How I Design my Book Covers

September 26, 2021 maddoctorartist 0 Comments

So, this month, I would like to delve into how I design book covers. Despite the famous adage, books are very much judged by their covers, and while it can seem overwhelming, there is a process that can narrow down the best cover to suit your genre.

I recently decided to spruce up my covers to the Goddess Saga, so I thought it would be fun to share how I did it. I do want to focus more on the mindset of choosing a cover, rather than the technical details, so I won't bore you with endless techno-babble.

And if you don't write, I hope you enjoy the behind-the-scenes peek!

1. Know your genre

This seems so simple, right? But it's easily the most important part. When you write a book, you should know the genre (and/or subgenre) it belongs to. Once you have that down, you need to look at current books of the genre and get a flavour for what the covers are like. Most genres have specific conventions that scream 'I am x genre' which is sure to attract readers who like to read it.

In my case, I write YA Fantasy, and this has two distinct designs; one with people in a fantasy setting, or one with a symbol/ object with magical glow effects. I lean more towards symbolic covers, so this is what I chose for my books.

A useful tip is to look at the Top 100 Amazon sellers in your genre category, download some covers and make a collage to see similarities and what makes them stand out. 

A mix of covers in the YA Fantasy top 100, with my own thrown in to compare!

2. Gathering resources

With the most essential step done, next is to generate ideas for the cover. You might have become inspired by the covers you've seen so far. Pinterest is great for getting the creative juices flowing (just don't fall too far down the rabbit hole!).

Once I have an idea, now comes the most laborious part- looking for stock photos and Photoshop brushes. These must be for commercial use (as you're selling books) so double and triple check you have the right licences.

3. Fonts, fonts, fonts

What makes book covers different from other types of digital art is the fact you need typography. This is another part of the process that will make your book ooze your genre. Like with stock photos, if you download fonts, they must be for commercial use.

I use a different font for the title and author, and to add some flare I have a more elaborate font for the first letter of the main title.

I also use a gradient effect to make it pop more.

This is from my next book, but I use the same fonts and gradient effects...

4. Putting it all together

Now the creative part begins! This is where I combine the stock photos, add lighting effects, decide on the composition and font placement. It also helps to have some knowledge of colour theory and contrast, as the covers need to stand out when reduced to a scrappy thumbnail (such as if you're looking for books on your Kindle device).

And so here's the final product:

And there you have it! That's how I make my book covers.
Which are your favourite book covers? Post them, I'd love to take a look!

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