General Advice

Designing and creating your book cover is an exciting, but very important part of the publishing process. The results can be very satisfying, especially if you can achieve this all on your own. Not to mention the fact that your back pocket will be high-fiving you as well.

With that said, if you have limited graphic abilities but can source out all the various elements for your cover, someone may be able to put it together for you and complete the technical side of your layout. You will still be one very proud book owner at the finish line and will only have had to pay a layout cost instead of a full book cover package.

If you decide to go it alone, do lots of homework and endeavour to tick all the boxes when it comes to making an impact with the cover and attracting attention to your book.  Books that stand out or leave a lasting impact often defy conventional rules but not fundamental ones. You want to get your book noticed but not in a way that eliminates book sales. In other words, don’t offend everyone!

So, let’s begin…


The exterior cover gives potential buyers and readers the first impression your book. Create buyer interest with a kick-ass cover that:

  • Commands and grabs the reader’s attention
  • Stands out over other books
  • Is eye catching in colour and design, but not harsh to look at
  • Has an engaging front cover image or graphic
  • Has an interesting or catchy title
  • Features an appropriate font and/or effects
  • Displays a cover image and title that suit each other
  • Is NOT too busy with detail
  • Shares an enthusiastic and inviting synopsis (the bit on the back cover)
  • Emotionally challenges or appeals to the buyer
  • Invites closer inspection resulting in a sale

The objective is to create an overall exterior look that makes a personal connection with the buyer. If you strike the right chord, chances are, they’ll invest in your book. They’re going to want some kind of assurance though, that the $19.95 they’ll be outlaying will be worth all that emotional gratification your promising in return.

So write a killer synopsis for the rear cover!

Case in point. The rear cover is just as important as the front cover. In fact, they go hand in hand in the promotion and selling of your book. The cover draws them in, the rear cover blurb is the hook. They each have an important job and don’t amount to much without the other. People most likely won’t read the back cover if the front cover doesn’t generate any interest…and if your rear cover blurb is crap, then no amount of flashy graphics on the front will make it appealing.

So really, your rear cover blurb or synopsis is often what makes or breaks the deal for the buyer. After all, they don’t have time to read the book cover to cover before they buy it so they must rely on this vital information about the inside content that gives them an insight into your book. It’s your one and only chance to sell the book in your own words to your potential audience, once they are impressed with your cover. So summarise the plot and storyline in just a few sentences match it with a great cover and sell it back and front. Remember this is the golden opportunity to make it shine and you must get it right!

For some great tips on how to write the back cover synopsis for your book click on the following links:

Writing Your Book’s Rear Cover Copy
7 Tips for Writing a Great Back Cover Sales Copy
How To Write A Back Cover Blurb For Your Book

Designing an engaging cover is not a complicated task but it does involve some careful thought and planning so don’t ignore the basic do’s and don’ts. However, do push the creative boundaries to stand out in the sea of other book covers cramming bookstores and virtual cybershelves. It really is important you present well, but you should do it in an authentic manner with your own scent, stamp or special branding. Don’t try and make your book something it’s not.

This step explains the various aspects of the design and creation process for your book cover should you wish to embark on it’s conception and complete design DIY style.

Doing Your Own Cover Artwork

COVERlyricallatte       BFPLLfrontcover1

Once you know the basics of a free vector program like Inkscape, you can design eye-catching book cover artwork and with ease. Whether it’s an inhouse design or one that incorporates an image of your own, you can create some amazing results. The more in depth you explore the program, the bigger the potential realised. You alone, have the opportunity to make a direct impact on your readers. So immerse yourself if you have the spare time and inclination and you certainly won’t regret it. There are tutorials here and online and also on the official Inkscape website which come highly recommended. When you know how to operate some of the functions and feature tools you’ll be amazed at what you can create.

When you know how, it’s so simple to do.

Don’t be afraid to have a good play around in the program once you’ve read up on things and watched a few hands-on tutorials. You WILL genuinely be amazed at what you can acheive.

Example of a cover designed with free vectorsCOVERfastlearner1

Ensure you have found your way around


before you tackle the cover.

The book layout section demonstrates all the different aspects incorporated in a cover design. When you’re up to speed with all that you can start organising each of your elements for the cover artwork. It can be done in minor stages and saved along the way if required so don’t feel you have to complete your cover in one afternoon.

Cover Ideas

The internet is a great place to source out ideas for finished artwork. Google up images of book covers and note which ones have the greatest impact on you. Try and replicate those concepts or ideas but with an original slant of your own. It’s not worth getting busted breaching somebody elses copywright for pinching their images. The author is always responsible for the content of a book. It is also the author’s absolute obligation and responsibility to obtain all required permissions, grants and licences for the use of any images he doesn’t own.

So use your own images, or get the required permissions. Ultimately you can purchase images online but be wary of the licencing criteria that comes with them. There are a few sites now that offer 100% free images as well, but some are a bit random with how they are listed and what they have. So you may not necessarily find everything you want. With that said, they are a great start if you’re open to different image options and you don’t want the cost of purchasing them. Some of the available images require attribution but plenty of others require NO attribution whatsoever to the artist or creator. Bear in mind, 100% free images are available to everyone so the images you’ve selected may well appear in many other publications, depending on their popularity.

Just something to be aware of.

If you want 100% free images online, do a google search for:

“free to use images no attribution required”

Or look for this accompanying licensing information or rights when you are looking around for images:

  • Free to Use Images
  • Free for Commercial Use
  • No attribution required

For a list of various websites offering free images with no attribution or free licence with attribution, click on the links below:

Free to Use Images with or without Attribution

Types of Images can include:

  • Photos
  • Illustrations
  • Background Images
  • Vector Graphics

Examples of high quality Free to Use Vectors with no attribution required that have been designed and created in Inkscape




When it comes to illustrations, if you can, do them yourself. Alternatively call up a favour from a friend if possible. Otherwise an illustrator can become costly, depending on your requirements. Definitely shop around.


The binding plays a huge role in your book plans. The way you supply your cover artwork is determined by the binding you select. File formats required by your printer may vary slightly too. But the way you actually create your cover design, is exactly the same.

Also, there are slightly different templates and requirements for both bindings. These can vary slightly between printers so be sure to check all that type of information when exploring potential book printers in your research stage.

The two most popular types of Binding are:

  • Saddle Stitched
  • Perfect Bound

See example below

Saddle Stitched, is just a fancy term for “stapled”.

Perfect Bound, is the other equally as fancy term, for “glued”. A perfect bound book is held together with a special industry adhesive and has a spine.

Cover Layout Requirements

Saddle Stitched publications (up to approx 80 pg) require a front and rear cover.

See example below.

The front and rear cover layouts are two seperate pages and must be saved as such. They are included in your numbered page files and the final page count.


Perfect Bound publications (48 pg +) require both a front and rear cover and a spine.

See example below.

This style of cover is saved altogether as one layout in a seperate PDF file and is not included in your numbered page files or final page count. For the flip side, it’s the same. So for the inside front and rear cover plus spine you will have another separate layout. It may sound overwhelming but once you understand how it fits around your book you will appreciate why the artwork must be done this way.


So your cover artwork files are two separate PDFs with the combined covers in each. As the width of the spine is determined from the page count and paper weight, your book cover artwork can not be completed until you have that information finalised.

Your printing company should have some sort of spine calculator or guide so you can work out the page count.

For customers ordering books through Busy Fingers Publishing go to:

For full instructions and details on setting up your book pages

For information on Templates and Bleed Artwork:


A custom designed book cover artwork service is available through Busy Fingers Publishing:

There is also a range of professional services available:

For examples of front cover artwork: see below

For front cover examples with prices:

  • Go to BOOK COVER DESIGN on Home page

Cover Artwork Includes:

  • Front Cover
  • Rear Cover
  • Spine (if applicable)


Created and Designed in Inkscape by Busy Fingers


To order Book Cover Packages go to:


OR to:


For 10 Step DIY Guide


Go to next stage INSERT ISBN (if applicable)

or if no ISBN required, skip and:


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