By Judy Ford

When I wrote my first novel, I had visions of getting is accepted by an established publishing company and sold through bookshops in the traditional way. While hawking my masterpiece round to literary agents, I started working on my second book. By the time that I discovered Kobo Writing Life, I already had two books completed and another on the way.

I wanted to keep costs down—perhaps they wouldn’t be best-sellers, after all! So I designed the covers myself. However, I’m not the world’s greatest artist, so I looked into Kobo’s cover design service (found under the Author Services tab on the website).

I was lucky enough to be one of the authors invited to test the new service, with the result that I have now acquired both professionally-designed book covers and a lot of new knowledge about the design process.

The Design Process

KWL put me in touch with cover designers at AcePub, who began by asking me a few questions about my book. I emailed back with a synopsis of the plot and my own thoughts on what images might be used. I also explained that I wanted the cover to be suitable as the basis for a series of books in a uniform design.

Because I had previously designed my own covers, I had a fairly clear idea of the messages that I was hoping the cover would convey. I think it’s a good idea to think this through before trying to instruct a cover designer. If they don’t know who your target audience is or what you think the important features of your book are, it will be difficult for them to design a good cover.

If [cover designers] don’t know who your target audience is or what you think the important features of your book are, it will be difficult for them to design a good cover.

Within a few days, they replied with a selection of sample designs. None of them was quite right – in fact my initial reaction was, “Oh no! None of these is any good!” – but on closer inspection, I could see the beginnings of two possible basic designs.

I suggested some modifications and asked for more fully worked up versions of both. This was the start of an iterative process, where we exchanged ideas and new drafts until I was satisfied.

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It seemed to take a long time, but looking back, we went from initial approach to finished design in only one week.

I went on to have three more covers designed, using the basic template that we developed for the first book.



I would say that, at $99, the service is good value—especially since, at the end, the author is given full intellectual property rights over the design. That was important to me, because it meant that I could use it freely on websites and in promotional materials and, when I went on to publish my books in paperback, I had a ready-made front cover.

My Top Tips For Getting The Most Out Of A Professional Cover-Design Service:

  • Prepare by identifying your audience and thinking through what you want your cover to say to them;
  • Have a look in the Kobo store for other books in your genre and identify a few covers that appeal to you, to give your graphic designer some starting points;
  • Take trouble over describing the key features of your book to the designer – you can’t expect them to know what it’s about unless you tell them!
  • View the whole process as a learning experience.


Author Experience is a series of guest posts written by Kobo Writing Life authors. You can find all our services under the Author Services tab on the Kobo Writing Life Dashboard.

To get started on a cover of your own, click here to visit the AcePub website.



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