Five tips for taking a book cover photo

If self-publishing your book, you may need to come up with a photo for your front cover. You can go about this in one of three ways: hire someone to design the cover for you and let that person look for the photo; purchase a photo, usually from an online stock photo provider; or take the photo yourself.

Other than time, the last option – take the photo yourself – is the least expensive of the three choices. If you’re intrepid enough, it’s worth a try. After all, if your photo shoot fails, you always can go one of the other two routes.

The truth is you’re probably a better photographer than you realize. We live in a very visual society, and with the advent of avatars, selfies, and Instagram, we constantly take photos. Still, there are some basic guidelines that professional photographers follow that you’ll want to consider:
• Know what you want a picture of before setting out with your camera – If your novel is set on a farm, for example, pick a key symbol from your book, such as a barn, that says “farm.” Then focus on taking pictures of barns. This will keep you from wasting time.
• Shoot at the right time of the day – If shooting outdoors, aim for the times of 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and again at dusk. This gives you enough lighting but allows for it be subdued rather than washing out your subject.
• Keep the sun to your back – Unless you’re aiming for glare and sun rays in your photo, the sun behind you on a perpendicular line to the subject you’re shooting eliminates shadows and glare.
• Frame the photo to match your cover – You probably need blank space at the top of your photo for your title. If taking a picture of a barn, the sky works well for that. Likewise, the bottom fifth of the cover might need to largely be one color so that you can place your name there; grass in front of the barn would work well for that.
• Take lots of photos from different angles – A newspaper photographer might take a couple of hundred of photos or more to find just the right one. Move around as well to see what interesting angles you can view the subject from.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.