Find the Right Graphic for Your Ebook Cover

ebook-cover-graphicThe cover forms readers’ first impression of your ebook, and the cover graphic can make or break your ebook. People decide in seconds whether or not they’re interested in a book. Whether in the bookstore or online that gives them about enough time to scan the title and graphics, which makes both critically important in the buying decision.

Graphics that are both attention getting and relevant to the subject matter can be hard to come by. And as more and more ebooks hit the market, there’s an added challenge to be unique. Here are a few tips and strategies to find the right ebook cover graphic.

Hire a graphic designer. Although this is the priciest option, it is best if you are graphically-challenged. A pro will give you a great looking cover. Be sure to look at their portfolio and make sure their style is a good fit for your ebook.

Amazon ImageSome graphic designers are also artists or photographers who will create original art for your cover. Even if they don’t create original art, a talented designer can use a stock image or even clip art in a way that makes it unique. When TLC Graphics designed the cover for The Mystery Shopper’s Manual, they chose a simple black clip art image, but look at how they used it. There are color accents added and a watermark of the image in the background. When you hire a pro, they will come up with ideas and techniques you may not have considered.

If your designer creates the graphics for you, make sure you have the exclusive rights to the graphics. When the designer uses stock photos or clip art, ask them to provide proof that the image was properly licensed. This isn’t about trust—the owner of the copyright on the image may require you to prove that you licensed their image.

Can’t afford a designer? Here are some tips for effective do it yourself cover design.

Your first stop: the stock photo websites. This is a great option because stock photos are relatively low cost and a keyword search will turn up several options. Many sites offer downloads in a number of sizes so you can get an image that will look good for your ebook and also for a print version of your book. In some cases, you may be able to use a stock photo as-is and just add the title and your name to create a cover.

The problem? When you use a stock photo you are using a photo that may have been used many times before. One solution is to use sites which show how many times the photo has been downloaded so you can see how popular the image is. Another option is to do a reverse image search to find the image online. You can upload the image you are considering (or enter the URL) and Google will show you where it finds the image in use online. If it is already being used for a book cover, or for an ad or other purpose that might be a conflict with your ebook, you can keep looking for another image.

Consider creating your own cover art, by taking a photograph or creating a graphic. With your digital camera and photo editing software, or drawing and graphic design programs, you can create an attractive cover. Remember, though, that these things are only tools. If you are not a good artist or photographer, software will not make you one.

Skip the graphic and use text. Many ebooks have covers that use text in graphically interesting ways. Although it may seem that using text would be easier than coming up with a graphic, if you are not an experienced designer you will probably get better results by starting with an image instead of text. However, there are many interesting covers that are text-only.

Before you get started with any of these options take a look at successful ebooks in your genre. What do you like about their cover art? Is the text readable, even when you view a thumbnail of the cover? Is the graphic appropriate? How do they use color? Think about what you want your cover to look like and then get to work!


  1. says

    I agree that hiring a pro will generally get the best result; however, some authors believe that they do not have the budget for it.

    It is possible to do a reasonably good ebook cover, if you have some basic design skills. Because ebook covers are flat (as opposed to print books, that have a back cover and spine) they are a little easier to do.

  2. Samantha says

    Using a professional graphic designer might be costly at first, but for Amazon, I believe it is an absolute necessity. The thing about ebooks is that I believe the old adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t apply. Everyone unfortunately judges the books by their covers and there are even websites that promote books with best covers. As shallow as it might sound, you actually need to attract readers with eye-candy. Good writing isn’t good enough anymore in this new world of writing.

  3. says

    I have to agree – the cover is one of the most important parts. Even in normal books, (not eBooks), it’s often the cover of a book that catches my attention and makes me want to pick it up. I had my eBook cover professionally designed and was well pleased with the outcome. I’ve never been sorry that I paid to get it done. Consider it an investment in the making of a product that is supposed to give you a return.
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