How To Capture Your Character’s Essence With Cover Art

by | Book Cover Design | 3 comments


As an author, you want readers to connect with your characters and your story—and to buy your book as a result! But is it possible for your potential audience to get to know your characters before they’ve even opened the book? Yes—through your cover art! While you shouldn’t try to create an exact visual replica of the main character or even your setting, you can use images that capture the spirit of your story and of your protagonist. Remember: There are a lot of books competing for a buyers’ attention. Your book cover is your best point-of-purchase sales pitch, so make sure it’s a great one!

The Best Ways To Feature Your Character In Your Book’s Cover Art

Paper Towns by John Green


This novel had two original cover designs, each featuring the main character: the captivating and elusive Margo Roth Spiegelman, represented as “Happy Margo” and “Sad Margo.” Much of the book centers on Margo’s rapidly changing moods and how they affect those around her, and these simple covers focus reader’s attention on this aspect of her personality.


The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald


This isn’t the book’s original, iconic cover, but this minimalist treatment and creative combination of illustration and typography alludes to the glamorous world within the novel. The shadow effect hints at the secrets that Gatsby holds within.


Everything Leads To You by Nina Lacour


If you want to show your character as mysterious and infatuating—like Ava, the unexpected love interest in Lacour’s upbeat, heartfelt novel—a cover that hides its subject’s face will offer the right amount of intrigue. A face in shadow or a character’s back can be just as evocative as a close-up portrait.


Fabulous Nobodies by Lee Tulloch


This novel about life in New York’s fashion industry is perfectly captured in cover art that’s simultaneously nondescript and one of a kind. The sense of anonymity is perfectly represented by the repetition of the title and the cookie-cutter style of the visual.


Ultimately, many factors will play into your self-published book’s cover design: typeface, color scheme, images, and design elements. If you want a character-driven cover for your self-published book, focus on visuals that represent the predominant personality and mood of your book. If you’d rather hand this task over to a professional, you can use a professional, predesigned book cover, or schedule a consultation today with the experts at Self-Publishing Relief to talk about a custom cover design—we can also help you with every step of the self-publishing process.


QUESTION: Have you purchased a book based on the cover art? What book was it?




  1. Wendy

    I’ve been drawn to books based on cover art–but I do mean ART. When I think of my most memorable books (imagery), I think of the great SF art of the ’60s and ’70s mass-market paperbacks. So much of today’s book covers are modified photos with CG manipulations–of COURSE it’s cheaper to hire a PhotoShop guru than a painter! Problem is, my writing interest lies in SF–you know, those kinds of stories you can’t take photos of because the scene doesn’t actually exist, and PhotoShop can only get you so far. Those kinds of covers aren’t exactly the sort of work you can hire out at Fiverr!

  2. carl carlyle

    Your book covers are great. I wish I had a great book cover for my sci-fi novel.

  3. rodney burke

    I tend to read the back cover first. Cover art is secondary.


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