Top Tips for Designing Your Book Cover

Bestselling Book Cover Design: Top Tips

Yes, people do judge a book by its cover.

Your cover is important to your book’s success. On average, a bookstore browser (that includes online book browsers) spends under 8 seconds looking at the front cover and 10 seconds looking at the back cover. Not much time to make a sale, particularly if your cover can’t be read, doesn’t stand out or looks like it was made by a fifth grader!

Book reviewers can only review a few books each week, so they select books, sometimes based on what covers appear to be the most interesting. Your book cover must survive “the glance test” for both reviewers and book buyers.

It must also match the print quality and style standards of the increasingly competitive world of book retail. In others words, it has to look the part, or it won’t get any shelf time in the major outlets, such as Barnes and Noble, Borders, Booksamillion, Powells, etc.

And, if you are self-publishing, quality and style are even more important. Sure, you can publish and put any book up for sale on Amazon, but that doesn’t mean it will sell. More often than not, the designs scream “cheap!” This will put off all of your potential customers: publishers, librarians, retail buyers, reviewers, readers and journalists. I know, your family and friends think it looks “awesome.” Sadly, your friends and family will probably tell you it looks “nice,” or “great” even when it isn’t.

So, do yourself a favor. Follow this Bestselling Book Cover Check List, and, before you print anything, take your cover sample into a bookstore or your local library and have them give you “real” feedback. You might not get the response you want, however, you will get one that will, in the long run, save you time, money and face!

The Top Ten Tips for designing YOUR Book Cover


  1. Your cover MUST pass the 10ft test. You should be able to easily read the title from 10 ft away without needing to squint!

  2. The fonts MUST be FLAT. That means no 3-D, embossing or drop shadows. Use readable fonts, avoid fancy scripts in strong, bold colors.

  3. Cover images MUST be high-resolution—no nasty visible pixels—and they should be flat, not 3-D. Ideally the image should represent the theme in the book, and not detract from the text.

  4. Your cover MUST be designed with your target audience in mind and it should reflect the genre: thriller, romance, self-help, teen, manual, etc.

  5. You MUST make any important info about your book e.g. awards, testimonials, or key selling points, stand out on the front or back cover.

  6. Your back cover MUST include the following data: ISBN number, ISBN barcode, price, publishing company, BISAC categories, and your website address.

  7. If you are using images or illustrations, you MUST get copyright or pay a license fee to the person who created them, and give them a credit.

  8. Your cover MUST fit in with the atmosphere the bookstore/online retailer is trying to create; yet it must stand out from other titles.

  9. You MUST include the author’s name, and any accreditations he or she has. Make sure to add this to the spine and back cover, too.

  10. You MUST get feedback. Create a focus group, go to the mall and ask people you’ve never met, do not, I repeat, DO NOT ask your family and friends!


Tags: , , , , ,

Categories: Book Design, Self-Publishing

Author:Gemini Adams

Multiple-award winning, bestselling author, artist and founder of the Finish Your Book educational program.

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