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Designing Your Book Cover

by Ron Kurtus (revised 22 July 2012)


Although it is often better to have your cover designed by a professional graphics or a book designer, you can still do the job yourself, especially if the design in simple.

Designing your book cover consists of

You need to decide on a graphics program to use, make several cover files for the various uses and then convert the cover into a PDF for printing.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Front cover design

You need to decide on a good font and typeface for your cover text. Also note that most cover titles are in all caps.

The color of the text should stand out from the background. You can have a plain front cover or include illustrations. Most covers include eye-catching pictures that relate to the subject of the book.

Software to use

Since you probably are using Adobe InDesign to lay out the content of your book, using another Adobe graphics application, such as Illustrator, Photoshop or InDesign, is advisable.

Problems with Fireworks

You can even use Fireworks to design the cover, although that program is really intended for web page applications. It is the easiest application to use, but there are also some problems with it.

One major problem is that since the barcode graphic is usually an EPS file, which Fireworks cannot read well, you would have to convert the file to some other format. That may not be the best route to use.


Since you probably are using InDesign to layout your book, it might be a convenient choice for designing your book cover.


You must use CMYK color, since that is required for color printing. The resolution of your cover and its illustrations or pictures much be a minimum of 300 dpi. Fonts must be embedded in the file.


A good process for designing your cover is to start with three actual size cover files: front, spine and back cover. The front and back images will be the book size—say, 6X9 inches. You can approximate the width of the spine until you get the final page count.

You can then make reduced-size copies of the front cover for marketing purposes. You can also have two copies of the back cover—one with the barcode for hardcopy uses and one without the barcode for ebook purposes.

PDF for print

Once you have the exact spine width, you can stitch the three files together to make a full cover file. However, you must add 0.125 inch of bleed around the edges to make the file ready for printing. Since most digital printers want the cover sent to them as a PDF file, you should make the conversion to PDF.


You can design your book cover yourself, especially if the design in simple. Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign can be used to make the cover.

You need to decide on a graphics program to use, make several cover files for the various uses and then convert the cover into a PDF for printing.

Be creative in what you do

Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials


Publishing Resources


Top-rated books on Self-Publishing

Questions and comments

Do you have any questions, comments, or opinions on this subject? If so, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.


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School for Champions

Self-Publishing topics

Designing Your Book Cover

Self-Publishing topics

Initial considerations

Start publishing business


Structure of book

Design book

Design cover

Publish hardcopy book

Publish e-book

Prepare to market

Convert format

Check Copy in eReader

Distribution and sales

Sell books

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