Self-publishing: How to Decide on the Book Cover . . .


books, books on the shelf

The conventional wisdom says the most important factor in anybody checking out your book prior to making that all-important purchase decision is the cover. I would have to agree with that – it’s as true in the brick-and-mortar bookshop as it is while browsing Amazon or B&N online. But if you’ve made that big decision to self-publish your book, who do you trust your cover to?

Usually it will go one of two ways. Whatever self-publishing service provider you end up choosing – CreateSpace, Lulu, AuthorHouse, etc. – will have options for you, which, of course, increase along with the publishing package price. For instance, the most economical of the packages will probably have the fewest cover options – maybe a few background choices, a few typefaces for the title and your name, perhaps three or so layouts.

Of course, it’s hard for such a cover to look like anything but a template. You don’t want the person considering your work to think that they vaguely remember this cover (because they’ve seen the same design copied over and over) or worse, that it screams cheap product.

Most of the self-publishing service providers will also offer a high-end solution, where you can engage the services of an artist or graphic designer, of course for a premium price. Even so, these solutions will have their limits as far as the amount of design and correction that can go into each cover per customer.

The other choice, then, is to hire your own cover designer, an artist or graphics person with experience in book covers and working with self-publishing authors. Service providers allow you to supply this art yourself, and will often give a discount on a package price if you’re not using that part of the package.

I would recommend carefully studying covers in your genre before the process begins. Most importantly, how do these covers look on a computer screen along with 20 other covers (sorry, folks, it’s going to be mostly in online bookstores and not on that front table in your local book emporium)? You’re going to want something that stands out, that catches the eye as well as presents the content of your book in its best light.

Where can you find a reputable graphic designer? For a local referral, ask your writer or business friends who they would use.  You can also put out the bid for such a job on sites like, where graphic artists from around the world will have the opportunity to bid competitively on your project.