Book Cover and Interior Design: Do's and Don'ts for Self-Publishers

According to a recent survey, an average of over 1.7 million self-published books were released each year. With such a vast number of books being released every year, it can be challenging to make your book stand out in the crowd. One way to make a lasting impression on potential readers is through your book cover and interior formatting.  In this article we will talk about Book Cover and Interior Design: Do’s and Don’ts for Self-Publishers that will bring in more sales.

Private Investigator Taking a Picture of the Suspect
By YuriArcursPeopleimages @

Imagine being a self-published author who has spent countless hours writing and editing your book. You finally publish it, only to find that it’s not selling as well as you had hoped. You start to wonder what went wrong, and after some research, you realize that your book cover and interior formatting may have been the culprit. This is where our article comes in to help you avoid these common mistakes and create a book that not only sells but also leaves a lasting impression on your readers.

Size of Your Book

Assortment of Books on White Background
By AtlasComposer @

The size of your book cover plays a crucial role in attracting potential readers to your book. Choosing the right size will depend on the type of book you’re writing and the format in which you plan to publish it. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you choose the best size for your book cover:


  • Research the standard sizes for the genre you’re writing. For example, if you’re writing a novel, a standard size is 5.5″ x 8.5″ or 6″ x 9″. For a children’s book, a standard size is 8.5″ x 8.5″.
  • Consider the format in which you plan to publish your book. If you’re publishing an ebook, you have more flexibility in terms of size, but for print books, it’s best to stick to standard sizes to ensure your book is easily recognizable as a book.
  • Test your book cover design at different sizes to see which one looks best. You can use software like Canva to create mockups of your book cover at different sizes and see how they look.


  • Choose a size that’s too small or too big for your genre. This can make your book look unprofessional and unappealing to potential readers.
  • Use a custom size just to stand out. While it’s important to be unique, using a non-standard size can make your book look amateurish and can make it difficult to print or distribute.

Pro Tips:

It’s also important to consider the size of your title and author name on the cover. Your title and author name should be easily readable and should stand out on the cover. Avoid using a font size that’s too small, as this can make your cover look cluttered and difficult to read. Generally, your title should be the largest element on the cover, followed by your author name.

For most novels, a size of 5.5″ x 8.5″ or 6″ x 9″ is standard. Non-fiction common size is 6″ x 9″. Lastly, children’s books have a common size of 8.5″ x 8.5″. Keep in mind that these are just suggestions, and you should always research the standard sizes for your specific genre.

Leave an Impression

Your book cover is the first thing your potential readers will see. It is essential to leave a lasting impression. Use high-quality images that are relevant to the theme of your book. Avoid using generic images that do not relate to your book’s content.

Typography Matters

Typography Design Background for Designers
By seventyfourimages @

As we mentioned earlier, typography is an essential aspect of book design that can make or break the effectiveness of your cover. Choosing the right font for your book genre is crucial in conveying the right tone and creating a professional-looking design. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts for choosing the right typography for your book cover:


  • Research other books in your genre to see what kind of fonts they use.
  • Choose a font that reflects the tone and theme of your book.
  • Use a font that is legible and easy to read, even in smaller sizes.
  • Experiment with different font combinations to create a unique look that fits your book.
  • Overlaying fonts on images can be a great way to create visual interest, but be sure that the text is still legible.
  • Incorporate design elements into your typography to create eyeflow and lead the reader’s eye to the most important information.
  • Decide on a focal point for your cover and use typography to highlight it.


  • Avoid using too many different fonts or typefaces.
  • Don’t use overly decorative or elaborate fonts that can be difficult to read.
  • Don’t use fonts that are too small or thin, as they can be hard to see.

Pro Tips:

When it comes to designing the front and back cover of your book, you should also consider including the title and author name, a brief blurb or summary, and a visually compelling image that reflects the theme of your book. These elements should be arranged in a visually pleasing way that draws the reader’s eye to the focal point of the cover.


Illustration of Hierarchy Management Concept
By mohdizzuanbinroslan @

Now that you’ve got your typography sorted, it’s time to think about the hierarchy of your design. This refers to the arrangement of the elements on the page, with the most important elements given the most visual weight. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you create a well-balanced hierarchy on your book cover:


  • Make sure the title is the most prominent element on the cover. It should be the first thing that catches the reader’s eye.
  • Use contrasting sizes and weights of font to create a visual hierarchy. This will help guide the reader’s eye through the design.
  • Use color to help establish a hierarchy. You can use contrasting colors or shades of the same color to create depth and visual interest.
  • Keep your design simple and uncluttered. Too many elements can detract from the overall impact of the design.
  • Use appropriate imagery to support the hierarchy. A well-placed image can help guide the reader’s eye through the design and reinforce the overall message of the cover.


  • Don’t make every element on the cover the same size or weight. This can make the design feel flat and uninteresting.
  • Don’t use too many fonts or font styles. This can make the design feel cluttered and confusing.
  • Don’t use too many colors. Stick to a limited color palette to create a more cohesive and impactful design.
  • Don’t clutter your cover with too much text or images. Keep it simple and focused.

Don’t Forget About the Back Cover

When it comes to the back cover, you should also consider the hierarchy of elements. Here are some tips:

  • The author bio and blurb should be secondary to the title and any supporting imagery.
  • Use font styles and sizes to create a hierarchy of information, with the most important elements given the most visual weight.
  • Keep the design balanced and visually appealing, but don’t overload it with too much information.

Too Much Text or Too Many Visual Elements

Colorful and Fragmented 3D Typography Depicting Clutter
By kdvgraphics @ Midjourney

Now that we’ve covered the importance of hierarchy, let’s talk about another common mistake that self-publishers make when creating their book cover design: including too much text or too many visual elements.


  • Keep it simple and straightforward. A clean design with a clear message is more effective than a cluttered one.
  • Use high-quality images and graphics that are relevant to your book’s genre and target audience.
  • Consider the use of negative space to create balance and draw attention to key elements.
  • Use contrasting colors and font styles to create emphasis and hierarchy.
  • Use visuals to support the text, not the other way around.


  • Don’t overcrowd the design with too many elements or images that are not relevant to your book.
  • Don’t use low-quality images or graphics that can make your design look unprofessional.
  • Don’t use too many fonts or font sizes that can create confusion and distract the reader.
  • Don’t use text as the only design element, without considering imagery or other design elements that can create visual interest.

Pro Tips:

It’s essential to strike the right balance between text and imagery when designing your book cover. Relevant and high-quality elements will help convey your book’s message and capture your target audience’s attention. Remember to keep it simple, with a clear and straightforward design that supports your book’s content.

When designing the back cover, follow the same principles of simplicity and clarity. Focus on key elements such as your book blurb, author bio, and reviews. Use hierarchy to highlight these elements and make them easy to read. You can also include a brief author bio, headshot, or other relevant elements that will help sell your book.

As with the front cover, it’s crucial to avoid overcrowding the back cover with too many design elements or text. A clean and straightforward design with a clear message will help your book stand out and make a lasting impression on potential readers.

Remember, when it comes to book cover design, less is often more. A simple and straightforward design with high-quality and relevant elements will make a lasting impression on potential readers.

“Janky” Low-Quality Images

Pixel Art of Person on Beach
By kdvgraphics @ Midjourney

Speaking of low-quality images, have you ever ordered a book online and felt disappointed when you finally held it in your hands? Maybe the cover looked amateurish and the pictures inside were pixelated or even copyrighted without proper attribution. Well, let me tell you about this one time we ordered a book on vegan cooking from Amazon and… let’s just say the recipes weren’t the only thing that didn’t quite match our expectations.

Let’s start with some definitions. A low-resolution image has fewer pixels per inch (PPI) than a high-resolution image, which means it can look blurry or pixelated when printed or viewed on a larger screen. A high-resolution image, on the other hand, has more pixels per inch, making it look sharp and clear.

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind when it comes to using images for your book cover:


  • Use high-resolution images that are at least 300 PPI for the best print quality.
  • Use licensed images from reputable sources like Envato Elements, Shutterstock, Unsplash, or Getty Images to avoid copyright issues.
  • Consider using a professional photographer or graphic designer to create custom images that are tailored to your book’s theme and tone.


  • Use low-resolution images that look blurry or pixelated when printed or viewed on a larger screen.
  • Use copyrighted images without obtaining proper permission or giving credit to the original creator.
  • Use stock images that are overused or generic, as they can make your book look unoriginal and unprofessional.

Pro Tips:

If you want to use images from a physical source like a photograph or painting, make sure to scan them at a high resolution and save them as a TIFF or PNG file format. These file formats preserve the image’s quality and allow for easy editing in design software.

As for sourcing high-quality images, there are plenty of websites that offer free or paid options for downloading licensed images. Just be sure to read the licensing terms carefully to avoid any legal issues down the line.

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Using Copyright-protected Images

Rubber Stamp Creates Copyright Symbol
By Olivier_Le_Moal @

As much as we love a good photo, we want to make sure that you’re using the right one for your book cover. It can be tempting to just grab an image from Google, but beware, you might be using a copyright-protected image without even realizing it! Let’s dive into the do’s and don’ts of using images for your book cover, so you can avoid any legal issues and focus on creating a stunning design.


  • Use royalty-free images or images that are licensed for commercial use to avoid any copyright issues.
  • Check the usage rights of any image you intend to use on your book cover. Websites such as Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay provide free stock images with usage rights.
  • Consider hiring a professional photographer for a photo shoot if you have a specific idea in mind for your cover design.
  • Properly reference any stock image you use in your book. Include the image’s source and photographer if possible.


  • Don’t use images from the internet without checking their usage rights. Just because an image is publicly available doesn’t mean it’s free to use.
  • Don’t assume that just because an image is available on a stock photo website that it’s free to use. Always check the usage rights before purchasing or downloading the image.
  • Don’t use an image that you don’t have the rights to use. This can result in legal issues and may harm your reputation as an author.


Royalty-free images are images that are available for use without requiring the payment of royalties or licensing fees. These images can be used for commercial purposes without violating any copyright laws.

If you have a specific idea in mind for your cover design, it may be better to hire a professional photographer for a photo shoot rather than sourcing a stock photo. This ensures that you have a unique image that perfectly captures the message you want to convey with your book.

A copyright-protected image is an image that is protected by copyright laws. This means that the image is owned by the person who created it, and you can’t use it without their permission. If you do use a stock image, make sure to properly reference it in your book by including the image’s source and photographer, if possible.

It’s important to clear the usage rights of any image you intend to use on your book cover to avoid any legal issues. Using an image without proper clearance can result in costly legal battles and damage to your reputation as an author.

Understanding your Target Audience

Target Sign Held by Person
By MikeShots @

Let’s face it, writing a book is hard enough, but making sure that it appeals to your target audience can be even harder. But fear not, we’ve got some tips and tricks to help you understand your target audience better.


  • Research your target audience: Look up demographics, psychographics, and what appeals to them when they’re searching for a book to purchase.
  • Get to know how they speak: Are they more formal or casual in their language? Do they use slang? This information can help you tailor your book’s messaging to appeal to them.
  • Choose colors carefully: Different colors can evoke different emotions and responses from people, so consider your target audience when choosing the color scheme for your book cover design.
  • Tailor your approach: Different genres of books have different target audiences. Make sure you understand the specific audience for your genre and adjust your approach accordingly.


  • Don’t assume you know your audience: Research is key here. Even if you think you know who your target audience is, it’s important to gather data to support your assumptions.
  • Don’t try to appeal to everyone: Your book won’t be for everyone, so don’t try to make it appeal to everyone. Focus on your target audience and make sure your book meets their needs.
  • Don’t ignore your audience’s feedback: Once your book is out in the world, pay attention to feedback from your target audience. Use it to make improvements or adjustments to your next book.

Pro Tips:

Understanding your target audience is crucial to the success of your book. Take the time to do the research and tailor your approach to their preferences, and you’ll be more likely to see success in the long run.

Choosing your color scheme

African Male Designer Holding Color Swatch Book
By Prostock-studio @

Let’s add some color to our book cover design! Choosing the right color scheme can make all the difference in grabbing your audience’s attention. But be careful, too much color can make it look like a rainbow threw up on your book. So, let’s dive into the do’s and don’ts of choosing your color scheme for your book cover design.”


  • Consider color psychology and the emotions different colors can evoke in your audience.
  • Use colors that complement your book’s genre and tone. For example, warm colors like red, orange, and yellow can create a sense of excitement and urgency, while cool colors like blue, green, and purple can evoke a sense of calmness and relaxation.
  • Use contrasting colors to emphasize elements or text in your design. A high contrast between the background and text can make the text easier to read.
  • Use color scheme tools like to create a cohesive and professional color palette for your design.


  • Use too many colors that don’t complement each other or clash with your book’s genre and tone. This can make your design look unprofessional and overwhelming.
  • Choose colors that are too bright or neon, as they can be difficult to read or look garish.
  • Use colors that are too similar in hue, as they can blend together and make your design look flat.

Remember to test your color scheme with your target audience to see if it resonates with them.

Color psychology:

  • Red: Passion, excitement, urgency
  • Orange: Creativity, enthusiasm, warmth
  • Yellow: Happiness, optimism, clarity
  • Green: Health, growth, relaxation
  • Blue: Trust, intelligence, serenity
  • Purple: Luxury, creativity, spirituality
  • Black: Power, elegance, sophistication
  • White: Purity, simplicity, innocence


  • is a free online tool that generates color schemes based on your preferences and allows you to save them for later use.

Additional education:

  • Consider the printing process when choosing colors for your design. Some colors may not translate well to print, so it’s important to check with your printer or publisher beforehand.
  • Take into account your book’s target audience and their cultural associations with certain colors. For example, in Western cultures, white is associated with purity and innocence, while in some Eastern cultures, it is associated with death and mourning.

Order of Pages

Glasses Resting on Open Book
By Wavebreakmedia @

Now that the colors of your book cover has popped off the page and attracted people to your book, let’s talk about the order of interior pages for your book. This is something that may not be the first thing you think about, but it’s important to get right. So, let’s dive into it!


  • Consider the type of book you are writing to determine the order of interior pages.
  • For a non-fiction book, the common order of pages is:
    1. Title page
    2. Copyright page
    3. Dedication page
    4. Table of Contents
    5. List of Figures, Tables, or Illustrations
    6. Foreword or Preface
    7. Introduction
    8. Chapters
    9. Conclusion
    10. Bibliography or References
    11. Index
  • For an ebook, the order of pages is generally simpler and may include a cover, title page, copyright page, table of contents, main content, and about the author page.


  • Don’t assume that all books follow the same order of pages, as it can vary based on the type of book.
  • Don’t forget to include important pages like the copyright page, which may contain important legal information and ISBN numbers.

Additional education:

  • You may consider including a preface or prologue before your introduction, especially for a non-fiction book that may require some explanation or context before diving into the main content.
  • For a fiction book, you may want to include a synopsis or blurb on the back cover or inside flap to give potential readers an idea of what the book is about.
  • Keep in mind that the order of pages can also affect the reader’s experience, so think about the flow of the content and how it will be presented to the reader.

Need help with your book cover and interior design?

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Do You Need Headers and Footers?

Flat Lay View of Books with Bookmarks on Interior Headers
The image credit is provided to Freepik for their contribution.

Headers and footers on interior pages can provide readers with helpful information and add a professional touch to your book. However, it’s important to use them correctly to avoid confusion or distractions. Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when adding headers and footers to your book.”


  • Use headers and footers consistently throughout your book for a professional look.
  • Include necessary information such as the book title, chapter title, or author name.
  • Place page numbers in either the header or footer, typically in the center or outer corner of the page.
  • Consider including additional information in the header or footer, such as the date or section title.


  • Overdo it with headers and footers, which can be distracting for readers.
  • Use headers and footers for unnecessary or irrelevant information.
  • Place page numbers in the middle of the page, which can be confusing for readers.
  • Use overly complex designs for your headers and footers, which can detract from the overall design of your book.

Pro Tips:

When it comes to deciding whether to include headers and footers, it’s important to consider the type of book you are writing. For example, a fiction book may not require headers and footers, while a non-fiction book may benefit from them to help readers navigate the information.

In an ebook, headers and footers may not be necessary or may need to be adjusted due to the different screen sizes of devices. It’s important to test how your book appears on different devices to ensure a consistent reading experience.

When you’re making decisions about your headers and footers, consider your target audience, the overall design of your book, and any necessary information that needs to be included. Keep it simple and consistent to provide a professional reading experience for your readers.


Intelligent Female Hipster in Glasses Conducting Research
By insidecreativehouse @

Let’s give credit where credit is due. References are an essential part of any book, but it’s not always easy to know how to include them. In this section, we’ll cover everything you need to know about references, from style guides to citing quotes.


  • Consider which style guide to use based on your book’s genre and audience. The most popular style guides are APA, MLA, and Chicago Manual of Style, but there are many others to choose from.
  • Chicago Manual of Style, for example, helps to ensure that your references are correctly formatted. This guide is especially helpful for citing quotes, books, and other literary work.
  • Include a reference page at the end of your book if you’re writing a scholarly or academic work. This page should list all the sources you cited in your book.
  • Cite quotes properly by using the author’s name, the title of the work, and the page number where the quote can be found. For example: “In his famous speech, Martin Luther King Jr. declared, ‘I have a dream’ (King, “I Have a Dream,” 245).”


  • Don’t overlook the importance of references in your book. Failing to give credit to your sources can damage your credibility as an author.
  • Don’t rely solely on online citation generators. These tools can be helpful, but they’re not always accurate or up-to-date.
  • Don’t use a reference page if it’s not necessary for your book’s genre or audience. For example, a reference page may not be needed for a memoir or a work of fiction.

Remember that proper referencing is crucial to the integrity of your work. By following the appropriate style guide and citing your sources correctly, you can ensure that your readers see you as a trustworthy and credible author.

Writing tools you can use

Writer Typing on Word Processor
By DC_Studio @

Now that we have covered the essential elements of book design, let’s talk about the writing tools that authors can use to help them produce high-quality content.


  • Use writing tools to help with readability and complexity, such as Grammarly or Hemingway Editor.
  • Consider the reading level of your target audience and genre to ensure your writing is appropriate.
  • Prepare your document properly before handing it over to an interior formatter to save time and ensure accuracy.
  • Keep your formatting consistent throughout the book, including font size and style, spacing, and margins.


  • Don’t rely solely on writing tools to perfect your content; they are only meant to assist.
  • Don’t assume that one reading level fits all genres and audiences; research and adapt accordingly.
  • Don’t hand over a poorly formatted document to an interior formatter, as this can cause delays and errors.

Additional education:

  • Scrivener, Ulysses, and Google Docs are popular writing applications that can help authors with organization and collaboration.
  • It’s important to consider the type of content you’re writing when choosing a tool; for example, if you’re writing a screenplay, you may want to use Final Draft.
  • Research and compare different writing tools to find the one that suits your needs and budget.
  • Remember that the writing process takes time and effort, and it’s important to give yourself space and breaks when needed to avoid burnout.

Well, that’s it, folks! You’ve made it through this article on Book Cover and Interior Design: Do’s and Don’ts for Self-Publishers. We hope that you’ve found this guide informative, helpful, and entertaining.

Remember, creating a book cover design that stands out and interior formatting that is easy to read and flows smoothly is essential for any author who wants to make an impact in the competitive publishing world.

Here at our WEIN, we use data-driven design decisions to ensure that your book cover design and interior formatting are tailored to your target audience, genre, and writing style.

So, if you’re ready to take your book to the next level and make a lasting impression on your readers, fill out our intake form today. Our creative team can’t wait to work with you and help you create a winning book design.

Thank you for choosing our team, and happy writing!

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