When designing a book cover, keep in mind that the image—both full size and thumbnail—must stop readers in their tracks. “Ensure that it stands out on an Amazon page next to 10 other covers, all postage-stamp size,” said Guy Kawasaki, author ofAPE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book. “This means bold graphics, big sans-serif font. Don’t even bother looking at it 6” x 9” printed on paper. Hardly anyone will see it this way.”

It’s not wise to skimp on the book’s face: “Don’t be tempted to design your own cover or edit your own book,” said David Gaughran, author of Let’s Get Digital: How to Self-Publish, and Why You Should.Miracles_cover “The bass player in your band might ‘know how to use Photoshop,’ but that doesn’t make him a pro….Presentation is everything, and, somewhat counterintuitively, covers are even more important in the digital world.”

“My official cover designer has been Todd Engel,” said Johnny Townsend, author of Missionaries Make the Best Companions, named one of Kirkus’ Best Books of 2015. (Engel is contracted with BookLocker.com.) Townsend, whose covers are striking and genre appropriate, said that most of his cover images came from Dreamstime or iStock. “I can spend hours looking for just the right cover. I also learned along the way that it is important to have an image not only for the front cover, but one also for the back. The ones on the back are often just ‘texture,’ but having an image of some kind adds a richness to the feel of the book that I like.”

Karen Schechner is the senior Indie editor.