6 Free Book Cover Makers for Independent Authors

Those lucky enough to be traditionally published authors have a professional cover design team with the top-of-the-line software and super-powerful equipment. They don’t have to worry about their covers. It gets worried about for them (at the cost of 90% of the gross revenue, but hey…who’s counting?)

For independent authors in the middle of their careers, the best option is to hire a professional cover designer to do their book cover for them. This produces wonderful covers, but can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. 

The rest of us — those who are at a point in our careers where we need a good cover, but can’t yet afford to invest in a professional — are left to do it on our own. Worse, we don’t have the money to buy a professional publishing software suite. 

But never fear! Free, easy-to-use, cover design platforms exist for you to make beautiful covers without spending anything but your time. Here are our six favorite. 

  1. Adobe Spark

You already know Adobe as one of the leading producers of those professional design suites we mentioned earlier. Spark is the tool for non-designers who need to make something beautiful but don’t want all the high-end bells and whistles. 

The Good

It starts with a bevy of design templates, and gives you the most robust customization features available. You can make a book cover based on the format you like best, then tweak it until it’s unique and perfect for your book.  It even includes a sizeable library of royalty-free images, if you need them. 

The Bad

It’s not free forever. You sign up with your email, and charges you $9.99 a month after the trial expires. But if you only do a few books a year, you can hammer out all your covers in that month…then next year start a new free trial with a dummy email. 

The Ugly

You can become bogged down in the many options. Remember to work only until the cover is done, then step away. Much like with your manuscript, there’s a point of over-editing you want to stay on the right side of. 

  1. Bookwright

Blurb’s proprietary cover maker designed to work with their self-publishing platform. It offers a strong set of tools with wide options, and other features useful to self-publishers. For example, you can assign a free ISBN as part of the process, and use it to not just build your cover but lay out and format your entire book. 

The Good

It’s downloadable. Unlike the other options on this list, you can use Bookwright offline, which is a huge bonus for lots of writers. 

The Bad

It does provide a limited set of book layouts. They’re customizable enough to make something unique with each one, but lacks the flexibility of many other options. 

The Ugly

It’s proprietary to Blurb, and doesn’t reliably work and play well with other platforms. That said, it does let you download a PDF for free, which will work with most publishers and printers just fine. 

  1. Canva

A free, online graphic design suite that lets you make and download ebook and print covers with an attractive background and good text elements. Feels a lot like Microsoft Publisher once you get the hang of it. 

The Good

Canva isn’t just for book covers. You can also use it to produce a suite of social media images, memes, excerpt photos, bookmarks, and other things to sell your book. 

The Bad

Options are limited. Although you can do whatever you want with the design elements, the number of available elements is smaller than with some other suites. 

The Ugly

The fonts availabe on Canva don’t map well to the usual best practice fonts. Look at fonts used on successful books in your genre, than find the one on Canva that most closely matches. 

  1. Cover Creator

Once part of the CreateSpace suite, and now an option during book setup on KDP, this is Amazon’s proprietary cover designer. It’s quick and easy, but has limited options for design. Perfect for those without the time and energy to put much effort into their covers but who still want something reasonably professional. 

The Good

Super-easy to use, and provides good tools for positioning a bar code. It even automatically calibrates your spine width to match page count, which is normally a pain in the tuchus. 

The Bad

You are extremely limited in your design options, given only a handful of templates to choose from. There’s an advanced design template you can download that gives more options…but only if you have design software to use it with. 

The Ugly

The limited number of templates paired with the large number of self-publishers using KDP means sophisticated readers can tell if you used Cover Creator. In some cases, this might lead to them taking you less seriously. 

  1. GIMP

The closest thing you’ll find to Photoshop available for free, GIMP provides a set of tools for writers with some sense of design skill and time to learn how to use it. It offers the most flexibility of any option on this list. 

The Good

This is the brass ring, the full-option design suite. It lets you create exactly the book cover you want with every piece exactly how you want it. 

The Bad

Like any piece of software with lots of flexibility, GIMP has a steep learning curve. If you’re not already familiar with high-end design suites like Photoshop, give yourself a month to master the basics. 

The Ugly

GIMP provides no image library or templates. You’re on your own with this one. Use covers from successful books in your genre for examples of where to start. 

  1. Poster My Wall

This site offers a library of book cover templates, along with a connection to image banks like Getty and Flicker so you can pair the perfect free photo with the perfect layout in a handful of easy steps. 

The Good

Extremely easy to use. If you want the convenience of the KDP Cover Creator but don’t want to publish on KDP, this is your best option. They make the process quick and painless. 

The Bad

When somebody creates a new cover, it adds the format to the library…meaning you’re sifting through covers built by amateurs to find covers of professional quality. 

The Ugly

Although basic usage is free, you may have to spend a few dollars to get just the right image, or an image on high enough resolution to use for a print book cover. 

  1. Bonus: Book Cover Rocket

It isn’t free, but if you are already an Apex Author then you also have access to the Book Cover Rocket (just one part of our Book Rocket System suite of software) which can give you templates for a professional cover that you can edit in Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop, depending upon how much you want to spend on software and how much control you need over the end product.

The Good

Hundreds of excellent templates that already have the right fonts, colors, and styles for dozens of different genres. Just update your title and byline, and the primary image (if so desired) and you’ll have a cover that works.

The Bad

These covers do require that you use a different application to edit them, whether that’s a free option such as LibreOffice or Gimp or a paid option such as Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop.

The Ugly

The Book Cover Rocket templates aren’t technically free, since you do need to be an Apex Author in order to take advantage of them. However, being an Apex Author gives you a lot of other perks that more than make up for the cost, and this is just one of them.

You also get access to the following cover-specific training courses:

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