15 Articles on Cover Design for Self-Publishers

by | May 26, 2014

One of the requests I get most often is for help on cover design. That’s why I’ve written so many articles about the challenge of designing your own book cover. But these articles aren’t always that easy to find or ferret out of the archives.

So I decided (it being Memorial Day and all here in the U.S., and I’ve got a couple of big slabs of ribs deep in my 5 hour rib recipe) to bring these articles into one place to make it easier to find them and to know which ones will answer the question you have at any particular time.

To make this list easier to approach, I’ve divided the articles into general topic areas. Dive in, you’ll see exactly what I mean.

General Articles on Book and eBook Cover Design

Book Covers, Dust Jackets, and Case-Wrap Books
“All books by their nature have a cover. We categorize book covers into hardcover and softcover, but they are better referred to as casebound and paperbound. A trade hardcover book is a bookblock (the interior pages taken together) glued, or sewn and glued, into a case, constructed of laminated cardboard and covered with cloth or paper.”

Top 8 Cover Design Tips for Self-Publishers
“We’ve all seen them. The train wrecks. The art class projects. The cringe-inducing artwork. It’s the world of do-it-yourself book cover design. Somewhere between the quirky “cover design generators” on author-service company websites, and the All-American view that everyone should get a ribbon because, after all, they participated, the cover design is suffering at the hands of self-publishers.”

Book Cover Design, Fiction and Nonfiction: What’s the Offer?
“Whether fiction or nonfiction, each book makes an offer to prospective readers. In a book on how to build brick pizza ovens, the offer ought to be crystal clear—the information on how and why to build one yourself. But part of the offer is also the satisfaction you get, or that you imagine you’ll get, when you build that oven and pull a gorgeous pizza out of it. In a book on leadership, the offer might be harder to discern, but it’s there. Ideas and inspiration to help the reader do her job better. And beyond that, the feeling of improving oneself, gaining insight. And in fiction, the offer is the most mysterious of all.”

Book Cover Design Symposium in Your Inbox
“Here’s what’s interesting: The monthly Goodreads email, which highlights new releases, consists of 60 book cover images arranged by genre. This is a goldmine each month. If you’re interested in what’s going on in cover design trends, but you don’t have a lot of time to cruise categories on Amazon or other online retailers, you can get a pretty good idea right in your inbox.”

Common Problems With Cover Design

3 Ways Self-Publishers Fail at Cover Design
“But for a lot of self-publishers, getting their book cover done presents serious challenges. I’ve organized these challenges into three different types. Let’s take a look and see where the problem lies.”

Book Cover Design and the Problem of Symbolism
“One common cover design error you may not have thought of is particularly difficult for many authors to overcome: they know their own books too well. What I mean is that when you wrote the book, you invested it with lots of meaning, and perhaps you wove in symbols throughout the story to make it that much more enticing. But when it comes to the book cover, professional designers know that usually, ‘less is more.'”

Tools and Resources

4 Incredible Free Sources for Photos to Use in Your Book or Blog
“The fact is that we can get oodles of images that are available with simple guidelines that are easy to follow. But before we get to the sources, I think it would be good if we looked at one of the innovations that makes this image-sharing possible.”

5 Great Fonts for Book Covers
“One of the most consistent and easily corrected mistakes I see with book covers that are designed by authors is weak or inappropriate typography. Given that a book cover usually has very few words on it, and those words (title, subtitle, author’s name) have a huge influence on buying decisions, this can be a major problem.”

Print and e-Book Covers, a Matter of Resolution
“One of the regular tasks of a book cover designer is preparing cover images for a client’s use in promotions, website design, a whole host of things. Today that was one of the things on my to-do list, and I prepared two JPGs, one for print and one for web use.”

Free Book Jacket Layout Template for DIY Self-Publishers
“One of the most challenging tasks for a do-it-yourself self-publisher is laying out a dust jacket for a hardcover book. To create the artwork for a jacket, it’s important to work closely with your book printer. Many of the crucial pieces of information you’ll need are only available from the people who will manufacture your book.”

Book Cover Basic Details

Self-Publishing Basics: Why You Need a Category on the Back Cover of Your Book
“With so many books in their stock, so many new books coming out every week, and so much change in the publishing business, booksellers have a hard time keeping up. One way you can help them is by printing the principal category the book belongs in on the back cover.”

Self Publishing Basics: How to Create Your ARC Cover
“However, you have to be careful when preparing the cover artwork for your ARC because a misstep here could completely eliminate any chance of getting a valuable review in one of these trade-oriented review sources, such as Publishers Weekly or Library Journal.”

Ebook Specifics

e-Book Cover File Size Specifications
“I’ve been getting a lot of questions recently about e-book covers and, specifically the size and proportion requirements for submitting the cover image of your e-book when you upload it to a retailer or a distributor. Here’s a selection of requirements that should help. Keep in mind this information is accurate now but could change at any time, so check when you’re ready to upload.”

15 Ebook Covers: Success and Failure in the Kindle Store
“I took a stroll over to the Kindle store to do some browsing in the granddaddy of the ebook stores. Looking through the “Top 100″ it’s remarkable how many different forces are at work in presenting ebooks. I picked out a bunch of covers to take a closer look at. Some of these clearly are winners—they’ve made the leap to a different format successfully, and do a great job of selling their books. Others . . . not so much. Take a look.”

3 Secrets to e-Book Cover Design Success
“But more than anything else, designers and do-it-yourself self-publishers have to address the challenges of this new form in a way that helps them sell books. Since we started the monthly e-Book Cover Design Awards I’ve judged hundreds of e-book covers. The patterns that emerged were unmistakable. So here they are, my guidelines for how to succeed at this important publishing task.”

Ebook Cover Design Awards

Of course, in addition to these 15 articles, every month we publish what amounts to a workshop in ebook cover design. This takes the form of our monthly competition, the Ebook Cover Design Awards.

Over the months we’ve shown thousands of book covers, and most of them also have mini critiques, congratulations, and ways to improve the covers.

Just reading through these posts will give you the beginning of an education in this field. And if you decide you’d rather just hire the job out, you can also use these posts to discover some great cover designers!

Do you have specific questions about cover design? Leave them in the comments.

Photo: bigstockphoto.com

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. andrew spencer


    Many thanks for all this extremely useful information. I am about to instruct an artist friend to produce a cover so I have to get it right it the first time because she is doing me a big favour. The proposed book will be a hard back. What size drawing should I ask for ? The exact size of the book or doesn’t it matter. Second and similarly should the spine design be the exact size?

    • Joel Friedlander

      Andrew, this is far too technical to list all the specifics in a blog comment. My best advice to you would be decide how the book will be printed first, then get the requirements and specifications from whoever will be doing the manufacturing. Once you know the trim size and number of pages you can calculate the spine width. Also “hard back” could mean (to some people) simply a print book, or it could mean a jacketed casebound book or it could mean a casewrap book. Do your homework first.

  2. Lesney Anderson

    All I want is a simple beach scene (water and sand) and the title of the book printed on that… And the price for doing that. And the cost, of course!
    Lesney anderson

    • Joel Friedlander

      Lesney, the comments are for discussion. If you have other questions, please use my contact form here: Contact Us.

  3. Terry Patrick

    Joel, I am new to book design and am getting so much out of your blog posts and e-book cover award comments. We launched an ebook earlier this year and are now in the process of designing the print book and its cover. We are totally redesigning the cover for the print book and were considering having a different cover on the ebook than on the print book. What is your opinion on this?

    • Joel Friedlander

      Terry, thanks. I wouldn’t put a completely different cover on the print book, it can confuse buyers and muddy the “branding” of the book. A better idea might be to adapt the ebook cover for the print book environment, where you have much more flexibility and different demands than in the ebook space.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Hey, Jennifer, thanks so much, I really appreciate it. And that’s a great roundup of resources for children’s book authors, too.

      I wonder if you’ve looked at our children’s book and picture book templates, because we have a very active affiliate program, which you can find out more about here: Book Design Templates affiliate program.

      Since I rarely write about children’s books, you might want to consider contributing a guest post here as well, I’m sure many readers would be interested.

  4. Valerie Rind

    Joel, thanks for putting all your helpful guidance about ebook covers in one place.

    I hired a designer who I discovered via your ebook Cover Design Awards. My book is nonfiction so I only had to review hundreds of covers rather than thousands of fiction cover designs. :)

    I’ve also learned a lot by reading your comments about the entries. Thanks!

    • Joel Friedlander

      Thanks Valerie, that’s great. Yes, the nonfiction category does underperform fiction in these awards, but I suppose that reflects the greater popularity genre fiction enjoys in ebook sales.



  1. Indie Authors: High Quality Book Covers - […] The Book Designer’s “15 Articles on Cover Design for Self-Publishers“ […]
  2. Top 10 Writing Posts of the Week | Blake Atwood - […] Whatever you do, don’t do your own covers. […]
  3. 15 Articles on Cover Design for Self-Publishers... - […] Post image for 15 Articles on Cover Design for Self-Publishers. One of the requests I get most often is…
  4. 15 Articles on Cover Design for Self-Publishers... - […] Now15 Articles on Cover Design for Self-Publishers presents 15 articles on book and ebook cover design  […]
  5. 15 Articles on Cover Design for Self-Publishers... - […] 15 Articles on Cover Design for Self-Publishers presents 15 articles on book and ebook cover design.  […]
  6. 15 Articles on Cover Design for Self-Publishers... - […] 15 Articles on Cover Design for Self-Publishers presents 15 articles on book and ebook cover design (Excellent article and…
  7. 15 Articles on Cover Design for Self-Publishers... - […] 15 Articles on Cover Design for Self-Publishers presents 15 articles on book and ebook cover design  […]

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.