Self-published author making a book cover on his computer.

Get Started Making a Book Cover

One of the reasons to print your books with us at Acutrack is that we give you a range of options for the cover stock – but first, let’s talk about creating a cover design that will sell books. Your book’s cover makes a significant impact regardless of whether people buy in stores or online. The colors and design need to give a quick impression about the book’s content – for example, books about money often have green on the cover. If you decide to work on it yourself, begin by researching and reviewing covers of other successful books in your genre. You want to be unique but understandable.

Along with editing, book printing, order fulfillment, and much more, self-published authors take responsibility for their covers. The main elements to consider are the typography you select for the title (and subtitle if your book is non-fiction) and the cover art. The typeface needs to be exciting and easy to read, and the art needs to make a visual statement. More needs to be said about the impact of color. In the world of book covers, red signals danger, purple hints at the mystical, yellow means caution, green conjures images of money, and so forth. Even if you love the color for your own reasons, use it on your book cover only when it makes sense for your topic.

Step 1: Make your cover concept

Unfortunately, readers will judge a book by its cover. So, you have to think like your target readers:

  • What will they see? Online bookstores will display your cover as a thumbnail. Both the design and the title need to be eye-catching but easy to read. Avoid very complicated fonts or shadowed/beveled font effects. Choose a powerful image or high-contrast colors.
  • What will they feel? One of the mistakes most people make when they do cover design is they want it to explain the book. The cover doesn’t catch your readers’ minds, but their emotions. You want them to react to It or become curious. It should convey some of the book’s mood, or your own personality as a writer.
  • What will they ask? Once your readers look at the cover, they’ll want to find out more about the book. That’s what goes into the back cover. If you are publishing a fiction book, enough information that they can say, “I like the character” or “this is the kind of plot I enjoy.” However, write it in a way that intensifies their curiosity. If you are writing a self-help book or a guide, make them feel that this book answers their needs and that you are an authority on the topic.

Step 2: Find a design tool

Even if you have very little design background, there are online design tools that are easy to learn or even have book cover templates.

Canva: Canva lets you set your own book cover dimensions and even has templates where you just type your title and upload an image. Some templates are free, and some are available for just a few dollars.

Shutterstock: Shutterstock has a built-in editor, hundreds of templates,  millions of images and textured backgrounds, too.

Adobe InDesign: For laying out the pages of the book itself, the most popular application is Adobe InDesign. It can handle both print and ebook formats, and gives you the most control over the way your pages will look: size, fonts and font size, spacing, margins. However, it will take a while to learn the features.

Blurb BookWright: This is a simple and free book layout software. You can edit the templates, but you won’t get as much flexibility as the other design tools. However, Blurb BookWright also gives a free unique ISBN number—definitely a plus for self-published authors!

Step 3: Get images

Make sure you get licensed images, or you can be sued for copyright infringement. Many free images are meant for non-commercial use. If you’re planning to sell your book or using the images to market it, then it’s safer to go to a professional image bank.

Shutterstock and Getty images are the two biggest platforms and are used by even global magazines, websites, and brands. Some online design tools like Canva also have their own library of photos that you can purchase.

Step 4: Make sure your colors are accurately printed

One of the biggest mistakes that people make is using the wrong image formats, and that can mess up how the colors look when they’re finally printed. Colors on your computer will look different when it’s actually printed. That’s because of how colors are mixed during printing or publishing.  Its best to avoid neon colors.

  • RGB stands for Red Green and Blue. That doesn’t sound like a lot of colors, but depending on how you mix them, and elements like saturation and vibrancy, they can render every color you can imagine and stunning photographic detail.  These are best for online books, and you should use images in either JPEG or PNG format. If you are using Adobe Photoshop, you can save it in PSD format.
  • CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key/Black. That’s how printers—whether it’s your home printer or the huge machines used by professional book publishers) mixes color. If you’re using CMYK, you need to save your book in PDF, AI (Adobe Illustrator), or EPS format. If you’re not sure, you can ask your print publisher which format they prefer.

Step 5: Nail the final details

The pages of your book have been laid out, and your cover design is complete too—you’re so close to achieving your dream of publishing your book! But wait, there are some details that you need to flesh out first.

  • Spine. The spine is what a reader sees first when a book is stacked up. It should be at least ½ inch wide, so the title can be clearly read. Since that depends on the number of pages, you may want to add sections like an introduction, forward, prologue. That increases spine thickness and gives your book a professional look.
  • Testimonial. Approach people to provide testimonials for your book. This is an important part of book promotion and can help improve your sales and solidify your position as an expert or an author to watch.
  • ISBN. Short for International Standard Book Number, ISBN is a unique code assigned to each book. It’s required for all books that are printed and sold to stores or libraries. IF your book has a printed and online version, they each need their own ISBN code.

Acutrack makes it easier:

Now the only thing you need to do is to produce your book! Acutrack can help you print and ship your books, and integrate it on your website or e-commerce store too. We are one of the few companies that offer both book fulfillment and book printing services, allowing our customers to seamlessly integrate all of their logistical needs with just one partner. Visit for more information, and check out our blog for other tips!

 To learn more about how Acutrack can help you achieve your goals, talk to one of our experts.

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