Jane Friedman

9 Tips to Building the Book Cover Design You Always Wanted

by Patrick Gage Kelley | via Flickr

Today’s guest post is from book cover designer Joshua Jadon (@joshuajdesign).


Your book cover design is what draws people into the story you crafted from only a blank page and an idea. It is likely the image that your readers will most associate with your story, so let’s look at nine ways you can start building the cover design you always wanted.

1. Decide if there’s a central image in your story that could be used.

If you have a recurring symbol or image throughout your story, consider a creative way to incorporate it into the cover. Whatever imagery you thought was profound enough to make it into the pages will be profound enough to grace the front of your book cover.

2. Look for metaphors.

Maybe your theme is about failing and trying again. Why not represent that on your cover? Let your background be a crumpled piece of paper, flattened smooth again for a fresh start. You can help your readers immediately reflect upon the theme of your novel before they even start the first page.

3. Focus on just one image.

Don’t let yourself get carried away by trying to represent by all the symbolism in your story or every theme you want to represent. Sometimes less is more, and that definitely applies to your book cover design. Use space wisely, and err on the side of caution with simple imagery and keep the focus on just one image. You don’t want to overwhelm or confuse.

4. Hire an artist to help.

If writing is your primary strength, then consider hiring a professional artist or designer to create a one-of-a-kind artwork for your front cover. That way, you get a unique book cover with creative flair that you envisioned and commissioned.

5. Choose colors that represent your story.

Is your story a dramatic thriller? Consider bold red, sinister black, and deep ocean blues. Is it a read best suited for a beach day? Waves of cool blues and jade greens can wash over your cover to give a laid-back feeling. There’s a science to color psychology that you can capitalize on for your cover design.

6. Contrast creates eye-catching covers.

If you’re struggling to come up with a color scheme, consider taking it all the way back to black and white. Simple, classic contrast helps a cover pop, and is timeless and classic. Monochromatic color schemes can be a great way to let your fonts and words remain at the forefront of the reader’s attention, while the image becomes part of the background.

7. Don’t forget the importance of text.

Just as you need to choose a color that represents your story well, you need to choose a font that matches it. Is your audience mostly women? If so, you may prefer a scripted font with feminine flair. Men often prefer simple, bold text that is easy to read. Your audience is the biggest factor in the success of your book sales, so make sure that your cover incorporates elements that will appeal specifically to that audience.

8. Reviews are important.

Did you snag a great review from a well-known person in your field? Put it on your cover! Even if it means simplifying your book cover design in other aspects, it’s well worth it to have the popularity of another individual verify the quality of your story or content. Their name on your cover, especially if you’re a first-time author, lends credibility.

9. Add a subtitle or a teaser.

Give readers a quick glimpse of what they’ll find tucked between the covers of your book with a short subtitle or a teaser. This takes less time to read than the synopsis on the back of the book and can draw readers in immediately. Make sure the text is smaller than your title, but still clear. It shouldn’t jump out at readers at first, but should be easily read.

Authors: What do you think contributes to an effective cover design? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Visit designer Joshua Jadon at his blog or on Twitter (@joshuajdesign).