How to Design Your Own Book Cover with a Mac

By Kate McFarlin

Creating your own book cover art for publication is fairly straightforward.
i Books image by JenJen from

Whether you are self-publishing your own book, or you would simply like to do the cover art for a book you are trying to sell to a publisher, there are several design programs designed to work on a Mac that are capable of producing cover art. The most commonly used design software for cover art is Adobe Photoshop. While there are other programs that do work, this particular application will produce cover art that can be shared with publishers and printing companies without formatting concerns.

Determine the size of the book cover. This size will depend on several factors. First, the publisher or printing company will have stock sizes for different kinds of books. For example, a hardcover book will typically need a template that is 9" by 13.5" for a 6" x 9" cover. The extra width is accounted for by the spine of the book.

Download a template for the size book you will be publishing. (See References.) These templates are in PSP format for Photoshop.

Purchase or design images to use in your cover. If you are artistically inclined, you can design your own art for the cover. If not, you can purchase background images that are royalty-free to use in your cover art. Many books feature a simple background that evokes the theme of the book, with title and author name text over this image.

Open the template in Photoshop. Now that you have all of your elements together, you can begin inserting them into your template. Typically most printing companies and publishers will ask for cover art that is "full bleed"; this means that the actual design should overlap the template a bit to account for trimming.

Design your book cover. Working inside Photoshop, in your template, insert the background image and any text that you want to use to title your book as well as your author name.

Save your file. It is best to save the book cover art as both the native Photoshop file format (.psp) and as a PDF. Some publishing companies may prefer the PSP file, while others will need just the PDF file.