How to make a book cover (process of professional book cover design)

how to make a book cover

I was just reviewing my old book cover design gallery and thought I’d share a modern update on how book cover design works. This will include important things to watch out for, whether you’re going design your own book cover or hire a professional.

What IS a book cover?

Your book cover is packaging. It’s 75% of whether a reader will even begin the process of considering buying your book. Most cheap book cover solutions look homemade and unprofessional, but the process is the same – it’s just putting it all together takes time and skill.

Best photos and images for book cover design

Book designs spend hours searching for stock images for book cover designs. These are mostly photographs. So for book cover “art” we typically photobash – which means blending layers together in photoshop. We might add a big face and a landscape. Or a small figure and a scene.

The *size* of your main character on your cover depends on the genre. Closeup is more personal. Urban fantasy is more action and character-driven. Usually the top half of a character in an action pose. An epic fantasy would have a big sweeping landscape, and a small character, to show it’s a story-driven world.

All stories are about people: so you need a *humanizing element.* It doesn’t have to be a model or stock photography image. It could be a scene with some personal items.

Making a book cover scene illustration

Most book cover designers aren’t actually illustrators, and illustrations in genre fiction don’t sell. Photobashing stock photos is the best option. The *quality* of the book cover will depend on how well they can blend images together to look aesthetically pleasing. It should look like one scene, but sometimes it’s a blended scene of two images.

For nonfiction, one perfect stock photo might work; but there’s a chance someone else will publish a similar book with the same stock photo. That’s the problem with using stock images, but it’s the only real option (more on that later). Most authors want a specific scene from their book… but that probably won’t work.

The cover doesn’t tell them what the book is about or what happens. It only needs to communicate the genre to the right readers, and look professional and beautiful enough to catch their attention and get the click. Also traditionally published or classic books need different covers: they sell in bookstores or through marketing, or because the author is famous. They can take risks with covers because the books will sell anyway.

Indie authors have a huge advantage online, selling ebooks and controlling our own platform. But you need book covers that look great on Amazon and convert well so you don’t go broke. For most genre fiction, you don’t want a detailed illustrated scene. You want one character in one environment, looking cool and hinting at the unique and intriguing world you’ve bet.

But you also want to fit in, not stand out. Don’t whine that “all book covers look the same” – and try to do something *different*. You need your cover to look vaguely like the bestsellers in your genre, so readers can judge in a glance if it’s what they’re searching for. But it also needs to be better than your competition.

A great book cover will have depth: a background, a character, and a foreground. Usually, a book cover designer will buy about 10 images for a cover, and build everything together. It’s tricky to make it look natural and like one realistic scene, so it takes a lot of time to blend layers. And you need photoshop… unless you use my free online book cover maker, which does most of the same things.

Book cover design process

Some of the stuff I made on this website is over 10 years old, I started in 2012 – the same year I got married. A few are just sample projects. Since then I’ve designed hundreds of covers, earning over $200K in 5 years. But then I kind of dropped the ball. I was getting too much work and I didn’t feel confident in my design abilities.

You see, some genres aren’t too difficult to find stock photos for. I was good enough to be competitive and get clients, but it was difficult to make really powerful covers with limited stock photo options. But around 5 years ago, Daz 3D – a software to render character models – got really good. So a *lot* of new, cheaper designers were making really stunning art.

It’s like creating a virtual doll; you buy the character, the poses, the costumes, dress them up and then take pictures of them in different positions. This 3D character is a transparent PNG, so you just toss it against a background and add text – and the cover looks pretty great already. But the faces look plasticky, so most designers do a “headswap” replacing the face with a stock photo portrait, add some lighting and texture to the background, maybe some sparks or leaves to the forground, add some text… done.

It could take dozens of hours, or it could take one. It depends on the amount of time searching for the right images to use. People started selling these 3D images and other stock assets *just* for book cover design – which was great – but increased the chances that designers would use the same stock people or backgrounds and have too similar designs.

This week I spent redesigning one of my fantasy series, and it was maddening. I probably spent 20 hours staring at the computer for each cover. Making tiny changes to the lighting, the characters pose and clothing and face and hair, trying to make the scene look natural. It’s honestly a lot of work to get good results. You can make a passable cover pretty fast with the right stock resources and assets. But it will look flat and lifeless, without getting the depth and lighting right and making everything cohesive – including the typography!

It can be a lot of fun, or it can be work. And some things like fantasy and science fiction are really hard… no pictures! So we had to photobash or find creative solutions to make spaceships or spellcraft. Stock resources like Daz renders made it easier to put things together. The best designers did overpainting of illustration for that illustrated vivid look.

I know about 20 really good book designers. Some of their samples are better than mine (though I haven’t updated my gallery in awhile. I’m still pretty good). That list represents what I think is peak commercial genre book design – for the hard stuff like scifi/fantasy.


Choosing fonts for book cover design

The other huge part of book cover design is the typography. Designers have to purchase stock photos, and also the fonts they want to use on your cover. They will have invested a lot of money into design resources so that they have the capabilities to do things in photoshop you can’t do, like textured font effects (my free tool does that too)… but you’ll also need to choose the right fonts for your genre. That’s something a professional book cover designer would know.

*Tip* don’t just hire some illustrator or artist to create something, and then add your own text. Use my templates at least. Each genre has 10 or 20 fonts that everybody uses, it’s not that hard to get right but you need to try – or hire someone really good. Not all artists are book cover designers, and you have to get the typography right. Here’s a list of best fonts for book cover design.

Book cover premades and templates

So here’s the thing: designers often make stuff that looks pretty similar. And they can do it fast, by making a cover that is awesome and would sell a story. These are premades, and they sell for $150~$750 depending on quality. Big authors buy these. I’ve bought a ton even though I’m a designer! They are great for inspiring a story and staying motivated; a small author treat for yourself.

But they don’t always get used, cover design trends change, and once a book is written we may decided the cover doesn’t work anymore. (I’m sitting on a horde of premades). But premades can be a good, affordable option: designers can make something cool and pretty and sell it right away, no fuss. Authors can get something immediately, exactly as they see it. No complicated process trying to express their story and ideas.

Book cover templates are something else: it’s a sample cover, with typography that you can edit and save yourself. There are some options for online design software, like Canva, but they usually make flat covers (no blending, no erasing) and have limited fonts and text effects, that don’t work for most genres. Years ago I made a package of book cover templates in microsoft word and they’ve been popular – but they’re a makeshift solution. A few sites sell “ebook covers” that are loud and poorly designed, meant for online marketing and salesy stuff.

So I’m excited about the new cover design tool and templates I’m making for DIYcovers.com, and I think they’ll be a great, cheaper option (you provide your own art, but I have tutorials and resources for that). Basically unlimited book covers you can easily design yourself.

AI art and midjourney for book cover design

I’m suddenly demotivated and galvanized (at the same time). I was building templates for my new tool and playing with midjourney… and I stumbled on some prompts to get amazing AI art for book cover design. Combined with my templates (I spent months just coding the text effects), you can seriously make an amazing, $1000-cover for nearly free. It’s too powerful, it’s too easy. It makes me feel like quitting cover design and focusing exclusively on my writing – to make sure I have the best covers before anyone else does.

I’ll probably share the templates first, and then start building the new cover design tutorials, which will include a section on AI art and midjourney (with the exact prompts I’m using). But I’ll do it later, in a few months. I want to publish full series with my new AI covers and really establish a strong branded author platform, before everybody else starts using my resources to upgrade their covers. I think we’re going to see some huge shifts in publishing and book design, so there’s a lot of controversy right now.

But authors will continue to seek solutions, so they can get a great cover and publish their book, whether that’s custom, premade or DIY template book covers. Whatever you’re looking for, we have it! So stick around to watch tutorials and learn more about book cover design – or just let us do it for you!

How to make an ANIMATED book cover that blows people’s minds

Yesterday I saw something on Twitter that blew my mind: it was a promotional image of a book; but inside the book cover the pieces were moving around. It was amazing.

So I started researching animated book covers. I found some examples, looked for tools I could use for making animated gifs, and came up with these.

Animated book cover design, YA fantasy cover by Derek MurphyAnimated book cover design, YA fantasy cover by Derek MurphyAnimated book cover design, YA fantasy cover by Derek Murphy

How to make an animated book cover design that blows people's minds.

animated book cover design YA dystopia

animated book cover design dark fantasy

If you like these covers, can you help me out by pinning them on Pinterest?

If you actually want to READ them, check out my fiction site, Urban Epics.

 

What good are animated book covers?

They won’t work on Kindle or iBooks (though I’m going to test them anyway, maybe I can find a workaround). But they WILL work on Wattpad, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other social media sites. So whenever you post a promotional picture of your book cover, you could awesomefy it (that’s not a word but it needs to be = make awesome).

Now I just need to learn how to make those animated covers look amazing on a static 3D product shot… I’ll learn that next. The danger is, of course, once I give away all these secrets, everybody is going to do it, so on top of all the author-spam you usually see on Twitter or Facebook, now the images will be moving. It’ll be like Myspace all over again (obnoxious, hard to look at).

So what I should do is keep these secrets to myself, so they only show up on my covers and I have a marketing advantage. But.. I’m not going to. These covers were easy to make, and the tools are cheap. Be extremely cautious, don’t overdo it, but for shits and giggles, here’s a tutorial on designing your own animated covers.

If you like this tutorial and animate your book cover, share your cover on Twitter and tag me: @creativindie so I can see it.

How to make your own animated book covers

Firstly, add some sparkle. I used this site, paid to remove the watermark. It only has a few features, but it plays off the natural light/dark contrast of your book cover, and you can select the areas for some amazing effects.

Here’s a video tutorial.

Secondly, I found DP Animation Maker, a bit more expensive at $37.77, but it can add great effects, especially for light, water and movement.

Animated book cover effect for Michelle Madow's Elementals

Thirdly, I wanted to find a way to morph images, so, for example, a face can blink, or smile. To do that I’d need two or three pictures and merge them together.

Animated gif version of Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave - learn how to make your own animated book cover!
animated book cover design The 5th Wave Rick Yancey


I can do that with http://gifmaker.me. First I have to make the different versions of the cover, then I add the photos and turn them into a gif. I thought this might work especially well to add a “splash” effect with a big quote, review, or description – a little bit of extra sales copy space on your cover image.

You can also make an animated book cover in Photoshop but it’s more of a process.

How to save/share your animated book covers

The gifs you make can be pretty big; you can try to use Gifmaker’s resizer to make them smaller. If you upload them to Giphy.com the file size doesn’t really matter – Giphy is great for posting on Facebook (if you use a Giphy link it will preview the animated gif, but if you upload the gif straight to Facebook, it won’t play).

However, on Twitter I’d rather just upload the picture directly – Twitter DOES show the animation. A Giphy link works too but it clicks to Giphy, which I don’t like. You can embed the pictures on your website as well, and pin them to Pinterest (where animation works).

Have fun! Remember to tag me if you make your own animated covers so I can see.

Want more tips, book cover design templates and some free books?

I have more free stuff – templates, an email series on cover design, and my books on writing and book marketing.

 

Free book cover design software and formatting templates

book formatting design templates

After designing over a thousand book covers (and earning about a quarter of a million bucks from my design business) I decided I’d rather write full-time than design covers for a living. But, since I’m deeply committed to helping indie authors and pretty established in the publishing community, I’ve devoted thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours into building DIY book cover tools, templates and resources – so authors can design their own covers without making critical mistakes.

This is obviously a work in progress, because cover design is complicated, but the templates have been downloaded by nearly 100,000 authors, and my YouTube videos have over a million views. Here are some things to get you started.

If those resources are useful, please share them! If you need more help or more advanced templates, you can join my Epic Book Design Package and get my first first book marketing course for free.

$30,000 worth of beautiful premade book covers for indie authors

premade book cover templates

I spent lots of time looking through premade book covers. I find way more than I can ever buy (in my last shopping trip I added over $20,000 in covers to my cart). But I want to share these great deals with other authors, and also keep them altogether in one place in case I’m trying to find them again, so I decided to link to my favorites here.

Please note, many of these are not good enough as is – they have potential or great art, but in many cases (not all) the text would need to be redone to really make the cover as epic as the art suggests.

 

Where to find premade book covers?

Here are a few sites that have premade covers you can check out. I also recommend following book designers on Facebook to see their latest premades.

PS This is an old list so the covers below probably aren’t available, and book cover design has gotten so much better these looked great years ago but aren’t competitive enough today.

Betwixt

Sold By::
Exquisitely Covered Books

 

Creatures – ebook and paperback

Sold By::
Andrei B.

 

Blue Forest – ebook and paperback

Sold By::
Andrei B.

$200.00

Shadows – ebook and paperback

Sold By::
Andrei B.

$250.00

Shadows – paperback and ebook

Andrei B.

The Ends of Space

Sold By::
Covermint

 

 

Tame the Magic

Sold By::
Covermint

 

Elsa

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers

 

Sanctuary

Rocking Book Covers

 

 

 
Straight to Hell 

Sold By::
Ivan Zanchetta
$149.00
$149.00
  The Seeds of Hatred 

Sold By::
Ivan Zanchetta
$149.00
$149.00
× Crusader 

Sold By::
Ivan Zanchetta
$149.00
$149.00
× Abduction 

Sold By::
Grady Earls
$200.00
$200.00
× Warlock 

Sold By::
Grady Earls
$200.00
$200.00
× Porch 

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Forgotten 

Sold By::
Grady Earls
$200.00
$200.00
× Zero Hope 

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Displays 

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× The Kingdom 

Sold By::
Grady Earls
$200.00
$200.00
× The Decent 

Sold By::
Grady Earls
$200.00
$200.00
× The Journey 

Sold By::
Grady Earls
$200.00
$200.00
× Cindy 

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× For the Crown 

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× The Last Spell 

Sold By::
Winter Editorial Design
$85.00
$85.00
× Mystic Woman 

Sold By::
Creative Book Covers
$90.00
$90.00
× Shattered Glass 

Sold By::
Cover Quill
$145.00
$145.00
× Opaque Divinity 

Sold By::
Ivan Zanchetta
$149.00
$149.00
× Into the Woods 

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× Wolf Ridge 

Sold By::
Plumstone Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Divided Hearts 

Sold By::
RobBridges
$200.00
$200.00
× Contessa 

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× Reputation 

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Flock of Crows 

Sold By::
Cover Quill
$145.00
$145.00
× Policing 

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Magic of Elysyum 

Sold By::
BRoseDesignz
$180.00
$180.00
× Wide Awake 

Sold By::
Joy McGee
$80.00
$80.00
× Warrior biker 

Sold By::
Erica Petit
$290.00
$290.00
× South winds 

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$275.00
$275.00
× City of war 

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$230.00
$230.00
× Autumn death 

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$299.00
$299.00
× Thrall 

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× Silent tears 

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$285.00
$285.00
× Visionary 

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× Rain of leaves 

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$275.00
$275.00
× Daria 

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Dream World 

Sold By::
matyan90
$50.00
$50.00
× Quiet Wind 

Sold By::
Bukovero
$80.00
$80.00
× Wanderer 

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× The Flight 

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× Hammer of Doom 

Sold By::
Ivan Zanchetta
$149.00
$149.00
× Master of Insanity 

Sold By::
Ivan Zanchetta
$149.00
$149.00
× Dreaming of Adventure 

Sold By::
Exquisitely Covered Books
$120.00
$120.00
× Into the woods 

Sold By::
Raquel Neira Digital Art
$90.00
$90.00
× Secrets 

Sold By::
Harper Design
$75.00
$75.00
× Unspoken 

Sold By::
Harper Design
$75.00
$75.00
× Set Adrift 

Sold By::
Covered Creatively
$75.00
$75.00
× Into The Waves 

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× Thorns 

Sold By::
LML Book Covers
$80.00
$80.00
× Midnight 

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× Caught in the rain 

Sold By::
Adriatica Creation
$100.00
$100.00
× The Storm 

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× Vampire series three covers 

Sold By::
Erica Petit
$890.00
$890.00
× She was every inch a Queen 

Sold By::
IndiElaborates
$70.00
$70.00
× Spell Bound 

Sold By::
Susan Digital Designs
$90.00
$90.00
× THE STORM 

Sold By::
Ragdoll – Digital Art
$60.00
$60.00
× The Red Queen 

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× Bad Boy 

Sold By::
Erica Petit
$290.00
$290.00
× Torn Ebook Cover 

Sold By::
Ebook Covers Online
$60.00
$60.00
× Wasted Years 

Sold By::
Ivan Zanchetta
$149.00
$149.00
× Awakening 

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Warrior night 

Sold By::
Erica Petit
$490.00
$490.00
× Fantasy night 

Sold By::
Erica Petit
$490.00
$490.00
× The Pendulous Wood 

Sold By::
RobBridges
$150.00
$150.00
× Flying 

Sold By::
topbookdesigner
$99.00
$99.00
× Offville 

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Arabella 

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× Clerical Conspiracy 

Sold By::
Ivan Zanchetta
$149.00
$149.00
× Urban Fantasy 

Sold By::
Love Books
$60.00
$60.00
× Runaway 

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× In the Forest 

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× Woman in Blue 

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× Gods of the Time 

Sold By::
Bukovero
$80.00
$80.00
× Book Cover 236 

Sold By::
Ammonia Book Covers
$89.00
$89.00
× Bound Ebook Cover 

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Ebook Covers Online
$60.00
$60.00
× Guide to World traveling 

Sold By::
topbookdesigner
$99.00
$99.00
× Fantasy 

Sold By::
topbookdesigner
$99.00
$99.00
× Angel 

Sold By::
topbookdesigner
$99.00
$99.00
× The Curse of the Werewolf 

Sold By::
Winter Editorial Design
$70.00
$70.00
× Fighting Eternity 

Sold By::
Covered Creatively
$75.00
$75.00
× Lakeside 

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× The Spirit 

Sold By::
Ivan Zanchetta
$149.00
$149.00
× Dusk – Print & Ebook 

Sold By::
Iskon Design
$89.00
$89.00
× Into the Forest 

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× The Duchess 

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× Walls 

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Melina 

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× The Visitor 

Sold By::
Ivan Zanchetta
$149.00
$149.00
× Cover 5 

Sold By::
ArtestudioTeo
$75.00
$75.00
× FURY 

Sold By::
JMN-ART
$50.00
$50.00
× White Queen-full wrap and ebook 

Sold By::
Drop Dead Designs
$70.00
$70.00
× Voices in the sea 

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$285.00
$285.00
× Outlander 

Sold By::
Adriatica Creation
$150.00
$150.00
× Free Mind 

Sold By::
matyan90
$50.00
$50.00
× September 

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$285.00
$285.00
× Eternal autumn 

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$199.00
$199.00
× Far away 

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$250.00
$250.00
× Melody 

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$240.00
$240.00
× Away of forest 

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$230.00
$230.00
× Deputy 

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Fuming 

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× The Voyager- 

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× Deception 

Sold By::
Ivan Zanchetta

 

× Gothic Christmas 001 

Sold By::
Peculiar Perspective
$100.00
$100.00
× Blood Promise 

Sold By::
Camilla Design
$99.00
$99.00
× The Rise of Today 

Sold By::
Everpage Designs
$70.00
$70.00
× Rose 

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× Silence 

Sold By::
lady_amarillis
$85.00
$85.00
× Crooked Road 

Sold By::
Cover Quill
$85.00
$85.00
× Archway 

Sold By::
GRUNGYCOVERS
$99.00
$99.00
× Ward 8 

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Lifers 

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Love Romance 

Sold By::
Graphic Lane
$46.00
$46.00
× Light And Dark 

Sold By::
Enchanted Whispers Art
$75.00
$75.00
× Longing For The Ocean 

Sold By::
Enchanted Whispers Art
$90.00
$90.00
× Montana Magic 

Sold By::
Covermint
$69.00
$69.00
× Inborn Alienation 

Sold By::
Bukovero
$80.00
$80.00
× Room melody 

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$250.00
$250.00
× Free spirit 

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$199.00
$199.00
× Flings 

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Youngsters 

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Crazy Lovers 

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Only Mine 

Sold By::
Serena Daphn
$79.00
$79.00
× Wizard 

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$175.00
$175.00
× Lena 

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Butterfly 

Sold By::
WaterFall
$30.00
$30.00
× Wistful 

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× The dark dreams 

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$230.00
$230.00
× Book Cover 205 

Sold By::
Ammonia Book Covers
$89.00
$89.00

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Dragon Warrior 

Sold By::
Cover Quill
$80.00
$80.00
× So Faraway 

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$150.00
$150.00
× DARK HUMANITY 

Sold By::
Juan Padrón
$35.00
$35.00
× Evolution 

Sold By::
Willsin Rowe
$60.00
$60.00
× Trapped 

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× Dark Angel 

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$150.00
$150.00
× Book Cover #12 (EBook or Paperback) 

Sold By::
Amy H.C Design
$90.00
$90.00
× Angel of Mercy 

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$150.00
$150.00
× Detective – ebook and paperback 

Sold By::
Andrei B.
$150.00
$150.00
× Midnight 

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$430.00
$430.00
× Wonders Of North 

Sold By::
RedHoudini Design
Scepter 

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$150.00
$150.00
× Warrior biker 

Sold By::
Erica Petit
$90.00
$90.00
× Fantasy night 

Sold By::
Erica Petit
$210.00
$210.00
× Warrior angel 

Sold By::
Erica Petit
$210.00
$210.00
× The Calling 

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× ERZSEBET 

Sold By::
London Montgomery Covers
$90.00
$90.00
× Forever- wrap and ebook 

Sold By::
Drop Dead Designs
$70.00
$70.00
× Demon Leap 

Sold By::
Juan Padrón
$40.00
$40.00
× DARK HUMANITY  

Sold By::
Juan Padrón
$35.00
$35.00
× Trapped 

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× Dream Catcher 

Sold By::
Enchanted Whispers Art
$80.00
$80.00
× Huntress 

Sold By::
Enchanted Whispers Art

 

 

    PRODUCT PRICE QUANTITY TOTAL
× Dragon Breath 

Sold By::
Enchanted Whispers Art
$130.00
$130.00
× Myth Wielder 

Sold By::
Covermint
$79.00
$79.00
× The Belladona 

Sold By::
London Montgomery Covers
$80.00
$80.00
× Eyes 

Sold By::
PastFuture
$65.00
$65.00
× The Scapegoat 

Sold By::
Book Covers Art
$150.00
$150.00
× Salem 

Sold By::
Erica Petit
$210.00
$210.00
× X Squad 

Sold By::
arte´ book designs
$60.00
$60.00
× Searching 

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$150.00
$150.00
× z-Clouds 

Sold By::
Madelene Martin
$50.00
$50.00
× Tidewater 

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× Dream Catcher 

Sold By::
Enchanted Whispers Art
$80.00
$80.00
× The Fair Maiden 

Sold By::
Covered Creatively
$60.00
$60.00
× Vintage 

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$80.00
$80.00
× A Promise Kept 

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× Rose Romance 

Sold By::
Erica Petit
$210.00
$210.00
× Emerald Queen 

Sold By::
Enchanted Whispers Art
$70.00
$70.00
× The Crows 

Sold By::
Enchanted Whispers Art
$80.00
$80.00
 

How to become a book cover designer

photo of woman writing on tablet computer while using laptop
A lot of young designers (or old designers!) reach out and ask me how they can become a book cover designer or get started in this business.
If you want to start book cover design… watch all the videos on www.diybookcovers.com first; then make 50 sample mockups and put them in a portfolio; then contact a bunch of authors with platforms and offer to remake their covers for free in exchange for a link and testimonial.
If you have great samples, and your price is reasonable – between $100 and $1000, depending on your experience, quality and expertise – you’ll get orders.
How many orders depends on traffic and conversion. So you need to find more ways to convince people to trust and buy from you, and then you need to find ways to build traffic.
I started with nothing and had to work at it for a few years. I priced really low. I did a lot of free work (I still do!). Now I’m focused more on building great content.
If you want to start quickly; run a contest every month for a free cover design and use it to build links, shares and traffic, as well as an email list (of people you know need covers).

 

Is your book cover trying to do too much?

Clients usually start out describing all their characters, a pivotal scene, a hundred details, the expressions on everybody’s faces and the way their bodies are posed.

That won’t work.

All your cover needs to do is:

1) Appeal to your target audience

2) Indicate time period and setting.

That’s IT.

If you need to choose between adding more detail, more scene, more “stuff” and having a simple, powerful, emotional cover (emotion is done by colors and contrast, not so much character’s faces), you MUST always choose the powerful cover and sacrifice the details.

This is very difficult for authors to accept. They say things like “But I want my book to be different. I don’t want it to be just like other books in the genre. I want to explain/communicate to readers all the background and relationships and story.”

I repeat: that’s not what book covers are for.

Almost all successful book covers have one simple scene, often with one (or two characters – male and female if it’s a romance). The character is usually just standing there looking at the reader. The background sets the time and place. The text sets the genre.

Action scenes don’t work well, unless it’s something cliche like a man running with a gun. There are many reasons: first of all, you need to understand that as brilliant as we designers are, we can’t move stock photography around like a 3D model and make them do whatever we want. We can’t pose them. We can’t change their clothes easily. We can’t cut their head off and add somebody else’s (well… we can, but it usually looks a little unnatural).

The more we do to match your vision, the worse it’s going to look, and even if we make you happy and get everything right, it won’t be nearly as strong as something totally different, without all the detail, which is simple awesome, powerful, gripping and beautiful.

It’s much more important to have an amazing cover than it is to have a cover that explains your story.

Let me repeat that:

THE BOOK COVER SHOULD NOT TRY TO EXPLAIN OR REPRESENT YOUR STORY.

At best, the book cover appeals to the right readers.

Full stop.

If you’ve done that, then you can also indicate setting and genre.

If you’ve done that, you can add any other necessary information in a teaser, tagline or the book title. But not too much.

The cover only needs to get them to read the description.

If your cover tries to explain too much, adds too many details, displays a whole scene where people are doing things and interacting and role playing with positions and poses and gestures, there’s a very, very good chance you’ll lose that immediacy, that intrigue, fail to incite curiosity, and readers will glance at it and never read your description.

Which means they won’t buy the book. Which means all the time and money and energy you spent on your book cover was a total waste.

That’s why I start discussions with clients by telling them, “No, that won’t work.” If they want to do it anyway, I refund them – I have no interest in making book covers that will fail to sell books. That’s bad for business.

Authors who have read my articles, and my books on book cover design or watched my speeches or presentations on book cover design, already know that I make covers that sell books, and I’m pretty clear about that on my website.

If you think your opinions and suggestions about the book cover matter more than book sales – you’re wrong. All that matters is book sales. Otherwise, why write books at all? If you are publishing as an experiment in self-expression so you can carve off a chunk of your ego and cast it into corporeal form, that’s fine. But I don’t want to work with you.

I’m interested in working with authors who have stories that readers are going to enjoy, and I make sure those readers pick the book up and give it a chance, and that’s ALL THAT MATTERS.

How to embed fonts with Photoshop (and do you really need to?)

If you’re like me, you use Photoshop for graphic design. It’s better for blending layers and images. However there is some limitation with text – one common and frustrating problem is trying to figure out how to embed fonts.

Photoshop doesn’t have any obvious option for this.

Printers will ask you to embed fonts for quality.

photoshopvsindesign

Take a look at this sample: If you zoom in 500%, the file with the embedded fonts has sharp and clear text – in the other, the text has been rasterized so you only have digital enlargement, which causes pixellation (click on the image to zoom in and see the difference).

However, I’m unconvinced that this difference really matters. When you print files, you’re not zooming in at all. 100% at 300DPI should be as sharp as the human eye can detect.

photoshopvsindesign2

 

I’m going to do some tests this summer, printing out a copy of both and seeing if I can tell the difference.

But in case you have to work with a printer, or even if you’re sending PDF files to Lightning Source (which requires embedded fonts) or Createspace (which doesn’t), here’s how to do it in Photoshop.

Step One

The first step is just not flattening your file before saving as a PDF, which you might do to save space. Instead, flatten the images and graphics but leave all the text layers.

Step Two

Save as a PDF, but choose “Use Proof Setup: Working CMYK.”

saveCMYK

 

Lightning Source and most printers require CMYK anyway (createspace doesn’t).

I prefer Createspace because it’s easier, and actually I don’t think the print quality is really enhanced by these extra options – and it makes dealing with Lightning Source a huge pain, especially for indie authors who don’t understand this stuff.

But if you’re a professional designer working with printers, you usually need to give them what they want. And it may look just a little bit better, clearer, sharper if you embed fonts in your PDF files this way – but as I said, I’m going to do some case studies to find out for sure.

How to get exactly the book cover you want (and ruin your writing career).

Several months ago I was helping an author try to make a book cover.

They had something very ugly, and I made something much better.

I was working mostly for free (something I’m trying to stop doing) because I felt bad for the author (I feel bad for authors with ugly covers). Even though I did lots of revisions and ALSO offered to do the formatting for free, ultimately the author became unhappy that I wasn’t doing it exactly as he wanted, and got fed up waiting for me to make changes.

Today, looking over another book cover designer’s website, I found that the same author had hired a new designer to make him a new cover. The cover design isn’t terrible, but makes basic amateur mistakes like too many colors, too much different and confusing stuff going on (too symbolic) and dropshadow on text – a rookie habit for sure.

Very telling, was the author’s raving testimonial: the designer is a genius. The author got exactly what he wanted. After having “disappointing” experiences with other designers (me), the author is thrilled to have found a designer at half the cost! Wahoo!

That book, with the new cover, has a sales rank of almost 2million. That’s not very good.

Price isn’t necessarily an indication of quality; I know for a fact there are better designers than me charging much less. But I also know there are a lot of designers who are just mediocre.

Finding a designer who will take your money and make what YOU want is a narcissistic exercise of a control freak and is destined to kill your book sales. Especially if you have a certain scene or symbolic representations in mind, or you choose the colors and fonts that appeal to you personally.

I don’t know why, but most authors are drawn to ugly designs (usually because they are thinking symbolically and conceptually, and ignore aesthetics). Their taste in style and design is completely out of whack. They love Comic Sans and red and blue and green and yellow.

If left to their own devices they will use and love really ugly book covers.

Getting exactly the cover you want is usually a great way to destroy your author career.

I try my best to make book covers that sell books; it’s a passion of mine, and I love the challenge.

But the biggest difficulty – the biggest barrier to creating an amazing book cover that sells books – is almost always the author. And that’s frustrating. And stupid.

It’s like having a customer walk into a high-end salon and saying, “I want you to die my hair blue, shave half my head and write my initials with a trimmer.”

And they’ll pay you, and they’re happy, but you still feel like you let them down.

If I were better at business, I would focus on giving clients what they want and making them happy. Except… I know it’s really better, for them and me, if I’m kind of a jerk, refuse to make what they want, and tell them they have to use this or that cover design instead because it will sell more books.

They may be unhappy in the beginning. Maybe they really loved the idea that I shot down and feel regretful about it.

That’s why I’m always happy to give refunds to authors so they can go find another designer to make them happy.

I’m not that guy.

I help you sell books.