The Journal: Some Cover Design Fundamentals

In today’s Journal

* Yesterday
* Topic: Some Cover Design Fundamentals
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Yesterday, which should have been a relaxing day off, was mostly a bust. We went to a couple of estate sales over in Sierra Vista. Neither had much that we were interested in, and the other attendees at one acted as if they’d never been around other humans before. Sheesh.

We shopped in the commissary too, and found some of what we needed but not all. And then I chose and ate the wrong thing for lunch, making myself ill. It was just one of those days. All in all, I hope today (and every day) will be better.

Topic: Some Cover Design Fundamentals

A writer friend and mentoring student wrote to me with questions about front cover design. Below is what I conveyed, much expanded.

Designed well, your front cover should work for both your ebook and your paper book, with one notable exception: you have to take into account trim size and bleed for your paper cover.

For that reason, for your paper cover the title and the author name have to be a little farther from the top, bottom and right side to make room for the knife. There are no such restrictions on the ebook cover, which is front cover only. For the rest of this, I’m talking only about the front cover.


I’ve always created covers at a 2-3 ratio. Mine begin life at 6250 pixels wide by 9375 tall. When that’s exported to a .jpg image, I resize it down to three sizes—2000 x 3000, 300 x 450, and 180 x 270—and name each “Title of the Work” plus the width, so “Title of the Work 2000” etc.

I upload the 2000 file to Amazon and D2D and wherever else. I use the 300 file for the specific book page on my site (for an example, see and the 180 file for the cover on the genre page (for an example, see (Clicking the smaller cover on the genre page takes the reader to the book page.)

On the actual cover…

Use cover art that conveys the genre and theme of the story. (Study bestselling covers. Duh.) Don’t try to tell the story in the cover art.

Make your title and author name as large as possible, ideally say 1/4″ below the top (or bottom) and 1/4″ from either side, centered. Why make them large? So when Amazon (or whomever) puts up that tiny little thumbnail image, the potential reader can still see the title and author name. (If you study any covers from any bestsellers, you’ll note you can see both even in thumbnail. Hint, hint.)

Ideally, the edges of the title and author name should line up vertically.

Note: The example I showed above is not that way because I also had to consider the cover art. The space to the top right was suitable for the fairly long title, so that’s where I put it. (But note that the right side of the title still lines up with the right side of my name.) The left side of the author name seems almost to drip down from the vertical light area in the upper left of the corner of the image.

The elements of the cover…

1, Cover art, of course.

2. Title.

3. Title tag. This can be as simple as “a Wes Crowley novel” or “an intense SF short story.”

4. Series tag (if you’re writing in a series). The series tag simply reads something like “Book 11 in the Wes Crowley saga.”

5. Author name.

6. Author tag. Again, I don’t have an author tag on the example cover. Mea culpa. The author tag typically follows the author name and reads something like “Author of the SF Journey Home series.” You get the idea.


Fonts should almost always suit the genre and be bold. That doesn’t mean they can’t also be thin. Again, check them on a thumbnail-size image to be sure. (You can do this by simply decreasing the zoom size until you get the size you want to check. Note that adjusting the zoom will not resize the actual image.)

It’s generally a good idea to “pick” the font color from a color in the cover art. I do that on all my covers.

Certain font colors also have certain effects on the reader. For more on that (and all of this) I strongly recommend you spend a little time studying bestselling covers at Amazon, Kobo, wherever. You can even right click on an image, select “save as” from the dropdown, and save a cover to your desktop to study later.

Design Programs

The above will work for you no matter which design program you use to lay out your covers. I personally use and recommend Serif Affinity Publisher as a viable alternative to much higher-priced alternatives.

Hope this helps.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “What if You Were the Main Character” at

See “Audio Fatigue” at

See “What’s the (plot) point?” at No, I am not advocating plotting. Ever. But you might get some story ideas from this, and for those of you who plot, well, there y’go.

See “Pulphouse Fiction Magazine Subscription Drive” at

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 860 words

Writing of (novel)

Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for July……… 46908
Total fiction words for the year………… 575587
Total nonfiction words for July… 11480
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 137270
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 712857

Calendar Year 2021 Novels to Date…………………… 12
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 3
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 65
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.

4 thoughts on “The Journal: Some Cover Design Fundamentals”

  1. Hey, Harvey, I hope all is well. Just a question – where are you going to license the fonts you use on your covers. I’m finding it’s quite a minefield out there for knowing which are licensed and which are are not. Some of the licensing documents are ambiguous at best, and some of the clearest documents are for fonts that are phenomenally expensive (like $300 for the full family), or some of the sites where they’re cheaper, it’s unclear that they’re actually legal. What are your thoughts?

    • Good question, and a great point. Always read the Terms of Service at any font website, and always read the license. If you aren’t clear about the license terms, write the company and ask.

      I have a few hundred fonts on my business computer. I don’t use the fonts that came with Microsoft for anything commercial.

      Of the fonts I do use, I got some of my fonts from Creative Market. Their terms are ambiguous, so I emailed them, explained exactly how I wanted to use the font, and asked. A lady there was kind enough to respond in plain English that yes, I could use them to construct other items (book covers) for commercial sale.

      I’ve bought a few fonts from Adobe and others, and I got some other fonts in other places, but all are licensed for commercial use. And I’ve talked here before about Affinity Publisher. Like the Adobe suite, Publisher comes with its own set of fonts licensed for commercial use. (That from a friend as I’m still slogging along with PagePlus and my bought fonts.)

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