How to design a professional looking book cover


Is the cover really that important? YES. In a webpage or bookstore full of books that’s the one thing that will make your book stand out!

Common features to most covers:


1-If any characters are visible their faces are partial or hidden. You want to leave the character’s face to the imagination of the reader. As you can see above some characters are from behind or their faces are cut, but some are visible. I prefer hidden faces, it’s more intriguing 😉

2-The title and image have to be legible in a thumbnail size!

3-Do your research! Go to the library or a bookstore and look at your genre.What are the common features between bestselling books? For example YA books are colorful, and typically use many font types at once. They have many layers. Thrillers instead tend to be black, white and read, with minimal covers.

4- If you are working on a series, plan ahead and tie in all covers. There is nothing more infuriating than books in a series that don’t fit well together 😉


5-Think about the cover scene. It could be a scene from the book or a play on words, but it has to convey the mood of the book and not mislead your reader. Don’t put a half naked hunk on a horror, unless it’s a horror romance 😉

Some great covers of books I did not read and I have never heard of:


Why is this great? The tree-house tells me teen/kids, holding hands tells me romance/coming of age, the title is clearly legible, the illustration is pretty.


The black and white combined with the title suggests thriller/horror, the juxtaposition with Dorothy is funny and intriguing, the graphics are simple and catchy.

Here is what I did with my books:

The Italian village gives the setting, three boys and a girl on a tree (YA, tomboy), the scene seems funny and lighthearted but the black and white suggests a deeper tone. The yellow on the spine adds color and looks wonderful with the other books in the series.


In book 2 the darker color suggests maturation, the kiss and the moon hint at romance, but you can clearly tell our MC is still a kickass tomboy 😉

In book 3 the characters are older, and the graffiti on the wall suggests we are in Italy and, if you bother to check, “ti amo” means I love you. Did I mention the red? 😉

How long does it take to design a cover? The first one took me over a year because I had no idea what I was doing. But the other volumes in the series were a breeze because I already had a template 🙂

What programs did I use to design the cover? I used Adobe photoshop, which is really expensive, but I had available for work. Other (expensive) options are Adobe Illustrator, or Indesign. If you are broke you can use the free program available at Create Space or download the free, simplified version of Photoshop. Just make sure that your cover looks professional and awesome. If it does not, you might need to hire someone to help you! I know you’re likely broke (most writers tend to be) but you either give yourself the time to learn and make a mind blowing cover yourself or you need to invest cash in someone to do it for you.

Who am I to give you advice?

I was a little girl who was told she could not become a genetic engineer (not a “girl thing” ya know), and even less become a novelist in a country that was not her own.

Well, I am a genetic engineer, a researcher, a college professor, and a successful indie novelist, and I want to show you that if you want you can; I’m here to help ^_^


My books are available worldwide on Audible, Amazon, B&N, i-Tunes, Smashwords, and bookstores (ask to order them if they’re out!). Check them out and help me spread the word ^_^


Great blog post for you fellow authors out there. I really enjoyed it and have learned a lot for my future releases. Great work @gaiabamman

Leave a Reply