How to Make a Book Cover: Checklist and Nine Examples
Are you planning to publish a book to promote your business? Pay particular attention to the cover as it’s a powerful marketing tool that draws attention to your work. Visual images are perceived 60 thousand times faster than words, so it is important to come up with a creative solution. We have made a step-by-step guide for designing a book cover and covered some examples that will inspire you to create an original design.
A step-by-step instruction for a beautiful cover design
1. Begin with an idea
Any design begins with the definition of a key message. To formulate it, answer the following questions:
- What is the main idea you want to convey?
- How does it resonate with the genre and content of the book?
- Who is your target audience?
- What story can you tell before readers open the first page?
- What makes your idea unique?
2. Think about the distribution
Have you already decided on which format your book will be sold: paper or electronic? When choosing the second option, consider the features of digital design. Colors, fonts, and images should be expressive in order to attract the Internet users’ attention and allow viewing the image even in small resolutions.
The printed version involves not only visual but also tactile contact with readers. Two factors are important here: the material the cover is made of (paper, cardboard, leather, linen, foil stamping, glossing) and its type (hard or soft cover). Think about where people will read your book, for example, travel books are more convenient if it’s made of paper.
3. Get inspired
To start generating ideas, check out the best cover examples. Here are some ways to do this:
• Go to the bookstore and look at the books that catch your attention. Analyze what made you pick them and what elements made them special.
• Pay particular attention to works in your genre. Think about what ideas designers used and how you can stand out from them.
• Look for beautiful book covers on the Internet. Create a board on Pinterest, save your favorite pictures in a folder on your computer, and read the second part of our article, where we have collected examples from different genres.
4. Choosing typography and illustrations
Fonts and graphics set the mood for the text. Both their style and size are important:
• Think about which style is more suitable for your book: serifs are associated with classics and respectability, laconic typography creates lightness, and handwritten fonts are considered to be creative.
• A combination of two fonts can add contrast to the cover. However, be careful as not all of them could work harmoniously together.
• Decide which typographic elements will be the largest. Usually, this is the name of the book, but if the author is widely known, then his/her last name may be the main text on the cover.
• Decide if you need illustrations. If yes, choose the right type of either photographs or drawings.
• Pick graphic elements: abstract patterns, geometric shapes or a logo. A logo works especially well for marketing purposes, being associated with your business and creating brand awareness.
• Set accents. Decide what will play the central role in the design. Is it a font, illustration or graphic?
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5. Choose the design method
If you have design skills, start designing on your own. This can be done in any graphic editors such as InDesign, Photoshop or Illustrator.
A simpler option is to use programs with ready-made cover templates, for example, 100 Covers. You just have to download the template you like and upload your text and illustrations into it.
The third option is to hire a designer and give him/her detailed information on your main idea and expectations.
6. Get feedback
After designing the cover, do not rush to put it into work. Instead, ask friends and colleagues for feedback. Ask them what they think when they see the design. Make sure that what they perceived is the idea that you want to convey.
Inspirational cover examples
«I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere» (Anna Gavalda)
The design of a lyric story collection by a popular French writer is an example of a simple and clean style. Paper boats sailing through the waves of newsprint are as touching and defenseless as the characters of Anna Gavalda’s book. Their pastel colors are associated with tenderness and femininity, and the contrasting blue background resembles the sea.
The lowercase font that spells the author’s name and the title looks democratic and friendly. The largest text element is the name of the writer, known throughout the world.
«Me Before You» (Jojo Moyes)
The plot and the cover design show that a romantic story awaits us. An illustration is the main tool to start a dialogue with the readers.
Contrasting black, white, and pink colors attract attention to the drawn silhouette of a fragile girl in front of a fairytale castle and a scattering of stars. A combination of two contrasting fonts, the classic serif and a handwritten script, suggests the difficult ups and downs in the novel.
“Under the Skin” (Michel Faber)
Aliens in human form travel around Scottish villages and kidnap men to take them to their planet. A black and white cover with strict minimalistic graphics sets up this eerie plot. Part of the text is hidden under a large image of a fingerprint that refers to the title of the novel.
“The Martian” (Andy Weir)
The cover of the science fiction novel about a man on Mars resembles a movie frame. We see a hero walking away in an astronaut costume, a volcanic crater, and the sun going down the horizon. Yellow and orange shades are associated with the Martian landscape. Typography is kept as simple as possible in order not to distract you from the image.
Books for children and teenagers
“The Rich Hours of Jacominus Gainsborough” (Rebecca Dautremer)
A philosophical book about simple everyday truths begins to inspire from the cover – a realistic image of a rabbit, a play of light and shadow, and soft graphics with curls. The font with original serifs complements the fabulous atmosphere. It is interesting that Rebecca Dautremer is not only a writer but also an artist, so she made all the illustrations for the book herself.
“Charles Darwin. The Revolution” (Annabelle Kremer, François Olislaeger)
How to draw children’s attention to Darwin’s life story and research? With the help of illustrations, which occupy the entire cover area, so that the name of the book and names of the authors hardly fit. There are different plants and animals around Darwin’s portrait. Typography with printed pink letters looks very simple, hinting on the child-friendly style writing of the book.
“Steal like an artist” (Austin Kleon)
Writer and artist Austin Cleon drew the cover for the book on his own and sent a message to creative people. Simple and creative design that says “relax and let your imagination out”. This is the main idea of the practical guide.
Most of the cover is occupied by the name of the book. Large, handwritten letters refer to the idea of creative freedom and hint at the contents of the book, where readers can draw and write down their creative ideas.
“The Year of Living Danishly” (Helen Russell)
The cover immediately immerses you in an atmosphere of warmth and comfort. The boiling kettle and burning candles seem to indicate how easy it is to enjoy “Danish happiness”. This impression complements the sleek, clean sans-serif font.
The deliberate simplicity and pastel colors so successfully reflected the idea of the book that it became one of the most photogenic. People around the world, mastering the principles of “hygge”, took pictures of the book in their cozy interiors and posted it on social networks, which contributed to its promotion.
“Made to Stick” (Chip Heath, Dan Heath)
This cover is a great example of laconic and intelligent design. The clean white sans-serif font contrasts against the orange background. The topic of the bestseller on how to make an idea viral is clearly shown by an illustration with a piece of tape “stuck” to the name.
The cover of the book will become a part of your company’s corporate identity, so choose it carefully. Create an original design that will arouse the interest of readers and will be in harmony with the image of your brand. Think about advertising and distribution of the book in advance, so that the cover can be seen by as many people as possible. It can be a website, social networks, bookstores both online and offline, cafes, or coworking spaces.