Book cover design ideas: a checklist for authors

Book cover design ideas: a checklist for authors

If you feel stuck, and your mind simply resists any attempt at brainstorming, a good question can get the wheels turning. 

Plenty of our best book cover designs started with a good answer to the good question. And, we want to share these questions with you so the best book cover ideas come to you easily (or, at least, without titanic effort). 

Who is your reader?

Who is the person who will open, read, and enjoy your story? 

Find out as much as you can about them

  • What are their gender and age?
  • What are their preferences and tastes?
  • What’s their cultural background? 
  • What are their fears, desires, and needs?
  • What values and ideas are they looking for in the book?

Answers to these questions will help you build a solid foundation for your cover and create a design that appeals to your readers. 

What is the emotional craving of your reader that your book can satisfy? 

We read books not only for captivating stories but also to satisfy our emotional needs.

Sometimes, we want

  • to be scared; 
  • to feel suspense;
  • to escape into the world of magic and whimsy;
  • to fall in love with characters;
  • to discover new worlds. 

You need to figure out what is the core emotional craving of the readers that your book can satisfy. It will be an emotion your book cover should evoke from first sight. Then, you need to ask yourself, how can I achieve it?  

Your primary tool in this task will be color. With a proper combination of hues, you can create the required emotional atmosphere.

Romance book cover design example
Book cover design by MiblArt

What are the genre conventions you want your book cover to follow? 

You need a book cover that communicates the genre of your story clearly and loudly. It’s vital for ensuring the book gets in front of the right audience. 

It means that your book cover should include at least some genre conventions and standards. Determine what will signal your book’s genre: it could be an established color palette for horror, the familiar aesthetic of romance, or fantastic imagery for SF&F.

sci-fi book cover design idea
Book cover design by MiblArt

Building your book cover idea up from the genre conventions can be productive and effective. 

What is the story of your book in one short sentence? 

It’s a useful exercise for writing engaging and laconic book descriptions and also a fine book cover brainstorming tip. 

Answer it, and you’ll definitely figure out how to laconically depict your story within the limits of the book cover.

What makes your book stand out? 

Something sets your book apart from the rest. 

Even if you’re super loyal to the genre conventions and tropes or extra safe with your storytelling, your unique life experience and taste helped you create a unique story.

So, what is it you think people will find the most distinct in your book

Or in the dryer words of marketing, what is a unique selling point (USP) of your book? The characters, the world, the premise?

Sometimes, USP is where the answer to a good cover design idea lives.


Whimsy romance book cover desing example
Book cover design by MiblArt

What do you like about your book the most? 

The truth is no matter how analytic or research-driven writers are in their craft, they strive to create stories they will enjoy. What comes next is finding an audience with similar tastes and ideals.  

So, finding the most endearing part of your story and thinking about how to depict it on the cover can be great fuel for inspiration.  

For example, you could discover that the adventure with amazing characters is what you love the most. In this case, you want a cover that will convey this feeling with character-centered visuals and a hint at a brave new world to conquer. 

YA fantasy book cover idea
Book cover design by MiblArt

Besides, such an approach will help you to love your future cover even more. And that’s half the success. 

What are the covers that achieved what you want your cover to achieve?

Nothing beats a good old reference.

Don’t shy away from browsing the works of your peers and classics to find book cover designs that can inspire you to develop your own ideas. And don’t limit yourself to book covers alone. Try borrowing an idea or two from music album art, movie posters, illustrations from books, and video game art.  

Sometimes, you stare at beautiful art for hours, then go to sleep and wake up the next day with a bunch of fresh ideas waiting for you at the ready. 

may other (steampunk, historicl)
Book cover design by MiblArt

And finally… What do you want? 

What is the cover of your dreams? Let yourself go and embrace your wildest ideas, experiment, and goof around. Don’t be afraid to be chaotic, too odd, or confusing. 

Inspiration loves openness and freedom of expression

Besides, if you think your resulting book cover design idea is too over the top, but you still love it, a professional designer will help to trim it down and make it more marketable.

Thrilling book cover design example idea
Book cover design by MiblArt

Or you can always ask for help!

We can help you come up with an effective book cover idea. 

You provide us with your book title, genre, plot point (if any needed) that should be depicted on the cover, book’s setting, some references, and relevant information about the characters. 

We conduct market research, brainstorm different ideas, and using our experience, develop a concept of a book cover that will appeal to your audience and catch attention. 


If you want free help with a book cover design idea, feel free to click here


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