The Write Life Articles

How to Make a Book Cover: If You’re Self-Publishing, Here Are Your Options

After spending weeks, months or maybe even years perfecting the words in your book, you’re probably ready to toss it online and cross your fingers you’ll receive rave reviews.

But before you jump on the self-publishing bandwagon, take some time to make sure your book cover is amazing.

When people browse books, whether physical or electronic, the cover is often the first piece of information they see. If your cover looks amateur or out of line with your book’s genre, readers will likely move onto the next option without a second thought.

How does a wordsmith cultivate the images and graphic design skills needed to turn a blank cover into a captivating collage — especially while trying to keep your self-publishing costs as low as possible? When it comes to how to make a book cover, what’s the best approach?

Whether you’re ready to call in an expert or DIY your cover, here are some inexpensive options for creating a book cover.

Hire a professional designer

Not thrilled about the idea of creating your own cover? These options may cost more, but can help ensure a polished final product… which could mean more book sales.

1. Ask for referrals

Referrals from other self-published writers, writing groups (online or in-person) and writer friends are a great way to find good designers at reasonable prices. If you’re not sure where to start, Facebook groups for writers can be a great resource.

If you already work with designers in a professional capacity, consider asking if they’re interested in working on your book cover; those trusted sources can also provide you with referrals for other designers.


Book designer Joel Friedman offers professional-looking, customizable templates for as low as $199. Friedman is well-known and respected in the self-publishing world because he offers so much helpful advice on his site,, and he’s been doing it for years.

He explains why self-published books often look self-published, and suggests five great fonts for book covers. We’ve added him to the “hire a professional” section because he offers made-for-you book cover templates, but this site is also a fabulous resource if you decide to make your book cover yourself.

2. 99designs

This site can design not only your book cover, but also your author logo, character merchandise and anything else you can dream up.

Start by creating a design contest for your project. Write a “design brief” explaining what you’re looking for, and 99 Designs will present your specifications and budget to its marketplace.

Designers then respond to your brief with their ideas. After a time period where you get to review designs, you select a winner, request any edits, and that designer earns the money you’ve budgeted for the project. You retain full copyright ownership of the final design you select.

Book covers on 99designs start at $299, and ebook covers start at $199.

One potential bonus for using a site like 99designs: If you discover a designer whose work you love, you can continue working with that designer on future products.

3. Fiverr

Fiverr offers the chance to get a professional book cover for just $5. The site lets you review designers’ portfolios and see ratings left by other clients before committing to a designer.

Some people swear by Fiverr, while others have ended up frustrated. In one case, ebook writing team Frankie Johnnie had to work through 20 design iterations (at $5 a pop) before settling on a design that resonated.

However, the duo still recommends using Fiverr as a basic cover designer and a way to test out cover design options. “For as little as $5 bucks, you can roll the dice…” Frankie says in a tell-all on James H. Mayfield’s blog.

The DIY option: How to make a book cover yourself

If you’re not too keen on hiring a professional and would rather tackle design duties yourself, here are a few resources to help you along the way.

4. Use Microsoft Word

Believe it or not, you can actually design an entire book cover using only Microsoft Word.

The Creative Penn offers an incredible DIY book cover design tutorial by Derek Murphy. His tutorial notes how important it is to select the right picture (“Simple is better,” he says) as well as the importance of balancing colors.

The tutorial also discusses where to find images, whether you’re taking photos yourself, sourcing stock images or using other online sources such as Etsy and DeviantArt. Then, it walks readers through the step-by-step details of designing a captivating cover.


Derek Murphy’s own site offers customizable templates so self-published writers can easily design their own book covers.

You don’t need to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for special design software to create a cover that will make people snap up copies of your book. Murphy offers a training video that teaches how to design a great book cover in 30 minutes or less.

He also offers a free, online cover creator tool, along with video tutorials to help you make the most of it.

6. Pixlr

Pixlr offers a variety of photo editing apps. “Pixlr Editor” offers opportunities to use layers, replace colors and transform objects. Another popular option is “Pixlr Express,” which offers quick fixes and personal touches with a simpler interface.

The site helps you create and touch up gorgeous images, as the “Made with Pixlr” gallery shows. While some of Pixlr’s tools are free, if you want to use the desktop version of Pixlr, you may have to pay a fee.


GIMP, a free program you can use for photo retouching, creating and composing images, stands for “GNU Image Manipulation Program.”

While many tools allow you to create and edit within your web browser, you’ll have to download this software before you get started. GIMP can be used with GNU/Linux and UNIX, as well as Windows, Mac and other systems.

8. Canva

This design software is super popular with non-designers because it makes it easy to create professional-looking designs. While some design elements will cost you, many of Canva’s templates and features are free.

Canva’s drag-and-drop setup makes it easy to create your simple book cover. It features millions of images (including stock photos, vectors and illustrations) as well as photo filters, free icons and shapes, and hundreds of fonts.

If you’re not sure where to start, visit Canva’s free Design Schoolwhere you can learn even more about design, as well as a book cover-specific tutorial.

This is an updated version of a story that was previously published. We update our posts as often as possible to ensure they’re useful for our readers.

Photo via Unsplash

The post How to Make a Book Cover: If You’re Self-Publishing, Here Are Your Options appeared first on The Write Life.

The Write Life Articles

The Second-Person Point of View: Give Your Story a New Perspective

You’re not someone who cares about tradition in your fiction, are you?

You’re willing to explore. You’re striving for meaning, and you want interesting experiences.

Well, that’s the second-person point of view (POV) for you: nontraditional, explorative, meaningful and interesting.

It also sounds a bit like an ad for an exaggerated travel agent or a self-help book, doesn’t it? There’s a reason for that, and we’ll get to it later. But first, I have a little riddle for you…

Is this blog post written in the second-person point of view?

By now, you know I use the word “you” quite a lot. In fact, many bloggers address their readers personally as “you.” Does it make our writing fit the second-person POV?

As you may have guessed, the answer is no.

True, I’m addressing you as the audience. But there’s still a protagonist to this story, and it’s me, in the first person. I’m the person behind this post.

What is second-person point of view?

Let’s start with a second-person point of view definition.

In fiction, pure second-person POV uses the perspective of a single character, the protagonist, to tell the story. This character is well-defined, with habits, traits and a unique personality. The reader is simply placed “behind” this character, seeing and experiencing the world through his eyes, body and mind.

Need a second person example? It sounds like this:

Eventually you ascend the stairs to the street. You think of Plato’s pilgrims climbing out of the cave, from the shadow world of appearances toward things as they really are, and you wonder if it is possible to change in this life.

— Jay McInerney, Bright Lights, Big City

As you can see, there is no “I” in this second person example. There might be a “he” or “him,” whenever the protagonist is interacting with someone, but your principal pronouns are “you,” “your” and “yours.”

For that reason, it’s a bit hard to create a variety of sentence structure in this POV. Starting every sentence with “you” can quickly grow old.

If you try using the second-person POV, watch out for this issue. You can alternate pronouns by writing about items and other characters in your protagonist’s environment. For example, here’s an excerpt from from Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler:

Adjust the light so you won’t strain your eyes. Do it now, because once you’re absorbed in reading there will be no budging you. Make sure the page isn’t in shadow, a clotting of black letters on a gray background, uniform as a pack of mice…

The good and evil of writing in second person

The second-person POV casts the reader as the protagonist. That means she’s “forced” to act and think in ways that might not be authentic for her.

If you, as the writer, pull it off, this POV creates instant, complete empathy between the reader and the protagonist. It makes every thought and action her own and evokes emotional responses from her gut.

If you aren’t successful, though, reading in this POV can be a highly annoying experience for your audience.

Writing in the second person means treading a fine line. When you write in this POV, you’re very clearly attempting to manipulate the reader’s thoughts and emotions. Not all readers will take well to this strategy.

But that’s OK! All good writing manipulates a reader’s emotions; consider how we connect with characters like Holden Caulfield and Harry Potter. After watching the world through their eyes in third-person limited POV, no one can resist feeling for them — even though Holden is a fairly unlikeable character. That intimacy is emotional manipulation at its literary best.

The challenge of the second-person point of view is to manipulate your reader’s thoughts and impressions without forcing feeling and emotion where it doesn’t belong. You want it to feel natural, not kick your reader out of the story by trying too hard.

How do you master this balancing act? By reading great examples of the second-person point of view, testing it in your own writing and sharing your work with others for feedback and advice. A writing accountability partner or group will be invaluable in exploring this POV.

When should you choose the second-person POV?

There isn’t any perfect genre or type of work for a second-person POV story, though author Rebecca Demarest suggests that this perspective works best in short stories or “scattered chapters” of a longer manuscript.

This POV seems to work particularly well when an author is reflecting the Zeitgeist. By speaking in the second person, the author can hold a mirror to society, revealing emotions, actions and particular nuances of the times.

A prime example of this use is Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas by Tom Robbins. He captures the crash of an American dream and the economic wavering of the early 90s:

As far as you are concerned, the real fun stopped back in the eighties. Before your time. In those days, somebody in your position could earn major money. Jumbo money. You read about it, dreamed about it, all through college. How typical of your luck that when you finally arrived in a position to poach your golden eggs, the goose had a hysterectomy.

The majority of audiences can relate to these timely themes, so they’re a good bet for an exploration of character, society and empathy.

Other popular places to use the second-person point of view are poetry, interactive fiction and choose-your-own-adventure stories.

Will you try writing in second person?

Give the second-person POV a try. See what playing with this perspective can do for your writing, whether it’s in a new story or by tweaking the point of view in a story you’ve already written.

It won’t be a fit for every writer or for every story, but you just might find you enjoy writing in the second person.

This is an updated version of a story that was previously published. We update our posts as often as possible to ensure they’re useful for our readers.

Photo via Joyseulay/ Shutterstock 

The post The Second-Person Point of View: Give Your Story a New Perspective appeared first on The Write Life.