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Blog > Book Design – Posted on September 6, 2019

The Best Free Book Cover Makers (and a Few Paid Ones)

If you're on the hunt for some free book cover makers, you're probably looking to DIY the cover for your book. But before we get to our recommendations, we should start with a caveat: if you’re not a professional designer, don’t make your own book cover if you can avoid it. After all, the cover is your book’s #1 marketing asset.

Cover designer Ninai Freitas urges authors to think of covers for books as a long-term investment: “It is better to have a well-designed cover that can help increase sales. You can have the best tools — such as Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign — but these programs don’t automatically make a book cover. What counts is the person using them.”

Budget naturally plays a role in an indie author’s publishing decisions. On our marketplace, professional designers charge, on average, $650 to design a book cover. However, 16% of the designers polled will often charge under $400. But we get it: $400 is still a pretty penny. So if you’re set on designing your own cover, you know where to look for inspiration, and you're willing to put in the legwork to learn a new skill, here are some free book cover makers you should consider — and a few paid ones that just might be worth the price.

1. Canva

While this list is not in order of preference, we do feel that Canva is the #1 free cover creator. This web app caters extraordinarily well to its users. Most authors huntings for a design tool to use on their book won’t have super-advanced design skills — after all, developing them takes time that could otherwise be spent writing a book.

Canva offers a wide variety of cover template options and stock photos — all of which can be used with a single click of a button. Writers can then customize each book cover template with their own pictures, fonts, and other assets. The best part? Their options are contemporary in feel and will let you create a book cover that's modern and fresh.

Pro: It does a lot of hand-holding, which is a great option for authors who want to DIY on the fly.

Con: If you use a ready-made book cover template, you risk ending up with a generic book cover that resembles a lot of other covers out there. So make sure you don’t use the templates totally “as is.”

Hot tip: If you’re not going to work with a professional, at the very least, try and emulate one. In this recent post, we feature 68 jackets and break down why they work so you can take away your own book cover design ideas!

Wondering: "How can I make my own book cover?" These tools can only take you so far! Learn the basics of book cover design in our comprehensive post!

2. PosterMyWall

Another library of book cover templates that you can easily customize to your liking. One of the best things about PosterMyWall? It’s connected to Getty Images, Pixabay, and Flickr. So countless free images of a sunset, a silhouetted figure, or iconic locations from around the world are no more than a mouse-click away: just hit “photo” and plug in the right search term.

You'll also see any terms or conditions for using the image, so you know straight off the bat if there are any limitations. Free downloads come in a small resolution, or you can pay $2-5 for a high-quality version.

Pro: No learning curve, so designing a book cover here is an easy and intuitive process.

Con: Poster My Wall allows people to create book cover templates for others to use, so the quality tends to vary. You may have to sift through some amateur designs, and in the end, you may end up paying the price — albeit a very cheap one — for a template by someone who knows less about book cover design than you do.

Note: When using templates to create book covers, take extra care to ensure that you use ones with dimensions appropriate to your genre.

3. Placeit

It might not look as pretty as Canva, but Placeit offers a variety of cover template options with customizable tools that let it stand on its own. This web app's best feature is that you can select your template based on the genre of your book, which is an excellent way to get set in the right direction for making your cover a viable marketing tool.

PlaceIt also has a library of prefab photos, graphics, and illustrations so you can find an image for your cover without digging around off-site. There are quite a few to choose from — and also a library of textures for further customization.

Pro: You can also download 3D cover mockups, which are useful for promoting your book.

Con: There is a small fee — these covers will cost $8 to download.

Hot tip: “Whether it’s a seductive figure, an antique key, or a barren countryside, be sure that the imagery you choose is in-line with the target market/genre, and that the imagery will portray the correct mood, symbolism, and plot.” – Hampton Lamoureux, digital artist, and designer.

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The nice thing about GIMP is that… it’s totally free! However, where you will spend is with your time. Any Photoshop-type software will have a learning curve that requires dedication. But GIMP’s lack of a price tag offers authors a little more flexibility while they get comfortable.

Once you do get a grasp of the program, you can design more freely than with simple template-based book cover creators. However, unlike the basic web app cover makers, it doesn't come with built-in image assets to choose from. You'll have to find your own, but that can be part of the fun.

Pro: Has features similar to Adobe Photoshop, such as clone stamping, custom brushes, and layering.

Con: The learning curve.


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5. Blurb BookWright

There’s something weird about using design software that isn’t designed in an aesthetically pleasing way. Luckily, that’s not something to worry about with Blurb BookWright. It’s a pleasure to work on and to look at it.

Most people turn to Blurb when they’re looking to also design the interior of their books, as their tool is very friendly to image-heavy genres, like cookbooks coffee-table photography books. But it’s an inexpensive option for formatting trade novels as well, and it works well as a book cover maker. Their design tool, BookWright, is absolutely free to download and has valuable learning resources built-in. Using it is a bit like a mix of one of the template resources and one of the Photoshop-type programs, but simpler to use.

Pro: This is an easy-to-use, inexpensive option for putting together your whole book — you can even use it to assign an ISBN.

Con: If you’re just looking to make a cover and leave it at that, look elsewhere.

We will say here that, if you’re willing to spend money on a photo editing software, you should think seriously about investing that money into hiring a professional book cover designer instead. If you’re still not convinced, here are some options that either has free trials or are cheap enough not to break the bank.

6. Adobe InDesign

(Free trial/$19.99/month)

All right, gear up and buckle down if you’re planning to learn Adobe InDesign. It’s a great product that can produce beautiful things, but it’s a tool for professionals, created with someone who knows design in mind. That also means it's powerful enough to create professional-looking covers — but learning how to do this won’t be easy. You’ll want to go through some tutorials to get your head around this software.

Luckily for you, Adobe has created a reasonably thorough step-by-step guide to creating an eye-catching book cover right here. And if you’re really committed to learning about book design, this software is also a favorite for interior book formatting — not to mention creating other graphics.

Pro: There’s nothing like slicing and dicing in the kitchen with an uber sharp chef’s knife. Expertly crafted tools can give expert results, and mastery InDesign is the next best thing to getting your book covers professionally designed.

Con: The steep learning curve and price tag — InDesign will set you back $19.99 a month on the basic plan.

Hot tip: “Go to a bookshop and just spend a couple of hours looking at as many book covers as you can. See what jumps out at you. In your opinion, what doesn't work? Use all these examples to inspire you with your design.” – Talitha Shipman, award-winning illustrator

What size is a book cover? Learn all about industry-standard books cover dimensions in our guide!

7. Adobe Spark

(Free trial/$9.99 month)

A cheaper book cover maker by Adobe? Score! Well… maybe. If you don’t know a lick about design, Adobe is a good place to be. They’ve always got a wealth of resources, from how-to guides to blog posts packed with design inspiration. Adobe Spark's book cover maker and templates offer a reliable tool. However, if you go with the free plan, you’ll be left with the “Adobe Spark” logo on your finished product.

The premium plan is $9.99/month, which — cheaper than most other Adobe options (see InDesign above). However, unless you’re planning to use it to create promotional materials for your book (like images to post on social media), you’re probably better off sticking to a free option, such as Canva.

Pro: Adobe offers plenty of resources to the people who use their products.

Con: Free version doesn’t beat other free options out there.

Hot tip: To learn more about typography and book design, check out our monthly Cover Critiques on Reedsy Live.

Have you used another book cover maker that you'd recommend? Leave us any thoughts or questions about book design in the comments below.