Guest post by Karolina Wudniak

Designing a great book cover to represent your book is a very important step in your self-publishing journey. But what exactly does “great book cover” mean and what should it have?

Karolina Wudniak is a Book Designer helping self-publishing authors connect with their readers. In this guest post, she shares tips on what the “great book cover” should have.


Your book cover will be standing on the actual or digital shelf among hundreds of other titles. To stand out and captivate potential readers, it is crucial to differentiate your book from the rest. The cover has only a few seconds to convince a person to grab the book and find out more about it. Only a few seconds! How do you get there? By ensuring your book cover has all the most important elements. Let’s break down the 5 key elements.


1. A great book cover makes readers feel something 

The cover’s job is not to tell the story written inside. It doesn’t have to tell anything, honestly. Readers should grab the book from a shelf because they feel joy, sadness, compassion or fear just by looking at the cover. That’s how they connect to the book and are inclined to get it in their hands, read the blurb, and find out what story is hidden between the covers. 

Have a look at the examples below and notice the emotions they evoke within you.

Mockup of my client’s book Divine Encounters by Melissa Giomi. Available on Amazon


2. The book cover speaks to the target audience

Even the most beautiful cover won’t do when speaking to the wrong audience. Each genre has a set of guidelines and styles that readers expect. When looking at the cover below, we’re not expecting to read a steamy romance inside, right?

Mockup of my client’s workbook High Five Wine Scoring System by Tonia McArthur. Available on Amazon and in wineries in Okanagan

Rightly so, because this is an educational workbook/journal about wines, not a romance. It’s fine to come out of the box and create a book cover that doesn’t exactly follow the genre or trends, but it has to serve a purpose and be intentional. 


3. The title is easy to read in thumbnail size

People buy books online nowadays, so the book cover must stand out in a tiny size. The title is easy to read, the contrast is strong, the graphics are sharp, and the author’s name is visible as well. The best way to test the cover is to make it tiny and check all the elements. 

Can you read it all?

Thumbnail cover of my client’s Authentic Relationships by Faizal Sahuhkan, PhD. Available on Amazon


4. A great book cover listens to potential readers

In big publishing houses, many people are involved in book cover creation and many can provide feedback before the book lands on the bookshelves. In the self-publishing space, often it’s the author-designer duo only. How do you change that so you can feel like you have a whole team working on the book cover for you?

If you already have some following on social media (especially with your potential readers), you can show examples and ask which one speaks to them. You can send it to your circle of friends and family or use one of the websites that gathers feedback from people for you

5. The author loves the cover

Of course, the great book cover has to sell, and that is its main task. The author also needs to absolutely love it! They will look at different variations of that cover for years to come and for this reason, it has to speak to them now and in 10 years. This is possible only when the author feels the cover is “it.” The “I love it so much” reply is my favourite part of sending the final cover to my clients 🙂

If you’d like to get more tips on book design, you can sign up for my email list and you’ll find more about me and my services on


Need a book coach, ghostwriter, formatter, or editor to help you complete your book so you can get it in the hands of readers? Read more about my services here and contact me if you’re ready to begin!

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