People will judge the quality of your book by its cover. So it’s important to create a professional-looking cover that will attract readers and appeal to your intended audience.
This can be done for free, though we think this is one place it’s worth investing a few bucks into professional design services.
Cover Design 101
You’ll need to understand a few basics to commission a usable cover.
Ebook Cover Design
Remember that your reader will see your cover as a tiny thumbnail when they’re deciding whether or not to purchase your book. You’ll want big, clear fonts to be sure the text is readable.
You may need to give your designer specs for the cover file, and these vary from bookstore to bookstore. Check the websites of the bookstores where you’ll be publishing for the latest information.
Ebook cover specifications can include:
- Type of File: JPG is the safest file format for ebook covers.
- File Size: Often there will be a limit in megabytes to your file upload — or a delivery charge subtracted from royalties based on the size of your overall book file, cover included. We recommend a maximum cover file size of 2MB.
- Aspect Ratio: We recommend a 1:1.5 aspect ratio.
- Size of Image: Even if the aspect ratio is the same in several bookstores, the recommended overall size of the image can vary. Smashwords recommends 1600 x 2400 pixels, while KDP recommends 3200 x 4800.
- Minimum Width: A 1400-pixel minimum width is common to ebookstores.
Print-on-Demand Cover Design
Covers are more complicated to design for print than ebooks, because:
- Print book cover files include the back cover, front cover and spine.
- The dimensions of every book cover are calculated based on how many pages there are in your book and the trim size you’ve chosen.
- Cover files can be big due to the design quality and resolution needed for print, but they need to be compressed in various ways and prepared for a certain type of printing.
For these reasons we recommend having your cover professionally designed, or using the Pressbooks cover generator feature, which will automatically create a cover that meets these complex industry specifications.
Sourcing a Cover
Here are five ways to get a professional-looking cover, two that are free, and three at very low price points.
Use the Pressbooks Cover Generator (Free in PDF+EBOOK Pro Books)
Pressbooks’ PDF+EBOOK Pro plans now come with a cover generator feature that you can use to create both ebook and print book covers that meet the aforementioned industry specifications.
Other Tools to Create Your Own Cover (Free)
The DIY graphic design tool Canva will let you create good-looking ebook covers easily for free, or as little as $1.
Use a Service Like Fiverr (Starting at $5, plus “tip” and add-ons)
Fiverr and similar marketplaces let creatives offer their services for a low price — in this case, “$5,” though usually buyers purchase add-ons and upgrades such as different versions or formats of the file and revisions. They also tip for a job well done. The control of what you spend is in your hands. If you don’t like a designer’s product, you’ve lost little and can try another from the pool. Spec-ing out what you want is the secret to getting the design you’re envisioning.
Barter With a Colleague (Variable)
If you know a graphic designer, consider commissioning them to design your cover. You may even be able to trade them your writing services in kind to keep out-of-pocket costs low.
Hire a Professional Cover Designer (Variable)
Things to look for when you hire a professional: Ask if they’ll provide both print and ebook covers and how many revisions you will be able to make. Also, if possible, you want to keep the raw files. That way, if you have changes later, you won’t have to have someone start from scratch — they can simply edit minor things (which will save you money). Make sure they will design the cover according to your printer’s specs, which can vary.