How To Design A Stunning Book Cover

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When you browse online through Amazon or Barnes and Noble in search of a good book what catches your eye first? Is it the book's title, and summary? Or is it the book cover? 95% of the time a stunning book cover design is usually what draws readers into picking out a book to begin with—the synopsis/story comes second to that.

So what about you? Do you want to create a gorgeous eye catching cover for your ebook that increases your sales or maybe even for a client? If you do, then follow the steps below to learn how.

1. Scope Out Your Competition

To design a stunning ebook cover that sells we first have to research, and scope out our competition.
  • What is our genre?
  • Who is our main audience?
  • What are the current best sellers in our genre? 
  • What is the current design trend that is being snatched from the shelves?

Basically you're going to go to amazon (or google), and look for the top selling books in your genre (romance, young adult, fantasy, etc). See what's working for them. 

What do the top 3 bestseller book cover designs have in common? Use that as inspiration for your book cover, because readers tend to choose book covers that look similar? Why, because as humans we tend to stick to things that are familiar. 

Now that you have your basics, it's time to curate some book cover designs to use as inspiration while designing. You can easily do this by creating a Pinterest board, and saving the book cover designs you like straight there. This way your inspiration material is easy to access on any device, and doesn't take up any space on your computer. 

You can simply browse sites like goodreads, and pin captivating book covers in your genre that you like (I'd say a minimum of 4, but not more than 10)

Make sure that the book covers you choose fit your ebook's genre or theme (you don't want readers thinking your psychological thriller is a chick-lit romance).

2. Ebook or Print?

This is a very important step in your book cover design process as you don't want to get the sizing wrong, and start all over again. Most people publish their ebooks through Amazon Kindle while others use smashwords or ibooks. 

Different platforms have different size requirements so please make sure you check out their spec page, and follow their sizing guidelines (keep in mind that sizes can change yearly as screen resolutions may change).  

Ebook covers, and print book covers both have different sizes. 

They are never the same, and have different resolutions as well as color profiles for print and web. 

Our main focus today are ebook covers so the color profile we'll be working with is RGB (Red, Green, and blue) for web. If you are planning on creating a book cover for both print, and web please use CMYK instead of RGB to save yourself the trouble. It is easier to go from CMYK to RGB than the reverse (your colors will look all kinds of messed up when printed)

Ebook cover sizing for Kindle is currently 2820 x 4500 pixels at 72 ppi for a nice high digital resolution (if you are doing a print version as well please set your resolution to a minimum of 300 ppi).

Here are the links some ebook cover sizes for the sites I mentioned:

3. Where to source your images:

Sourcing your images properly is extremely crucial as you can literally get sued for copyright infringement and pay some hefty fines my friend.  

If you're planning on using nice, and beautiful images on your ebook cover make sure you have the rights to use it. You cannot take a picture from google images, and use it on your ebook cover. You will most likely get sued by the owner of the image, and be infamously known as the image thief. When choosing an image it is absolutely crucial that you do not use copyrighted images.

To get great images, and have absolute full copyright with no worries the best thing you can do is take the pictures yourself. If you do not want to go through all the work of finding great scenery locations or paying for models the next best thing is to use a stock photography website. Stock photography websites give you the ability to license their images, and use them commercially on your products. Their licenses are usually royalty free or rights managed (please note there is a difference between the two). 

 I wrote about designing great book covers with free stock images here. Most are creative commons without attribution.

Some Royalty Free stock Image Websites I recommend:
  • Megapixl (7 day free trial)
  • Adobe Stock (30 day free trial)
  • Bigstockphoto (currently has a 7 day free trial)

4. What tools will you be using to edit your book cover design?

You can start off with getting a free 30 day trial of Adobe Creative Cloud alternating between Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator

If you would like some free alternatives to the above software to design your ebook cover you can use the following:

After choosing your editing software you will need a bit of practice so you could get familiar with your tools. You can't start designing an ebook cover without knowing what you're doing. Trust me it'll be a disaster, and you will end up frustrating yourself. You should start by watching 2 - 3 video tutorials on the design software of your choice, and try to do a few photo manipulations by re-creating 2 - 3 book covers as you get comfortable with the tools.

Here are some skills that can come in very handy when designing your book cover:
  • Background Removal
  • Blending, and Composite

I without a doubt recommend these two videos about creating composites in photoshop:

Composite Video One:

Composite Video Two:

Let's Begin Designing Our Book Cover!

The #1 thing to forever remember about ebook covers is to make sure your images stand out as a thumbnail (a small image). 

If you need tips on creating a promotional book trailer click here.


A Visual Artist sharing her world, and the things she loves with you!


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