How to tips for designing your book cover

Every day I learn more and more about what it takes to launch a book. 

Writing the story is just the beginning.

Even if you can afford a cover designer, the decision regarding the final visual product is yours. That’s a heavy responsibility.

That first impression can get a reader to stop, click and buy. First impressions are very important.

Should you design your book to blend with what you see on the bookshelf at Barnes & Noble? Or do you want your book to stand out from the crowd?


We all want our book to be eye-catching. To make the shopper, whether on Amazon or in a brick and mortar bookstore stop and look. And of course, hopefully, buy.

But there is a fine line I think in between something unique or something bizarre. The same with copying the latest trends in book covers. We run the risk of coming off too trendy if we mimic other authors.

So, with or without a designer, where do you start? As with any story, research.

  • Check out other books in your genre, on the Best Seller Lists (all of them).
  • Look at books by your favorite readers. What do you like, or dislike about those covers?
  • Consider the books that are in ebook and print form.

I fall in the DIY camp. It takes a lot more time and effort but can be done.

Like a cook, making a recipe handed down from her grandmother, I add a pinch of or dash of the following to bake up a beautiful (hopefully) cover:

  • An Illustrator located through a referral from a local writers group.
  • Free image editor (similar to Adobe) Sumo Paint
  • Adjust image size as needed (ie 300 dpi) with  by Windows 
  • Use ebook template to size and adjust book template with
  • For additional images free of copyrights I like and 

Trendy or Unique?

I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. Just like each book and each story, it’s yours. Do the research and it your way! 

Check out Jo Robinson’s post on book covers.


What do you think? Trendy or Unique? Have you designed your own book cover? Are you in the midst of designing a cover? What programs or websites do you prefer to use to get the job done?

Tell me your thoughts in the comments section.

You can find me on Twitter @jeancogdell, Facebook at jean.cogdell and, stop by and say hey! Please remember to with a click and share this post with your Twitter peeps and Facebook fans.

23 thoughts on “How to tips for designing your book cover

  1. Thank you, Jean, for very solid advice. I am also in the DIY category. I’ve been creating my own covers since 2014. I purchased templates from Book Cover Ninjas and also belong to their facebook group where we can post our creations and receive feedback on improvements. I use Adobe Photoshop which the templates come in and you can also get the files for Adobe Elements. I downloaded both sets because I have both programs but I normally work in Photoshop. I belong to and get most of my images there. I find that you should mix more than one image to get an authentic cover. While practicing, I created a cover free for a friend and then accidentally found the same image on another book. Some books I have used 4 or 5 different images. I learned some of Photoshop in college when I studied for a degree in Web Technologies.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your recipe for designing your own book cover. I did it for my last three books and find it very satisfying and once I got the hang of how to use and have taken a few of their tutorials I find it quite fun. But I’m still a beginner in all this.
    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am currently looking for someone to help me design my book cover. It is romance tragedy and I want it to reflect that. I was thinking about putting me on the cover along with another person in a romance entanglement that shows the pain and love in our faces. I do not how I will accomplish this but this post is a start. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You are absolutely right! Do you have any tips on how to take my writer’s platform to the next level. So far I have been getting 20-50 views a day on my blog on the content I write about but it is really hard to get people to follow or subscribe to it. What are you thoughts?

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I designed my own book cover. It took forever to do and I really had one that I absolutely loved (I had 3 completely different styles of book covers that I had designed), but when my family was polled they chose a different one. I used a picture I had taken in Bodie – a ghost town of the Eastern side of the Sierras as the photo for my book about ghosts. I think I actually ended up using the Creatspace templates, which felt kind of confining but turned about pretty well. I don’t think the cover is trendy, but it is different.

    Liked by 1 person

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