Homemade-ish Cover

I decided I would try to create my own book cover. I began toying with the idea after I first subscribed to Canva. (Canva will come up again in my posts. I love Canva.)

Whenever I needed a break from wrestling with my story, I played around with images and graphic design on Canva. I quickly discovered that I enjoyed the creative process of working with images, and returned to my writing refreshed.

Then, somewhere along the way, I came across this decision tree – which, I’ve recreated using my faulty memory and Canva. (Did I mention that I love Canva? 🙂 )

Based on this decision tree, I figured I landed firmly in the first quadrant. I had the interest – check – and the time – check, check – so I might be able to put together a decent book cover.?

First stop? I needed to find some instructions on designing book covers. I asked around, and received recommendations for a couple books (see affiliate links below). I also scoured YouTube for tutorials, and came across credible and useful advice from the likes of Derek Murphy, Mandi Lynn, Reedsy, and one of my all-time favourites, Michael LaRonn from Author Level Up.

I went to bookstores looking for covers (bonus points if the book itself was in my genre) and I worked at figuring out why I found them appealing. Then, I tried drafting my own covers using Canva templates and tools. My first concepts are pretty horrid. But I learned tons from my mistakes. I tested some of the covers with readers, asking their opinions on different options, and gradually refined my choices.

The image below is the cover for my published book. When I re-do the cover (which apparently authors do every few years), I will likely ditch the script font on the title.

General Advice

  • No more than two fonts, including title, author’s name, back blurb, etc.
  • Big, big, big title, preferably as the focal point of the cover
  • Author’s name also big (even for debut authors with a limited following)
  • Fits with your “genre”. (E.g., a “sweet romance” shouldn’t look like a “thriller”.)

One of my resources suggested figuring out the “symbols” for the Women’s Fiction genre. This is what I found:

  • Script or serif font (I had to look up “serif”)
  • Flowers
  • Cheerful, bright colors
  • Illustrative style (this is a current trend)

Some things to avoid

  • Details. No one will care that Heddie’s hair isn’t really pink.
  • The front image should not be a pictorial representation of the contents between the covers. (Even with this advice, however, I couldn’t resist including a couple easter eggs. Can you find any of them?)

If you’ve made it this far, you might be interested in buying some of the resources I used. If that’s the case, please consider using one of the affiliate links below. I earn a small commission should you purchase something using these links.

Cover Design Secrets, by Derek Murphy

The Non-Designer’s Design Book, by Robin Williams. (This book was recommended by Jane Friedman. Yes, The Jane Friedman.)

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