book cover design tips

Creating a captivating book cover is a secret weapon to boost your book sales. Yes, it’s true – readers often judge a book by its cover. A compelling, well-designed cover can be the difference between a potential reader picking up your book or passing it by. The problem is, everybody knows this already, and believe it even… but it’s useless unless you understand what a “good” book cover actually is. So today I’m going to share some insider design hacks that can help your book fly off the shelves.

Hack 1 – Understanding Genre Conventions

Certain design elements become synonymous with specific genres over time. Think of a fantasy novel, and your mind might conjure up images of dragons, castles, and magical symbols. For a romance novel, it might be a passionate couple against a sunset. Understanding and incorporating these genre-specific conventions can make your book instantly recognizable to your target readers. But remember, don’t sacrifice originality for convention. Strive to give these tropes a unique twist to make your cover stand out. (*Authors always say they want to “stand out” and they mean, avoiding all genre conventions and making something that does not look like it belongs on the shelf it should be on. That’s a common, and disastrous mistake).

Hack 2 – Using the Right Typography

Fonts convey emotions. A well-chosen font can set the tone for your book. For instance, a thriller might benefit from edgy, angular typefaces that hint at the suspense contained within, while a romance novel might opt for more elegant, flowing scripts. Ensure your title and author name are clearly readable, even in thumbnail size, as many readers will first encounter your book cover online. Here’s a HUGE list of best fonts for every genre.

Hack 3 – Effective Use of Colors

Colors can stir emotions and set the mood. Dark colors like black or deep blues might evoke a sense of mystery or melancholy, making them perfect for a crime thriller or a tear-jerker. In contrast, bright colors like yellow or pink might convey happiness or excitement, making them a good fit for a comedy or a light-hearted romance. Knowing and leveraging color psychology can help you connect with your potential readers on a subconscious level. Contrast is important, but you probably want only one or two main colors on your cover (I can teach you how to add color washes with my cover creator tool).

Hack 4 – The Power of Imagery

A picture is worth a thousand words. A powerful image that reflects your book’s central theme can intrigue a potential reader. If your book is a memoir about your adventures in Africa, a striking image of the African savannah could be a good choice. If it’s a science fiction about an alien invasion, an eerie image of a spaceship might work. Stories are about people, so you need a humanizing element with some emotion. Nonfiction is more about the topic, so you usually want a simple, interestingly unique central image and mostly blank space for professional typography.

Hack 5 – Leverage AI Tools for Unique Designs

AI tools like Midjourney have been game-changers in the design world. These tools can help you create professional and eye-catching covers, even if you’re not a trained designer. For instance, I’ve used Midjourney to generate AI art mockups for book cover ideas. With a little tweaking in Photoshop, these AI-generated pieces can turn into unique, beautiful covers.

Hack 6 – The Importance of a Professional Look

Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned author or a first-timer, a professional-looking cover is a must. It communicates to the readers that you’ve invested time, effort, and resources into your book, enhancing your credibility. This could be achieved by maintaining a clean layout, having a balanced composition, and using high-quality images and fonts. Try our templates if you want a quick start to a great cover.

Hack 7 – Testing and Getting Feedback

Finally, test different cover designs and get feedback from others. You can share different versions of your cover on your social media platforms or with a selected group of readers and ask for their opinions. Their input can provide valuable insights into how your target readers perceive your cover. That said, take it with a grain of salt: what people say may not match up with their actual purchasing habits, and they may critique the wrong things without knowing why. But if you publish a book and can’t get any traction at all, it’s probably the cover.

A well-designed cover can be a powerful tool to increase your book’s appeal and boost its sales. By using these design hacks, you’ll be better equipped to create a cover that not only reflects your story but also resonates with your potential readers. Remember, a great cover is the first step in enticing readers to open your book. After all, the best story in the world won’t get read if the cover doesn’t make a reader pick it up.

Stay tuned for more insider tips on writing, publishing, and book design. Until then, keep writing and designing!

Derek Murphy
Derek Murphy

Derek Murphy is a cover designing indie author enthusiast, finishing a PhD in Literature and shopping for a castle in Europe.