How to Design a Book Cover in Photoshop and Apple Pages

The design of a book cover takes a LOT of thought. Why? Because it matters. It's the face of the writing inside of it—so it better be SPOT ON. After you read through the previous blog post I did on book cover design and figure out the direction you need to take for your book, you're probably wondering how to actually design it!

So today I'm going to walk you through TWO simple tutorials in Photoshop and Apple Pages, teaching you how to put together a book cover design yourself. 

I recommend Photoshop and/or InDesign, but Apple Pages is a really great, inexpensive alternative. Both tutorials are included in this blog post, so just scroll until you find the one you need!

How to Design a Book Cover in Photoshop and Apple Pages

 

Before Getting Started

For both Photoshop and Apple Pages, you'll need to first figure out your cover size. I'm not just talking about cover and back cover. I'm talking about the SPINE. The spine width will be dependent on the number of pages in your book. There are several calculators you can use to determine your spine width. This is my favorite: Blurb Book Calculator. For this example, I chose a standard 6 x 9 trade book with 220 pages. From the specifications tab, I can see that my entire document size should be 12.722" x 9.25" and my spine should be .472" wide. 

(Click the image to view it full size.)

Just in case you're not sure what some of that fancy language means, just scroll below the specifications box for a full run-down. It'll explain what bleed, trim line, and safe text boundary/margins mean in the specifications details. (I promise they just sound more complex than they actually are.)


Photoshop Logo for tutorial

Designing Your Book Cover in Photoshop

1. Create a Photoshop file with the correct dimensions and set your guides. Create a new Photoshop file, making sure that it's at 300 pixels/inch and in CMYK color mode:

How to Design a Book Cover in Photoshop

Now set your guides by dragging guide lines from the rulers on the top and side. Set guides for your bleed lines, margins, and your spine. It should look something like this:

How to Design a Book Cover in Photoshop

2. Place an image, or images, that will make up your cover artwork. This can be created separately, or created right in this document. Usually what I do for my authors is create a cover with a compilation of photos—but that's more for intermediate Photoshop users. So for example sake, I'll use a simple stock photo that will work for both front and back covers. 

File > Place Embedded > Hit Enter

How to Design a Book Cover in Photoshop

3. Add your book title and name to the front cover. This is where I'll emphasize: THE SIMPLER, THE BETTER. Right now, a huge trend is flat design. Very clean, very clear, bold fonts, strong colors... less is more. At the same time, play around with it. Go to Google Fonts and download some new, free fonts to experiment with. Draw from the colors in your photo to create harmony in your design.

Hit the T—type tool—in your toolbox to the left. Drag to create your text box.

How to Design a Book Cover in Photoshop

4. Replicate the text for the spine.

Select the type layers you want to copy (your layers are located in the large righthand box). Drag them to the new layer icon, the icon just left of the trashcan icon.

How to Design a Book Cover in Photoshop

Using the free transform tool, turn and readjust the text to fit on your spine.

Edit > Free Transform OR Window > Character > Click inside the text box to edit the text itself

Note: At this point, I've created folders for my layers so that I don't get confused which text is located in which spot on my artwork. My folders are Front Cover, Back Cover, and Spine.

 

5. Create your back cover. Using the same styles as on the cover and the spine, start placing your back cover text. Keep in mind good contrast! Notice that I put a 75% opaque rectangle behind the story summary so that the rocks don't conflict with the words.

Select your rectangle tool in your toolbox on the left and drag to create your rectangle. With the rectangle layer selected, change the opacity in your layers window on the right.

How to Design A Book Cover in Photoshop

DON'T FORGET the placement of your ISBN! I usually just make a white rectangle where the ISBN bar will go. To find specs, try here or Google it for other resources.

6. Export as a PDF. This is what your cover should look like when you're all done and ready to upload!

How to Design a Book Cover in Photoshop

 

 


Apple Pages Logo

Designing Your Book Cover in Apple Pages

1. Create a new Apple Pages document with the correct dimensions and set your guides. You'll need to create a new landscape document, then go to File > Page Setup > Paper Size > Manage Custom Sizes. Then make it the dimensions you were given from Blurb.

How to Design a Book Cover in Apple Pages

Make sure your document panel looks like this (with Document Body unchecked):

How to Design a Book Cover in Apple Pages

Now set your guides by dragging guide lines from the rulers on the top and side. Set guides for your bleed lines, margins, and your spine. It should look something like this:

How to Design a Book Cover in Apple Pages

2. Place an image, or images, that will make up your cover artwork. This can be created separately, or created right in this document. Usually what I do for my authors is create a cover with a compilation of photos—but that's done in Photoshop. So for example sake, I'll use a simple stock photo that will work for both front and back covers. 

From Finder, drag your photo onto the Apple Pages document and adjust. (Make sure your image Arrange text wrap option is set to "None.")

How to Design a Book Cover in Apple Pages

3. Add your book title and name to the front cover. This is where I'll emphasize: THE SIMPLER, THE BETTER. Right now, a huge trend is flat design. Very clean, very clear, bold fonts, subtle colors... less is more. At the same time, play around with it. Go to Google Fonts and download some new, free fonts to experiment with.

Text > Drag > Type (Remember: make sure under Arrange, text wrap is set to "None.")

How to Design a Book Cover in Apple Pages

4. Replicate the text for the spine.

Simply copy and paste the elements you want a copy of. Using the Arrange panel, resize and rotate the text to fit on your spine.

How to Design a Book Cover in Apple Pages

5. Create your back cover. Using the same styles as on the cover and the spine, start placing your back cover text. Keep in mind good contrast! Notice that I put a 75% opaque rectangle behind the story summary so that the rocks don't conflict with the words.

Select your Shape tool at the top panel and drag to resize. Use the panel to format your rectangle, changing the color and opacity as necessary.

How to Design a Book Cover in Apple Pages

DON'T FORGET the placement of your ISBN! I usually just make a white rectangle where the ISBN bar will go. To find specs, try here or Google it for other resources.

6. Export as a PDF. This is what your cover should look like when you're all done and ready to upload!

How to Design a Book Cover in Apple Pages

 

With Apple Pages being so common, I thought I'd provide this EXACT template for you!


Melody

I help passionate writers get heard by giving them a cohesive brand through unique designs. Owner and designer of Finicky Designs. I'm a mountain-dweller that loves french toast and foxes.