Self Publishing: Cover Tips

In my last post, A Cover is Worth . . ., I talked about the importance of your book cover. In this post, I’ll share my tips for creating an effective cover.

Create one cover for all formats
Format your cover with enough pixels to meet the specs of all your publishing venues.

  • Smashwords and Apple require a minimum width of 1400 pixels, with the height greater than width.
  • ACX (Audible) requires a cover which is 2500 pixels, square.
  • Createspace requires 300 ppi.
  • KDP (Amazon) requires a minimum of 625 pixels wide and a minimum 1000pixels tall. Preferred dimensions are 1563 by 2500 and a height/width ratio of 1.6

Create a master cover file using a layer for each image and piece of text (in Photoshop, this is .psd), then tweak your .psd to fit different formats. I like a wrap-around cover for my paperbacks, so I start with that. I can crop out the front cover for eBooks. A wrap-around image also gives me the extra width for my audio cover. Another option is to use a front cover image that is 2500 pixels wide and crop the height for your audio cover.

Things to keep in mind:
Periodically scale your view down to the size of a postage stamp to see if your cover will pop in Amazon searches and “also boughts.” Is the title legible?

Research other covers in your genre. You want to stand out, but also follow genre conventions well enough that people will know what they’re getting.

Take your time. Look at your cover over a period of days. Today’s great idea may be tomorrow’s vomit-fest.

Your cover should reflect the mood of your book more than anything. Color is the most immediate signifier of mood. Think bright colors for fluff, pastels for romance, dark for thrillers, faded images for nostalgia.

Keep your fonts big, simple and bold.

Use the best art you can get for your cover, but don’t let it overwhelm the title and author. Don’t be afraid to overlap your image with text.

If you are using stock art, run a search on your image to see if it is overused. You may discover that it is associated with other products that would not reflect well on your book.

If you like a certain artist’s style, consider asking them about creating a custom image for your cover. It may cost less than you think.

Cover art does not need to be a literal illustration of your book, as long as it conveys an appropriate idea.

Red, yellow and orange on your cover will pop out and draw attention. A little will go a long way. Don’t overdo it!

You can use layer style settings to set off your text from your background. Subtle adjustments can make your text easier to read. Be careful about going overboard here, it can look gimmicky.

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