Issue #29

4 steps to create exceptional ebook covers on a budget

Digital Products
15 min read
In this Article

You’ve spent months (maybe even years) dreaming up and creating an ebook, and you’re almost ready to sell it! You can’t wait for those dollars to hit your bank from your new digital product.

But you’re missing something crucial before you can publish your ebook: an attention-grabbing cover to draw in potential readers.

You only have 90 seconds to make a good impression on your readers (and entice them to buy your book). According to 99Designs, a beautiful book cover can increase book visibility by over 50%. In other words? A good cover is worth the investment.

But if you aren’t a graphic designer, the task to create a quality cover might feel daunting.

So today, I’m showing you how to make an ebook cover by yourself.

By the end of this article, you’ll know how to design an ebook cover that is not only eye-catching it will also fly off the (digital) shelves!

 3 steps to create exceptional ebook covers on a budget

What’s better: hiring a designer or D.I.Y.?

When it comes to designing your book cover, you’ve got two options. You can either hire a designer or make your cover yourself. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of each, and when you might want to choose each option.

Hire a designer

When you hire a designer to make an ebook cover for you, you’re not just paying for the artwork (in this case, your cover). You’re also paying for their years of expertise and experience.

Designers (specifically those who specialize in book cover design) have a deep understanding of typography, color theory, visual hierarchies, layouts, and ebook cover dimensions.

While hiring a designer will give you access to expertise you may not have, it might not be in the budget for new authors—but there are also plenty of more affordable options. One Story Creative, a design agency exclusive to book covers, starts their packages off at $199 for ebook covers. And a quick search on Fiverr for verified cover designers shows a range in price, starting around $190.

Ebook cover design examples Fiverr
Different Fiverr services from their pro verified designers. Image via Fiverr.

But if even this is outside your budget, you can always make an ebook cover DIY-style.

DIY ebook cover design

If your current budget for ebook cover design is $0, you’re in good company! 42% of emerging authors spend less than $50 on book cover design.

Aside from the obvious upside of saving money, you also have full control over your ebook cover if you choose to design it yourself. You can make unlimited tweaks and even create different variations to A/B test on your landing pages (which can help increase conversions).

The drawback? Well, if you haven’t studied design, you’ll have to get yourself up to speed. But not to worry! Non-designers can make polished ebook covers without any formal training by brushing up on some basic design theory.

Let’s go over the essential information you need to create an outstanding cover so that you can launch your ebook with confidence!

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How to make an ebook cover in 4 easy steps

You might think you can’t price your ebook very high if you don’t hire a pro designer.

But that’s not the case.

Follow these three simple steps, and you’ll be on your way to an attractive cover!

Step 1. Research your competition

Before you design an ebook cover, you’ll want to do some competitor research. More specifically, research the top sellers in your niche.

Here are a few ebook platforms you can search through:

Simply search for keywords in your niche to find the top-selling books. For example, if you’re a chef releasing an ebook on cooking basics, you can search for “cookbook for beginners” or “basic cooking skills” to pull up your competitors’ books.

After searching for your competition, examine the covers of the top sellers. Do specific colors stand out? Are certain layouts more popular than others?

If I search for “business books”, many of the results in Google’s Book Carousel use red, orange, and yellow color schemes and don’t use script fonts (we’ll learn about color and font psychology later in the article):

Ebook cover design examples from Google’s Book Carousel
Google’s Book Carousel displays a collection of top-selling business books. Image via Google.

On the other hand, if I search “cookbooks for kids”, my results show colorful covers with decorative fonts, a stark difference from the business books above!

Ebook cover design examples from Google
Google’s Book Carousel displays a collection of top-selling cookbooks for kids. Image via Google.

Doing research will help you narrow down your ideas and determine what already performs well with your audience.

Step 2. Choose your tool

Next, you want to figure out what ebook cover creator software you’re going to use. Let’s look at some free options.

Drag-and-drop editors

There are many free drag-and-drop editors you can use to make an ebook cover. While they aren’t exclusively for ebooks, they contain the necessary tools you need. Three popular ones are:

  1. Canva
  2. BeFunky
  3. Snappa

All three editors have libraries of fonts, icons, graphics, and stock photos you can use. You can also upload your own design elements if you can’t find what you need within their libraries.

Canva is an excellent option for beginners because it provides pre-designed ebook cover templates:

Ebook cover templates in Canva
Search for ebook cover templates in Canva. Image via Canva.

You can even sort templates by color within Canva:

Ebook cover templates in Canva
You can search for templates based on color. Image via Canva.

Since each software is free, I recommend testing all three to see which one you prefer.

Microsoft Word

You can also design your cover right in Word as well!

One limitation with the three drag-and-drop tools mentioned above is that your font choices are limited to the fonts they provide (unless you upgrade to their paid plans).

Let’s say you find the perfect font for your ebook cover (something unique that none of your competitors are using). You can purchase and download any font you’d like and upload it to your computer to use on Word.

However, Microsoft Word is first and foremost a word processor (and not a graphic design software), so you may find limitations when designing an ebook cover.

This step-by-step tutorial will show you how easy cover design can be in Microsoft Word.

Step 3. Design your cover

Now comes the fun part!

The fonts, colors, visual elements, and layout you use on your ebook cover can turn your audience away or draw them in.

To avoid the former, let’s brush up on some graphic design theory.


The ideal cover size varies from platform to platform. If publishing on Amazon Kindle, the ideal ebook cover size is 1.6:1 (or 2560px by 1600px), while Kobo’s ideal screen size width-to-height ratio is 3:4.

But that doesn’t mean you need to use those exact dimensions.

Take a look at Austin Kleon’s ebook covers:

Ebook cover design examples by Austin Kleon
Austin Kleon uses square covers rather than the traditional rectangle. Image via Amazon.

Austin’s square covers stand out in a sea of rectangle cover sizes. Experiment to see which cover size resonates with your audience. You could even use something as simple as an Instagram poll to ask your audience which covers they like best.

Font psychology

Font psychology plays a significant role for your cover. In other words, your font choice matters—readers will interpret your book cover VERY differently depending on which font you choose:

Choose fonts wisely
Your font choice conveys meaning.

Your font choice conveys meaning. Image via Reddit
Alt text: Two side-by-side comparisons that both say “I’ll be waiting for you”. One uses a sinister font while the other uses a handwritten font.

There are four main types of fonts:

  1. Serif: Serif fonts have small strokes attached to the larger stroke. Serif fonts are perceived as formal, authoritative, and trustworthy.
  2. Sans-serif: Sans-serif fonts do not have additional strokes. A sans-serif font is seen as progressive and laid back.
  3. Script: Script fonts resemble cursive writing, with most letters connecting. Script fonts communicate romance or femininity.
  4. Decorative: Decorative fonts can contain graphics and are best for headlines as opposed to body text. Decorative fonts range in feeling playful, edgy, youthful, romantic, authoritative, and more.

When adding fonts to your ebook, you can choose to use one or pair two together (three fonts start feeling a bit crowded). You can pair your fonts however you wish, but here are some quick tips:

  1. Use contrast and pair fonts of different font families together
  2. Keep fonts within the same font family but use various variants (i.e., pair Montserrat Bold with Montserrat Regular)
  3. Try to avoid a script or decorative font for anything except titles as they can be hard to read when used for long strings of text

Let’s take a look at some ebook cover examples to see fonts in action.

Arian Simone’s book cover pairs a serif and sans-serif font. The serif font is the main focus and conveys power and authority.

Ebook cover design serif font example by Arian Simone
Serif fonts look powerful and authoritative. Image via Arian Simone.

And the decorative font on Lennon Bone’s ebook gives off an artistic-vibe, perfect for a book discussing art.

Ebook cover design decorative font example by Lennon Bone
Decorative fonts can take many different meanings and in this case, it appears artistic. Image via Lennon Bone.

Had Lennon gone with a serif font, the cover might come across as corporate and stuffy, which would be the exact opposite feelings they’d want to convey as an artist.

Color psychology

Colors affect us on an emotional level and influence our decision making. 62%-90% of people make up their minds about a product based on color alone!

Here’s a chart that will help you understand the psychology behind different colors:

Color psychology example
Different colors give off different emotions.

Ask yourself how you want your audience to feel based on the colors on your cover. For example, orange often evokes feelings of enthusiasm and courage. Think back to the business book covers that were mainly orange; it makes sense why the authors chose orange rather than hot pink (which represents romance and affection).

Suresh Srinivas’s teal book cover elicits feelings of harmony and relaxation—perfect for a book on meditation.

Ebook cover design example by Suresh Srinivas
The colors used help this cover convey relaxation. Image via Suresh Srinivas.

Now, imagine the above book cover was black and orange. That would no longer feel appropriate for a meditation book!

On top of colors having distinct meanings, specific color combinations look better than others. If you don’t have an eye for design, you can always lean on free tools to generate great color schemes. Coolors, for example, will automatically create a random five-color scheme each time you press the spacebar. If you come across a color you like, make sure you “lock” it in place with Coolors handy lock function!

Ebook cover design color palette examples
Pressing the spacebar will generate new color schemes. Video via Coolors.

You can also use Adobe’s Color Wheel to help you create the perfect color scheme.

Ebook cover design color wheel
Adobe can help you create the perfect harmonious color scheme. Image via Adobe.

With Adobe’s Color Wheel, you can input an initial color, and then it will suggest possible color combinations depending on the color harmony rule you have selected (i.e., analogous, monochromatic, triad, etc.).

Image and icons

If your book cover has low-quality media on the front, your audience might assume the content inside is also low-quality.

To avoid this, you can find royalty-free stock images on websites like Unsplash or Pexels. If you don’t want stock images and want to use icons and artwork instead, websites like The Noun Project, Etsy, and Creative Market are fantastic places to find affordable (and even free) design elements!

Eat to Focus, an ebook by Natural Alternative ADHD Treatment, uses high-quality imagery for a stunning cover.

Ebook cover design example images
Great images make a world of difference. Image via Natural Alternative ADHD Treatment.

And the high-quality photo on Liv Huwan’s ebook is mouth-watering:

Recipe ebook cover design example by Liv Huwan
The images on the font gives a clear indication of what the book is about. Image via Liv Huwan.

Both covers give me confidence that the content inside will be great, just as the outside is!

Just make sure you read the terms and conditions before using any photos. For example, Unsplash’s license does not cover images of a person’s face, a logo, or a work of art.


After you’ve chosen your colors, fonts, images/icons, and determined your cover dimensions, it’s time to lay it all out!

The Z-pattern layout is a common strategy for ebook cover designs because it’s the natural way we process non-text-heavy information.

First, we scan from top left to right. Next, our eyes go diagonally down from top right to bottom left. And finally, we scan the bottom from left to right. Here’s an example of the Z-pattern layout in action:

Ebook cover design text pattern layout
We naturally process ebook covers with the Z-pattern layout. Image via The Modest Wallet.

Here’s another example of the Z-pattern layout, but with the title at the bottom:

Ebook cover design example text pattern
Your title doesn’t always have to go at the top. Image via Tina Dahmen.

While you aren’t limited to the Z-pattern layout, it’s a tried-and-true method you can use if you aren’t sure how to format your cover’s content.

Step 4. Mockup your ebook cover (optional)

Ok, I know I said there are only three steps, but using this ebook cover software is optional (although it will only take a few seconds, and I highly recommend it!).

If you want to improve your ebook sales (and who doesn’t), use a mockup on your sales page. Content with relevant images can get up to 94% more views than content without relevant images.

Laura Schneider uses a mockup on her website to promote her ebook:

Ebook cover design example by Laura Schneider Music
Using a mockup can increase conversions. Image via Laura Schneider Music.

You can create your own ebook mockup in seconds using DIY Book Covers free mockup software.

Sell your ebook (and make money)

Now you know how to create an ebook cover, it’s time to sell your ebook!

We always recommend you sell your ebook on your website rather than Amazon to take advantage of higher profit margins.

If you don’t have an ecommerce website to sell your ebook, no problem! You can have your ebook up for sale in a matter of minutes with ConvertKit Commerce.

After creating your ConvertKit Commerce account, click on “Products” then “Create a product” and fill out your product details.

Sell your ebook through ConvertKit
Add your product details.

After filling out your product details, you’ll need to upload your ebook. Select “A Digital Download” for the type of product you’re selling, then upload your ebook file.

Sell your ebook through ConvertKit
Upload your ebook file.

Lastly, you can customize the URL slug, or choose to host your product page on a custom domain.

Sell your ebook through ConvertKit
Adjust your page URL slug.

Once you have created your product, you can upload your cover and you’ll be ready to sell your ebook!

Sell your ebook through ConvertKit
Upload your ebook cover or mockup and begin selling your ebook. Ebook cover via Canva’s premade ebook templates.

You can link to your newly uploaded ebook from your own website, your social media accounts, or create a landing page from one of our landing page templates. We have ones specifically for ebooks, like this one:

Sell your ebook through ConvertKit
Use one of our landing page templates to get a professional landing page quickly. Image via ConvertKit’s landing page templates.

Use one of our landing page templates to get a professional landing page quickly. Image via ConvertKit’s landing page templates
Alt text: A screenshot of a landing page template for ebooks

Ready to share your ebook with the world? Sell your ebook online using ConvertKit Commerce!

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Dana Nicole

Dana is a freelance writer who works closely with B2B SaaS brands to create content people enjoy reading. When she’s not working, you’ll find her sipping on a warm cup of tea and reading a good book (the scarier, the better). See what she’s up to at

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