How to Design the Perfect Book Cover

Design the perfect book cover that is beautiful and increases sales! Learn some tips and tricks to make your book cover amazing.

Jay Perlman

Let's make one thing clear from the start: EVERYONE judges books by their covers. We aren't supposed to, but we do it anyway. Judging the artistic quality of a cover is the natural thing to do!

Covers, more often than not, play a role in the success of a book's sales. That's one of the main reasons why book cover design is an essential piece of the puzzle when trying to publish a hit.

There are even cases of authors changing the design of their book covers, and seeing their sales double or even triple! It just goes to show that more people are judging books by their covers than we may initially think.

Book cover design using Cool Kids illustrations

The good news about all of this is there are ways to ensure that you can illustrate awesome cover art for your (or your client's) literary masterpiece. Today we'll cover some key topics regarding book covers and tips on how you can ensure that your book cover is bestseller quality. Here are some of the things you can expect to read:

  • The importance of cover art
  • Trends to expect in the industry
  • Different styles and materials
  • How you can use Blush's free illustrations to make your book cover super-dope

These little knowledge nuggets will help set up a game plan for your cover design, plus execute an absolutely stunning composition for your literature.

Why Book Cover Design Matters

Selling books can sometimes be like a beauty contest, meaning that looks have more weight than content. This can sound shallow, but when a potential customer is scrolling thumbnails in Amazon or browsing the shelves in the airport kiosks, they generally gravitate towards the covers that are stunning.

Again, this shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that the first impression of a book's cover matters. Something needs to catch the attention of a customer before they can actually read the content.

In both physical and digital cases, the cover design is the first line of marketing. The illustrations, graphics, and art are the preview of what is inside the actual story.

Book cover featuring Miroodles illustrations

To break down the marketing component even further, just like a banner advertisement looking to attract clicks, or a billboard on the side of the road, a beautifully designed cover is aimed at grabbing as many views and eyeballs as possible, which will, in the end, translate to more readers!

Here's another succinct way of looking at just how important quality book cover design is:

  • It sets the tone and emotion of the story
  • Attracts clicks for online eBooks or digital versions
  • Attracts eyes and touches when in paper-back form
  • Boosts sales when marketed correctly

Of course, we need to note that a stunning cover can't save poor storytelling. Obviously, we're not saying that! But there is no denying how much it can improve an already great bit of literature.

So in order to enhance the verbal meat of the story, getting the right inspiration for your artistic direction is a fun and informative next step.

2021 Book Cover Trends

Just like other fields of design, book covers have trends as well. Different styles tend to dominate different years, and 2021 will be no different. Because of the changing tide of what is appealing and what isn't appealing in terms of aesthetics, it's important that you keep your finger on the pulse of these artistic trends.

Check out a few that you can expect to pop up this year.

1. Repeating Illustrations and Patterns

Having an eye-catching doodle is dope, but having a whole bunch covering the entire sleeve can be even doper! This trend is great for those who love using abstract illustrations or repeating patterns in their composition.

What's great about all-over patterns is that it breaks away from simple and clean, and ventures into a more dynamic forceful look that is great for getting attention in both a bookstore and online.

2. Minimalism

The author isn't feeling the loudness of bold repeating patterns? No biggie! Minimalism is a trend that doesn't seem to be ditching us in 2021, so you can rest easy knowing that there is a clean simple option out there.

Minimalism is a great option for a cover design that speaks sophistication, modernism, and can be ideal for highlighting the tone that the author is trying to set.

3. Doodles in Titles

Cover design that mixes in the unexpected is another phenomenal and fun way to hook readers into your story. Breaking up the written part of the title with a well-placed graphic or doodle can build suspense while also hinting at an intriguing story to come.

4. Surrealism

A mishmash of objects, illustrations, and images is an exciting way to design an author's manuscript. Surrealism is intriguing and almost spooky on one end, and thrilling and quirky on the other, which means that this book cover trend is a great option for a wide range of genres. So go get your Dali on!

5. Natural Elements

If you head over to the 55 Most Anticipated Books of 2021 as picked by Orpah Magazine, nature and illustrations relating to mother earth are a common theme. Both doodles, photo images, and sometimes a blend of both are just a few of the directions that designers are taking in order to make these books a success.

Almost Time to Design Your Book Cover

So now that you're familiarized with why book covers matter and what the upcoming design trends are, it's time to dive into the how part of designing. These are the factors you'll need to consider before you start mocking up your masterpiece.

Your Guide to Book Cover Dimensions

You're not going to bake a cake without knowing how big the pan is, are you? Bad comparisons aside, you can't start putting your composition together until you know the canvas size. Depending on whether you are making an eBook or a paperback, there are certain dimensional standards that you'll have to follow.

Kindle Cover Image Guidelines

According to Amazon Cover Image Guidelines, these are the dimensions that you should be ready to work with:

  • The minimum image size allowed is 1,000 x 625 pixels.
  • The maximum image size allowed is 10,000 x 10,000 pixels.
  • The image file size should be 50MB or smaller.
  • Kindle Direct Publishing recommended size — 2,560 x 1,600 (1.6:1 aspect ratio)
  • Audiobooks — 3,200px x 3,200px (1:1 aspect ratio)
  • Boom shakalaka you got dimensions for Amazon!

Paperback Cover Dimensions

Being that Amazon is probably the biggest fish in terms of online book distribution, these guidelines are good for most online formats, but what kind of monsters would we be if we didn't include paperback format?! While paperbacks are losing ground against digital readers, there are of course still plenty of books being published with physical covers. If this is the book cover design route you're taking, here are the dimensions (in inches) that you'll likely be working with according to Masterclass:

  • Mass market paperback: 4.25 x 6.87
  • Trade Paperbacks: 5.5 x 8.5 to 6 x 9
  • Hardcover books: 6 x 9 to 8.5 x 11
  • Fiction books: 4.25 x 6.87, 5.25 x 8, 5.5 x 8.5, 6 x 9
  • Nonfiction books: 5.5 x 8.5, 6 x 9, 7 x 10
  • Novellas: 5 x 8
  • Children’s books: 7.5 x 7.5, 7 x 10, 10 x 8
  • Textbooks: 6 x 9, 7 x 10, 8.5 x 11

Another important distinction that these dimensions highlight is that genre and book-length will play a factor in the design of the book cover. It is crucial that if you're working with an author that you iron out these details before creating a composition because you obviously don't want to design a science-fiction size cover for a romantic novella! That would be just plain silly.

Get Book Formatting Right

It is essential to know the rules of formatting before you start placing down your doodles on your book cover canvas. So before you start designing, there are a handful of details you'll need to consider:

  • File type: Luckily for you, this isn't an issue, because you have unlimited PNGs at your disposal ;)
  • Book type: A book of short stories won't have the same cover size as a textbook, for example.
  • Text: How much text, location of the text, and the font size.
  • Location: Front cover, spine, back cover.

Having these details in mind will allow you to have the structure in order to begin the actual design process (finally, am I right?).

Start Beautifying Your Book Cover Design

You know the genre, the dimensions, design trend, and plenty of inspiration to get the creative juices flowing, now it's time to start selecting some of the key elements that are going to bring your cover to life.

Illustration: Stuck at Home by Mariana Gonzalez

First, if you're inclined to use doodles on your cover, having a complete set of customizable and free illustrations is massively helpful for starting the cover composition.

Once you have your Blush doodles and graphics selected, laying them out should be your next step. Remember, the format of your composition will be determined by the dimensions and guidelines that were mentioned before, so feel free to get loco with your designs as long as they are within the limits!

Submit to a publisher, and voilà! You're on your way to designing the cover of the next New York Times bestseller!

Seriously though, book cover design can be a bit daunting at times, but once you know the steps, the process is fun and can be mega-rewarding. Give it a try! If you already have some book cover designs made with Blush illustrations, we want to see them. Tweet at us so we can check them out.