eBook Cover Design: Tools + Tips to Get The Best Cover You Can

The cover is the jewel in the crown of your eBook masterpiece. (A bit dramatic, ha).

But seriously, do not underestimate how powerful the cover is in determining how many sign-ups, sales and minutes of eyeball time your eBook will get. Your dedicated readers may purchase no matter what, but those that are on the fence could be persuaded by a great design.

A well-designed cover conveys what the book is about in an instant, looks professional and enticing, and ties in beautifully with your website and other branding.

I’ve created a checklist below to get you thinking about the design of your eBook cover. It’s important to get clear on what you want, whether you intend to tackle the cover design yourself, or hire a designer to do it for you (I can help you with this).

THE BASICS

  • What size would you like your eBook (and cover) to be? Consider where your readers will view it – on a computer? An iPad or tablet? Will they print it out in A4 size and use it as a hard copy? Not everyone will be the same, but think about the majority and plan accordingly.
  • Is it going to be landscape (horizontal) or portrait (vertical)?
  • What text would you like on the cover? Think about the title, tagline, author/s name, logo, and website URL.

THE BRANDING

  • Do you currently have a brand, or colour theme you use for your website and business? If you have worked with a designer, you may already have a Brand Style Guide with your colours, fonts and logos ready to draw from. If not, take note of what you’ve been using, and what you like, to make a brand resource of your own.
  • Make a mood board! I have spoken before about how important it is to create a mood board of your style influences and direction to get the design outcome you want. Even though you may already have a Brand Style Guide, sometimes individual projects or products, like your eBook, have a little life and theme of their own. It’s so fun to expand on that! (I use + recommend Pinterest for mood-boarding. You can even make the board ‘secret’ so no-one else can get a sneak peek).

THE DESIGN

Now that you’ve got a style guide and mood board to draw from, it’s time to decide on the design. Things to ponder:

  • Do you want a photograph on the cover? Multiple photographs? Do you want graphics? A cartoon? What fonts do you want to use? How large will they be? Do you want a border? Do you want a block colour? Draw a rough design on paper to get a better visual idea.
  • If you do want photographs or graphics, you will need to source them legally. If the images are not your own, you will need to comb through stock image sites to find the right pics, and purchase a licence to use them. It’s not okay to use images you find on Google! Even if you credit/link to the creator, this is still not legal and you could get into trouble. Plus, it’s bad karma. (There are very few exceptions to this – sometimes there are images in the ‘Public Domain’ that are free to use. If you are in doubt, just purchase). ALSO – make sure the images are large and high-res enough to use! 72dpi for web/eBook use – 300dpi for print use.

THE SOFTWARE

  • I use Adobe InDesign software to create eBooks, and would recommend this as the best option. Sometimes, I also use Adobe Photoshop. However, if you are creating your cover as a once-off it probably isn’t worth your while to purchase, then learn how to use. (This is one reason why outsourcing to a designer can actually save you money).
  • You can create a PDF from Microsoft Word, although this usually doesn’t offer a professional look.
  • There are other design programs on the market, but I haven’t had experience with them so don’t feel qualified to recommend them.

THE FINISHED LOOK

  • Once you’ve designed your eBook cover and exported/saved it as a PDF, zoom in and out to review it in many sizes. Don’t forget, the cover will probably appear on your site quite small, perhaps in the sidebar, and you want to make sure the design is still effective at that size.
  • View the cover against your other branding and your website to make sure it has a cohesive look and feel.
  • How do you want to present it? I like to present covers I design in an iPad graphic, to clearly show that the product is an eBook for instant download. Others like to use a book, workbook, or folder graphic, or just use the cover flat, as is.

I hope this guide has been helpful – a beautiful book cover design can really add to the success of your eBook. And if this makes you want to run in the other direction, you can always hire me to do it for you!