How To Become A Book Cover Designer (2024 Quick Guide)

By: Rafal Reyzer
Updated: Jan 23rd, 2024

how to become a book cover designer - featured image

“So many books, so little time.” Are you a bibliophile? So am I!

I wouldn’t be a writer today if it weren’t for my lifelong love affair with books. We are not supposed to judge a book by its cover, yet there’s something that attracts me to some books’ spectacular covers. I admire the thought and creativity that goes into them and makes me ponder how to become a book cover designer. Are you passionate about book cover design? A book cover designer earns up to $48,550 annually on average in the US, and it’s a pretty cool job to have. If you are leaning towards this profession, let me give you a little friendly push. In this article, I will tell you how to become a book cover designer.

What Do You Need to Do as a Book Cover Designer?

A designer comes up with art, visual graphics, and textual designs that go into the book cover. Many book cover designers read the manuscript before starting a new design project. This is to get a sense of the concept and pictures they want to portray. The designer visualizes themes and concepts and prepares a cover layout once they’ve grasped the idea.

Here are some of the basic roles of a book cover designer:

  • He or she oversees all the design process elements, including typesetting and graphic designing.
  • They must select the typography and cover art for the cover (front, back, and spine). This includes inner flaps as well (if applicable).
  • The designer must develop a relevant cover depending on the genre. Their focus should be to instigate book sales.
  • The cover designer must collaborate and work with other creatives as well. This includes the publishing company’s creative director and other designers of the same project.

book cover design

A Quick Guide on How to Become a Book Cover Designer:

1. Acquire Skills Required for Book Cover Designing

First off, you need to be proficient in graphic design. You must also be updated with the latest art trends and use design apps, such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and In-design. You should also have a working knowledge of design principles, such as composition, color combination, and visual techniques. You must be adept in structuring the final artwork, from the use of imagery to lettering, and other aesthetic factors. And most importantly you should know how to lay out the entire cover (front, back, spine) for standard publication. As a designer, you must also have a collaborative spirit and be good at networking. Knowledge about the publishing industry and its developing styles is a plus point! You must also be well-versed in designing tools and typefaces. Referrals and testimonials from clients you previously worked with can help you thrive in this industry.

2. Practice by Redesigning Books You Have Read

You must have the passion and willingness to do exceptional work, not only for your client but for yourself, too. And as we all are aware; practice will only make you perfect! Start with re-designing the covers of, let’s say, your favorite books. I know they will never make it to the actual cover, but you will have a sense of fulfillment once you do it. Add these to your portfolio and let the potential clients witness what you’re capable of. Use different tools like illustration, typography, and photography. You could also visit bookshops to see which designs are available in the current market.

artist's studio

3. Have a Creative Personal Workspace

Designing requires a lot of thought, patience, and determination. Your mind may not always generate brilliant ideas, and that’s okay. However, to help yourself from getting distracted, you should have a dedicated workspace. It should have a sensible desk for your PC and art paraphernalia and a comfortable office chair. Having a personal studio at home where you can be away from distractions for some time can help you become more productive as a book cover designer. Whether you’re a freelancer, remote worker, or employed by a publishing company, having a personal space can do wonders for your creative output. It could be a corner of your bedroom, a separate room in your house, or a rented office space. Attention to detail will make you a better designer. You will be more inspired to create if you work in a safe and familiar space.

graphic artist designing book cover

4. Build a Professional Network and Collaborate on Creative Projects

Finding a job with a top publishing house may be difficult for a beginner. They would expect you to have a few book titles under your name. This is where networking will help you. The first step you could take is to network with authors who self-publish their books. While a few such authors would need only an eBook cover, others could issue paper copies with print-on-demand. You could set up a meeting with them, understand the theme of their books, and present draft cover copies to them. This could be an efficient path to help you design a worldwide-selling book cover. Focus on broadening your exposure and network with people who can help you get in touch with clients. Join forums for book designers and attend networking events. You can also connect with like-minded designers on professional networks such as LinkedIn. You could also take part in book designing competitions and other art contests.

young artist taking a selfie

5. Market Yourself as a Book Designer

As I mentioned earlier, getting your first design project may seem intimidating. But wait, with a bit of hard work and self-promotion, you will get there. For starters, build a competent portfolio. It must be professional-looking, yet oozing creative flair. Use social media mediums to market your work. Upload the best designs you’ve developed for your potential clients to view. In short, let your portfolio do all the talking! This does not mean you need to have a professional website (though it helps!). It could be a simple page on Instagram that flaunts your book covers. Once you win a client project, be sure to treat them with respect and professionalism. You’d want them to give you recurring projects after all.

Why is a Book Cover so Crucial?

Before I tell you how to become a book cover designer, let’s understand the importance of a beautiful cover. Dive in!

1. It provides an overview of the book

Uniquely, the book cover conveys the theme or story’s purpose to the readers. While it gives a glimpse of the story, the book cover should not reveal much.

2. Adds a visual appeal

The book cover helps catch customers’ attention. Without revealing much about the story, a synopsis on the cover helps persuade readers to buy it. A proper book cover provides a teaser that piques the readers’ curiosity. It must convince consumers that the book is worth their time and investment.

3. Holds the book together

We all have seen how bookshops/libraries stack the books on the shelves for display. Here’s where a good spine design comes in handy because this is what the customers notice first. Not only does it attract the reader, as mentioned above, but it also boasts of the quality of the book. Proper binding keeps the book’s edges intact, therefore, it must be taken into consideration.

4. Mentions the book’s ratings and reviews

Book reviews help to show the story is authentic and endorses it to potential readers. Positive feedback attracts new readers! Now let us discuss the main theme of this article: How to become a book cover designer? Keep reading.

Final Thoughts

I hope this quick guide on how to become a book cover designer has been of help. The industry might be highly competitive, but the rewards could be great, both personally and financially. Now let’s hear a little from you. What do you think is the best part about pursuing a career in book cover design? Next up, you may want to explore a list of the top photography and art book publishers, known for their amazing cover designs.

Rafal Reyzer

Rafal Reyzer

Hey there, welcome to my blog! I'm a full-time entrepreneur building two companies, a digital marketer, and a content creator with 10+ years of experience. I started to provide you with great tools and strategies you can use to become a proficient digital marketer and achieve freedom through online creativity. My site is a one-stop shop for digital marketers, and content enthusiasts who want to be independent, earn more money, and create beautiful things. Explore my journey here, and don't miss out on my AI Marketing Mastery online course.