Tuesday, March 1, 2016

IWSG: Tips For Designing Your Own Book Cover

I learned a few things when I made the covers for my 3 short stories, but I found out how much I didn't know when I tried to make covers for my upcoming Thriller/Mystery BLOODWALKER

I’m not an expert, but I can give you a heads up about things I’ve learned.


The Big 5 publishing houses have been marketing to readers for many years. They know what works, and the styles of covers they use have affected reader expectations. 

For instance, Fantasy covers tend to be colorful 

while Horror ones tend to be dark and ominous. 

Romance covers usually use realistic pictures of the main characters

while Thrillers often show landscapes or something simple (a bloody chess piece, a silhouette of someone running).

Get an idea of what’s “standard” for your genre by:
1) Going to your genre’s Amazon Top 100 list.
2) Look at your favorite author’s books.
3) Google “Best (your genre) Book Covers” and see what covers bloggers or book sites have chosen as best.

Things to look for:
1) What colors are used.
2) Does the cover show a detailed background or an out-of-focus one? Or is there simply a flat color for the background?
3) What style font do they use and how big is it?
4) Are there strong contrasts between different colors, or light vs shadow, or picture color and font color?

**Secret tip**
Go to large book cover design sites—the ones that would charge $200 or more for a cover—and look at the “Pre-Made” covers they offer for your genre. See something you like? You can create close to the same design using images of your own.


Ideally, you want images that are “free for commercial use” or “free for commercial use with attribution,” which means give the site/photographer credit for the image at the front of your book where the copy right info is. 

Here are some sites with free images (or free with attribution):

If you don’t find anything you can use, you can buy images relatively cheaply on sites like 123RF.com, Shutterstock.com, Dreamstime.com and Photobucket.com.


There are a ton of awesome fonts out there. It’s like looking in a candy store! But think twice before you use a fancy or “artistic” font. Unusual fonts are often a hallmark of a homemade cover. Try to use the type of fonts most often used on covers in your genre. 

Great font sites:
*Suggested by commenters: Fontsquirrel.com

Many of the fonts are listed as “free for personal use.” That means NOT for commercial use. You need to do some digging and find out if the font designer wants money or an attribution or doesn’t allow any commercial use at all.

**Secret tip**
Have you found a good font, but think it’s too wide or too short to look good on your cover? Put the lettering on a transparent background, use the perspective change to squish or expand it, or make it taller or shorter. Then copy/paste it onto the cover. 


1) The cover base you want to work on should be at least 1333 x 2000 (even better 2500 x 3750). However, different vendors want different sizes. Check Kindle, Createspace, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and Apple for their recommended sizes. 
2) High resolution. It’s good to use dpi (dots per inch) of 300.00, not the usual 72.00 used by most blog pics that have low resolution for quick loading.
3) File format. It’s good to use a file format of .tif (LZW compression)  instead of .jpg or .png so you can avoid the color blotching that frequently occurs on bright colors like red.
4) If your book will be printed, you’ll need to make a much wider image with the cover image on the right, the book spine in the center, and the back cover with the blurb on it on the left.


Please help me choose the cover for BLOODWALKER. I’ve made 8 and you can choose which 2 you like best.

Go check out the 8 covers and vote for your favorite on the poll beneath them.

This is a post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. It exists so the community of blogging writers can share and support each other, blog-hopping to cheerlead and commiserate. To find out more, visit: Insecure Writer's Support Group. Plus, check out the IWSG Website for lots of helpful info and links.
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