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How to Design a Book Cover

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

A book cover can make or break your book. Your book cover is your sales pitch to the world. Most people will pick a book off the shelf (real or virtual) purely based upon the cover. Yup, we are literally, rightly or wrongly, judging a book by the cover…

white paint being painted on a turquoise background
Design a Book Cover

It needs to be eye catching but it also needs to represent your book honestly and not mislead readers. There is no point in your book cover being amazing but attracting the wrong audience. This could lead to bad reviews or low page reads on kindle unlimited.

The next step in a customer’s journey is the wording and back cover description and we’ll cover that in a separate blog post.

So, what options do you have when designing your book cover?

Do it yourself

Of course, DIY is always an option for everything in life!

Before starting your book cover design, I would recommend researching other book covers in your genre. Pay attention to the:

  • Quality

  • Typography (fonts and letter styling)

  • Image types/styles

  • Design layout

  • Additional wording used

Search for the best seller in your category – that’s always a good place to start. Obviously don’t copy someone else’s work but you can get some great inspiration from Amazon on what makes a good eye-catching book cover.

Write down what you like/what looks good and aim to include these aspects in your cover.

For example, maybe you love the way they’ve used special typography to make the book title jump out of the page. So, search for some 3D fonts and have a play around with how they look.

If you’re a writer, I'm sure you have that creative streak within you. So if you have time, see what you can come up with. There are some great accessible programs out there that you can use to help you.

Programs available

There are a many different programs you can use to create your own book cover masterpiece but here are our top 4:

  • Canva

  • Adobe InDesign

  • Adobe Illustrator

  • Adobe Photoshop


One of the top and most user-friendly programs to use currently is Canva.

Canva is like Adobe Photoshop for beginners.

Canva Cover Design Example
Canva Cover Design Example

You can create some really great graphics in Canva using photos, stock images and various creative fonts and filters. There are even book cover templates you can use to give you a starting point and some inspiration. However, I would strongly recommend that if you do choose to use a cover template, edit and recreate it so it’s not recognisable as a generic template! Imagine going on Amazon and seeing your exact book cover from Canva had already been used by a different author…

Canva Cover Design Example
Canva Cover Design Example

If you have a bit of artistic flare, Canva can help you create some beautiful designs. You can even upload your own fonts and photos. You can use overlays,

shadows and different textures to make your designs “pop”. Canva takes very little help to get started with minimal tutorials required and you can probably create a good book cover design in a couple of hours. Within this section are some examples of some simple eye-catching covers that you can create using Canva.

Canva is free! However, you get limited access to fonts and images with the free version. The graphics that are included in the paid version are much better and they are displayed all over the free version, like forbidden treasures, to tempt you in. The paid version is currently £10.99

a month which might be worth investing

in if you plan to make a number of book covers.

Canva Cover Design Example
Canva Cover Design Example

Remember, you can also use Canva as a tool for graphics creation to help with

your book promotion and author

branding. It is an amazing program for social media content design. You can create Instagram templates, Facebook banners and even your own logo.

Adobe InDesign, Illustrator & Photoshop

Adobe products are designed to be a graphic-designers go-to tools. They are the market leading one-stop-shop. But as with anything, the tool is only as good as the person using it. You could give anyone off the street the right materials to build a house, but if they didn’t possess the knowledge or skills to build a house, it will look awful, be structurally unsound and probably fall down. So here are some things to think about before you assume that purchasing an Adobe product is going to result in the production of an epic bestselling book cover.

Let me start by saying that Adobe products are not free. You do get free trials, but ultimately these products will individually set you back £19.97 per month. The whole Adobe Creative Cloud Apps package costs £51.98 per month, which considering each separate program is approximately £20 per month, I suppose is a reasonable deal. But only if you intend on using them all. Regularly.

The other drawback is you will need to spend time learning how to use them. As with all Adobe packages, they are not particularly user-friendly and are designed for professionals who have been trained to use these specific products day in, day out. They are not really for hobbyists or people who plan on creating one design a year.

Having said all this, you can create some beautiful designs on InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop if you know how to use them. So, if you are looking to invest, make sure you also devote enough time to spend learning how to use it to its ultimate potential. Otherwise, you will have wasted your money.

InDesign is probably the most tailored for creating book covers, as well as book layouts and interiors. Some designers have said they prefer Illustrator purely for the fluidity of the programs. Illustrator gives the user the ability to upload their own personal artwork to really create a bespoke design. But if your drawing skills are lousy, then this might not be the best choice for you! Photoshop is a more complex version of Canva but in return, you will find you have more flexibility and manoeuvrability within your design and be able to work with a lot more accuracy. In comparison, the inaccuracy of Canva can be infuriating!

The end result of graphics produced with Photoshop will be much more detailed.

So, without going too much into the detail, hopefully the above points should give you something to think about and research further. You can then decide for yourself which is the best option for you if you do decide to go down the DIY route.

Some other book cover design programs you can also check out are:

  • Visme (Free)

  • Blurb BookWright (Free)

  • GIMP (Free)

  • Affinity Publisher (Paid)

If you decide you would rather get a cover designed for you, read our blog post about Hiring a Freelancer to make sure you hire the right person and don’t end up getting ripped off. You can read here about the costs associated with getting your cover designed for you.

We also offer a standalone book cover design service. See examples from our book cover portfolio here.

You can also download our FREE eBook which will tell you everything you need to know about completely self-publishing your book. Click Here to access.

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