If you’re an author, what’s the easiest way to make a decent book cover?
Unless a publisher is creating the book cover for you, you can expect to spend anywhere from $100 to $1,000 hiring a designer.
So when Canva comes along and offers ready-to-use book cover templates — for free — it makes you wonder.
Can ordinary people like you and me create a free book cover?
How difficult will it be?
How good will it look?
I decided to put Canva’s new book cover templates to the test. Here’s what I found out.
Making Book Covers the Easy Way
For this experiment, I decided to make up a few mock covers for my debut urban fantasy novel, It Happened One Doomsday.
I started with a few somewhat randomly selected templates, then made minor changes to the type size and spacing. I also changed a few colors. In one case, I replaced the stock image with a photo I had on hand of some spooky trees. Other than that, what you see is what you get.
The whole process was undeniably fast. I came up with half a dozen different designs in under an hour.
Do I love any of them?
Mmmm, not as much as the red cover from Pyr (designed by artist Nicole Lecht).
But if your budget doesn’t include hiring a professional artist, and you want to try creating the book cover yourself, try Canva. It’s easy and it’s free.
Choose the Right Kind of Cover for Your Genre
The biggest hurdle to creating any book cover is the fact that covers are extremely genre-specific. A good cover will tell you instantly what kind of book you’re looking at: business, self-help, young adult, romance, thriller, literary, and so on.
There’s really no getting around that fact. So you have to be intentional about the look of the cover that you choose. It may be a challenge to find a design that fits your particular book.
Of course, the brilliance of Canva is that you can customize anything. You can change fonts, tweak colors, add lines, swap out the photo and more, just with a few clicks of the mouse.
But that freedom can also be dangerous. If your design skills aren’t up to par, you won’t have the artistic knowledge to design a truly great cover. And let’s be honest, if you were an experienced designer, you probably wouldn’t be using Canva.
So to stay safe, don’t veer too far from the templates.
How to Make a Good-Looking Book Cover with Canva
The good news is, it’s quick. Making a new book cover with Canva is so effortless that you can do it in just a few minutes. Here’s how:
2. Choose a cover template.
3. Type in your own title and other text.
4. Optional: change the image, font, colors, and whatever else you feel like.
That’s it. Yes, it really is that easy.
Where to Find Free Cover Images
One of the easiest ways to customize a template is to swap out the cover image. Canva provides images for free or a small fee, or you can upload your own.
Here are some of my favorite sources for free photos:
By the way, Canva has some fantastic visual filters that you can apply to any image to achieve different effects. You can make it bright and furiously happy, change it to a dark sepia tone for a somber look, or even blur it into abstraction. If you want to get creative, the possibilities are pretty impressive.
Is Canva Better Than Hiring a Cover Designer?
For writers on a budget, Canva is the cheapest, fastest way to get a good-looking book cover. It won’t replace a professional artist, but it does the job.
Like I said, I spent less than an hour on Canva and came up with a surprising number of book cover options. If I wanted, I could choose one and keep tweaking it until I had something I’m proud of.
Using a pre-made template is priceless. The creative decisions (composition, color, typography, etc.) have already been made for you. All you have to do is type in your own text and maybe provide your own image. What could be simpler?
Bottom line: Canva is basically the Betty Crocker of book covers. Like a good cake mix, Canva’s templates provide you with a perfectly presentable finished product that you (sort of) made yourself.
What’s your favorite software or website for helping make book covers? Leave a comment below.