Book Cover Part 1 – Getting Started

As I travel down this path of publishing my first book – Blue Violet – I now find myself at the point of creating a book cover.

Every blog post, article, and website I’ve seen so far has stressed the importance of a good book cover. According to a Taleist report, authors who got outside help with issues such as editing and cover design earned 34% more than the average, although 70% of respondents did not seek help. Of those who got professional help in these areas, more got help on the book cover versus the editing.

I’m already getting professional help with the editing piece. At this point I’m more than happy to shop out my book cover as well. Creating the book cover for Blue Violet has turned into a five stage process:  1- research book covers, 2- hire an artist, 3- communicate with my artist, 4- review and edit the proofs, and 5- decide on the final cover.

Stage 1 – Research
During the first stage, I found an abundance of data, opinions, and options available for the enterprising self-publisher. Here are some points and articles that I found particularly appropriate or helpful:

Size/Image Requirements (Amazon)
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) has a page that details the requirements for the are for upload for eBooks:

  • Minimum of 1000 pixels on the longest side
  • Recommend that images be 2500 pixels on the longest side.
  • Ideal height/width ratio of 1.6
  • Use RGB color mode
  • If the cover is white or a very light color, add a very narrow (3-4 pixel) medium grey border to help show the edges when it shows on the white background of the Amazon website

Key Elements
Several blogs and articles listed out the key elements of an effective book cover. Most of them agreed on the same major pieces including:

  • Large title (biggest font on the cover)
  • Author’s name clear
  • Words stand out well (both color and font)
  • Art that fits the “norm” for the genre
  • Less is more – only 1-2 colors and fontsLooks good in thumbnail form (especially important for us eBook publishers)
  • Relevant to the story

Young Adult Cover Stats
Kate Hart researched YA (young adult) book covers in 2011 resulting in a ton of data on averages and typical covers in this genre. Most relevant to me were the following 2 stats:

  • Specific colors or light vs. dark are fairly well distributed across 2011 YA books.
  • If an image on the cover is not a person then it is most likely to be a filigree or a flower.

Stage 2 – Hire an Artist
I did very briefly consider using one of the many cover designers easily located on the Internet. This service seems to cost anywhere from $400-$4000. However, having worked for five years at a web design company, I have my own contacts. I am working with a very talented graphic artist – Jason Vines – to do my cover. I decided to go this route because I know him, I’m comfortable with him, I trust him and his work, and he’s reasonably priced.

Stage 3 – Communicate with My Artist
Once I’d hired Jason, the next step was to let him know the important information about the book in an effort to help him generate ideas. This part is tricky. I didn’t want to make him read the entire book. I also didn’t want to restrict his creativity by giving him rigid guidelines. But I wanted to make sure he’s got all the elements he needs to create my perfect cover.  Below is what I ended up communicating to him:

  • Book Title: Blue Violet
  • My initial idea is something really simple like a blue violet flower on a black or white background.
  • The follow-on book is titled Hyacinth (and ideas for 2 more books in the series likely titled Nightshade and Snapdragon). The book covers for each of those would be the title flowers – setting a theme for the series.
  • The first page of the book will read: All flowers have a meaning. In the Victorian era, people used flowers as a symbol to express their feelings. Blue Violet: watchfulness, faithfulness, I’ll always be true.


  • Genre: YA (young adult) paranormal romance
  • Setting: Rocky Mountains in Colorado / Estes Park
  • SPOILER ALERT: I won’t give you details I gave Jason, but I let him know some of the powers for my main character and antagonist (which may or may not involve wolves). I gave him details that would potentially render well in graphic form.


Stage 4 & 5 – Edit the Proofs / Decide on a Cover (Coming Soon!)
Jason is in the process now of creating the first pass at my book cover. I should receive several options to select from sometime in the next few weeks. After I’ve completed my work with him I’ll post on the options he provided, the edits we went through, and the final book cover design! I am extremely excited and curious to see what he comes up with!

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