Previously we discussed two possible options when it comes to book cover design for your self-published book. The first option proposed was the DIY option, where you design the cover yourself. This option is more complicated and time consuming than hiring a designer to create a book cover for you. While it certainly isn’t impossible to create a great cover yourself, it is probably best to steer clear of this option if you have never dabbled in any kind of design at all or if you’re unwilling to spend time doing research. With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s dive into the DIY option.
Step One: Brainstorm Ideas for Your Book Cover Design
The first step is brainstorming ideas for what your cover should look like. You may have a strong idea already or you may be entirely clueless. Either way, I urge you to take time and study other book cover designs of best-sellers that specifically match the genre or tone of your book. If you wrote a murder-mystery thriller, look at other books that are traditionally published within that genre.
Pay attention to the general style of fonts used, the color palette, and the overall feel. These will vary widely between book subjects. A self-help book cover will be different from those of romance novels. Even if you do have a strong idea of what you’d like to present on the cover, take into consideration what other novels are doing. Remember, the main point of the cover is to bring in an audience that wants to read what’s inside. Your cover needs to quickly convey what kind of book it is through its visual language.
Step Two: Find a Graphics Program
The second step is finding and familiarizing yourself with a graphics program that suits your skill-level and needs. If you have access to Adobe Photoshop or InDesign, then those are the preferred industry standard for designing graphics and you should be all set. However, these can be expensive options for a single project. It is worth considering other options, since there are many programs out there that are cheaper or, better yet, completely free!
If you have experience with design and using image editing software, try programs like Clip Studio Paint, GIMP, Procreate, or Krita. You may need to supplement these programs with things like stock photos or fonts. However, you need to keep an eye on their usage rights.
If you’re less experienced with design, it might be preferable to choose a program that comes pre-loaded with tons of templates, fonts, and stock images that make designing a cover less of a headache. Try programs like Canva, Adobe Spark, BookBrush, or Placeit. These are only a few of the available options and a quick search will lead you down the path to finding the best fit for you.
However, most of these programs, aside from InDesign, are not suited for typesetting. If you’re planning on working with the interior of your book yourself as well, InDesign may be worth the investment.
Step Three: Consult with Your Publishing Platform
Once you’ve come up with the idea for a design that is both aesthetically appealing and tells people about your book at a glance and you have a program of choice that you plan to use to bring it to life, it is important to consult with your publishing platform. Wherever you choose to publish and sell your book from, whether it’s solely digital or from a print-on-demand publisher, these platforms usually have specifications that you will need to follow concerning image dimensions, file size and type, and color profile. Keep these in mind when creating your design.
Best of luck on your journey designing a brilliant book cover if this seems like the right path for you! However, if all of that was entirely overwhelming and you’re considering exploring the second option of hiring a designer instead, we will be talking about that in-depth soon as well!