You can’t judge a book by its cover… But everyone does. That’s why it’s important that your self published book has a well designed cover that reflects what your book’s about. An eye catching book cover can actually help sell a book all on its own! Here’s how to design a cover for a self published book to help yours stand out.
How to design a cover for a self published book
A lot of people who are self publishing books are doing so on a smaller budget. That means you might not have the cash to hire a professional designer that will create a stand out book cover. Although you might not get the same results, there are still things you can do to make your book cover design better – even if you’re doing it yourself.
Here’s some design tips to make it go more smoothly, plus some ideas if you do need to outsource your self published book cover design.
Find the right software
You need some kind of graphic design software if you want to do your book cover design yourself. The top of the line for this is Photoshop or Adobe Creative Cloud, which can be tricky to use and pricey. If you have intermediate design skills, though, it’s worth considering.
Picmonkey is a paid service that’s a bit less costly and more user friendly than Photoshop. They have templates you can use as a base, too. Adobe also has Adobe Spark, which is similar to Picmonkey, and again has templates you can use.
If you need something free, Canva is your best bet. They even have book cover templates to choose from! Finally, Poster My Wall was specially created to help with book covers. Besides Photoshop, none of this software requires a high end computer to run.
One downside to using a template is that your design might look the same as someone else’s. Keep that in mind when weighing your options.
Know your sizing
Book covers need to be different sizes depending on the final product. Connect with the self publishing company you’re using to find out what size to make your book cover. If you’re going through a printer they’ll have information for sizing, bleed margins, and colors.
Printed book covers are going to need a little bit more attention than eBooks. Usually they’ll have to be designed at a higher resolution, with CMYK coloring (rather than RGB that’s used on screens), and will have to accommodate ‘bleeding’ that happens during the printing process.
Maintain good design sense
Do a bit of research on what types of elements go into good design. Focus first on the basics, like avoiding color clashes or making the test too difficult to read. You should also stay away from ‘unprofessional’ fonts like Comic Sans and Papyrus in your design.
When you choose images, pick ones that reflect your book. You want to draw readers in, but not confuse them about what the story is about. Always make sure your pictures are high resolution and don’t look grainy. Finally, ensure you have the rights to use the picture so you aren’t sued for copyright infringement.
One of the best ways to gauge the quality of your cover is to compare it to other similar books in your niche.
Include all the important information
The title of the book should be clear and easy to read on your book cover. Usually titles appear near the top of the book cover, but not always. The most important thing is that it’s obviously the title. You’ll also want to include the author’s name on there, too.
If you’re creating a cover for a physical book (one that will go to print) you’ll probably have to design the back as well. That’s where you’ll put the book’s description and a barcode. Make sure everything is legible once it’s printed.
Ask for feedback
Once you’re happy with the cover design for your self published book, ask friends and family their opinion. It can be tough to take criticism, but their feedback is going to help you in the long run. Listen to what they say and make adjustments as needed.
Questions to ask:
- What do you think this book’s about?
- Can you see/read the title?
- Is it clear who the author is?
- Can you read all the information?
- Do you see any typos or spelling errors?
- Would you pick up this book? Why or why not?
Not everyone is going to agree, so don’t dwell too hard on small details. For example, someone who doesn’t read romance won’t pick up any romance novel, not just yours.
Do a test print/run
Once you’ve designed your cover, order a test copy of your printed book to make sure everything fits properly. You should try printing on your home printer first to see if you notice anything major before spending money on a proof, though.
If your book is solely an eBook, add the cover and test it on different devices to see how it looks. Usually eBooks are more forgiving because readers will automatically adjust.
Go through your printer/self publishing house
If you’re not sure you want to do the cover design yourself a lot of self publishing houses offer this service. Especially the smaller ones that also handle the printing for you. Often their rates are included as part of a publishing package, which can help if you’re on a budget.
Hire a graphic designer
This is the most expensive way to design a cover for a self published book, but also the easiest and most professional. If your budget allows, seriously consider hiring a professional to do a custom book cover design.
You’ll be able to get exactly the look and feel you want, plus your designer can offer helpful suggestions throughout the design process. The best part? You know that no one else will have the same book cover design.
Remember, professional is king
Whether you hire it out or do it yourself, it’s vital that your self published book cover looks professional. You could have the most amazing book but it might not sell because it has a bad cover. It’s the first impression you’re giving to a potential customer. Make it a good one.
Hopefully with these tips on how to design a cover for a self published book you have some direction on how to get started so you can give your readers a perfect first impression.