Day 9: The 30-Day Book Launch Challenge. Book Cover Design

Posted on Posted in Starting a New Story, The Writing Life

How to Create a Compelling Book Cover

Week Three: Mon. 04 Dec. to Fri 08 Dec. [5 days] What has to be done by the end of this week?


  • Book outlined using 4 act structure and 16 sequences.
  • Use timed writing sessions to work on the manuscript.
  • Aim for at least 3,000 words a day, 5 days a week.

Publishing. Work on the Book Cover Design for this series.

Website and Social Media Platform.  The Sophie Brent website must be finalised this week.

List Building and Email Marketing

  • Create a new Sophie Brent subscriber list in Mailchimp. This list is targeted at readers of cozy mysteries.
  • Create a GiveAway of bestselling cozy mysteries linked to this new email list for Sophie Brent.


How to Grab the Reader with a superb Cover Design

Investing time and money in a great cover design is one of the best things you can do to market your book, no matter what genre it fits into.

We don’t judge a book by its cover? Oh yes we do.

When we browse through the titles on Amazon or other bookseller shelves, what is the first thing we look at?

Romance and other genre fiction readers can take one look at a book cover and instantly recognise all of the subtle signs that tell them whether your book is something they will risk their money on –or not.

Online sites will display a small thumbnail image of your book cover, and you only have a few seconds to attract a browser before they move onto the next title on the list.

That is why it is essential that you invest in great cover design for your book. Without a quality cover, readers will not click on your book and read the book description, no matter how much marketing and promotion you do.

Cover design for fiction is a very demanding skill. On one flat image you have to capture subtle aspects of the genre and subgenre of the book, the style of the writing and the entire mood of the novel.

This is a complex combination of graphic design, styling and meticulous use of colour.

Here is the cover of one of my contemporary romance titles for the Harlequin Mills and Boon RIVA and Modern Tempted line called ‘My Greek Island Fling.

The colour range is all summer blue skies and sandy yellows with fluffy white clouds and pop splashes of pinks. My serif author name font matches the tone of the lower case tag line at the base, and the pen and ink drawing captures a holiday romance tone.

Cover Art for My Greek Island Fling Copyright © 2017 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved.

I think it is clear to any reader, from the cover image alone, this is a fun light romance – and this is echoed in the tag line at the bottom.

Now contrast this with the draft cover idea for my cozy mystery, Murder and Merlot.

Note the hard straight vertical lines of the non-serif font used for the title and author name which are all in capitals. The art work is a high definition stock photo with a bright background colour.

That is why it is crucial that you have collected several examples of book covers from your book genre which you really like, and which would clearly signal to any reader what type of story is inside that book, before they even read the book description.

What are your options when it comes to cover design?

Option 1. Design it Yourself

Some writers are able to create an excellent design on their home computer, and there are templates on the internet and on YouTube which describe how to use Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Canva, Keynote, GIMP, Photoshop or similar graphic design software packages to create a very effective cover.

It is worthwhile spending a couple of hours using the search engines of the big stock image catalogues such as Shutterstock and iStockPhoto until you have a few good examples of images that you would love to be on your cover (or use a free trial if you can) and download a test image.

Then add layers and text to that photo image or images using the free software such as, which is very easy to use and has templates for Kindle Book covers.

Don’t buy the image until you have tested it with a cover design and have fun!

I used, to create the book cover for Murder and Merlot. I researched all of the similar books on Amazon and sketched out an idea of what I wanted the cover to do.

  • Clearly state that this was a cozy mystery.
  • Have Murder in the title, since that was the common link to the series.
  • Be attractive and bright with a large font.
  • Show a village scene as the background.

Yes, it did take several days to find an image I liked and experiment with fonts and icons etc. to come up with a design which fitted my genre, but I enjoyed the process and learnt a lot.

Option 2. Purchase a Pre-Made cover

Many professional cover design companies have pre-made quality covers at reduced prices which could be perfect for your eBook.  Derek Murphy recently posted examples of pre-made covers with the links to the artist, and The Book Cover Designer has a catalogue of designs for writers in most fiction sub-genres.

One note – think series. Does this design work as a base for more books in a similar style?

Option 3. Hire a freelance designer to create a custom cover.

One of the best sources is fiverr where you can hire a freelance from anywhere in the world for five US dollars to design a cover for you like this. Of course you should see examples but you only pay for the work when you are completely happy with it.

Option 4. Commission a Design Company

It can pay to commission a professional cover design which is perfect for your work.  The designer will need to be briefed on essential information and will usually ask for:

Examples of your favourite book covers in your subgenre. The designer may not understand the subtle differences between a Regency romance and a contemporary young adult romance and it is your job to help them do that.

The type of image which you want to be on your cover. Don’t buy them! The designer will be able to buy the image or a similar one cheaper and then charge you for the licence.

A quick internet search came up with Kim Killion, Damonza, Reedsy and 99Designs but there are hundreds of other eBook cover designers with a wide range of prices.

Note – I am only talking about the front cover of an eBook here. If you want to self-publish a print on demand book, then you will also need a spine and back cover design which adds to the cost, but you can find pre-made designs and templates for print books.

Key Point –Don’t sabotage your hard work with a poor cover which any romance reader will recognise as DIY and shoddy.


I will be back tomorrow with my first Cozy Mystery GiveAway! All designed to boost subscribers to my new Sophie Brent email list.

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