As an avid reader, you already understand how a visually compelling cover can serve as a book’s number one marketing tool. As a book consumer, you’ve experienced firsthand the power of good design in action, when eye-catching covers have compelled you to take the next step. Now, as an aspiring author, you’ve come to realize that it’s one thing to know how powerful a cover design can be, but quite another to execute a stunning book cover design idea for your upcoming book.

Creating an eye-catching cover design involves both artistic talent and marketing strategizing. For example, one book’s fetching cover could be a total flop when used on the wrong genre. If a cover design doesn’t fit the genre, chances are it will be passed by. A successful cover design is tricky to accomplish, yet represents a significant piece of the marketing success of your book.

7 Successful Book Cover Design Ideas

When perusing existing books on the market, you will begin to see that the designs appear to fall within certain design categories. Consider these book cover design inspirations:

Minimalist Book Covers

Clean, simple designs can pack a powerful punch. With adroit use of font and color, a book cover will convey the interior theme clearly. A minimalist design forces the consumer to wonder about the book’s content, as so little information is provided. This causes the inquisitive reader to take a deeper look at the book details or sample pages, which can result in a sale.

Honestly, glancing at this cover begs the question, “What in the world is this book about?” Curiosity is piqued just enough to motivate taking the next step and clicking on the title.

book cover design inspiration

This simple little drawing tells the same story as the title. Two distinct lines (people) coming together, sharing some time as a unit, and then going their separate ways.

book cover design inspiration

Hand-Drawn Book Covers

An illustrated cover offers personality, individuality, and warmth that photography sometimes misses. The hand-drawn artwork can set the tone or offer some hints about the contents, and definitely attract attention.

This illustration is very current and modern, and will therefore attract the attention of its targeted (millennial or Gen Z) audience.

book cover design inspiration

This illustration has a comfy, nostalgic vibe that is inviting.

book cover design inspiration

As simple as this cover is, the hand-written design conveys a powerful sense of loss.

book cover design inspiration

Photography Book Covers

Using a photo image is very common in certain genres, such as romance, suspense, thrillers, and biographies. Photos can be used in familiar, expected ways, but also employed in unique ways that can grab attention.

This is a perfect example of using a photograph in the cover design to relay a powerful but atypical message relating to the content.

book cover design inspiration

The photo and title work in tandem to create a clear message about the topic.

book cover design inspiration

A great example of beautiful black & white photography used for a biography on an infamous figure based in Chicago—note that the author’s name does not appear on the cover.

book cover design inspiration

Modern Book Covers

Creativity unleashed can produce some wild and intriguing book cover design inspiration. Modern book covers can be fresh, whimsical, and intriguing for the author looking for a unique take.

This simple cover is modern and balanced, just as these images appear to be.

book cover design inspiration

This is a modern use of graphic design, taking an eclectic collection of images relating to the novel. Are the shapes also pertinent? One would have to learn more to answer that question, which is the purpose of the seemingly obscure shapes.

book cover design inspiration

Creative Book Covers

Book cover designs ideas can combine concepts from various styles or media for an artistic outcome. These creative covers are fun choices for memoir or narrative nonfiction.

This cover design utilizes textures like a mixed media piece of art.

book cover design inspiration

This design offers a creative peek at both subjects in the book title.

book cover design inspiration

Black and White Book Covers

Despite its simplicity, a black and white cover design can be impactful. Black and white covers are excellent options for a variety of genres within the nonfiction category, but are also a surprisingly good option for fiction as well.

That little bit of red integrated into the black & white design sets the stage for a thriller.

book cover design inspiration

Here is a fresh cover for a classic, in stark black & white.

book cover design inspiration

Overlapping Designs Book Covers

Layering designs is a technique employed in a variety of genres, including the romance category.

This is a great example of layering as well as a compelling use of black & white.

book cover design inspiration

Layering a cowboy on a bucking bronco over the photograph of a starlet is beckoning us to know more.

book cover design inspiration

Abstract Designs Book Covers

Think Picasso-esque when it comes to using an abstract book cover design that is sure to grab the consumer’s attention and tell a story.

This obscure design combined with the book’s title offers just enough information to get you to click on the link and learn more.

book cover design inspiration

This abstract collage is an intriguing collection of known figures, both human and the cartoon variety.

book cover design inspiration

What Makes a Bad Book Cover Design?

After viewing some pretty amazing book cover design inspiration, it might help if you can differentiate the good from the not-so-hot book covers. Book cover designers operate under a collection of best practices guidelines, that is, the rules of the road for avoiding book cover potholes. For example, where good cover design involves a clear focal point, a constrained used of fonts, an avoidance of over-designing the cover, and not choosing oft-used stock photo images, bad cover design includes the following no-nos:

  • Creating a design that does not translate to a thumbnail image that is readable
  • Using poorly selected color combinations
  • Using font special effects, like shadow
  • Using dated or just plain bad fonts
  • Applying gradients to fonts

The most important rule of thumb for avoiding a bad book cover design is coming up with a creation that does not look obviously amateurish or like a DIY job. Here are a couple examples of lousy book covers:

This cover is murky and confusing and would be exceptionally difficult to read as a thumbnail.

book cover design inspiration

What can we say, but that this represents a predictable mishmash of romance genre elements?

book cover design inspiration

We removed the author’s names in the above examples for obvious reasons.

Where to Find Inspiration for More Book Cover Designs

If you are still in search of book cover design inspiration, there is plenty to be found with a little online searching. It is always advisable to visit Amazon to check out the competition in your genre. There you can look at sales statistics and review counts to get a feeling for which cover designs might have had a positive impact on sales. This can provide some useful guidance in the early stages of having your book cover designed.

Another great source for inspiration is Pinterest. There are multiple Pinterest boards that have assembled examples of exceptional book cover designs. Viewing these can help inspire your own unique book cover design idea.

Start Brainstorming with Professional Cover Designers

Selecting the perfect mix of artistic elements for your book cover design can begin to feel like an overwhelming task. To help ensure that your book cover makes the perfect impression on prospective readers, why not enlist the artistic talent at Gatekeeper Press? Contact the team today!