How To Design Your Book Cover

Jennifer Mendez The Writing Process

Self-publishing your book? You’re not the first, nor the last. The popularity of self-publishing has skyrocketed over the last few years, and now, it seems like your book could be a drop in the bucket. But don’t let that dissuade you. You just need a way to stand out and market your book well. In this article we won’t tackle the marketing aspect of things, because we have quite a few articles specializing in that already.

But if you’re looking for a way to design your book cover in order to stand out, then you’re in the right place. For starters, do you have what it takes to design it yourself, or should you hire a professional?

Determine Your DIY Skill Level

Before moving forward, be completely honest with yourself. Do you have any graphic design, photography, or other visually creative skills? If you can take a mean photograph that looks professional, you’re in luck, you can design your own book cover. If you can work magic in terms of graphic design and are 110% capable of making a book cover look professional, then you’re also in luck. Painters and art enthusiasts might also have a shot.

Now, if you don’t have the skills needed, or aren’t sure, consider doing a few trials. Play around on the computer, sketch design ideas on paper, and take a few photographs. Edit everything, back away for a day or two, and then judge honestly. Is it good? If you’re not happy with any of it, don’t feel the pressure to make it happen. Skip down to the “Hiring a Professional” section for your next step.

Consider Free Tools

If you’re creating your own book cover,  try Canva, a free and essential program often used by freelancers and other graphic design professionals. It’s useful for just about everything, from greeting cards to presentations, blog graphics to computer backgrounds, and yes, even for book covers. In fact, they have eBook layouts, Kindle cover options and even Wattpad book cover ideas. Most options are free, but there are some paid layouts, all cheap. Everything is customizable, and perfect for the author who still needs to work on his/her marketing to tie everything together. While you’re there, redo your Twitter header, YouTube channel art, Facebook event cover, and more. You can even design your entire website with pretty graphics for free.

If for some reason Canva isn’t for you, consider other free options, like, Desygner, or Vectr.

Consider Paid Options

If you have a higher budget, and you feel like you can handle the more complex software, feel free to check out Adobe InDesign. It can be used across desktop and mobile devices, and even makes publishing easy. Yes, publishing of everything from printed books to digital magazines. eBooks too.

If you’re more of a photographer than anything, and feel more comfortable taking a really mesmerizing picture and using it as a cover, consider Adobe Photoshop. You can make the photograph your entire book cover, and simply add the text over it, like a title, author name, and maybe even a line from the book.

Hiring A Professional

Not everyone has an eye for design. It’s OK though, you know how to write! Some would say it’s much more difficult. Whatever the case, there are many options. Here’s a list of some of the most common and well-reviewed:

As a side note, remember your budget. Book cover designers range from $100 to close to $700. If you’re going for something artsy, somewhat organic flowing and roughly in the $299 price range, your best bet might be 99Designs.


Remember, the self-publishing industry is massive. Anyone and everyone can publish a book for free, which means many of these books are pretty awful. And the book cover designs match! To avoid this, make your book cover stand out. Make sure it’s professional and appealing to your audience. Think who will likely pick up the book, based on the cover alone, and want to read it? Is it your target audience? It should be!


About the Author

Jennifer Mendez

Jennifer Mendez has brought insightful articles to From author interviews to how literature meets gaming to expert insight into tools and writing processes, her dedication to helping our author community is quite inspiring. You can find more of her writing at

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