How to Make a Good Book Cover

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The dos and don’ts of good cover design

So, you’ve written a book. Now what? You may be asking yourself how to make a good book cover. What is it about certain books that turns a reader who is just browsing into one who clicks? Well, many successful covers have some dos and don’ts in common. Starting with…

Do know your genre

The most important tip I can give you is this: when designing a book cover, know what’s hot and contemporary in your genre. One of the best ways to do this is to look at the charts on Amazon or your local indie bookstore’s website. What do the top ten bestsellers in your genre have in common?

If you’re looking at romantic comedies, for example, you may notice that the covers of recent bestsellers are almost all illustrated and lean toward pastels.

What about thrillers? You might see lots of bold, narrow text alongside high contrast images with blues and yellows.

Whichever genre you write in, it helps to know the look and feel of what’s hot.

Do use royalty-free images

So, now you’ve got a sense of what contemporary covers look like in your genre. Next, you need images. But don’t use just any image from a random Google search! You need to make sure you have the rights to use the image of your choosing. You can either buy images or use ones that grant you a license to use them freely (like Creative Commons).

If you don’t want to buy stock photos, royalty-free images from sites like Unsplash or Pexels can be a big help. You can also find free photos and graphic elements in Canva.

I know, it’s hard to create something original when you’re using free photos that have been used before. Cropping is your friend, here. Resizing a photo can go a long way toward making it look fresh and different.

Don’t skimp on fonts

Next, make your cover stand out by choosing a good font—or better yet, a good font pairing. Some designers like to mix serif and sans-serif fonts, like Times New Roman with Arial, or a display font like Playfair with a simpler font like Open Sans.

If you’re unsure what kind of fonts to put together, try finding one you like, then googling it along with “font pairing.” You’re sure to find some good, free recommendations that way.

Again, it helps to ask what’s popular in your genre. If you’re writing a romantic comedy, a fancy, handwritten font could be just what you need. But don’t overwhelm things. Make sure your title is still readable, and pair it with something simpler for your author name.

You can make your text stand out by choosing a complementary or contrasting colour to your photo, too. Not sure how to choose? Check out Adobe Color and play around to see which colours look best together. Or try adding a drop shadow—this is easy to do in Canva—to make your title stand out.

Don’t forget to have fun

Lastly, don’t stress too much about how to make a good book cover. Of course, it helps to have an eye-catching cover to attract readers, but the most important thing is that you’ve written a good story!

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