Well, here I am… at the cover design stage for my horror novel, Code of Reanimation! Book covers hold tremendous weight in attracting readers. Let’s admit it, in this scenario, most of us DO judge a book by it’s cover. That’s why it’s so important to get a cover that perfectly represents and compliments your story. I confess, I haven’t made my own covers, but turned to professionals for help. My current novel is no exception, and I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that I have Murphy Rae designing my book cover. AHHH! She has such an amazing reputation, working with Jillian Webster, J.Q. Davis, and Colleen Hoover. Yes, you read that right. THE Colleen Hoover! But reputation aside, I absolutely fell in love with her portfolio and instantly knew I wanted to work with her. I’m hoping to do a cover reveal mid-September, so stay tuned for that!

So many elements are in play when designing the appearance of your book. After all, the cover initially draws a reader to your novel. The more inviting a book cover, the more readers you’ll ultimately have. So, give ample attention to this stage in your book’s development. 

If you are one of the fortunate ones who’s snagged a publisher for your novel, they will design the cover for you. However, if you are self-publishing, like I am, then you will need to do a little or a lot of work by yourself. 

Here’s a short guide on how to create an alluring book cover for your novel, whether you hire a designer or are developing the cover on your own.

1. Selecting Cover Images

In creating your own cover, choose image(s) that reflect the content of your book—beautiful, creepy, mysterious, romantic, or clever—depending on the genre and tone of your story. 

There are many stock image sites to peruse to find that perfect picture, such as stock.adobe.com, stocksy.com, istock.com, shutterstock.com, 123rf.com, dreamstime.com, and depositphotos.com. There’s usually a fee to use the photo, but the prices aren’t too steep. There are free sites you can also use, such as pixabay.com

If you’re going through a self-publishing company where your cover design is part of the package, then they may cover the price of the stock images. 

Can’t find that perfect image? You can take photos and create your own cover. This especially works well if you have photography in your background or have a good friend that’s a photographer. Or you can combine stock photos using an editing app, like Canva, to create a different, more elaborate scene. Again, if you are using a self-publishing company that includes cover design, you will have someone to help you with this process.

Note: The potential downside to using stock photos, especially from free sites, is that other people also have access to these photos and may use them for their own covers. This happened with my first book, Father of Contention, where the image has been used to promote paranormal sites, conventions, and yes, even some novels. I still love the cover, but anytime I get a message from a friend saying someone stole my cover idea, my heart sinks. Then, I have to explain it wasn’t stolen, but the main image is available for public use. A way around this is to change the photo or combine it with others so that it looks unique.

2. Title – Font and Size

Next, once you have figured out the picture to grace the cover of your masterpiece, you’ll need to select the proper font for your book title and author name. Ensure that it matches your theme and pops out so that people immediately notice it amongst the thousands of other books on display. Picking the right colour for the font is key for it to stand out. It should be clear and easy to read.

You can also include a tag line, a short review quote (if you have any from arc readers), award stickers (if you won any writing contests), and if it’s part of a series, you’ll want to add the book number and series name.

If you’re unsure of how to approach this step, check out some of your favourite books and choose the one that is most impressive.

3. Back Cover Blurb

Another enormous factor that will attract readers to your book is the back cover blurb. The back cover blurb summarizes your story, providing enough information to leave the reader wanting more. It is by far the hardest thing to write since it’s usually the deciding factor that drives potential readers to the cashier to buy the book or has them placing it back on the shelf.

Take the time to make this the best writing possible. Research other back cover blurbs, checking out how your favourite authors draw in their readers with a few brief paragraphs. There are also a few sites that offer advice on writing book blurbs. Here’s one from Reedsy, but if you do a search online, you’ll find plenty to choose from.

You might be tempted to overwrite here, but avoid that urge. Keep it between 100-250 words. Start with a clever hook to draw readers in and end with a climax. Don’t give too much away! An introduction to your characters and a summary of the story is enough. Then, keep revising until it’s perfect! 

Well, there you have it. It’s a short guide, like I promised. If you can hire someone to help you design your book cover, you may find the process much more enjoyable. You still might be required to suggest cover art or images, but the designer will do the rest.  

Having that cover completed brings you one step closer to having the final printed copy in your hands. A real tangible copy! And hopefully, this short guide helps you to get there a little faster and easier. This is my favourite process in book publishing, so I’m eager to share MY new cover with you when it’s ready! Not much longer to wait!

I love to hear from you. Can you offer any other advice to new authors who are in the cover design phase? We’d love to hear about your personal experience!

Enjoy the rest of the month, and don’t forget to keep reading!

💋 Lanie Mores