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Do-It-Yourself Ebook Cover Design

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Styles come and go. Good design is a language, not a style. Massimo Vignelli

Every content creator, writer, and author wants their ebook to be successful, but for that to happen, you need to create a stunning ebook cover design that catches the eye and the reader’s imagination... before they open your book.

Finding the inspiration you need to create this masterpiece can be overwhelming given the enormous range of options available on the internet today.

Here are a few tips that can help you design your own ebook cover:

  • Look at a variety of ebooks outside of your own genre. Ideas can stem from some of the slightest details in the different designs.
  • Don’t be afraid to get creative with some of the ideas that you see. Look at some of the best-sellers for inspiration.
  • Go back through some of your designs from your own “stockpile.” There may be something there waiting for an opportunity like this.
  • Learn why some ebook covers work better than others. Critique book cover designs in the bookstore or online. Which ones catch your eye?

Sourcing and Using Stock Images to Design Your Own Ebook Cover

No matter where you get the inspiration for your ebook cover, it’s important to ensure that the pictures you choose arouse curiosity and the wording alludes to some of the information contained in the pages within.

More than likely, you’ll be using an image already available for use, so it’s important to understand image rights. There is a significant difference between royalty-free stock photos and rights managed images.

  • A rights managed image, or RM for short, is one that you buy for a specific use but only for a certain period of time.
  • Royalty-free stock photos are not always free, but it’s less expensive. Royalty Free means that you can use the image multiple times for multiple projects with fewer restrictions.

Keep in mind that the pictures you use are just as important as the content of your book. If you are going to start using stock photography, here are a few paid and free sites where you can source images to create your ebook cover design.

Paid Stock Photography has access to over 55 million stock photos, videos, and vectors. Plans start at $79 a month for 5 images a day to $99 a month for 10 images a day. has available over 64 million images, stock photos, and illustrations and it offers 1 premium image a month for $0.05. gives access to over 159 million images, video clips and music tracks with subscriptions starting at $29 a month.

Free Stock Photography

Unsplash offers gorgeous free photos gifted by their generous community of photographers. You can use the images however you want without having to give attribution, but they encourage you to attribute the photographers if you can.

Picjumbo is easy to navigate and hosts a nice selection of shots. The photos are searchable and do not require attribution.

MorgueFile offers a streamlined layout and a curated list of non- searchable photos that do not require attribution.

The list goes on and on. So much is available online now, and sites are always getting updated with new material. Whether you go with a rights managed image or a royalty-free choice, don’t forget to give credit where the credit is due and list the creator’s name or website when it’s required.

Tips on How to Manipulate and Design With Stock Images

ebook cover design

Once you’ve decided on an image or images, use the following tips to manipulate the image into the desired design by blending, adding texture, distorting and layering the images to create different looks using programs designed for this like Photoshop.

As you drag images onto the background you’re using, be sure to use labels such as “Ground” or “Sky,” etc. to keep them organized.

From here you can clip pieces out of some of your other images to layer into your background.

You can also play around with some of the picture effects, like diffusing the light around them, adding shadows or mist, and applying textures.

If you would rather choose a theme instead of a stock photo or photo manipulation, there are many different websites where you can find one that will surely fit the theme of your ebook.

Sites like Creative Market offer theme bundles starting at $2 and ranging all the way up to $500. Here you can choose from a variety of themes, photos, graphics and fonts already grouped together in bundled packages. Each theme is fully editable and includes the front cover, spine and back cover.

4 Ways to Create Visual Impact With Your Ebook Cover Design

When designing your ebook cover, it’s important that it looks professional. Your book sales and even your own credibility are directly affected. If you want to make an impact, think like your readers.

Do you click on the book cover image or the text description next to it? Our eyes are always drawn toward the image. Here are a few more tips to ensure you have a visual impact on your readers when they bring up your book in their search.

  1. Title: Make sure your title is easy to read by making your title a different color font than the background color. Help your title stand out by enlarging the font and adding some effects like shadowing.
  2. Image: Once again, the image plays a huge role in the success of your book. Making sure the image thumbnail is the right size to capture attention as readers scroll down the book lists is a good start. 300 dpi (dots per inch) is the minimal level on covers.
  3. Copyright: Beware of copyright infringements by making sure the images you use are royalty-free and can be used on book covers. You might want to consider getting a custom cover done for you.
  4. Branding: If you already have a business up and running, consider matching the fonts, graphics, logos, and images to your previous publications or to your company’s website to mesh with your “branding” theme.

What images, fonts, and layouts grab your attention? Study what works for you. Once you start to pay attention to what you’re drawn to, a pattern will begin to emerge of what your true style really is.

Finally, once you have an idea of what your style and tastes are, custom tailor your ebook covers to reflect that. Templates are ne to start with, but the problem with using them is that a lot of people use them. You want something unique to your content and your brand.

Up next, you’ll learn how to design your own ebook cover with two different tools.

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