usually a cover should not use more than 2 fonts. Avoid the temptation to put words in caps, italics caps, outlined caps, etc. Do not “shape” the type either.

5.   Do not use your own artwork, or your children’s artwork, on the cover. There are a few rare exceptions to this, but let’s assume you are NOT one of them. It’s almost always a terrible idea.

6.   Do not use cheap clip art on your cover. I’m talking about the stuff that comes free with Microsoft Word or other cheap layout programs. Quality stock photography is OK. (iStockPhoto is one reliable source for quality images.) 

7.   Do not stick an image inside a box on the cover. I call this the “T-shirt” design. It looks extremely amateurish.

8.   Avoid gradients. It’s especially game-over if you have a cover with a rainbow gradient.

9.   Avoid garish color combinations. Sometimes such covers are meant to catch people’s attention. Usually, it just makes your book look freakish.

Bonus tip: No sunrise photos, no sunset photos, no ocean photos, no fluffy clouds.
And if you’re designing a series make the covers have a similar style, recognizable to your reader. See mine below.

Also, make the cover appropriate for the country where you’re selling your book.



  1. Great tips, which is why I use someone else to do mine. I'm not good at it!

  2. I totally agree. And that's why I hire someone to do mine, too.