Advice for Authors: What A Designer Wants You to Know About Creating a Cover

– Megan Carrell,  intern at the Indianapolis Business Journal

As an author, you’ve spent countless hours writing your perfect book. But when that’s done, what’s next? Here’s six tips on what your cover designer really wants you to know about designing the cover.


  1. Start with the basics.
    It might sound straightforward, but knowing this information can be critical to our design capability. For example, if your last name is Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele, we need to plan enough space to fit that.
    Not sure where to start? Here’s a good list. If you can fill this out, you’re ready for the next step.

            Title (and possibly subtitle):

Your name:

Illustrator, photographer, or other contributor’s name:



A description of your book:

Author biography (sometimes accompanied by a photo):

Barcode in black and white (we’ll help you get this):

  1. Do your homework.
    Visit a bookstore in person, especially in the location where your book would most likely be sold. Not only will you get to check out your competition, but also you’ll be able to find tons of inspiration from “typical” covers in your genre. For example, a lot of children’s books have bright, bouncy, illustrated covers, but adult nonfiction might use more neutral tones and photography to convey a serious topic.
  2. Share your dream ideas.
    Do you have something in mind for the cover? Tell us! The more you describe what colors and images you might want, the faster we can make your cover into reality. We want you to really love your book.
    See something that looks cool but not sure what it would cost? Just ask! Sometimes a glossy cover or metallic text are exactly what your cover is yearning for. We can always get an estimate from the printer, without you having to commit to anything if it costs too much.



  1. Plan ahead.
    Do you already have a photo or illustration lined up? Make sure the artist knows to leave some “blank” space where the text will go. You’ll also need extra space along any sides that go off the edges of the book; the printing process isn’t perfect, so we need wiggle room so your main image doesn’t get cut off!


  1. Let us do the hard work. That’s why we’re here!
    Don’t worry about doing a lot of formatting on the text you submit to us. Feel free to bold or italicize, but if you aren’t sure, we would rather have “boring” text that we can edit to your specifications.
  1. Technology can be confusing, and we understand.

If you can’t figure out how to send a big file don’t hesitate to ask. We would rather take the time to get the right file than to learn too late it was the wrong size.

The smallest JPEG you can send should be 300 pixels per inch (ppi). If you have other file formats like EPS or TIFF, we’ll take those too.

Now that we’ve got you started, don’t hesitate to contact us about making your book into reality. You can email us at or by phone at (317) 634-6200.

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