How to Self-Publish Your Novel - Your Book Cover Skip to content

How to Self-Publish Your Novel – Your Book Cover

Welcome to a new series, friends and familiars! The last one was so short the ending completely took me by surprise!

This one will be a little longer–and the timing is perfect, since my FREE guide Self-Publish Your Debut Novel like a Boss will be available soon! Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter if you want in on this freebie πŸ˜‰

(/self-promotion off)

ANYWAY. Let’s dive into self-publishing your book baby!

How to Self-Publish Your Novel - Your Book Cover

What’s the first thing that will attract potential readers and long-term fans? Your book’s cover. So you need to make sure it’s stunning, draws people in with one glance, AND summarises your book accurately.

Note: I’ve tested all three options below, and therefore speak from experience. I mean my recommendation.

These are your options:

Cover Creators

Self-publishing platforms like CreateSpace and KDP have cover creators. They are free and easy to use–

and I recommend you don’t use them.

While it’s great that they’re simple to use and won’t cost you a penny, your book cover will look like it, too. If you want your book to stand out in a positive way, you don’t want it to look like you put the cover together in five minutes before you had your first coffee.

Your book’s cover needs to be so visually attractive that people can’t help but pick it up. A cover that looks simple (and like you didn’t have time) won’t do that.

A cover created with a cover creator will stand out, but not in the way you want. Once you’ve seen a few you can easily tell the difference.

My experience: I wanted to give it a chance, so I tried it. Your options are limited, and none of the results look professional. I tried a few different things but didn’t end up with anything half-decent, so I moved on.

My books–your books–deserve better than ‘it’ll do.’

How to Self-Publish Your Novel - Your Book Cover | Example: Rise of the Sparrows by Sarina Langer


If you’re skilled with Photoshop or another image editing software, you may want to try designing it yourself! If that’s the route for you, make sure you get lots of feedback before you finalise your cover.

It’s always harder to work on a project you’re as close to as your own book. That’s why editing is so difficult, and it’s why creating your own cover might also be tricky.

Getting feedback from other people–preferably readers who love your genre–ensures you’ve considered every option before calling it done.

Take a look at some of the covers you adore and ask yourself if that’s a standard you can reach by yourself. If you can, go ahead. If you can’t, perhaps you should have someone else do it for you.

You might end up with something you like, but if it doesn’t hit the spot with your focus group of readers and bookworms it won’t do.

My experience: I have an Honours degree in Photography, so I’m not terrible with Photoshop. However, I felt too close to my books to create anything I really loved. The results were okay. But as I said above, ‘okay’ won’t do.

Also, I’m not trained as a cover designer. I know what amazing covers look like, but creating one myself? Completely different story.

I thought I’d be able to create something nice, but it’s not that simple.

Cover designers

There are hundreds thousands of artists who’ve made book cover design their business. Finding the right one for you can take a little while, but is worth your patience and investment.

I suggest you google ‘book cover designer’ and see what comes up. When I was still working on Rise of the Sparrows, I narrowed it down to three designers that way.

I left it for a weekend, and when I came back to it on Monday I was no longer sold on one of my three choices. I emailed my first choice (I loved their examples and testimonials) but they ended up being far more expensive than most cover designers.

I emailed my second choice, and now I’m a loyal customer.

How to Self-Publish Your Novel - Your Book Cover | Example: Darkened Light by Sarina Langer

The key to finding the right cover designer is checking out their covers (their website should have plenty of examples), reading their testimonials, and emailing them.

Ask them what their process is. Ask for a quote, too–it’d be a shame to fall in love with the right designer only to see they’re way out of your price range! Gauge their personality from their responses, and ask yourself whether this is someone you can work with.

Note: Some designers only create paperbacks, while others only do eBook covers. It’s rare, but worth finding out–there should be a section on their website listing their services.

Also, some designers give discounts to returning customers, or to sequels if they created the cover for the first book. Definitely worth finding out!


A lot of new writers don’t want to spend more money than necessary. But consider this:

A beautiful cover means more sales. It’s key to getting your book noticed; therefore, a fantastic cover is necessary.

I’ve sold quite a few copies because my readers loved the covers, and I’ll sell more as I continue to publish books. The ROI is worth it, friends.

The hard truth is that you won’t earn much from actual book sales; however, a stunning cover will help you sell more. More sales mean more readers mean more reviews mean more exposure mean–you get the idea.

My recommendation

I recommend you find a cover designer you like–someone who gets you and your vision for your books–and stick with them.

You can start by emailing Design for Writers. They’re my cover designers, and I can promise you that Andrew and Rebecca are good at this.

If you don’t want to take my word for it, just look at my covers in this post! I do believe they speak for themselves πŸ˜‰

In two weeks, we’ll look at how to find the right editor for you and your book. In the meantime, you might also like:Β Why I Write my Books in Scrivener

Do you have any questions about your book cover? Or, if you’ve already published (GO YOU), how did you decide on the right option for you? Make a tea and let’s talk book covers!

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Published inA Writer's Musings


  1. Thanks for this post! I’m at the stage where I want to find a cover designer for my book and it’s been daunting to sit down and do it. Now I have more confidence going into it. Thanks!

    • sarinalangerwriter sarinalangerwriter

      I recommend my guys, they’re so lovely to work with and you’ll be part of the process πŸ™‚

  2. A lot of authors CANNOT afford to spend any money, because, well, simply, they cannot, they already live with such a tight budget they can’t afford to spend money outside the every day basic necessities. I know this is something very, very hard to understand for people who don’t go through a situation where every single cent is counted for, and it does make sense having book covers designed professionally – for those who can. Those who can’t, well, they really have to pull up their sleeves and get down to the nitty gritty and learn a few things, work a lot more, put a lot more time into their books. I was lucky to have the cover for my first novel professionally made for free, I was lucky to have the covers for the four novels on my series done by my graphic designer brother in law, with images of my own choice – that fall out of the usual thematics of books in my niche, but I wanted that – but now I have had to design the cover for my upcoming novels and for one novella. Maybe a lot of people will find them unnatractive and unprofessional, but at this point I am more than satisfied with them, as I believe they portray precisely what the stories are all about. Maybe one day I get to a financially secure point where I can afford to pay for an editor, a proof reader, a cover designer, but for now, I have to fend for myself, as I have no income source outside the money I make on my own books. And I have to say, your cover designs are very good, they are what made me want to read them in the first place, I hadn’t yet come to the blurb and was already curious because of the covers.

    • sarinalangerwriter sarinalangerwriter

      It’s a struggle when money is tight. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing your covers yourself if you know what you’re doing! Do you have someone who can give you honest feedback? You’re more than welcome to join my Facebook group The Indie Writer’s BrownieBreak – we’d be happy to help! πŸ™‚

      I work part-time at the moment and support my partner’s uni application while he doesn’t have an income himself, so I understand money being pretty tight. There’s not much left at the end of the month. It takes me a while to save for my editor, but I love what she does for me and don’t want anyone else. Some editors are flexible with payments if you can’t afford to pay everything or even half right away. If you’ve got one in mind, perhaps it’s worth asking what they’d be happy to do for you?

      Good luck with everything, Ruth! Write on, I’ve got your back <3

  3. I want to design my cover myself so badly. I have a vision in my mind of what it’ll look like, but it’d involve me drawing my characters and I’m so out of practice it would take forever. I think I’ll need to find a skilled artist and commission a cover πŸ™‚

    • sarinalangerwriter sarinalangerwriter

      Wow, that sounds intriguing! Let me know if you’d like a recommendation πŸ™‚

      • Thanks πŸ™‚
        A recommendation would be awesome. It’s a long, long way off because my first draft is taking ages, but I don’t know any artists!

        • sarinalangerwriter sarinalangerwriter

          No problem! I strongly recommend my own cover designers. Rebecca and Andrew at Design for Writers are excellent, I’m recommending them left and right πŸ˜› I’m booked three times later this year for six covers, so you’ll need to fit around me :’D

          • Sounds great! I’ll bookmark their site for future reference, thanks πŸ™‚
            Chances of me needing a cover any time this year are low, unless I really speed ahead with this project πŸ˜›

          • sarinalangerwriter sarinalangerwriter

            It’s good to have names and contact details ready to go. Less to worry about when the time comes is definitely a good thing!

  4. Completely out of topic, but seeing the cover of Darkened Light again, makes me so exited for the book. I had forgotten how epic this cover is!

    • sarinalangerwriter sarinalangerwriter

      Haha, I’m always happy to show off my covers! πŸ˜€ The one for Darkened Light is hanging next to my desk <3 Not long now - my editor is doing the line edit now, so I expect I'll be asking for betas soon πŸ˜‰

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