Canva for Cover Art

Cover art can be a pain in the butt. Books need to look attractive, but that can cost a lot of money. If you can afford it, nothing beats professional cover art from someone like M.S. Corley or Mike Tabor. When we’re starting out, though, spending hundreds of dollars on art can be a stretch. And for prolific short story writers, it can be damn near impossible.

Enter Canva, a website for illustration creation that includes templates for ebooks. This is drag-and-drop simplicity. The reason the covers come out looking great is the typography. I see way too many covers with difficult-to-read font, fancy scripts, and just poor layout. It’s so hard to get right. Canva helps. Check out some of these covers on Pintarest.

And then check out what I was able to do in ten minutes:


2 copy

1 copy


Of course, a lot of books are going to look the same if you stick with the stock layouts and images. One great way to use Canva is to buy your stock art elsewhere and import it in. The price of Canva is really ridiculous. A lot of the elements are free. Many cost $1. The two covers above cost me a buck apiece.

That’s my only concern, really. If you can’t afford to hire an artists to get original work, this is better than slapping something crude together on your own. But once you can, hire someone. Not just to get cover art that’s yours and that you can be proud of, but because of the network of freelancers out there that you’ll help support.


26 responses to “Canva for Cover Art”

  1. Great Service, both the site and you sharing it! Cheers!

  2. I know I’m fortunate to have Jason Gurley (retiring from cover art, yikes!), Rene Folsom and the like to do covers, but you’re right that a short story sometimes just needs to get out and waiting for covers is not going to cut it.

    Thanks for this link. I can already tell I’m going to be going all crack-headed playing with it. Sheesh…first it was youtube animal videos now this…when will I ever write?

  3. I logged on out of curiosity and I found the exact – the EXACT – image I had in mind for a new cover. Just to underscore – THE EXACT. What are the odds? Saved me quite a sum.

    Hugh you’re the best!!!! (And Canva of course.)

    1. Excitement meet brick wall.

      Royalty Free License and Unlimited Reproductions Extended License aren’t offered.

        with links near the bottom, in 20.3, to such,
        unless I’m mistaken

  4. I found Canva about a month or two ago and immediately used them to create several covers for my YA scifi series ( I thought it was perfect for what I was looking for. Some of the artwork is really amazing and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve definitely been trying to help plug them, as they’re a good option for those of us with limited budgets.

  5. Awesome site! I’m lucky to have the just stupidly-talented photographer Matt Norris as my cover artist for my novels, but I have been using public domain art for my historical romances. This site looks like a great source for inexpensive stylish covers for short works.

  6. Thanks for sharing this wonderful resource, Hugh! I’ve been working on my covers myself and it’s usually a hit or miss.

  7. Well, that turned out to be a time sink for sure! Thank you:)

  8. It’s pininterest, not pinintarest. :)

    1. No, it’s ;) And, thanks for the tip, Hugh.

  9. This is a great resource, Hugh. Thank you for posting. It doesn’t remove the need for professional designers. But, it does remove a barrier to entry for new writers to put out e-books that have a professional look. This site will definitely help me get my first few stories published.

  10. In a similar vein, my wife and I have been using to create our author blog/website ( I’d originally set up a blog with wordpress, but didn’t have time to learn enough PHP to customize it to my liking. Much like Canva, Wix has a drag and drop interface and numerous plugins to add things like MailChip email forms or Wattpad iframes. Ultimately, if our book generates some money we’ll pay for a professionally designed wordpress site, but in the meantime Wix seems like a good option if you want a custom look without the hassle of writing HTML/CSS.

    Book Sellers / Author Templates:

  11. Those are really nice. I think I’ll be using that site in the near future. Thanks for the tip.

  12. And pictures for cover art are cheap to buy. Just go to

    They have millions of pictures and the price is extremely low – 3 to 5 dollars and you have everything you need. Magazines and newspapers use pictures from fotolia all the time.

  13. I’ve been trying to practice on photoshop myself trying desperately to resurrect my former skills of an artist. It’s like trying to raise the dead, but since I am not in a position to pay for the pros, it works for now.

    Canva does look like an attractive alternative though. I will definitely add that to the toolbox.

  14. Canva looks very cool, Hugh. Thanks for sharing. I have been using the free Photoshop alternative, Gimp, for years, so I probably won’t change. However, Gimp and most other graphic design tools have a high learning curve. I’m sure most writers would rather be writing than spending months learning how to use a new tool. Canva will be great for them.

    I do think most people will want to bring their own images though, to try to avoid having their cover look just like somebody else’s. I usually license mine from istockphoto, but there are many other sources as well.

  15. Canva is amazing. Not only can you create book covers with it if you need to, you can create all the other materials you need to promote your books — everything from banners to print bookmarks and beyond.

    I love Canva, and although I have Photoshop and adore it, I’m a ham-fisted designer at best. That’s the big benefit of Canva — you don’t have to be artistic, you can be as useless an artist as I am, and still do a respectable job.

    Even authors who pay for covers need other creative material for promotion. Canva lets them create it — fast. (And no, I have no connection to the company, I just like their product.)

  16. Tried using both Safari and Firefox only to be told that these browsers aren’t supported. Nice.

    1. Can’t speak to Safari, BUT…
      If you use Firefox, go to the settings button select “addons” and then “get addons”.

      Find this one:
      “User Agent Overrider” and install it.

      Then once it is installed and FF is restarted, click settings again (far right 3 vertical bars). Click it, and then at the bottom right, you should see “user agent overrider”. Change that to either IE9/10 for windows, or the latest Chrome/linux.

      Once that is done, try Canva again.

      I had the same issue with the latest Firefox and the override worked.

      just fyi.

  17. I have used Canva for 3 out of 4 of my book covers. It has saved me hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars at this point. I also designed my paperbacks, teasers and swag items there. I love when someone compliments my covers assuming I hired someone else to make them.

    They really are a great resource!

  18. Thanks for posting this, Hugh! My first book is due out in the next week or two and I have plenty ready to be written. The short story ideas were making me sweat for this very reason. I have a wonderful artist in Heather Chase and I love her work, but after all I’ve invested on this first book I’m starting to sweat about the upcoming small ones. Can I afford to hire her for every cover, no matter the book’s price and estimated value?

    I hope I can, but thank you for showing me an alternative if I cannot.

  19. We’ve been recommending Canva to our Author community for a while now. Even if you are going to have your book cover professionally designed, Canva is a great resource to sketch out some ideas. Here is a short tutorial I put together that shows a basic book cover design:

    (p.s. Just read Wool. What a great story!)

  20. Canva is REALLY well done. So simple for the user, and like you said, 10 minutes later you have a decent looking cover.

    We were inspired to help authors take the NEXT step: Create an awesome page to market and sell your book. Capture email leads, include a synopsis, video trailer, endorsements, etc.

    Marketing and design seem to be some pretty high pain points for authors. Would LOVE feedback on this — we are in beta testing mode right now. Thanks!

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