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Essential Tips on How to Design a Showstopping Book Cover in 2020

Essential Tips on How to Design a Showstopping Book Cover in 2020

how to design a book cover

The competition to be one of the best-selling and distinguished authors is getting tougher and tougher these days. There are a lot of crucial factors to get right before people start noticing you and your book. And believe it or not, one of them is your book design. So you might be thinking about how to design a book cover that will surely stand out.

If there are only two things to take away in this article, here they are:

  • People will judge your book by its cover
  • Never design a book cover on your own

The first one is self-explanatory. These days, people tend to purchase any goods or products based on how they look. 

You walk inside a bookstore, and even though there might be a hidden gem stacked inside those bookshelves, you’ll instantly notice the book with a good cover design. 

Even though the inside content may not be what you’re looking for, the cover enough has enticed you to purchase the item to see and read more about it.

And that’s effective visual marketing. 

With the second takeaway, let’s look at it this way: If you want a new particular piece of clothing, do you make it yourself? No. You go to your local boutique or department store and buy one from a trusted brand that actually knows how to make clothes. 

The same goes for book covers. Just because you wrote the book, doesn’t mean you can design the cover on your own. 

There are actually a lot of underlying aspects to designing a book cover, all of which you can’t possibly know unless you have extensive experience in doing so. 

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve made an effective landing page or exhausted all your resources for all kinds of marketing promotions for your book. 

If your book cover design is bland, tasteless, and looks like it was designed by a four-year-old with time on his hands, we guarantee you that your book wouldn’t be a success. 

However, just because you have to hire a professional designer for designing your book cover doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any hand in it at all. 

With that in mind, here are essential tips to go into when designing a book cover in 2020: 

1. Hire a Professional Designer

how to design a book cover professional designer

We wrote this tip first because we cannot stress enough how valuable having a professionally-designed book cover can profoundly impact your book’s success. 

However, it’s also essential that you choose who you’re going to work with wisely. We suggest that you go for a designer who lives in the same neighborhood or city as you, so it would be easy for both of you to collaborate. 

When hiring an experienced designer, don’t just go for someone who has, let’s say, more than ten years of experience up their sleeve. Choose someone that you can effectively communicate with, and has the skills to create your vision perfectly.

2. Take Visual Branding Into Account

how to design a book cover visual branding

Is your new book part of a continuing series? If yes, then make sure all the elements in your book design correspond with the features of the past books.

You can use the same illustrations, typography, images, and fonts to characterize and brand your book as part of a particular series. When your target audience sees this, they’ll instantly know that your book is a continuation of something.

And if they’ve read the particular book series, they’ll be highly likely to purchase the new book. Because who reads a book series and doesn’t finish it?

3. Make Sure Your Cover Size Is Scalable

how to design a book cover scalable

Gone are the days where you just publish a book, hit the bookshelves of bookstores, and wait for your probable success.

If you want to succeed as an author, you have to promote and sell your products online as well. This would be a great help for you to reach a broader scope of target customers all around the globe.

And when your book is posted on product sites such as Amazon, you want your readers to be able to view your cover design optimally even in thumbnail size. That’s why your book cover design must be scalable.

Every little detail of your book cover should be seen whenever they reduce its size to fit in online bookshelves. You don’t want a flashy, detail-rich cover that looks stunning in person but looks horrible on Pinterest or Amazon.

4. Be Unique With Your Concept

As an author, you know exactly how you want your book cover to look. When collaborating with your designer, your goal should be to draw up a book cover concept that is striking, unique, and relevant to the book’s theme.

If you can have your designer read the book first, the better. That way, both of you are on the same page regarding the book’s storyline. You will likely be more able to agree on a design concept when your designer knows what your book is all about.

When you have both figured out the unique element you want to incorporate in your cover design, have your designer sketch up a couple of mockups to see what you like better.

5. Pick an Element to Emphasize

One of the keys to designing an amazing book cover design is to take one element from the book. You can also highlight it in a bold way on your cover. This element can be a place, character, object, text, or animation that is relevant to the book’s theme.

Not only will you pique your readers’ curiosity, the way you highlight your design element can catch the eye of any potential customer and be drawn into your book.

Just remember not to give the storyline away when picking the design element to emphasize. You want your readers to be curious enough to buy the book, take it home, and read the whole thing.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Search for Outside Inspiration

If you can’t effectively illustrate or describe your design concept to your designer, then don’t be afraid to look for inspiration elsewhere, such as Pinterest and Amazon.

Try searching for similar books to your chosen genre and how they laid out their book cover designs. Narrow down a couple of design concepts that you like. From there, you can illustrate the direction you want to go to your designer.

Book Cover Design Trends to Look Out for in 2020

We’re at the end of the decade, and with it comes new trends graphic designers and even independent authors should be aware of to design a showstopping book cover in 2020.

It’s essential to be in line with new design trends, as people’s tastes change rapidly over time. Book cover designs are no exceptions. To succeed in the book-selling market, you need to factor in trending design trends at the moment.

Here are some of the book cover design trends to look out for in 2020:

1. Pink Will Rule

Most book designers predict that the color Pink will dominate the color scheme of book cover designs in 2020. It’s not the ordinary pastel pink color, though.

Designers say that a special pink will be trending in graphic design in the coming years. They call it millennial pink. This pink color is more mutated, sort of a dusty, greyed rose in color.

2. The Less, the Better

This 2020, designers are going to lean more into minimalistic design schemes for book covers. They find that simple designs tend to be more popular with readers nowadays, as opposed to complicated and cluttered book cover design.

If you want to go for this kind of approach, make sure to utilize the white space on the book cover properly. This creates a focused impression on the central element of your book cover design, making it look more polished and sophisticated.

3. Bold Fonts & Typography

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You may see some book covers these days with loud, colorful text plastered on the front. Bold typography is an ongoing trend that never fails to catch the attention of readers. That is why it will continue to the next year.

Usually, designers focus on capitalized fonts to make some sort of statement about the book. These kinds of book designs are generally the ones most taken out of the shelves and clicked on online bookstores.

To make bold typography stand out more, designers put on several organic touches and make sure that the overall design still looks clean and professional.

4. Stock Photos Are Out

Using authentic, high-quality, professional-looking photos nowadays is easily accessible, thanks to the full availability of smartphone cameras. Because of that, fewer and fewer designers rely on stock photos to design a book cover.

Using authentic, real-life photos actually helps with evoking true feelings from readers. It builds an emotional connection with potential buyers and triggers a raw response from the book’s target audience

5. Retro Is In

how to design a book cover retro

Don’t be surprised to see some vintage, retro elements in some book cover designs in 2020!

It’s been found that triggering nostalgia in book cover designs click with a wide variety of audiences. Vibrant colors, funky text– these are just some of the retro elements you may see coming back in the next year!

If you want to incorporate retro in your cover design, just make sure that it can be relevant to your book’s theme.

How to Check If Your Book Cover Design Is Ready to Roll Out

Is your designer finally done with the finishing touches of your book cover design? Are you itching to test it out if you’ve done the right job?

Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself to know whether or not your design is working:

1. Does the Book Cover Design Emanate the Essence of the Book?

It’s not enough that your book cover stands out visually. With just one look, every one of your readers should at least have an idea on:

  • The basic idea of the book
  • The focused subject of the cover
  • The genre of the book

If your book cover design encompasses all of these, then you made the right choice.

2. Have You Exhausted All Options and Directions?

It’s not uncommon that the reason for delaying the publishing date of a book is because of the cover design and not the actual manuscript itself.

Creating a book cover design is usually the last creative part of writing and making a book. This triggers all kinds of anxiety in authors. This is why tens and even hundreds of mockups are made first before an author throws in the towel and picks one.

To escape this problem, face your fears and ready yourself for the next round of events surrounding your book publishing journey.

Trust in your book cover designer and believe him or her when they say the book cover is done. You may think that endless rounds of revisions help your book when all it’s doing is triggering impatience among your readers and losing the momentum of you and your book’s visibility.

3. Does Your Book Cover Stand Out?

One right way to test the effectiveness of your book cover design is by looking at it at all the possible angles your readers will view it in– in a bookshelf, a bookstore, a cell phone screen, a desktop screen– and see if your chosen design still makes an impact.

Make sure the title is still readable, and the central element of the cover is clear. If you’re going to sell your book on Amazon or online bookstores such as Barnes & Noble, check if your cover design still works perfectly on thumbnail size.


Designing the perfect book cover design is a crucial part of your book publishing journey. There are many factors to consider and angles to look into before you can even make a mockup of your chosen book cover design.

The whole thing may be tedious and requires a lot of scrapped ideas, but keep in mind that your book cover design can very well draw the line between your book flopping in the market, or it being recognized on New York Time’s best-selling list. Hoping for your success!

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