Book Covers: Where To Start

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m shallow. I would love to say that the book cover doesn’t impact my want to read something, but that is an outright, bold-faced lie. Simply put, I… have a lust for packaging.  If it makes me stop scrolling, if it makes my breath hitch, if it makes me make borderline inhuman noises… I want it. I want it, I want it, I want it.

That’s not a unique thing, either. I know that the old adage goes, ‘never judge a book by its cover’, and of course, I do understand that some plain Jane cover art houses beautiful prose. But, call me spoiled, because I want both.

I’m like a magpie, drawn toward all things shiny. Which is why book covers are so important when it come to marketing your book. Especially as an indie/debut author.

Where To Start

Like with most things, the best place to start is by doing research. Look into your chosen genre and really study the covers. Look for a few things: 

  1. Color Trends: What colors are you seeing a lot of? Does your genre favor bright, bold and beautiful colors? Or does it prefer something more subdued? Like pastels? 
  2. Typography: What kinds of fonts are used? Cursive, serifs, sans serifs? Eroded? Wingdings? Believe it or not, typography plays a bigger role in marketing than you’d think.
  3. Imagery: What sort of ‘themes’ are you seeing a lot of? Clocks? Lipstick? High heels? This, more than anything, can help you brain storm your own cover art and what else you’d might like featured.
  4. Style: Is the cover art from a photograph? Or a painting? Is it cartoonish? Hyper Realistic?

Start Brainstorming

Now that you have a good idea of what is considered ‘the industry standard’ for your genre, it’s time to start doing a big, long think. What colors grabbed your attention the most? What typography did you find visually appealing. What imagery resonated with you and your storyline? What would you like to see.

Break Out The Glue Sticks

Allow yourself three ideas. Make sure to keep them as different as possible. Doodle them out, or make a collage. If you’re half-way decent at programs like Photoshop or GIMP, get in there and start making something!  It helps to have a loose visual reference to help you decide what sings to you. Continue to play until you’ve narrowed down what you like. 

Once you have an idea in mind, you can better convey it to your book designer. 

Obligatory request as someone who has spent years in the Graphic Design industry: Be specific with your designer. Yes, these colors, no to these. Yes, this type face, and absolutely not to another. A designer’s worst nightmare is to hear, “do whatever you want”. 

Please remember that you’re hiring your book designer because you like their aesthetic. Trust them to give you the best experience and design you can ask for. If they tell you something won’t work, hear them out. Ask for alternatives. And be open to things not being exactly how you imagined them in your head. 

Designing: To Hire or Not To Hire, That Is The Question

First, let’s get a few questions out of the way. Are you an artist? Are you proficient with photo editing software? Enough to make a cover? If so, carry on. Ignore this step.

If not, let’s get to the nitty gritty.

There are some services that will allow you to make your own cover art online (like Canva for example). They also provide various templates to pick and choose from. The downside to these services is that your cover art… could very well be seen on other books. And sometimes, they can look a bit “amateurish”.

Then, of course, there are professional book cover designers. They’ll work with you to make sure that your cover art is everything you could have dreamt of. Downside? Price tag. An ebook might run you somewhere between $50 – $150. A paperback might run you up to $300. And both? Make peace with maybe spending about $500 (give or take, but it’s always better to bank on spending more when establishing an early on budget). 

My feelings?

I think a custom design is the way to go. You’ll get a unique product that’s yours and yours alone. Never mind the fact that you might get extra promotion from your designer sharing your work as a part of their portfolio. To me, it seems like a win-win and it’s well worth the price. 

Tl;dr, just give me the check list Ivy

  1. Do your research
  2. Brainstorm
  3. Make Your Own Mockup
  4. Do It Yourself/Hire a Designer

Do you have a book cover for your work? Feel free to show it off, I’d love to see it! Tell me about your process! Did you do it yourself? Did you hire someone?


For more blogs like this, subscribe below to be notified of my next post! You can also follow me on Instagram!

One thought on “Book Covers: Where To Start

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s