Book Cover Artist

What Is the Purpose of Book Cover?

Picture yourself in a bookstore. You’re aimlessly browsing the shelves when one you decide to take a closer look at one particular book. In the sea of other books around it, what piqued your interest about that one particular book?

Chances are, the book cover had a lot to do with it. the primary purpose of a book cover is to protect the pages inside a book. Some covers are made from lightweight and easily bendable cardboard, while others are made from a more rigid material. Another purpose of a book cover, however, is to draw the attention of curious readers.

Along with the title of a book and the author’s name, the front cover of a book will also have cover art that is representative of the contents of the book. Some book covers may consist of photographs, while others may consist of illustrations. A few may even combine the two. Extremely simple book covers, on the other hand, may just be a solid color with the title and author’s name.

The back of a book jacket will often contain a brief synopsis of the book. This is used to help a reader determine what the book is about and whether or not they would be interested in reading it. Information about the author is also usually included on the back cover or inside flaps of a book jacket, if a book has one. If available, these areas of a book jacket will also include testimonials and excerpts from positive reviews of the book.

The look and layout of a book cover is not completely random. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Book cover artists typically pay careful attention to every little detail, making sure that each book cover created is both representative of the contents of the book and attention grabbing when readers are skimming the bookstore shelves.

Work Environment

In order to create the best and most compelling book cover, a book cover artist should first have an excellent idea regarding the contents and tone of the book. To do this, the artist will often need to read the book, or at least read a detailed synopsis. In some cases, a book cover artist might also confer with the publisher or author of the book as well. This allows the artist to design and create a cover that coincides with the author’s visions for his work.

A book cover artist will then usually develop a few ideas for how the cover could look. These ideas are usually run by the publisher or author, who will them choose one.

After a cover concept has been chosen, a book cover artist will then get to work creating the cover. As mentioned above, the artist will usually use mages, including graphics and photographs for the front cover, and possibly the back cover and spine as well. He will also need to choose a font for the title of the book and the author’s name.

Once the elements of a book cover have been chosen, an artist will then arrange and assemble them into the perfect layout. This usually requires the use of advanced computer software, including imaging software and design software. While creating the cover, however, an artist should also leave room on the back cover for a synopsis of the book and a short biography of the author.

Education Requirements

There is no one degree that an individual can earn that will start their book cover art career. Instead, aspiring book cover artists should concentrate on earning a degree in related fields.

Some degrees that aspiring book artists may want to consider are illustration, graphic design, photography, fine art, and desktop publishing.

Salary and Job Outlook


The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not record salary data specifically for book cover artists. It does, however, record data for artists in related fields. For example, graphic designers made, on average, about $48,140 in 2010. The average annual salary for desktop publishers in 2010 was around $39,060.

Job Outlook

The majority of book over artists work as freelancer, meaning that they don’t necessarily work with one particular company. Instead, they're free to pick and choose who they work with. Book cover artists, for example, may find themselves working directly with self-published artists one month. The next month, however, they might be commissioned to create book covers for publishing companies. Many publishing companies though, will usually have at least one book cover artist on staff.

Helpful Resources

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Book Cover Artist Jobs