An Introduction to Book Cover Design

When it comes time to design a cover for your book, it really is worth it to find an experienced book designer who can create a beautiful, professional-looking cover that will sell your story. Here are some concepts that you should keep in mind as you work with your designer.

Basic look

Effective book covers are those that are so intriguing they make you want to open the book to find out what it’s about. The best way to work on this with your designer is to uncover the true meaning of the book and then pluck a single image from the text that can support it. It’s better for the cover to be simple and strong rather than complicated and cluttered. Looking to other book covers for inspiration may help you settle on a concept.


Sometimes, you may be the one providing your designer with a cover image. It’s a good idea to use a royalty-free, high resolution stock image on your cover that has at least 300 ppi or dpi. Popular stock image websites are Wikimedia Commons, Shutterstock, Unsplash, Pixabay, and Getty Images. Even Google Images is great for this: just make sure to click “Search tools” and filter images under the category “Usage rights”. Another option is to take a photograph with a good camera and use that as your cover image—no attribution necessary.


The designer will often give you a couple options to choose from. Choose a striking, readable typeface that accurately represents the contents of your book. Take into account the time and place your book is set in and what typography was popular then and there. Don’t push the designer to use more than two typefaces on the cover—consistency is necessary. He or she will likely create contrast by using a bigger size for more important type elements and a smaller size for less important ones. Pay close attention to the spine because most of the time, the spine is all readers can see on a shelf in a bookstore. Make sure the spine can be read easily from several feet away.


There are specific formulas to come up with a pleasing color combination for your cover, and it won’t always be to your personal taste. The designer will aim for color harmony to make the cover visually appealing by using analogous colors (colors found beside each other on a color wheel), complementary colors (colors found opposite each other on a color wheel), or colors found together in nature. He or she might even pick colors out of your image to use for the typography.

The Final Word

If you work closely with your designer and make wise decisions every step of the way, your attractive, competitive book cover should be complete in no time. Happy designing!