Top 5 Book Cover Design Tips Independent Authors Must Know


book cover design

There’s an age-old saying that we should never judge a book by its cover. However, good covers sell books, and bad covers gather both literal and digital dust. In today’s digital world, it’s vital to learn how to grab readers attention! How do you do that? With the perfect book cover of course!

It’s essential to have a good book cover, but “good” doesn’t always equal the most intricate or detailed design and thanks to online services like Fotor you don’t even have to be a photoshop guru to create the perfect cover! Let’s look at five excellent book cover design tips that will get your books off the shelf and into the hands of thousands of potential readers!

book cover template

1. Design a Concept Around Your Genre

First things first, you will want to define your book genre and find some inspiration for your book cover. Sometimes standing out too much makes you less appealing to your targeted audience as while they are looking for a new and unique story they want something in the same genre, so be aware of the trends in your genre and embrace them! Your book cover’s first, and only, the purpose is to sell the book. Some new authors make the mistake of wanting to ditch the trends to try and show their unique voice through the book cover, but let your writing do the talking! The cover is there to entice readers to what’s inside, not the other way around!

book cover

Different genres and sub-genres have different trends to look for, with some types allowing for more creativity than others — for instance, an informational non-fiction book vs. a fictional fantasy novel. If a book is meant to inform, then the cover should make the subject very clear and straight to the point, using straight forward imagery and clear text. Informational and nonfiction books will often be very minimalist using strong color combos and typography as opposed to intricate illustrations.

book cover design

The covers of fictional works will often have more detailed covers with full-blown mixed media or painted illustrations. If the book is a fictional work, then you might add some thematic tie ins, or even story elements onto the cover. Say a book about a magical amulet might have an image of the amulet on the cover as it’s described in the book.

Looking at other books and their covers in the same genre as your book, then gathering inspiration all into one place and creating things like mood boards can help focus you in on what readers like to see and what you want your book cover to be! That way you can know exactly what your competition is doing, and then you can do it even better!


2. Get to Know Your Audience

Next, you will want to ask yourself a few questions. The first being “Whose buying my book?” and “What are they hoping to get out of reading it?” A book teaching different meditation methods for the modern office worker and a book series about a werewolf romance will have two very different audiences! You will want to make sure that your cover speaks to the right one through both the books title and the visuals on the cover.

book cover

You may also want to ask yourself “What emotion do I want to evoke?” For example, the horror, thriller and mystery genres all rely heavily on setting the correct mood and tone of the story within. So, you may wish to employ dramatic shadows, harsh highlights and darker colors amongst other emotion evoking imagery. However, books that are meant to evoke calm or happy feelings could use more pastel colors, with hues of blue, yellow and lots of white. Don’t underestimate how powerful color can be!

Finally, ask yourself why they would choose your cover over others in the same genre. Remember at any given time a reader may be looking at dozens, if not hundreds, of other books all competing for their eyes! You want to make sure yours gives everything the reader both needs and wants, resulting in them picking you and your book over the competition. Once a reader gets hooked by the book’s cover, then you can land them with the writing inside keeping them coming back for more!

reading books

3. Highlight and Focus on One Element

A good rule of thumb when creating a book cover is to have a single featured element representing the critical theme of your book, making it the highlight. It could be an image, font, or maybe a minimalistic shape or illustration. Putting a single relevant element as the focus will help give the reader a good idea of what they are getting into and if it’s what they are looking to read. For example, a book about yoga poses aimed at women may have a silhouette of a woman doing yoga on the front.

yoga pose

Choosing the right graphics and photos that will make up your book cover can be a daunting task! You will want to look for high resolution, crisp images that relate to the subject of your book. From there you will want to think of other details, such as borders or extra illustrations that you may want to place on your book’s cover. Luckily, services like Fotor have dozens of templates to choose from that range across multiple different genres, and they are all completely customizable so you can edit them to fit what you need without having to worry that you may have a book cover that looks too similar to another book.

book cover design template

While you could use some of the images provided to you by Fotor you can also find free to use resources, including photos and stock images, in multiple places online! When searching for free images what you will be looking for is the term “Royalty free”; this means you can use the image for free, even for commercial use! Sites like Pexels, Unsplash, Barnimages, and Pixabay are all great place to start looking for free to use images.

royalty free photo

Once you have your stock images selected, you can upload the pictures into Fotor’s online image editor to edit, customize and create the perfect photo! From there you can save the image, and then upload your newly composed photo onto one of Fotor’s book cover templates to add your title, name and any other relevant text you may need.

book cover design

4. The Information Hierarchy

Now, I want to talk to you about something called the “design hierarchy.” All designs have an information hierarchy; it’s the order of which information should be seen, likely indicated by size. For instance, in most cases, the title will be the most prominent text on a cover as it’s the most valuable information! Set any lesser information after the title to smaller font sizes, you don’t want any info competing with each other.


Many authors wonder “What should be bigger? The title or the author’s name?” and it’s always a good bet to say the title; however, there are exceptions! For instance, authors names matter more if the author is well known or famous such as Stephen King.


You also may have a series title, taglines or even numbered books. It’s important to know what should go where and why! For example, knowing that the book is part of a series and the order of which that series goes is just as important as the title, if not more. Not only will it keep a reader from jumping in mid-series, but it will also prompt a reader to seek out all the books in that series! Where things like taglines or quotes will always be lower on the hierarchy and thus smaller in size. You may even want to consider leaving them out.

the passion with a woman's journel

More important than anything is you will want to select the right fonts to make reading clear and straightforward. A safe font choice is always serif and san-serif fonts as they are clean and comfortable to read no matter their size; however, if using a script font it should be large, so it’s legible. If you have to squint to read it, then say no because your readers sure will!

book cover

5. Thumbnails Sell Books

We have talked a lot about thumbnails and what they should show and that’s because putting your book on electronic platforms like Amazon or Kindle is essential. It opens you up to thousands of potential readers! However, with more eyes comes more competition, you will be going up against thousands of competitors all competing for the same readers you are, so your thumbnail needs to shine!

e-book cover design

While you are creating your book cover and editing your images make sure to zoom out when viewing your cover and think to yourself “does this stand out?” or “would this grab my attention?” There is a good chance that if it looks like something you’d read, then your readers will be excited to click too!

book cover design templates

When a book cover is shrunk down to the size of a thumbnail two things will stand out the most: the most substantial text or typography and the color scheme. Both are significant factors in saying what the book is about and giving the reader a taste of the overall mood of the book, so make sure your title, fonts, and colors represent your books content well! You will always want to test your books cover in thumbnail size so use tools like Fotor to give you a good view of what your book will like to a potential reader and make changes accordingly!

Keep in mind that not all text should be seen in the thumbnail, choose one focus — usually the Title, the author’s name or maybe a series title. Some people have the misconception that all text should be able to be read from the thumbnail, but that will make the cover a jumbled mess of competing information which is precisely what we don’t want.

your soul is a river

6. FAQs

– What should a book cover include?

A title, a series indicator (if part of a series), the author’s name, and if desired, a tagline. Remember, sometimes less is more.

– What is the best color for a book cover?

Whatever color best represents the emotion the content of the book is trying to convey or a color that is trending within the genre of the book. You can find this cover by researching other book covers in your genre.

– What is the best book cover size?

The most common trim sizes for standard fiction and nonfiction books include: 5″ x 8″, 5.5″ x 8.5″, and 6″ x 9″.

– How much does it cost to design a book cover?

It depends! It can be thousands of dollars to hire a professional, however using services like Fotor along with free resources it can cost as little as $3.33 or even nothing.

– How do I design a book cover?

You will begin the process by using an image editor, like the Fotor online image editor. If using a service like Fotor use one of the many customizable templates to give yourself a solid base.

7. Conclusion

In a world of countless books, that can be accessed anywhere at any time, people have no choice but to judge books by their covers, and so nailing the perfect cover image is more critical now than ever before! Take a look at your book cover following above book cover design tips and ask yourself a few questions.

Ask Yourself:

“Does this appeal to the audience I want?”

“Would I choose this over other books in the same genre?”

“Can I tell what my book might be about just by looking at the cover?”

“Does it have high impact when seen at thumbnail size?”


Have you already released your book, and it’s cover, and you haven’t seen any response? Making a few changes, even small ones, to your book cover can easily double your sales. Remember it’s never too late to change! Never be afraid to re-release a book with a brand new cover; it may be just the thing it needs to boost sales!

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