Contrary to the well-known saying, most people do judge a book by its cover.

Book cover design is a crucial part of successful book marketing. Book buyers are influenced (whether consciously or not) by the choice of images, fonts, use of colour and overall branding of every book cover they view. A key characteristic that can make a self-published book title stand out for negative reasons is an amateurish or unattractive book cover.

A successful book cover needs to capture the spirit of the book, appealing both to the author and to readers. It should evoke an audience response to ‘pick me up and buy me!’ – or, in the case of an ebook cover, to ‘tap/click on a tiny icon image and buy me!’. An attractive, relevant cover design is the first step authors must get right in order to successfully market their book.

A book cover isn’t just a picture; it’s the packaging for any book. It should instantly communicate to the reader the style of writing it contains. For this reason, an effective book cover will blend with the packaging style used by similar titles in the same genre.

Choose a good quality image for your book cover

The most important step in designing an effective book cover is to choose a high resolution image. If you are a skilled photographer, you may be able to use your own photograph. Alternatively, you can purchase royalty-free images from a stock photos library. Ideally, the cover image should be at least 1,700 pixels wide. If you’re planning to have an image that wraps around the whole book, then the image will have to be even bigger. You can always reduce its size; however, if you start with a small-sized image and try to increase it, the picture quality will be compromised. Stretched or blurry images will quickly undermine the look of your book cover.

A professionally designed book cover will capture the essence of your story, appeal directly to your target readers and provide a visual identity for you and your writing.