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Article: 10 Simple Steps to Design a Winning Book Cover

10 Simple Steps to Design a Winning Book Cover

In order to sell more, the front page has to be stunning to draw enough attention.
Here are 10 simple steps on how to design a winning book cover!
Created by Rafael Nobre Studio |

Have you ever heard about the "Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover" term? High chance you have. While it is true, book covers have a pretty big influence on potential readers. As a front face, you can say that it is the first impression that people see. Unfortunately, many great stories and contents have to suffer due to bad design. 

Unappealing, unattractive, misleading, or simply not worth it are some of the reasons people look away from literature. To design a book cover, you should know some underlying key principles beforehand. With that in your mind, you will eventually gain some ideas and success in attracting readers. To help you go through the process, here are the step to follow. 


How To Make A Successful Book Cover Design 

1. Understand The Function Of Cover 

Did you know why and how such a simple façade affects the content? The first thing that answers the question is its function. The key to using cover is to capture audiences' eyes. It means that it should have certain elements that attract attention. It is not only attractive but also makes people want to know the content. 

In other words, you can tell that people will judge the picture and decide to buy the book if the cover is appealing. With that said, you can also consider that the design will need to inform the reader about the contents. The subtler the design will attract people to look and try to find out about the content. In such a way, the cover also turns into marketing content. 

One thing that illustrators need to consider is how the book face can change from a tricky project to something more rewarding. This tricky project poses a lot of unique challenges that can help fuse the creative engine. It is also worth exploring as a creative exercise. Even more, you can tell that the use of digital media also affects cover design.

To follow and cope with the new trend, you have to pay more attention as you design a book cover. Digital copies that are available online in the form of eBooks demand a cover with suitable settings and details. If you are trying to embrace this change, make sure you get the idea readable and convertible for a smaller or wider screen. 

Created by Karolina Szafran |


2. Considering The Title 

There is also the idea of staying true for the title. In this case, people tend to look and decide their opportunity to buy a book just by its title. At some point, your title can determine whether the literature is worth reading or not. It can be a very harsh reality, but it is also unavoidable. People are always judgmental about appearance.  

But why a title? Aren't there any other elements such as pictures? One thing for sure, the title is easier to read and interpret. Thus, people will look at the book's title first. With that in mind, you can say that no matter what the picture is, your title and texts should be clear. Make sure your book cover clearly states the author's name and what it is about as briefly as possible. 

In this case, you should underline the importance of text in your design. As a designer, you might only work with the already made title. Making a captivating title is the job of the author. Most of the time, your job is to ensure the title text on the cover is clear to see, legible, and readable. Choosing the typeface and its alignment is pretty vital. 

When playing around with the title design, you can still pour your creativity. However, some designs and ideas can come with the cost of its readability. Rather than going for such an experimental and abstract model that you are not sure about, try to play it safe. When you can nail the idea, it might turn into a stunning design. But if in doubt, it can turn into a disaster. 

Created by Przemek Debowski |


3. Opt For Simplicity 

If you think creating a fun and captivating title is not your forte, then try something easier. Design a book cover using simplicity might come in handy in modern days. People are starting to appreciate a more minimalistic and aesthetic touch in everything, including your book face. But is it enough to only play with simplicity? Unfortunately, no. 

Some of the keys to simplistic design are tone and direction. One thing for sure, you need to emphasize and make very clear information for each element in your book cover. Whether it is the color pick, title, picture, or small little detail such as layout, it is not an easy idea to pull off, but it helps you create an artwork that is easier to digest.  

If you opt for this idea or design your cover with simplicity, make sure it still has an appeal. A good cover will attract people and make them curious about the content. They will flip the book and read the synopsis. When done right, they will eventually try to find out more about the book. Thus, making people want to buy it.

Created by Eiko Ojala |


4. Uses Font Pairing Or Typography 

As you try to add some simple touch to your design, try to learn about typography. With typography and font pairing, you can make a plain title into something more captivating to see. At the same time, it also makes your simplistic design have more effort and appeal. But what kind of typography should you consider? 

In many cases, typography refers to how you decide to layout your text. It includes choosing the font, deciding the alignment, position, color, and also style. You will need to make sure that the typography fits with the book title and its content. It is even better if you can make great typography with your simplistic cover design.  

After you settle the font and the typography, the next thing to do is finding the best font pairing. You don't want your cool-looking hand lettering title overwhelmed with much other book information, such as the author name or the book quotes. This is why you have to find some complimentary secondary fonts that make your cover design look complete. 

There is something unique about using font pairing and typography in book covers. You can use it as the single element that is kind of in trend right now. You can also play around with adding graphical elements that tell the title text. Or maybe you go with supporting elements that come along with your title. There are many possibilities to design a book cover.

Created by Belinda Kou |


5. Make A Hint And Hidden Meaning 

If you are feeling creative and want to add something fun to the cover, you can try this idea. Some designs come with interesting hints and hidden meanings about the story or content. This imagery addition can be an effective detail to the cover and attracting people to read further about the book. 

This kind of idea can be applied in many ways. You can do it by illustrating the book's key elements such as character, locations, or the conflict. At some point, pro designers also put some hidden meaning that signifies a spoiler on the cover. More so, they can even make the imagery as subtle as possible but without being overly obvious for everyone.

Created by Liz Gasselsdorfer |


6. Choose Your Tone 

If you design a book cover, make sure you know what you are working with. In this case, the tone of your design can help people imagine the content. That is why you need to set it before deciding the images, graphics, illustration, or even your typeface. At some point, many illustrators find this phase the hardest challenge. 

If you overdo the design, your cover will look overly complicated. On the other hand, it will leave people with too many questions if you do it too little. When faced with this problem, the key to solve it is by manipulating and conceptualizing imagery that relates to the book contents. Do it slowly, and you will get the tone working as much as possible. 

So, what kind of tone should you choose? It is best if you can learn about color philosophy. Understand that it can bring out differing meanings as well as set your tone plus your book design direction. As you design a book cover, make sure the color pick is suitable with the theme because some colors only suit certain genres. 

You can also take time to snoop around to other designs. Find out some defined color palette that is popular in certain genres. Do your research properly but also avoid being restricted with your inspiration. Joining the same bandwagon might help readers to figure out your book theme by looking at the color. But it is also fun to make a difference. 

Once again, think carefully about deciding the color. Get some information regarding color theory. Another thing that you might want to consider is the target audience that is implied by the tone. When creating a cover design for a children's book, you might have to consider a soft palette rather than a dark scheme, even though it is a story about a wolf.  

Another thing that you have to note is the usage. Not all cover projects are meant for story, novel, or entertainment purposes. You might also need to make one for press kits, branding, business proposals, or some other practical business. As important as it was for the story, you will also need to choose the tone that reflects the subject matter. 

The underline is that you need to take the color palette that fits perfectly with the brand identity. It reflects the product, the business and stays on brand. One note that might help you is to prioritize clarity and relate the inside. You should stray from a goal to make your book stand out among others. This is why book cover creator can be one of the most versatile jobs.

Created by Mara Kava |


7. Making It Stands Out 

Contrasting with practical business purposes, most of the time, you will need to design a book cover that stands out. Being stand out does not always mean different. In this case, you can take a look and understand the current trend for your inspiration. If you know the ideas, it will help your creativity flow. 

What you need to do in this phase is take note of the current already working design in the wild. It will help you develop ideas to work on in the future. As you find more ideas and inspiration, it will eventually help you find out some unique concept that is different from others. You could start thinking about your book cover design and make it stand out. 

However, creating a new one was never an easy part anyways. Underline that this kind of book detail idea is hit or miss. If you are new to designing a cover, you can adapt and make some unique changes to gain more experience. After you have more know-how, skills, practice, and time, start to make a novel idea. 

To help you gather some information, take some notes and ideas from the other successful book covers. Write down how it represents the plots, themes, character, and setting. After that, do the same to the book that you are currently working with. Not only reading the title, but this information will also always helpful to discover the abstract ideas for your design.

Created by Rafael Nobre Studio |


8. Use The Correct Software 

You might already have some ideas jotted down in your head, and now is the right time to make it real. In this case, make sure you design a book cover using the correct software. There is no definite point to make one correct, but at least you have to know how to use it. Another note is that you will need to use a digital design software you are comfortable with. 

It is not always something pricey or professional. As long as you are good at operating the software, then it is enough. However, you can consider that some professional paid tools come with more resources, features, and tricks. If you can afford one, that will be a great help to create a rich book cover design. 

Some of the software that you can choose are pretty popular. For professionals, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign will do the trick. Other options are good enough to design your book cover, such as Blurb BookWrite. Some affinity software also comes with almost the same features. And for those of you who are still practicing, try Canva or Visme for free online tools.

Created by Rafael Nobre Studio |


9. Complete With The Spine

There are reasons why you should be comfortable with the software, one of them is to make sure you design a book cover 100%. Understand that your book cover also includes the spine. Make sure this part also gets the same attention to the front cover. Fortunately, you can create a whole uniformed design with the help of software. 

What you need to underline when detailing the spine are the limited spaces. There is not much you can do, but it doesn't mean you don't need to do anything. The best thing that you can do is to ensure some information is readable and illegible. The author's name, the title, or the publisher should be clear. You can also use the same touch as the front cover. 

With that idea, the reader will get a glimpse of the whole cover design, even from its spine. In a way, your spine will bring information about the book. It is because most of the time, books are stacked with the spine facing outside. Thus, make people recognize the name and know the book as they read the spine. In many cases, opt for a simple design that is still relevant to the whole concept.

Created by Cyla Costa |


10. Mind The Dimensions 

After you are ready with all of the detail and cover design, you will need to mind the dimension before printing a book cover. It demands you to do a lot of technical consideration, including size, margins, positioning, and many more settings. In this case, you will get a lot of help from the software. That is why it is important to use the correct design software. 

At some point, considering the dimension is not only about the size and number. It can get a little bit complicated as some settings might get altered and vary based on printing decisions. You might even have to work and understand the printer device to make sure it works as it is supposed to. After you design a book cover, this part is the last challenge that you can solve by asking for professional help.  

Created by Rafael Nobre Studio |


Final Words

All in all, the saying wasn't wrong. You will need to underline that the cover can make such an impression that leads readers' minds about the content. This is why don't underestimate the design of a book cover process. Start with knowing the function. After that, think about every element, including title, tone, typography, dimension, ideas, hint, etc. So you can make a perfect book cover. 

What do you think of our guide? Let us know your comments by writing them down in the section below. We hope you enjoy reading this and have a great day!

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