We all have heard the proverb: Don’t judge a book by its cover!
However, the reality is a bit different. Ultimately, it’s the book cover that pushes a reader to pick a book. After all, it is also called the “First Sales Pitch”. Enter book cover designer.
Who are Book Cover Designers?
Book cover designers are creative artists who bring out the theme and the core idea of the book on its cover using design thinking and using great communication. This could include an image or an illustration.
How do Book Cover Designers work?
The overall traditional publishing process is a bit complicated. It starts with the discussion between the author and the editor. Then, the editor conveys the artistic idea to the art director. The art should contain a brief synopsis of the book. Then, while creating drafts of the book cover, the author can suggest a few more inputs or modifications. When the brief gets ready, it is placed on the table of the book cover designers. If you opt for self-publishing through any self-publishing house, you might have to go through the same process.
However, if you opt to publish your books through Amazon KDP and other such digital platforms, you can choose your own book cover designer to work with.
Passionate book cover designers don’t take a chance with the gist of the book. Such book cover design professionals like to read the full book to understand the core essence of the book. That then finds its way onto the cover. They need to immerse themselves in the book to understand what the cover should be.
If you are still deciding what type of publishing to opt for, you might enjoy reading our take on it as we discuss Traditional or Self Publishing – in India, which is better for the first-time author?
Points to keep in mind while working with Book Cover Designers
What is a good Book Cover Design?
If you’re new to the publishing industry, you have to keep some basic principles and ideas in mind for your book cover design. These will also be very handy if you decide to design your own book cover.
- Book cover designs are not only text or only images. They are a perfect balance of images and texts. And, the author should have a clear idea of how he or she wants the creation to be displayed. The inspiration can be found in the current bestselling series.
- Colour palette plays an important role in choosing the cover design. Different colors trigger different emotions. Think about the emotions you want the reader to have on seeing this book and choose your colour theme accordingly. Of course, some designers spectacularly break such rules like the Monster Energy Drink Logo below in Green. Or BP for that matter, which isn’t about health or peace.
- If you can’t afford a high-flying designer, use reliable, low-budget design software. Such cover design software is suitable for both professionals and non-professionals. Canva, Fotor, Book Brush, etc. are great to start with.
- Additionally, you can make use of free images. However, make sure that you don’t end up with images that are bound to copyright issues. Websites like: Unsplash, Pexels, Flickr, Shutterstock, Freerange Stock, etc, can be a great source to start with.
- Start with the dimensions of your book. The regular size is 2560 × 1600 pixels. However, you can experiment with the cover size and come up with something different
- Coming to the typography, don’t play with random fonts. Yes, you can use different fonts for the title, tagline, and author name, but certain fonts combine well with each other (just like certain foods go well together. Coconut chutney goes great with South Indian Cuisine but not with stuffed Parathas). Some of the design softwares mentioned above like Canva suggest good font and colour combinations. Use those.
- Suppress your ego. If you’re not a famous author, keep your name relatively small. Make the book cover design more about the story and what the reader will get out of it.
- Remember, in today’s world, any book cover is designed for sales over a mobile phone through Flipkart / Amazon. So the message and the cover need to jump out even in a tiny size. That is why many books now use very simple or text-only covers such as “The Subtle art of Not Giving a F***”, “The Art of Character“. Even images are used so that they work in a small format such as in “The psychology of money“. And while you are at it, notice the font and color combinations. None of those was an accident.
- In case you have designed more than one book cover for the same book, test those designs using polls and Social media to find out which one works better.
However, there is a lot to be said for hiring a professional to do your book cover for you. While a self-designed cover might work, a professionally designed book cover could add a lot to your book. The question is one of affordability.
Role of Book Cover Designers
A book cover is the first impression of the book. Whether you’re considering e-books or hardcover books for daily reading or knowledge purposes, the book should entice you with its cover. The book cover itself tells a story to the reader that encourages the reader to pick up – or click on – the book.
Book cover designers are specialists, and finding the right one for your book is important. These artists understand the nuances and techniques required to surface (pun intended) the essence of the book and design it’s cover according to the mood, theme, genre, and colour palette. The artists need to keep in mind that their representation needs to do complete justice to the whole idea behind the book.
The book cover also helps covey the genre of the book. Whether you’re writing action, classics, narrative, fiction, or a comic book, the cover should justify what’s inside the cover. All genres, be it, detective, romance, or science fiction want their reader to know at first glance that this book is for them. The book cover designer needs to portray the genre as much as the story inside the book.
Types of Book Cover Designs
Graphic Book Cover Designs
A graphic design book cover design may involve graphic elements which include the use of visual arts, typography, and page layout techniques.
- Genres (most commonly used for): Comic Books, Mythology, Fantasy Fiction, etc.
Illustrated Book Cover Designs
Illustrated Book Cover Designers create the covers through their distinct visual style. Ranging from overtly simple to intricate, these unique designs can be lucid and eye-catching at the same time.
Note: Neither are all illustrators book cover designers nor are all book cover designers illustrators.
- Genres(most commonly used for): Young Adult, Romance, Chick-lit, Mystery, etc.
Original Photographs based covers
Many authors want to work with original photographs (either clicked by them or their friends/family). Here the book cover designers simply make it fit into the ideal book cover size, add text and some basic effects to bring out the visual appeal of the photograph nicely.
- Genres(most commonly used for): Memoirs, Biographies, Cookery Books, Self-Help books (based on their life experiences), etc.
Stock Image-based covers
There are many sites where one can get free or paid stock images to work on. These kinds of book cover designs include looking for the right image which fits the theme of the book perfectly, getting all required permissions to use it, and then creating a book cover design using that image.
- Genres(most commonly used for): Drama, Erotica, Novellas, Short Story Collections, etc.
Text only Covers
As mentioned above, many books use only text on the cover. While this practice was always around, the contracting of the phone becoming the bookstore has made this more prevalent.
Why do I need a designer for that, you ask? The book cover designer’s first task is to decide what type of cover works best. Next, the designer has to decide upon fonts, colours and so much more. So a designer adds value here too.
- Genres(most commonly used for): Works especially well for non-fiction.
The price range for crafting a book cover might vary depending on the complexity of the content and the efforts needed to create it. It also depends on the experience of the designer and their ability to add a unique touch to the book cover design. The range starts from INR 4000 for a very basic Stock Image Manipulation image and can go anywhere around INR 50000 and beyond for a graphic cover design depending on the work needed. Some books are known to have had book cover designs priced in 6 digits too.
Let’s move on to know the best book cover designers along with one sample of each of their works.
Top Book Cover Designers in India
Indian authors and book cover designers have impressed countless readers. We have personally found numerous book cover designs that appear aesthetic and interesting. So, let’s find out some of those artistic approaches that come with a delicious storyline.
- Published by: Context India (Amazon Books)
- Portfolio: Editorial Design — bhavi mehta
Bhavi Mehta won the Cover of the Year (English, Runners Up) in 202o by Publishing next for the cover of The Miraculous True History of Nomi Ali.
- Published by: Penguin Random House India, Yoda Press, Zubaan Books, Picador India
- Portfolio:pinaki designs
Mugdha Sadhwani won the first prize as the cover of the year in 2017 for “Achanak Ek Kavita-Indian Languages” and also received a special appreciation award from Oxford Bookstore. Mugdha is currently working with various reputed publishing houses like Hachette, Bloomsbury, Simon and Schuster and Yatra Books, and many more.
- Published by: Rupa Publications
- Portfolio: https://www.instagram.com/mugdha.sadhwani/
- Published by: Rupa Publications
- Portfolio: onkar (onkarfondekar.blogspot.com) and Onkar Fondekar on Behance
Onkar’s illustrations are striking and eye-catching with intricate graphic detailing.
Mugdha Sadhwani (Chief Designer and Conceptuliser) has worked on these covers in collaboration with Onkar Fondekar (Illustrator).
Sukruti Anah Staneley
- Published by: Zubaan books, Pan Macmillan among others.
- Portfolio: Sukruti Anah Staneley
- Published by: Westland
- Portfolio: Mohit Suneja on Behance
This exceptional cover designer created the cover for Bombay Balchão, written by Jane Borges. The e-book is a depiction of a particular area of Mumbai. The cover design appropriately portrays the apartments in Mumbai and the lifestyle of the people there. The book was released in 2019.
- Published by: Aleph Book Company
- Portfolio: https://in.linkedin.com/in/bena-sareen-1a22862b
We found this artist’s illustration catchy on the cover of ‘How I Became a Tree’. the cover really captures the idea of the book. This is pretty unusual content brought in by Sumana Roy. The cover has the right colour schema and a smooth vision that would engage the reader.
- Published by: Harper Collins
- Portfolio: http://www.saurabhgarge.com/
Saurabh Garg earns the credit for a good cover design for Babu Bangladesh, a book released in 2019. The cover implies a man with no face, taking a leap towards something mysterious. While vaguely reminiscent of the movie poster of “Detective Byomkesh Bakshi” from 2015, Saurabh makes that concept his own with new treatment and the tigers head in the back.
- Published by: Harper Collins
- Portfolio: https://bonitavazshimray.com/
This cover designer is applauded for the cover of ‘Miss Laila, Armed and Dangerous’, penned by Manu Joseph. The right illustration and cover page justify the political thriller. The arresting scene was made when Akshila kept addressing RSS people.
She also won the Cover of the Year at the Publishing Next Industry Awards 2020 for her stunning work on Pankaj Kapur’s Dopehri.
- Published by: Seagull books
- Portfolio: Seagull Books
Sunandini Banerjee is a Calcutta-based graphic artist and editor who has illustrated books by Thomas Bernhard, Yves Bonnefoy, and Ivan Vladislavic, among others, all published by Seagull Books. Her artworks have been exhibited in Calcutta, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Colombo, Dhaka, Cologne, and Shanghai.
- Published by: Zubaan
- Portfolio: https://www.noriiart.com/info
If you’re into the anthologies of northeast India, then you can give this duo: ‘The Many that I am’ and ‘Crafting the Word’ a try. They complement one another by depicting the life of Manipur and Nagaland. On the other hand, the cover designs look too attractive. They subtly provide a brief overview of the e-book. A kudos to the cover designer for a suitable colour scheme.
- Published by: Juggernaut
The artist created a masterpiece for the book named ‘Age of Anger’. Published in 2017 and penned by Pankaj Mishra, this ebook has enlightened the view of the present political landscape. The bolder use of colours significantly justifies the concept of the book. Furthermore, the cover portrays the literal meaning of the book rather than showing off an aesthetic approach.
- Published by: Bloomsbury
- Portfolio: http://www.emmaewbank.com/
Emma Ewbank designed a stellar cover for Romesh Gunesekera’s Suncatcher. The cover of the book reflects a vintage postcard aesthetic. It evokes much nostalgia and gives you a sense of the sort of story and writing to expect.
- Published by: Penguin India
- Portfolio: https://www.ahlawatgunjan.com/
We have listed the cover designer for crafting the artwork for A Promised Land by Khadija Mastur (Translated by Daisy Rockwell). We like the simple cover that depicts the lifestyle of refugees during the partition period. The cover art is the contribution of Harshad Marathe.
- Published by: Amaryllis
- Portfolio: DRAWATER
Mishta Roy’s covers are poignant, deep, and have a mystic charm about them. The example above is a great example of how the Book title is complemented by the cover art.
- Published by: Leftword Books
- Portfolio: Sherna Dastur | Facebook
Sherna won the Cover of the Year (English, Runners Up)- 2020 at the Publishing next for her cover design of Halla Bol: The Death and Life of Safdar Hashmi.
- Published by: Bahuroopi
- Portfolio: N.A
Sagar won the Cover of the Year (Indian Languages, Runner Up)- 2020 at the Publishing Next awards for the cover of Duppattu (A Kannada novel)
- Published by: Harpercollins
- Portfolio: Book cover designer | Amit Malhotra (amit-malhotra.com)
Amit won the Cover of the Year (English)- 2020 at the Publishing Next Awards for the cover of Moustache.
- Published by: Various Authors
- Portfolio: manojdraws – Graphic Design
Manoj’s work has been a Gold Star awardee on Joel Freedlander’s thebookdesigner.com twice.
There are a lot of elements one needs to consider while working with a book cover designer. However, one must be very clear about what they want in their cover and what they don’t. Big publishing houses consider up to 100 covers before finalizing one. After all, a great cover design is the face of the book before everything else.
A good fit between the author’s and book cover designer’s aesthetic and design sensibility is paramount. So make sure you choose the designer for your book carefully.
Note: If you are a book cover designer in India and want to be added to this list, please share your details through this form with us.