Book Cover Design Guide

What should a book cover design communicate?

  • At one glance the viewer should know what the subject matter of the book is without reading the title
  • It should get a response out of the targeted audience
    • To pick up the book
    • To wonder what’s that about
    • Ultimately to purchase and read the book
  • A book cover is also considered as a piece of marketing material – is it eye catching


It is true that most authors almost never contractually have approval over their own covers, though they may have some definite ideas on how they want to cover to appear.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Your publisher has been through this process time after time and knows the industry. Trust your publisher.
  • Though the cover may not appeal to your taste – remember the cover is for a targeted audience and should reflect that cover more than your individual taste.
  • Old adage – sometimes more is less and less is more; Trust your publisher to assist in creating that balance.
  • Publishers and authors are on the same team. The same objective is to sell your book. Though it may be a great book the goal is to get the audience to invest in you.



A Practical Exercise for Authors:

Go online or to a book store and browse. Pick out three books in the same section or subject matter that immediately captured your attention as well as three other books that you would never give a second glance.

  • Ask yourself the following questions regarding the book cover:
  • What about the book cover that captured or did not capture your attention? Was it color? the picture? the title?
  • Did the cover immediately communicate to you what the book was about? Or did it make you go further to read the synopsis to understand what the book was all about?
  • What emotional response did you feel in viewing the book cover?
  • Would you or would you not purchase this book in spite of the book cover?