5 tips for great book covers

They say, “Never judge a book by its cover,” yet we all do.

People judge other people by first appearances, and customers judge the books they buy by their covers. You can’t have an unattractive, plain-looking design on your book’s cover and expect to sell millions of copies.

Believe it or not, one of the most important parts of publishing a book is the book’s cover. An unattractive one can sell decently, but it will probably never generate the income you expect. A nice-looking one is going to attract more readers and increase your profits. So, which one do you choose?

If your answer to that question is “the latter,” take a look at these 5 tips on how to create an attractive cover for your book.

how to design a good book cover

How to Choose a Great Book Cover

1. Be Smart About Your Title

The title is one of the most important elements on your cover. First, it should be big enough to read clearly and should fit nicely on the page; second, it should be easily readable.

Although some people still walk into libraries or bookstores to look for books, most of us simply search for them on our computers. Therefore, creating a cover whose title is clear and catches to the eye is essential, especially when seen on a computer screen at thumbnail size.

Avoid colors that blend too closely with the cover art, and stay away from fonts that are hard to read at small sizes.

2. Use a Teaser

A good strategy of manipulating the reader into buying your book is providing a teaser on the cover. That could be a subtitle, or even a short quote.

For fiction books, a good teaser is a summary of the plot. What is happening throughout the book? What is the major point of interest? Highlight that, and add it to your cover. Don’t make it too long! Use smaller fonts and powerful colors.

For nonfiction books, it is essential that you include keywords. Those are usually incorporated in the subtitle. It will be easier for readers to find your book if there are more words that they can look up, right? For instance, say you have a short title like “Intrigued.” If you add an interesting and highly specific subtitle, it is going to be even easier to find: “Intrigued: The Art of Manipulating People Using a 3D Method.”

3. Pick the Right Font and Background Image

Do not use more than two different types of fonts on your cover. It will make it look unprofessional and cluttered.

Avoid using one of your computer’s generic fonts, too. It gives the impression that the book is not interesting enough. When people are familiar with a certain font, they tend to ignore it, since they see it very often. By using a slightly more unusual font, one they don’t encounter in Word every day, readers will be intrigued to find out more about the book’s content.

Dana Loveleigh, professional designer and freelance writer at RushMyEssay UK, shares her opinion. “Concerning the font’s color, I would rather use an emphatic one such as a powerful orange, or a strong red. Green is also a good choice, and yellow can fit in the context as long as it’s dynamic enough. Authors must attract readers by exposing their art through color as well, since the human’s eye is mostly influenced by that. Color is essential if you want to sell well!”

4. Make the Cover Personal

I strongly believe that a personal cover can sell better, but it depends on your book’s content.

A personal cover adds that humanizing factor people want to see. If, for instance, you use a human face, or even a person’s body, chances are your readers will be more likely to pay attention to it. Why? Because it is not about that specific face, it is about the background story that the face reveals. It makes the book mysterious and interesting to discover.

Don’t exaggerate, even if you make it personal. If you add to many details to your cover—for instance, a teaser, a powerful font color, and a big face on top of that—it might be too much. Readers can tell when you try too hard, and that is always a bummer.

5. You Can Go Simple

If everything else fails, go simple.

As I was pointing out before, including too many details to make your cover “look good” might make it worse than you expect. It is a common novice mistake to try and fit everything into the cover.

Keep in mind that in order to make that cover dynamic and outstanding, most authors hire designers—after all, you’re a writer, not a visual artist, and odds are someone else can do a much better job with that cover than you can. If you want a good, professional designer, it is going to cost you some money.

If your budget is tight, consider sticking to a simpler cover rather than attempting to completely DIY it. In the end, your sales results will prove it was worth it.

Of course, simple does not have to mean boring. Take a look at this cover for The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. It is simple and outstanding. The message is clearly delivered; the background catches the reader’s eye; and the bold, black font underlines the powerful message.

As you can see, no images are used–just a short subtitle to emphasize what the book is about. Simple, fun, and easily noticeable. And it works! This book was a New York Times number-one bestseller, selling more than 2 million copies throughout the U.S.


Creating a first-class book cover requires imagination and audacity. Be courageous enough to try new things, and outstanding enough to make your readers interested. Go simple if everything else fails, and be strategic in your decisions. Good luck!