How to Design a Thriller Book Cover: A Step-by-Step Guide


Thriller books are all about suspense and intrigue, and the cover of your book is the first chance you have to entice potential readers. The cover of your thriller book should speak to the content inside, and it can be the difference between a sale or being passed over on the virtual or physical shelf. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to design an attention-grabbing thriller book cover.

Understanding the Thriller Genre

Before we begin, it’s essential to look at the thriller genre. Thrillers are books that keep readers on the edge of their seats, often featuring a high-stakes conflict that tests the physical and mental abilities of the protagonist. Subgenres of thriller books can include mystery, action, and espionage. Understanding the genre is crucial for designing the perfect cover, as you need to know what elements to include in your design to attract readers.

Thriller books have been popular for decades, and for a good reason. They offer readers a thrilling escape from their everyday lives, taking them on a journey filled with suspense, danger, and intrigue. The best thrillers keep readers guessing until the very end, leaving them with a sense of satisfaction when the mystery is finally solved.

One of the most critical elements of a thriller book is the protagonist. They must be compelling, relatable, and capable of handling whatever challenges come their way. The protagonist’s journey is what keeps readers invested in the story, and a well-crafted cover can help convey this journey to potential readers.

Key Elements of a Thriller Book Cover

When it comes to designing a thriller book cover, several essential elements evoke suspense. A central character or object that entices the reader to explore more tells a lot about your book. A bold title that stands out and contrasts with the image is crucial for attracting readers to pick up your book. Additionally, using bold and contrasting colors can create a sense of urgency in the reader’s mind, piquing their curiosity and encouraging them to read on.

One of the most critical elements of a thriller book cover is the font. The font you choose can make or break your cover, so it’s essential to choose wisely. Bold and blocky fonts are often used in thriller book covers as they create a sense of urgency and danger. However, you can also experiment with different fonts to find the perfect one that fits your book’s tone.

Another critical element of a thriller book cover is the imagery. The image you choose should convey the tone and mood of your book. For example, if your book is a psychological thriller, you may want to use an image that is dark and foreboding, such as a shadowy figure or a creepy setting. Alternatively, if your book is an action thriller, you may want to use an image that is more action-packed, such as a car chase or a shootout.

Popular Thriller Subgenres and Their Visual Cues

Thriller books come in many different subgenres, and each one has its unique visual cues that you can use to create a cover that speaks to that specific subgenre. A cover featuring a firearm or a menacing figure in the shadows could be perfect for an action thriller, while a cover featuring an enigmatic message or symbol could be ideal for a psychological suspense thriller that will keep the reader guessing until the end.

One popular subgenre of thriller books is the legal thriller. Legal thrillers often feature lawyers or judges as the protagonist and involve high-stakes courtroom drama. A cover featuring a gavel or a law book could be perfect for a legal thriller.

Another popular subgenre of thriller books is the medical thriller. Medical thrillers often involve medical professionals and the dangers they face while trying to save lives. A cover featuring a hospital or medical equipment could be perfect for a medical thriller.

In conclusion, designing a thriller book cover requires careful consideration of the genre, subgenre, and visual cues that will attract readers. By incorporating these elements into your cover design, you can create a compelling and suspenseful cover that will entice readers to pick up your book and take them on a thrilling journey they won’t soon forget.

Research and Inspiration

When it comes to designing a thriller book cover, it’s important to understand the genre and its visual cues. Thrillers are all about suspense, tension, and intrigue, and your book cover should reflect that. But how do you go about designing a cover that stands out from the rest? The answer lies in research and inspiration.

One of the best ways to gather inspiration for your thriller book cover is to analyze best-selling book covers. Take a look at what’s currently popular in the genre and study the design elements that make those covers stand out. What kind of central image or character is featured on the cover? How does it relate to the story? What kind of typography is used, and how does it create a sense of urgency or intrigue? What kind of color palette is used, and how does it create a mood that matches the genre and story?

Analyzing Best-Selling Thriller Book Covers

When analyzing best-selling thriller book covers, it’s important to focus on the design elements that set them apart. Look at the central image or character that’s featured on the cover and how it relates to the story. For example, if your book is about a detective trying to solve a murder case, you might want to feature an image of the detective or a crime scene on the cover. Notice the use of typography and how it creates intrigue and urgency. The font style, size, and color can all play a role in creating a sense of tension and suspense. Take note of the choice of color and how it creates a mood that matches the genre and story you plan to deliver. For a thriller, you might want to use dark, moody colors like black, gray, and deep red.

Gathering Visual References and Mood Boards

Once you’ve analyzed some best-selling book covers, it’s time to gather visual references and create mood boards that inspire your design aesthetics. Consider any motifs or repeated elements that you noticed, such as the color palette or font style. Ask yourself how these elements can fit the genre and your unique story. For example, if your book is set in a small town, you might want to use images of the town or its landmarks on the cover to create a sense of place.

By taking the time to research and gather inspiration, you can create a thriller book cover that not only stands out from the rest but also accurately represents your story and captures the attention of potential readers.

Choosing the Right Typography

Typography is an essential part of your book cover design, especially in the thriller genre. The right font style can create a sense of urgency and intrigue, attracting readers and making them want to learn more about your book. Selecting the right font style that fits the thriller genre is crucial.

When it comes to typography, there are many different options to choose from. Some fonts are bold and striking, while others are more subtle and understated. It’s important to choose a font style that not only fits the thriller genre but also complements your book’s overall design.

One popular font style for thriller books is sans-serif. Sans-serif fonts are clean and modern, making them perfect for conveying a sense of urgency and action. Another option is a bold serif font, which can add a touch of elegance and sophistication to your book cover.

Selecting a Font Style that Fits the Thriller Genre

When selecting a font style, consider bold and striking options. Look at the key details of the font type, and how it works with your book title. Some fonts may be on the point, while some may be overly ornamental, taking away from the central image or character.

It’s also important to consider the tone and mood of your book when choosing a font style. If your book is a fast-paced thriller, you may want to choose a font that conveys a sense of urgency and action. On the other hand, if your book is a psychological thriller, you may want to choose a font that’s more understated and mysterious.

Typography Tips for Readability and Impact

In addition to font style, it’s essential to consider typography readability and impact while choosing the right typography. Always choose a font size that’s big enough to read clearly, and ensure that it contrasts well with your background.

Another important factor to consider is spacing. You can manipulate the character spacing, kerning, and leading to ensure that each word creates the desired impact on the reader. For example, increasing the spacing between letters can make a font look more modern and sleek, while decreasing the spacing can make it look more traditional and classic.

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with different typography options. Try out different font styles, sizes, and spacing until you find the perfect combination that conveys the mood and tone of your book while also being easy to read and visually appealing.

Selecting and Manipulating Images

The image or central character on your book is an essential aspect of the design process, and selecting the right image or character is crucial to successful marketing. If you’re not an artist, finding high-quality stock images on platforms such as Shutterstock or Unsplash is a good idea.

Finding High-Quality Stock Images

When looking for images or characters to feature on your cover, ensure that you select high-quality images or vectors that are clear and visually appealing. Consider the lighting, color, and image resolution to ensure that it looks sharp and professional on any screen or in print.

Image Editing Techniques for a Thrilling Effect

Select and edit images that best suit your book’s message and visual language. Use image editing techniques to ensure that your selected images have the desired impact. For instance, desaturating the color, adding a vignette, or brightening the image to create more contrast may help to create a sense of urgency and suspense.

Color Schemes and Visual Effects

Color schemes and visual effects are crucial aspects of designing your cover, adding emotional content to your design. When selecting a color scheme, consider what emotions and expectations are associated with your subgenre. Choose colors that are bold and contrast with each other. Visual effects, such as texture, lens flare or shadow effects can add another layer of intrigue to your cover.

Choosing a Color Palette for Your Thriller Book Cover

Choosing a color palette for your cover is a vital step in the design process. Use color psychology to evoke the right emotions from your readers. Bold colors like red and black might do justice to the thriller genre’s suspenseful elements, blue might be more suitable for a psychological thriller, and yellow or orange could be provocative in a mystery thriller.

Enhancing Your Design with Visual Effects and Filters

While color is crucial in creating an emotional impact, the use of visual effects and filters can help to add depth to your design. Consider adding textures, overlays, or blending modes to your cover to add depth and create a more visually striking cover. The use of shadows and highlights can also create the drama and mood that entices readers.


Creating a thriller book cover design can be an exciting and fulfilling journey. With the appropriate research, inspiration, typography, imagery, and color schemes, your design can stand out in the crowded, competitive world of the thriller genre. Utilize these tips and your unique creativity to create an eye-catching book cover that entices readers and impels them to read your thriller.