Book Cover Design

Beginning writers often take book cover design for granted. But a book really is judged by its cover … and an amateur rendering will do more harm than good.

When you’re self-publishing your book, it’s not the time to play with DIY graphics software to design it.

Don’t misunderstand me. I love technology. There’s great, easy to use software out there. I love my smartphone and my tablet and my touchscreen laptop. I love the ability to communicate and get information instantaneously. I love the color and vibrancy of high definition resolution. The sound and movement and engagement of video.

But there’s still nothing like a good book. And nothing more intriguing than a book with a great cover design.


Photo Credit: Stockholm Public Library by Samantha Marx - Book Cover Design

Photo Credit: Stockholm Public Library by Samantha Marx


Like print design, I love the feel of book pages, the smell of the ink, and of age, if it’s an old volume. I love the low tech energy of a book. No wi-fi required. Not even electricity. A candle will do to still be able to read when the lights go out.

Books contain whole worlds. After you’ve enjoyed that awesome book cover design, you’re ready to embark on the journey the book contains. You turn back the cover and enter through that open gate to a place that will likely remain in your mind forever, if it’s well written enough.

The Art of Book Cover Design

Book cover design, (and the interior layout) is an art form. From the careful selection of typeface  and font size to the texture of paper to the size of the cut sheets, to the image and type on the cover. Designing a book cover is a delicate arrangement of components. It takes a special kind of eye. Listen to the video below to learn more about just how much goes into the process of professional cover design.

Contrary to lay belief, a book cover design is not something you put together in 30 minutes using the free paint program that came with your computer. It takes some research, trial and error, imaginative interpretation. It’s an analytical process.

When it comes to the interior, every paragraph must be studied and edited so that it sits right on the page. No orphaned or widowed lines to distract the flow. No unbalanced graphic elements. People take for granted how much work goes into the publishing of a book, the creation of an attractive tome that will stand the test of time.

So maybe you should think twice – if you’re not a designer – about designing your own cover. If you’re self-publishing you should spend good money in two areas:  invest in a professional cover and invest in professional editing. Don’t skimp on these. Only a very fortunate few happen to find a riveting book cover for five dollars.

The thing about an amateur cover is … you have to know what an amateur cover looks like … in order to know if that’s what you’ve designed. Your friends are so impressed that you’ve written a book – they’ll tell you the cover you’ve designed is awesome when it’s really … not.

Remember:  Your book cover design is what first attracts attention.

Great covers keep books alive.


I’ve often said I’m disappointed that I don’t see kids outside playing much anymore. They’re all glued to their mobile devices. But maybe, just maybe, some of them are inside reading books – or hanging out at the local library! (Wishful thinking?)

Libraries are having to change with these times, to offer multimedia options in addition to hard covers, magazines and paperbacks. Librarians are having to get tech savvy. Library science has taken a whole new direction, I’m sure, to keep pace with technology and the new ways of presenting and consuming information … and the diminishing attention spans of people.

But I hope we never stop recognizing the value of a printed page.


And the value of designers to design great covers.


I hope libraries and bookstores … and print design … never go away.



Here’s a video on Book Cover Design Inside Random House: “The Art of Cover Design”

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