The creative guide to designing your own book cover

A book cover is like an advertisement for your book. Its main job is to pique people’s interests and make them go for ‘the Blurb’. The cover may not influence the buyer to buy your book, but, it will definitely make them pick it right off the shelf. It is a pity, that many great books are let down by their covers. How many times have you not picked up a product because of its bad packaging? The same goes for books as well. A Book Cover is not used to enhance your book’s appeal but is there to attract people to your book. That is why it is paramount to using well-designed and attractive book covers. Most authors like to be involved in the designing of the cover. Self-publishing authors, especially have the freedom to design their own book covers.

There is no dearth of tutorials online that takes you through the designing process, step by step. But we are going to be discussing a far more important aspect: Getting the right Cover. Getting a cover that relates to the story of the book is very important. Unfortunately or fortunately, we live in a world, where people do judge a book by its cover. But when a cover works, it becomes a strong identifier for the book. Don’t believe us? Read our info graphic on a study about how important a book cover is in the book buying process.

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Here, we are going to be discussing the most famous styles of book covers that you can use for your book.


    Abstract covers have been the most popular style so far. The major challenge is, capturing abstract ideas into a book cover. This is where photography plays a major role. It is very helpful in conveying abstract ideas. The cover attached below, is a great example for an abstract cover. The book by Derek Raymond deals with an investigator, who solves crimes. But the book cover does not give away the genre of the book. The sense of not knowing what’s inside makes people pick the book up. The book cover features a photo of crockery breaking, which can be related to grief. Designing an abstract book cover is not just challenging, butalso very interesting. The challenge here is to design a cover that reflects the story but does not follow the regular cliché of the particular genre. Think of couples, holding hands on a romantic novel or a man with a gun on a murder mystery. This is where abstract images are quite helpful, they help you in conveying feelings and emotions pictorially. These kinds of covers work really well for most genres, especially surrealism.

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    (Courtesy: How the Dead Live
    By Derek Raymond, Artist: Christopher King)


    The all-time favorite of designers and authors alike. Graphic art on the cover of a book is the most desired, for the simple reason that you can custom design it. Most authors do not prefer faces on the cover of their books, as they do not want to give a face to the character. The authors often feel that it should be a part of reading experience, creating the character in your minds and must not be imposed. The second most important reason that graphic art works really well is because it is very futuristic and stands out from the hoards of covers that you see. The cover attached below is for a book called “How to speak at public Events” and is a very funny and a quirky take on the common advice to mastering Public Speaking: pretending that the audience is in their underwear. But what happens is usually the opposite. This funny pixel-based cover was designed by Alister MacInnes. The bright color and the funny illustration makes the book, stand out from all the other books. What is really interesting is, there is no title on the cover as the picture itself is self-explanatory. These type of covers work really well for most genres, especially children’s books, and Sci-Fi.

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    (Courtesy: How to speak at public Events
    Artist: Alister MacInnes)


    Photographs and vector arts are not the only styles that you can use for your books. The much-loved style is using original, hand-drawn sketches on the cover. This is that one style that has made a comeback of sorts. Before Illustrators and Photoshop became popular, artists used to sketch and use them as the cover for their books. The Iconic cover of ‘The Great Gatsby’ is one such example. Published in 1925 this book is a much-loved classic. The cover is so striking, that it has become a visual brand for the book. In the recent times, The Fault in Our Stars is one such cover that is enchanting and at the same time, easy to reproduce. It is quite simple to illustrate your Painting on paper and take high-res scans and convert it to a book cover. Designed by Rodrigo Corral, the cover is much loved by all. The reason that most authors choose this style is because; it’s unique to their book. Another reason being, there is a sense of antiquity and novelty to this style that is hard to explain. This works really well for books in Fiction to bring out the imaginary aspect to it.

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    (Courtesy: The Fault in our Stars                                                                        (Courtesy: The Great Gatsby
    Artist: Rodrigo Corral)                                                                                                         Artist: Francis Cugat)


    Fantastic typography on book covers can really help catch a reader’s eye. We have seen a huge number of books carrying Typography on their covers in the recent times. The reason that this style is a favorite is because, when you use typography on the cover, you are letting the reader’s create their own imagery about the book. This is a great style for DIY book covers, as this does not require any specific skill. You just need to know to appreciate the different kinds of typefaces and choose the one that best suits the genre of your book. A book on Romance or historical fiction needs to have a typeface with more emotion, whereas, Non-fiction needs to be more serious and less dreamy than, their fictional counterparts. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert has one such interesting typography on the face of the book. The book is about a woman who travels to three different destinations to find meaning in her life. The cover, designed by Helen Yentus, brilliantly represents the story. Her first few months in Italy is represented by the word ‘Eat’ depicted by the pasta. Her next few months in India is depicted by the prayer beads and her last word is spelled out in flowers, as she finds love in Indonesia.

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    (Courtesy: Eat, Pray, Love
    Artist: Helen Yentus)


    When you need a specific cover that is specific to your book, maybe something that depicts one part of the book, finding a picture online and using it is not going to work. For example, In the case of a book like, Memoirs of Geisha, you need a cover that has a photograph of Geisha. An illustration might work, but a photograph elicits a strong reaction than an illustration in the case of a biography like this. So, in that case, customized photo is what you need. But a photo shoot might be a costly option. Our unique Photo Request option is custom made for this. You can create a request, describing the theme and the price for the images, and choose and pay only for the pictures that suit you. Currently, we have a request up for Art Images from Japan. You can check out our request option by following the link:

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    (Courtesy: Memoirs of a Geisha
    Author: Arthur Golden)

Now, after reading the blog, we know that we subconsciously judge a book by its cover and make an assumption even before reading it. But, on a final note, a book cover is never an add-on. It is the first thing that people look at, and for that reason, it must be impressive. The one thing to understand about book covers is that it acts as an ambassador and drives people to buy your book. With our guide to designing your own book cover, we are sure you can design an impressive cover for your book. Did we miss out on your favorite book cover? Let us know what you think. We would love to hear what you have got to say.


One thought on “The creative guide to designing your own book cover

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