Book Covers 101

Kindle requires a cover image. We shop first with our eyes, and the marketing team at Amazon knows this.

External Cover

Your cover image is uploaded separately from the rest of your book file.

Preferred format:

  • AT LEAST 2700 x 1668 pixels
  • 300 PPI (pixels per inch)
  • File should be 5MB or smaller

Basically, you want a high resolution, crisp, clear image that doesn’t load too slowly.

If it’s too small, you’ll get a warning message.

DO NOT stretch your image to make it fit. Go back to your imaging software (Photoshop, iPhoto, Preview, whatever you like best) and RESIZE the image to the correct format.


  • Must not infringe on anyone else’s copyright.
  • Must not mention a price.

The lowdown here is use stock photos that are either copyright free and have a commercial use license attached or that you’ve legally bought a license to use. Or use your images. Hire an illustrator or professional cover artist.

DO NOT Google search and randomly use any image you like. Grabbing random pics without permissions is a copyright violation and can land you in hot water, not to mention, it’ll get you banned from Amazon. It’s also stealing intellectual property and a giant No-No.

Don’t put a price on the cover because you’ll eventually want to change it. We’re not in the old days where you can peel off the sticker during slow times in your shift. Nor can you stick another price tag over it. Just leave the price off. Price is entered elsewhere and is easily changed without having to upload a new cover.

Internal Cover

Your file must also include a cover image.

What? You thought you could just type up a quick Word document, upload it, and never learn how to insert an image properly?

Au contraire.

Your internal cover image must be a large and high resolution as well, or Amazon will fail your quality assurance test.

We’ll get to the nitty gritty of adding that cover to your document in just a moment.


We’re going verra, verra basic here, folks. Baby steps.

You need a text or HTML editor.

TextEdit will work but I prefer Sigil (Jeremy Tolbert of Clockpunk Studios cued me into this one. It’s FREE, and if it’s good enough for Jeremy the Jedi Master of Coding, it’s good enough for me.)

Your Cover Page should look like this:

<h1 align=”center” title=”Cover”>
<img alt=”Cover” height=”100%” src=”../Images/Cover.jpg”/> <br/>


Why all that for a cover image? Let’s take it one part at a time.


This is a heading tag. You’ll note that above I’ve said to use this for Chapter titles. Why use it for the cover image?

Well, you don’t have to. But, if you’re using Sigil to make your ePub file, this will put an entry for the cover page in the table of contents.


The img tag is what displays an image in the book. In this case, the cover. (More on images, and where to place them in the ePub file on the next page.)

The alt attribute is what the browser (or e-reader) will display if it can’t display the image for whatever reason.

SRC is the path to where the picture file is.

Setting a height to 100% will make the cover image scale up or down to fit the screen size of different e-readers.

What about that <br /> nonsense? That’s there to pacify cranky HTML interpreters. Some browsers and eReaders don’t like to have just an image inside that heading tag. They want text in between those tags. But, we don’t want text, we want our picture.

That’s what the &nbsp; is for. That’s the HTML code for a “Non-breaking space.

It’s just a regular space, something’s there now, but we don’t see it. Everybody’s happy. (The <br /> is there so the space is below the cover, instead of next to it so it doesn’t get thrown off-center.)

Basically, covers are anything but basic no matter how you break it down.

Adobe Photoshop – This is where I make all my covers and the majority of my artwork for my publications. The quality is unparalleled, and your freedom as an artist to create is limited only by your knowledge of how to use Photoshop. Downside? It’s expensive and hard to use. It took me quite a while to learn and, fifteen years after my first exposure, I’m still learning. Upside? Youtube is full of great tutorials that weren’t available when I started (Sheesh. I feel old now.) It’s also purchased on a monthly basis now instead of a great whopping one-time fee.

Or there’s always Udemy. They run great promotions for $15 or you might be able to snag a free class — 100 Bestselling Courses-Learn Photoshop, Web Design & Profitable Freelancing

Photoshop for Dummies – Hey, it never hurts.

Creative Cloud – This is Adobe’s version of iCloud. It’s a photo organization system. There’s an entire sequence of Abobe products from Lightroom all the way up to Adobe Lightroom and Effects. You’ll have to play around and see which one is right for your needs and skill level. It would take an entire course just on Adobe to break them all down.

Picmonkey – Hands down the best free site for quick, fun, yet effective photo-editing I’ve found. There’s a premium package with more effects but I’m perfectly content with the free option. – Stunning free stock photos. Definitely, the best I’ve found online without a subscription or pay/download fee. Search by keyword. The selection is limited but the overall quality brings me back again and again.

Pixabay – another free stock photo website. The quality is varied. I’ve found most images here require additional photoshopping to make them suitable for publication. I do see a lot of these photos across the web in other publications though. So if you use an image, make sure to modify it somehow and make it “your own.” No one wants to look like everyone else.

DeviantArt – I adore DeviantArt. It’s a great place for artists and consumers to meet. Do not poach free art from this site. Many artists post their work here simply to share it – meaning you can’t use it for free – and some sell their work or use it for portfolio purchases. There is a store, a stock photo area (that usually requires attribution and has other rules governing use), and a forum where you can commission artwork. But don’t go to DeviantArt hoping for freebies. That isn’t the purpose of this site. Be prepared to pay your artists for the work they produce. 

Flickr – Another photo sharing site. The quality is extremely mixed. So is the content. If you’re looking for something very specific or niche, this is your site, but be prepared to Photoshop or edit like mad. Also, WARNING, take off the filters at your own risk. Yeah. Eyeballs. They can burn. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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