Designing a Book Cover: The Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Right Software

As an author, designing a book cover is an essential part of the self-publishing process. It’s the first impression that readers have of your book, and it’s important to make it count. But with so many software options out there, how do you know which one to choose? And how do you use it? In this guide, we’ll explore the top software options for designing a book cover and provide tips on how to make your cover stand out.

Book Cover Design Software Is Just A Tool

Sorry to state the obvious. But software is only as good as those who use it. It took years to learn how to write to the standard you are currently at. It will take time to learn the sacred ways of graphic design to create book covers that bring in the customers. 

A professionally designed or at least professionally-looking book cover in fishing terms is the bait on the end of the line that attracts the potential readers. The title and blurb are the fight to land the fish. But it all starts with catching their eye! 

There are so many factors in designing a spectacular cover for your book (break down of these ideas is in the second part of this article.) However, the simplest method of ensuring you have a brilliant book, boxset and ebook cover is to compare yours to the top ten selling books in your specific category and then keep on refining it until it looks like it belongs on the same shelf or page as those. In brief, you are looking at fonts used, font size, overall colours, colour contrast, images being used, font and image placement and design language and then just keep refining until it belongs. Simple. Did he just say SIMPLE?

Choosing the Right Software for Designing a Book Cover

When it comes to designing a book cover, there are a few software options that are commonly used. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important to choose the one that works best for your needs. The first three you basically need some level of skill. You do not have to be a cover designer, but you have to be interested in learning cover design and book design. The last option is for those looking for a plug and play, super easy solution cover creator.

I recommend Udemy or YouTube to learn how to use your software. Also, watch a few videos on the basics of design and what makes good design. 

Read my article on basic design principles for authors.(coming soon)

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is one of the most popular software options for designing a book cover. It’s a powerful tool that allows you to create intricate designs and manipulate images with ease. With Photoshop, you can create a custom design from scratch or use a template to get started. This is industry standard software. It can be daunting, it can literally do everything. A steep learning curve but worth the time, especially if you are writing lots of content and producing lots of social media.

Postitive – Unlimited creativity, industry standard.

Negative – Expensive monthly Subscription.

Affinity Photo 

Affinity photo is just like Photoshop. It has a steep learning curve but worth it, as all future ebook book cover designs, social images, etc. can then be created in house. Plus, if the basics are learnt, you will be able to create rough images and mockups of future book covers, great for letting a professional book designer know what it is you are looking for.

Positive – One time price, lots of updates, unlimited creativity.


GIMP is a free, open-source software option that offers many of the same features as Photoshop and Affinity Photo. It’s a great option for authors on a budget, and it has a large community of users who have created tutorials and plugins to help you get started.

Positive – Free, unlimited creativity.


Canva is a popular online design platform that offers a wide range of templates for book covers and it is by far the easiest and most intuitive to use. It’s a user-friendly option that allows you to drag and drop elements onto your design, making it easy to create a professional-looking cover even if you have no design experience. This is the option if you are looking for a simple DIY book cover maker that gives you lots of cover templates to create covers. 

Positive – £100 for a year and up to five people can use it. There is also a free version.

Negative – Limited creativity.

Tips for Designing The Best Book Covers That Stands Out

Once you’ve chosen the software that works best for you and learnt the basics, it’s time to start designing your cover. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to make your cover stand out:


Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS)

A cluttered design can be overwhelming and confusing for readers. Keep your design simple and focused on the key elements that will draw readers in. Think of like book editing: you need to cut the dead wood, you need to bring out the essence of what is being said. The reader does not need to see 32 characters and their dog on the book cover. They just need to see the essence, the thing that will make them read your blub.


Use High-Quality Images

Your cover image should be high-quality and eye-catching. If you’re using stock images, make sure they’re licensed for commercial use and model release forms included.

Cover kit sells professional elements to make covers with and is an easy way to start.

Avoid model copyright infringement by using an AI-generated faces!!

Use AI like Midjourney or Artsmart to create images and elements.

Canva has HQ images and elements included in its subscriptions.


Consider Your Genre

Different genres have different expectations when it comes to book covers. Do your research and make sure your cover fits within the expectations of your genre. I would recommend you source and download the top ten covers from your genre. Then make a table or a checklist about the overall colour, the font style, the font contrast, the text placement and size, the dominant image, the theme, etc etc. Then use this information to design your cover. 


Use AI for inspiration

AI art generators are a great tool to get inspiration. You can type in prompts and it will quickly generate images. Some even allow you to upload an image and then generate your prompts with the upload image as a reference. Use these AI tools for reference. Check out our Artsmart Ai Review


Use Typography To Your Advantage

Typography can be a powerful tool for creating a memorable and effective book cover. Choose fonts that fit with the tone of your book and are easy to read.

Make use of contrasting colours when selecting the colours of your fonts, make sure it is easily seen and does not blend into the background. 


Test Your Design

Once you’ve created your design, test it out with friends, family, and potential readers. Get feedback on what works and what doesn’t, and use that feedback to make improvements. A great place to do this is your newsletter or on your social media channels.


Mock Up Your Design

Head on over to  to create free 3D mockups of your book. See how the cover looks in paperback and kindle.

Canva also has book mockups to choose from. 

Get your Dimensions Right

Each book cover will have specific dimensions depending on the print format, print size, page count etc. Publishers like Amazon have calculators and templates that are downloadable that allow you to set the size of your document so your final cover is perfect for print. 

Graphic design basics you need to know

Possibly this should be the first thing, but if you are going to start designing your own book covers and social posts, take the time to learn the fundamentals of graphic design. Check out this YT video.

Check out my full article on Graphic Design For Authors here. (Coming Soon)


Designing a book cover is an important part of the self-publishing process, and choosing the right software can make all the difference. Whether you choose Adobe Photoshop, Canva, GIMP, or Canva. Have fun, and remember the time invested in learning graphic design and cover design software will be paid back tenfold. A great article.