Designing Your Book



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Book Cover & Interior Tips for Self-Publishers

What are Bleeds and Does My Book Need Them?

Bleeds are an important and often overlooked part of book design. See if your book needs bleeds.

Understanding Image Formats and Specs

Learn how to choose the best image file formats for your book for higher image resolutions.

How to Optimize Your Book's Colors for Print

What is RGB vs. CYMK? Learn how to tweak your book's colors to ensure the best possible colors.

What to Include on Your Book's Back Cover

Turn your back cover into one of your most powerful marketing tools with these simple inclusions.

Book Cover & Interior Design Services

Our designers will deliver an professional cover and layout that's sure to make your book stand out.

Book Cover Design Tips

How does a great cover concept happen? Factors such as visual appeal, the book’s audience, color, and font usage are just some of the aspects to be considered. In addition to conceptualizing your cover, a designer must have the technical skills to put those ideas into print.

Cover Design Recommendations
  • Your content on the front cover, back cover and spine are aligned and centered on each piece.
  • Content that you do not want cutt off is at least 0.5 inches from all sides.
  • Your images are high resolution (300dpi).
  • The background of your front or back cover continues through your spine, creating a seamless transition.
  • If your spine is under 0.16 inches, we recommend not having any text on your spine. If it is necessary to include text on spines under 0.16 inches, make your text all capitals and no bigger than 8pt font. Leave a 0.0625 inch margin between your text and the edges of your spine.
  • Your spine text reads from top to bottom and is centered horizontally.
  • Your book title, author name and back cover content is ledgible against your background.

Finding a Stock Photo

Photographs are the image type of choice for book covers these days. Quality custom illustration or expensive photo shoots are often above the budget for authors who are financing their own book and want to turn a profit. Illustrations from a non-professional will result in a homemade look.

Stock images are a great resource for self-published authors. These images can be of very high quality for a very low price. You will want to look for royalty-free images with 300dpi.

fiction nonfiction best book covers

A fiction cover should appeal to the heart. What is the mood or feeling of your book? If you can pinpoint this, with a little searching, you will certainly be able to find an image that conveys that feeling. You may have better luck searching for concepts rather than things. So searching for “alone” or “lonely house” may provide you a better image than “lost cabin in the woods”. Common photographic themes that can provide mood:

A non-fiction cover should appeal to the mind with a concept. A metaphor will get the buyer thinking about what the book may be about. When choosing images, download a copy of any image that you are considering and try each of your ideas on the cover design with the type to see which one is the best before you pay.

Using an Old Image

Historical images can give books a sense of permanence and importance.

Paintings. Simply using an old master painting can give your book an immediate feeling of quality. Sources for historical paintings include:

Old photos. Vintage photographs can be used in many ways. Some are humorously quaint or even funny. Sources for old photos include:

history book cover

Illustrations or Engravings. Victorian engravings or botanicals can also make an intriguing cover. Most stock image sites have them.

Color is Important

There are many schools of thought out there about book cover colors. Dozens of articles have been published on how some colors influence buyers. Choosing color is an art not a science, so there is no right answer:

best book cover design color

Think Outside the Box

Often authors think the image on the front cover should be a literal interpretation of the title. It’s often better to use an image that is unexpected or the opposite of your title. A sense of mystery makes the buyer curious and interested.

Choosing the Perfect Front Cover Type

While it is tempting to choose a “fancy” face , resist this temptation. Many of these treatments absolutely guarantee an unprofessional cover design. You can’t go wrong with clean, simple readable type.

Common cover elements include:

  • Book Title
  • Book Subtitle (If Used)
  • Author Name(s)
  • An Impactful Review
  • Book Summary
  • Publisher and Affiliation Names
  • ISBN and Price
  • Author Website
recommended cover typefaces

Letterspacing. When formatting your title, you may want to use wide letterspacing if your type is going over an image. If your background image is fairly simple, you can choose a type with thinner letters. If the background image is busy, choose a heavier typeface.

book cover letter spacing

You may think it is boring, but you can’t go wrong with centered type! Keep your contrast as high as possible by using pure white type over a dark image, and pure black over a light image.

Serif vs. Sans-serif. Serifs are generally used more on literary or historical book covers. Sans serifs are used often on thrillers or on non-fiction.

serif vs san serif

Book Interior Design Tips

People are often surprised to learn that the text pages of a book are "designed." For every book that attracts you in the bookstore, someone took time and effort to make the text design as beautiful and readable as possible.

Interior Design Recommendations
  • Your margins are at least 0.5 inches to prevent your content from being cut off or hidden in the spine.
  • Your margins are equal from page to page.
  • Your page numbers are in the same place on each page.
  • Your pages have been correctly set up so that odd numbers are on the right and even numbers are on the left.
  • There is a title page as your first page.
  • Your front matter includes a copyright page.
  • If your book has a foreword, make sure you have correctly spelled "foreword."
  • Your text is solid black (0% grayscale or 100% K only).
  • The font of your body paragraphs are serif and easy to read (see font recommendations below).
  • Text and line graphics are vectorized.
  • Images are high-resolution (300dpi).

Choosing a Typeface

Traditonally, typefaces for books have serifs on their letterforms. Serifs are the strokes that project from the top or bottom of the main stroke of the letter. They assist readability by keeping the reader’s eye flowing horizontally across the words. Typefaces without serifs (sans serif) are fine for headings but don’t work well for large sections of body copy.

The tone or feeling of the typeface is very important. Typefaces will exude a mood that can enhance your writing when used effectively. Font Size for most industry standard books are between 10pt and 12.5pt fonts. With the leading being no more than 1.5x the font size. Check copies of books you enjoy reading, and you will probably be surprised by the type size. A few of our favorite typefaces are below:

recommended typefaces

How to Format Your Book Like a Professional

The grammar and stylistic choices used by professional book designers may seem like an entirely different language at times. However, these designers are actually following finely curated ruleset, intended to maximize readability and flow. These simple design tips will help you navigate the subtle design choices that separate amateur design from professional.

cover printing checklist
  • Book text is usually justified, spanning the width of the text column between the margins with hyphenations.
  • Use only one space after periods and punctuation marks.
  • The first paragraph of a chapter (or the start of any new section) should not be indented.
  • Use indents at the beginning of each paragraph rather than gaps or open areas between paragraphs. Indents should be small (.25 of an inch).
  • Leading is the spacing between the lines. It is a specific numeric measurement and is not the same as "doublespacing" in word-processing software. Default leading is generally 25% more than the point size of the type.
  • Italics should be used for emphasis. Avoid using all-caps, underlining, or bold type.
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