DIY Book Cover Design, pt. 3






We made it to part three! ♥

So, we’ve talked about how most people probably shouldn’t design their own covers—and that’s okay!

We’ve talked about how if you must (or just want to) create your own cover, but your skill level is questionable, it’s always best to stick to a simple, but engaging stock photo.

We’ve talked about how keeping the number of fonts to a minimum is a good idea, and even a little about pairing different styles of fonts together.

We’ve talked about the all-important rule of looking at your design as a thumbnail and how there are no set dimensions for what a thumbnail is.

And we dove a little deeper into the process of layering photos/images in Canva to create unique cover designs.

If you missed all of that, please start with Part One, Part Two, and Part Two-Point-Five to cover all of the previous material.

Let’s move on.

Book Spines

This is going to be a quick little lesson.

Keep your book’s spine simple. It’s fabulous if you find an image for your cover that is so large and wonderful you’re able to have it cover your front, spine, and back—by all means.

But don’t get too fussy with your spine. Your spine needs to clearly convey your book’s title, your author name, and your imprint should you so choose to use one.

A Word on Imprints

If you aren’t sure what an imprint is, it is the publisher’s name, sometimes big publishers use imprints to publish niche books or for tax reasons or because the moon was full that day…who the heck knows why they do what they do. 

But some indie authors like to use an imprint, too. I have one. I created Daylily Press ages ago. I’ve never used it. Several of my friends use them. I have one friend, Joshua Edward Smith, who is vehemently against indie authors using an imprint.

He has his reasons.

It’ll be the difference in your book being listed as published by your imprint (which some people, not me, believe it’s a total vanity thing), by your name (or pseudonym), or by Amazon.

It is totally up to you whether you incorporate this into your author brand. If you decide to go with an imprint, however, really take your time thinking of what it should be called (make sure no one else is using it!) and spend some time creating your logo. You’ll want to be consistent with it and you don’t want to have to redesign your spine and upload new files just because you aren’t happy with your imprint’s logo.

Back to spines!

Keep It Simple

Here are my three main tips for your spine.

1.| When in doubt, use complementary colors to your cover.*

2.| If feasible, i.e. legible, use the same fonts as you did for your cover. If it doesn’t read legibly, then use a different, clear font.

3.| Remember your branding—your books should look cohesive near each other. It doesn’t mean they have to be identical, but you want people to recognize your work.

* When I did the spine for Sex, Love, and Technicalities, I used the same image of satin sheets. It was simple enough, but felt fancier than using a single block of color. When I did the spine for Sex, Love, and Formalities, I used a simple block of color with just a little bit of shading, and when I did the spine for Alabama Rain, I did a simple block of color but I added a raindrop overlay. In all three cases, using just a single color would’ve worked just fine.

Let’s create a spine for Divine Wrath.

First things first:

Make sure you’re happy with your interior formatting! How you’ve formatted your interior determines your spine width. This is not something you want to guess at—tell your print-on-demand company the print size of your finished product and how many pages it is and let them tell you the width of your spine.

If you are not finished formatting, be prepared to have to tweak the design of your spine. It may sound ridiculous, but even being a couple of pages off can cause complications.

Now, I’m not going to do a complete step-by-step tonight, but here’s the first of three spines I’ll design for Divine Wrath:





[So, here’s something new and fun, WordPress has a new editor and it took me twenty minutes to get this text to wrap around that image of the spine. TWENTY MINUTES. I am not fond of these changes.]

Anyway—I made a fictitious little imprint just to keep a place for one.

What would this spine look like connected to the cover?


I kind of like the way it mirrors the cover, and personally I’m not all that worried about the color differentiation, though if it bothered me I could easily add the layers in to make it match 100%.

But, just for shits and giggles, let’s make a very simple spine for this using a color from the front.

It is next to impossible to get a color 100% matched doing it from your eye alone. And there is no “color-picker” in Canva—though there should be. 

Never fear, I’ve got a great resource for you. Go to the Image Color Picker and follow the instructions. (Basically upload your pic, click, and copy the Hex code.)

This is a surefire way to get a fantastic color that matches. Copy and paste the color code into Canva. It’s that simple!

I chose this dark wine color.

Last, but perhaps not least, let’s see what it might look like if I added just a little something to the spine with a layer of lightning.

Adding a layer over the wine color did change the overall color, but it still looks appropriate. 

My last word on spines is this: if you’re looking for shelf-space in a brick and mortar store, often your book’s spine is going to be what gives your customer’s their first impression of your work. It’s a really small space, but an important one.

Which spine was your favorite?

Next week: Back covers.

Until next time, my friends! Please know that one of the things I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving is your friendship! Enjoy your turkey and don’t burn the pie! ♥♥♥


2 thoughts on “DIY Book Cover Design, pt. 3

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