How To Create A Book Cover That Sells


It’s this straightforward: Your cover makes or breaks the sale. A great book cover draws the reader in to check out more, while an average or worse cover makes the reader move on and forget about your book entirely.

So if your cover doesn’t draw them in, then your persuasive Amazon book page description and book introduction don’t matter. Honestly, if readers are window shopping and never click on your cover, nothing else matters.

In a previous post, I described what makes a book cover stand out. However, I didn’t explain how to create a book cover—that’s what this post is going to cover (pun intended).

And since 99% of authors aren’t skilled in design, they’re better off paying a graphic designer to get the results they’re looking for.

That’s what I did. For two of my three published books, I consulted with an online designer to come up with my book cover. And for the other book, I used a local freelancer I knew.

In my opinion, you definitely need a professional graphic designer.

Though you can’t just expect a designer to read your mind and poof, come up with the cover you wanted. It’s not magic. You need to give them a vision, in technical terms a: design brief.

What’s A Design Brief?

A design brief is a short instructional document that clearly states the expectations and results you have in mind for the cover. Usually this includes a few sentences on the summary of the book, the target audience, how the reader should feel when seeing the cover, and the author’s goals.

When a designer has this, they can make creative decisions in the context of your goal, instead of making decisions from thin air.

So it goes without saying, but the more detailed and specific you lay out your vision, the easier it is for the designer to make it into a reality.

In many cases, your design brief also helps you select the right designer for the job. Because you can compare your vision to their past work experience to see if it’s a good fit.

For all of these reasons and so you’re happy with your cover, you need a design brief. Let’s move on to how to write one.

How To Write A Design Brief For Your Cover

To limit unnecessary communication back and forth, you want your design brief to be informational yet brief.

With that in mind, you will want to include all of these details in the design brief for your book cover:

  • Book title
  • Book subtitle (if applicable)
  • Author first name and last name
  • Mission or goal of the book
  • Message you’re trying to communicate to the reader
  • Demographics of the target audience
  • Explain that the cover will be uploaded to Kindle
  • Book cover size (if you want a paperback book format)
  • Any images or designs you think might work
  • Color scheme
  • Examples of books where you like the designs
  • Deadline date to complete the job

If you don’t have opinions on a few of these details—like images or color scheme—tell the designer they can make their own judgement on what looks best. While you want to limit revisions, there is inevitably going to be a few back and forth edits until you get the perfect book cover.

Where To Find A Designer

With your design brief ready, all there is left to do is to find a graphic designer, send them your brief, and agree on the project. But if you don’t know where to go, this could be an issue.

Lucky for you, I’m going to share my three favorite avenues for finding a quality book cover designer.

Personal referrals Are you friends with any authors or writers? If so, reach out to them to ask if they recommend any graphic designers that have previously done good work for them. This often works out really well because they’ve already vetted this person for you, which saves you time.

And if you’re really fortunate, you don’t need a referral because you already know someone. As long as they’re good enough, go with them. You’ll likely get a cheaper rate and have no trust problems. This is the best way to go if you have this option available!

Fiverr – This site has plenty of professional graphic designers from around the world who are ready to create your book cover. Fiverr is famous for offering service jobs for only $5 rates, but for book covers it might run you a little more money. If you’re on a low self publishing budget, this is the cheapest option of the three.

I actually used Fiverr for the cover of The Golden Resume and How To College, plus the logo of Self Publishing X (though I played a heavy role in the creation of these graphics and essentially told the designers what I wanted done). None of those projects were $5, but they were a fair rate when you’re looking to keep costs down.

If you want to test out what your audience thinks of multiple book covers, do three different $5 book cover designs. Then you’ll have only spent $15 and get the advantage of receiving audience feedback on multiple versions.

99designs – 99designs does things a bit different. On this site, you don’t submit a design brief to an individual (like Fiverr), you create a design contest based on your brief and designers contact you with their cover ideas. Then you select a winner, or you can select revisions.

To be honest, I’ve never used 99designs. However, I know they have skilled graphic designers who can do a masterful book cover based on the covers I’ve seen from them. I also understand that this is the most expensive option, as it costs $299 at the low end. Keep this option in mind depending on your goals.

Final Words

During the book cover creation process, sneak in some marketing by uploading these book cover drafts on Facebook and other social media platforms to gain publicity. When people comment and like your different covers, they’re subconsciously going to feel more attached to your book when it launches, which translates to more book sales and reviews.

Also, a lot of authors face the temptation to go back and forth on book design covers for seemingly forever. Don’t fall into the disease of perfectionism.

The nice thing about covers is you can easily update them or revise them if you want to make a future change. So get the best cover you can (based on your opinion and others) then move forward in the self publishing process!

What questions do you have about getting a book cover designed?

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