5 Cover Design Tips for Self-Publishers – Emily Burgess | Guest Post

You can’t judge a book by its cover, but people are bound to do it anyway. When you’re self publishing, it’s a little harder to get the recognition you deserve. Everything’s in your hands. You’re an author, not a professional cover designer. If you don’t know where to start, that’s perfectly normal. Your cover needs to be strong enough to get the attention of your potential readers, and thankfully, there are only a handful of factors they’re going to scrutinize.


  1. Fonts Matter

Fonts like Comic Sans have been stigmatized by the internet. They’re hard to take seriously, because they send a whacky and outdated message. While it’s obvious that whimsical fonts are best reserved for jokes, even fonts that seem clean and professional to you may not translate the way you want them to when you’ve applied them to a book cover. Different typefaces have different impacts, and you need to be sure the typeface you’ve chosen matches your intent.

  1. Be Careful With Graphics

The bar for graphics is pretty high. If you want to use graphics on your book cover, you need to make sure they’re great. Not everyone can afford to go for original art, and graphics are the next best thing. When utilized properly, graphics can be just as visually stunning for a fraction of the price. Just make sure you aren’t running any generic clipart or tired clichés that have little to nothing to do with the content of your book.

  1. Consider Colors

People have a tendency to associate certain colors with certain feelings. If your book is about calming meditation practices, a bright red cover will draw eyes, but drastically change the mood. Always make sure the main color of the cover creates enough contrast with the font that all of the text is easy to read. Choose a color palette that works harmoniously. If you aren’t quite sure what to do, it’s best to keep things simple and work with a limited palette.

  1. Don’t Get Cocky

It’s normal to be proud of your accomplishment. You wrote a book, and that’s a pretty big deal. Just be careful how you brand it on the cover. Plastering your face on it or including trumped up claims about your merit and accomplishments can actually put readers off. This is something that internationally recognized figures may do, but you aren’t there yet. Don’t risk coming across as arrogant before new readers can ever give you the chance you deserve.

  1. Get Help When You Need It

If you don’t have experience with graphic design or you’re uncomfortable with your ability to create your cover on your own, it’s absolutely worthwhile to hire a designer. You can find a freelancer on a site like Gumtree and play around with concepts. Your book is only getting one first release. It’s better to come out strong than to attempt to make up for that deficit later. If you have a vision, communicate it to someone with experience. If you don’t, tell the designer what your book is around and have that person create a few mock-ups for you. Even if you’re spending more going this route, you’re bound to get a better return on your investment when your cover pulls readers in.


At the end of the day, the design you choose is going to become the visual representation of something you’ve worked very hard to achieve. Writing a book and self publishing it are no small undertakings. You need to be happy with what you’re putting out to the world. It’s better to wait a while and get it right than it is to release a cover you aren’t proud of.


Emily Burgess is an avid blogger who enjoys writing about design and entrepreneurship. Emily is currently sharing some of her ideas at Course Guru – experts in the field of online education. Personally, she’s a great fan of foreign languages.

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