WRITING AND BOOK COVERS

Courtesy of Canva

Hi SEers! Denise here to talk about creating a book cover.

Besides the blurb and reviews, the cover is usually the reader’s introduction to the book. This design represents you and your hard work. It can be pricey to have it professionally designed, but there are other options.

I’ve had some luck with my children’s books hiring a reasonably priced artist in the past. I’ve also used designers who work with stock photos or mine. Now, though, I’ve started creating my own covers in Canva using the same stock images.

During this process, some covers have been successful in representing the book, while others have not. The ones that didn’t work are being replaced. One, with a shiny new cover, immediately got some new readers and positive feedback.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve built up my confidence in working in Canva, creating covers. I now know what I want. That is helpful in designing the cover or having someone else do it.

Before I get started, the first thing I do is choose a good title. A quick search on Amazon will show if the title is overused. If it is, a simple change can help, even just a word.

Next, I need to know the size I want my print book if needed. I’ve used 6 x 9 for all my books. In Canva, I go to create a design and use custom size where I’ve had luck with 1600 x 2,560 pixels. But you can also type in book covers, and they offer many pre-made designs which are 1410 x 2250 pixels. It all depends on what you are doing and need. Of course, always check to see what the requirements are for the site the book cover is being uploaded and adjust accordingly.

Suppose you don’t plan to create your own cover but hire someone. Many designers use stock images to choose from, and even if you hire an artist, you still need a vision of what to create.

Cover suggestions:

  • Pick an image or artwork that grabs your attention.
  • Make the title, subtitle, and author’s name easy to read.
  • You can include a recommendation or a tagline. Keep it short.
  • Use fonts and colors that make the words stand out against the background.
  • Keep the ideas simple. Too much can be distracting.
  • What would catch your eye online or at the bookstore?
  • Follow size guidelines for eBook and print.

It’s a lot to think about, especially when it comes to finding that perfect eye-catching image or artwork. This part can be time-consuming if you are searching through a large catalog of stock images. Always check your legal rights to use the image. I used to use only my own images, but that really limited me.

Stuck on where to begin? Explore book covers on Amazon under your genre. What titles pull you in? Colors catch my eyes, especially ones that have green and blue, fog, moon, water, sunset, and glowing lights. Don’t be afraid to redo a cover if you aren’t getting the sales you had hoped. Of course, you need a good blurb and a well-written book too.

We’ve all heard that old saying that is originally credited to George Elliot, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Unfortunately, we do judge the book by its cover. I’ve learned that the hard way.

What about you? What type of cover grabs your attention?

82 thoughts on “WRITING AND BOOK COVERS

    • Thank you, Janet 🙂 It is easy to get lost playing in Canva. Sometimes, though, it’s a nice place to take a break from writing, but like you said it can also cut into writing time too.l.

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  1. Great cover list Denise. I’m so bad with technical. I don’t make my own covers, but always know what to send cover artists, a synopsis and images I do searches for that can help give her an idea of what I’m looking for on the cover. Then she’ll come back with mock ups. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the cover can pull to buy a book of an author I don’t know. Teagan made a great point about the tone, that’s so important. Thanks, Jacquie 🙂

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  3. You ask “What type of cover grabs your attention?” At first I wasn’t going to comment, because a few weeks ago, a friend brought me down to earth with a snide and snarky sarcastic comment about me being an “expert” when I said this, but I stand by it. I like a cover that begins the story — or at least strongly communicates the mood or tone of the book. As a reader, if the story is part of a series, it also helps me when it’s easy to see that the covers within that series are related.
    Also, when I choose a book to read, I feel downright cheated when a cover looks cheerful but the story is in fact quite sad. That’s part of what I mean by communicating the tone. I’m no expert, but I do know what draws me to a book. Thanks for an interesting discussion, Denise. Hugs on the wing.

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    • Great response, Teagan 🙂 I agree I want the mood of the cover to let me know what I will be reading. When I’m looking at a cover it either draws me in or pushes me away. I definitely don’t want a happy cover and find out it’s a depressing story. Xo

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  4. Helpful information Denise. So much about covers is personal taste, and I know the idea is book sales as well, so it’s a fine balance! I tend toward subtlety and moody in my covers, but that may not necessarily sell books! Have a great weekend,
    eden

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    • Thank you, Eden ,:) You are right about taste and preference with covers. It is hard to balance what we like with what sells. Hopefully both are the same. I’m with you about moody covers, they always catch my attention. I hope you have a great weekend too!

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  5. If you are doing a paperback cover for KDP, you can download a cover template, then use that as a temporary background so that all your cutoffs/bleeds are correct.
    What I do like about Canva is that it is easy to line up the text and graphics because they provide guidelines as you move them around.

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  6. Wonderful tips on the cover, Denise. For my poetry book, I got a free image from Pixabey and revised it to make the eBook, paperback, and hardcover covers. For the children’s book, I gave the description to my illustrator to design my cover. I have one book coming up, like Diana, I must choose either professional edit or professional cover design. I still have time to think about it. So many authors recommend Canva. I only used it once for a header. Perhaps it’s time for me to spend some time learning how to use it.

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    • Thanks, Miriam 🙂 I really enjoy creating on Canva now. Like you and Diana its a choice between editing and cover. The cover I feel like I can do but definitely not editing

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  7. Great suggestions, Denise! I’ll be looking for book covers soon, and thanks to your suggestions, will experiment with Canva. Who knows? I might discover a hidden talent, or, at least, have an idea I can present to a designer.

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    • Thank you, Patty 🙂 I have a lot of fun playing around on Canva. You never know you could come up with a cover or at least the idea for one. I’ve done both. I’m rooting for discovering a hidden talent.

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    • Thanks, Pete 🙂 I was pretty comfortable right away. I liked you could upload your own material or use theirs, and it has basic editing tools which are pretty simple to use.

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  9. Great post, Denise. I’m one of those readers who is drawn to books by their covers. I’ll read the back cover or blurb before deciding, but a bad cover can turn me off. The market is constantly changing with new trends. It’s amazing what a new cover can do for an older book.

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  10. Wonderful tips you’ve shared, Denise. The cover is truly important. It needs to catch the eye of readers at a glance. I come up with ideas for my covers, then I work with Stephen Geez on putting it together. The first cover I had for Jazz Baby fell short. We hired an artist to paint my vision. Nope! It ended up on a site highlighting bad book covers. OUCH! I am thrilled with the replacement cover. I’ve sold many more copies with the new cover. I know to be certain about it BEFORE it’s unleashed on the world. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this subject.

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    • Thanks, Beem 🙂 I feel your pain ending up on a bad book cover site. Elizabeth’s War first cover ended up there too. I made the artist go back and fix all the issues. That was a painful mistake, I agree. Still cleaning up from using that designer. Its nice you have found a collaboration that works so well for you now.

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  11. Great tips, Denise, thanks. I’ve been incredibly lucky in that one of my dearest friends is a graphics designer by trade, though she now has moved on to painting fantastic murals all over her hometown. But she promised she would always do my covers for as long as I wanted, and because (as she’s often said) the two of us practically share one brain, it’s super easy to tell her what I have in mind. She takes my ideas, works her magic, and what she sends me back is spot on! I know what appeals to one person doesn’t necessarily appeal to another, but I’ve been super happy with her work for me. They are the kinds of covers that would catch my eye immediately. As for eBooks, I absolutely always study those covers, too, before reading the preview pages on Amazon. So for me, covers are extremely important enticements, regardless of format.

    As for designing my own, even though I’m very comfortable working with graphics programs from my years as a painter and doing digital art, I don’t believe I’d want to tackle my own covers. I think I’ll stick to writing for now, but if I change my mind, these tips of yours will definitely come in handy. I could probably do the whole thing in my PaintShop Pro program, which is very similar to Photoshop. It could happen.

    Thanks for another great post! 😀

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    • You are so lucky to have a close graphic designer friendship, Marcia. It is a bit of magic to bring those ideas to life! I have to refresh my photoshop skills or learn another program to do some of the things I imagine, you never know what can happen.

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  12. I am a huge fan of working in Canva and have created all of my short story book covers there. I have the paid version and it is money well-spent. Thank you for the tutorial, Denise! A great resource for authors!

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    • I believe I found Canva through your recommendation, so thank you for that! I have the paid version too. I’d like do more detailed photo editing outside of Canva to get some of the ideas I have come to life, but otherwise a fantastic option for authors.

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  13. Great suggestions, Denise. I find browsing Amazon a great way to see what draws my interest as a reader. I have some professionally done covers, and I like them a lot, but cost is always a factor. I have to choose between a professional cover and a professional edit, and I’ve started choosing the latter. And covers are so much fun to make if we have the patience. I like your suggestion to change up covers too. Always an option for the future. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Diana 🙂 It is fun to cover browse on Amazon. As much as I would love to have that professional artist design my covers, cost is definitely a factor. Besides it is fun to create a cover or find the right images and let someone do it, to save money. I totally agree about putting money into editing. That is where mine goes too. I’m glad we have the freedom to make cover changes and other changes as needed.

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    • Finding a good designer that can bring to life what you are looking for is like winning the lottery. Having that idea seems to be that first step to getting there and the hardest part. Thanks, Yvette 🙂

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  14. My artistic talents are extremely limited. That isn’t my calling. I use a cover designer for my works.

    That being said, the cover isn’t the only thing that draws me to a book. A good cover will attract me. But a title also can do wonders. And, the best cover can’t make a bad book better.

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    • It’s great to find a good designer and then be able to tell them what you envision and then you get it. Good point about the title, Michele. You are so right a good cover doesn’t make up for a bad book.

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  15. Great post, Denise. I try not to judge a book by its cover, but I’m drawn to a book through its cover. If a cover can capture the emotional impact of the book, along with the title and subtitle, that’s an achievement. It makes me respect the writer even more. Thank you for highlighting the reasons why we writers need to spend time thinking about this important facet of publication. 😊

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    • Thank you, Gwen. It’s hard not to judge the book by the cover and like you said there is an emotional pull if its done right. I am so happy that as indie authors we have the freedom to make changes when something isn’t working.

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  16. I’m probably the odd one out, but I have a great relationship with my artist. I give direction and he produces the cover. They aren’t all perfect, but I’m pretty happy with my covers. It would be cheaper to figure out how to do it myself, but I doubt I could do as good a job as his original artwork.

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    • I love your covers, Craig. I was able to do that original art for most of my kid books, but that didn’t work out for my some of my other books. It is a dream of mine to be able to afford to hire an artist that is able to capture my cover dream, but that is too pricey for me. But, I’m having fun putting together those ideas in Canva without the orginal artwork. Like you, I wish I had that talent.

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  18. These days, I do most of my reading on a Kindle, so the cover doesn’t mean much to me. That said, when I’m shopping in a bookstore, I’m always drawn to covers with beach scenes. I’ve only published one indie book and I hired someone to create my cover. The book was a romance, but the first draft she sent looked like something you’d see for a horror story. Thankfully, she got it right the second time. Great information, Denise!

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    • I still appreciate a good cover on a Kindle book, but it doesn’t compare to being in a book store and being drawn to an attractive cover. I bought a book once because of a cozy winter scene and ended up loving the story. Later, I read where the author hated that cover, although I wouldn’t have read it if not for that cover 😉 Glad you got the cover you were looking for, Jill, even though it had a horror them first time around. Thank you!

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  19. I don’t choose a book because of its cover, but I will reject one because of it. (That’s a change for me, as there was a time when I didn’t look at covers at all but when straight to the blurb.) I’ve had covers redone in two series and one standalone, and it helped every time. Great post, Denise.

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    • I have overlooked some covers if I already like an author or the story comes with high recommendations, but if I’m looking to find a new book the cover is the first thing to sell me. I’m so glad we have the option to make the changes and happy to hear your changes in your covers paid off 🙂 Thanks, Staci!

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  20. I’m one of those people who often does judge a book by it’s cover. It’s kind of like the lobby of a building—it makes the first impression. Attract me with a great cover and I’ll look further. If the cover doesn’t entice me, I may not even take a second look when I’m browsing in a bookstore.
    I created the covers for my few indie titles (with the exception of one, which I hired someone to design), and my publisher’s art team did the others based on input I submitted about what I envisioned. I use Photoshop when I design covers, but I love that there are so many available options out there these days, and that it’s easier than ever for authors to design their own quality covers!

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    • Good comparison to a lobby in a building. We do decide on first impressions, I agree. I used to use photoshop years ago and took a class in it. When they changed their policy and required you have to have purchased the previous version to use the current one, I stopped using them. I know you can do the monthly plans now, it would take some relearning to use it though. It does allow for more creativity, but Canva does offer all the basic. Its nice we have all these options, Mae 🙂

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  21. A timely post and useful post, Denise. At a bookfair, one of my daughters noticed how people stopped to look at what she called ‘pretty’ covers but ignored others. I’d like to change the covers for my first two books and I’ll have a look at Canva, based on what you’ve written here, and have a play with it. Many thanks!

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    • That was a great observation by your daughter. Great covers will make me stop and look more at a book, especially in bookstores. I’ve been lucky so far using the stock photos in Canva and find what I was looking for. My dream is to able to hire an artist to create the perfect artwork, but Canva is still the place to put it all together. Happy creating 🙂

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  22. I’ve designed my own covers from the start and learnt ooodles and ooodles along the way. I cringe at my first efforts 😂 For me, I like the cover to give a feel for the book. Either dark or bright with easy to read font and text. I always check potential covers at full size as well as thumbnail size to see how they come across.

    Great post, Denise. Thanks for sharing 💕🙂

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    • It is a learning process, Harmony. I’m with you about the cover offering what’s in the story. Good suggestion about the font and checking the cover at different sizes. Thank you 🙂

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  23. Hi Denise, I design my own covers for my children’s books and use one of my own images. All the illustrations in the Sir Choc books are my own creations. My covers for While the Bombs Fell, Through the Nethergate, and A Ghost and His Gold were designed by Tim Barber. I have a lot of input into my covers so the designer has direction. The lovely Teagan Geneviene has designed the covers for three of my poetry books and anthologies and David Cronin did a great job on the cover for Open a new door. Sadly, David is now retired. Bella Shah from ThoughtsnLife blog also offers design services and has helped me with some fantastic creations for my forthcoming children’s Halloween book. Personally, I don’t buy books based on covers. I could not even tell you what the cover on most books I read looks like, but I am unusual.

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  24. I’ve been designing my own covers too, lately, using Canva. I use images they have available and others from Pixabay. You’ve noted two important points–keep the design simple and the title large enough to be readable in a thumbnail image. It’s worth experimenting with the different filters and layering images with different degrees of transparency. Also trying different fonts. Even if one doesn’t feel up for designing an actual cover, putting some ideas together with Canva would be helpful to give a designer an idea of what one wants.

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    • It is fun to experiment in Canva with all the fonts, filters, and transparency! Like you said even if you don’t use the design you will have insight into what you want your designer to do. Thanks, Audrey 🙂

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