Updated May 2023
After all the work you put into writing and perfecting your manuscript, you want the cover of your self-published book to be unique and memorable. And the experts at Self-Publishing Relief agree: Your book cover is your best point-of-purchase marketing tool, so it should make a great impression. However, while your book cover should be distinctive, there are some general rules you must follow to ensure your overall design suits your genre and readers’ expectations. To make certain your book stands out for all the right reasons, here are the 5 elements your book cover design must have.
Elements Your Book Cover Must Have To Be Effective
Legible fonts: Using a hard-to-read font is one of the biggest design mistakes you can make when creating your self-published book cover. Choose strong, legible fonts, especially for your title, rather than an overly decorative, indecipherable typeface. The color of the font and the placement of your text are also important. Don’t put your text over a busy background image where it will get lost, or have the color of your font and the background be too similar. You want your book title to stand out and be easy to read and remember!
Pro-tip: Your book’s title should be the largest text on your book cover—unless you are William Shakespeare or Stephen King, in which case your author name should be the biggest text element.
Visible thumbnail: Your self-published book cover should look good on both actual and virtual bookstore shelves. For online booksellers like Amazon, the book cover could be reduced to thumbnail size (a reduced-size version). Be sure your book title and imagery are still visible and legible when the cover is reduced to 500 pixels or smaller.
Good color palette: Choosing the right colors for your cover is more complex than simply using your favorite colors. In fact, there is an entire psychology of color! And your main color should be accented by complementary colors in the palette. For example, deep navy or black tones can be emphasized when paired with lighter shades of yellow or pink. Find the right color palettes for every mood and genre here: https://colorhunt.co/
High-quality images and graphics: Using photos and graphics that are good quality and the right resolution is crucial. There shouldn’t be anything on your book cover that looks blurry or awkwardly stretched to fit your cover’s dimensions. The photos and graphics should be at least 300 pixels per inch to avoid an amateurish cover design.
Audience appeal: Whether you write beach-reads, gripping thrillers, puzzling detective tales, or sizzling romances, your book cover design must appeal to your target audience. Each genre has established imagery and themes that its readers expect to see and look for when selecting a book to read. Obviously, a cover for a horror novel typically doesn’t feature rainbows and unicorns. Check out these genre-specific cover designs to ensure you’re appealing to the right audience:
The Latest Book Cover Trends For Mysteries/Thrillers
Cover Art Trends In Self-Published Historical Fiction
Cover Art Design Trends For Self-Published Cozy Mystery Novels
Cover Art Design Trends For Self-Published Horror Novels
Cover Art Design Trends For Self-Published Poetry Collections
To catch the eye of your reader, your book cover should also have a focal point. An image, illustration, or graphic pertaining to the book’s subject or theme will act as the focal point for the cover design. You don’t have to have an image as your focal point: A unique layout or bold typography can also be the standout feature of your book cover.
By including these five elements, you’ll create a book cover that’s well-designed, appeals to your audience, and has the potential to boost sales. But the best way to ensure your book cover is right for your genre, professional-looking, and memorable is to contact the design experts at Self-Publishing Relief! Our cover designers will create a book cover for your self-published book that will stand out for all the right reasons.
Question: What design elements stand out on your favorite book covers?