AI book covers

AI Book Covers: 5 Great Reasons to Use One

Salmaan Ahmad

Salmaan Ahmad

March 6, 2024

Should you consider AI book covers for your books? A gorgeous book cover that appeals to readers in all of the right ways is what every author hopes they can deliver to their readers. For a self-publishing author, ensuring that the artwork and typography on their book’s covers look great can be a challenge. However, being a talented writer doesn’t always mean that your artistic flair extends to high-end graphic design work, as many authors don’t have any prior experience crafting something as complicated and critical as cover art.

But today, a new option is emerging that many authors are saying may be a game changer: using artificial intelligence. This relatively new technology allows anyone with a concept to create AI book covers with just a few simple steps, leading many self-publishing authors to see this as a way to ensure that their book’s cover design will look just as good as the covers of a traditionally published book. But are AI book covers a good idea?

Before artificial intelligence became a potential avenue for creating book cover artwork, authors had to create their designs or pay someone to develop original artwork for them. Art designed by AI technology blends these two, creating a unique legal and ethical situation that has not yet been settled.

How AI Art Is Designed: Machine learning is used to comb through available digital imagery to learn what any given concept looks like. AI takes this knowledge and creates a new image based on these inputs, but each AI generator can draw from various inputs. Generators may use free art databases, open-source art, or image databases or even user inputs, each adding a slightly different twist on the final art created by the generator. Creators must give the generator parameters to follow, and the AI returns one or more results that can be adjusted or tweaked with a new command request.

The Legal Ramifications: Where an AI generator gets its input can make a big difference in who technically “owns” the artwork. When an AI generator includes private images as part of its learning process, the legal ownership of a final artwork draft that is used for commercial purposes may be challenged. The legality is still being debated, leading some to shy away from using AI since the input sources of all generators may not be disclosed.

Disclosing AI Usage: One of the easiest ways to protect your AI book cover arts is to disclose its origin. Similar to giving an artist credit for their graphic contributions to a book cover, interior graphics, or formatting of a self-published book, crediting AI for book cover creation offers transparency while the legal issues become clearer.

Why Use AI Book Covers?

Plenty of authors have jumped on the AI bandwagon already, and the benefits of using this handy tool are growing. The most common reasons writers use AI book covers are compelling for just about every self-publishing author.

1. AI Book Covers Are Faster

When an author has an artistic vision for their book cover design, working with a professional artist or graphic designer can take a long time. Communicating your vision to the artist usually requires initial discussions about the concept as well as other sessions where the concept is refined, clarified, or reworked to match the artist’s interpretation with the author’s vision. AI, on the other hand, can work almost instantaneously.

A description of the concept is provided to the AI generator, and when results don’t return exactly as the author imagined, a new command is given to hone or improve the result. This exchange may result in just as many or more requests for changes to the artistic outcome, but AI’s near-immediate timeframe takes only a fraction of the time working with a live artist or graphic designer will.

2. Working Solo Is Appealing

When authors choose to self-publish, one of the strongest influences in forgoing the traditional publishing route is retaining control over all of the creative decisions by working alone. When authors choose AI book covers, they can continue to work independently without the input or hassles that come with working with another person on their creative endeavor.

3. Some Authors Have Limited Budgets

Hiring a professional graphic designer, artist, or cover designer can eat into the budget, so many self-publishing authors choose to forgo this expense by using AI book covers. Many authors are looking at AI book covers as a way to cut costs while still utilizing cover art that appears professionally created.

4. Writers Don’t Always Have a Cover Concept

While some authors have a clear vision for their cover art design, many do not. AI offers a way for writers to explore many different versions of their cover art with a click of a button. Inputting different descriptions for the same concept or toying with styles and color palettes is easy to do with AI book covers. Authors can use AI to create multiple options to choose from when they don’t already have a solid concept for the way they want to design their book cover.

5. An Author Wants an On-Trend Cover

Since AI generation creates designs based on previous inputs to the database, the art reflects popular styles or concepts currently in use. Authors seeking a hot look that will resonate with their audience and appear familiar to potential readers may choose AI book covers since it is relatively simple to create artwork that reflects design trends.

Limitations of Using AI Book Covers

Choosing AI-generated art may be quick, easy, and inexpensive, but its shortcomings often are big enough to keep many authors from pursuing this design choice altogether.

They Lack Uniqueness

Since AI generators all source their inspiration from common databases, the resulting art tends to look similar. Authors who want to present a book cover design that stands out from others on the shelf may be disappointed with AI book covers since most of it has a similar look and feel to all other AI-created designs.

Nuance Can Be Missing from AI Book Covers

AI art is limited by creator input and a lack of awareness of symbolism. When an author is looking for a particular facial expression or subtle look by a character in their cover art, AI struggles to reflect that naturally. Since a creator’s input determines the parameters of the AI generation, authors without extensive experience tweaking the input descriptions may not be able to capture the nuance they are looking for in their AI book covers.

AI Art Is Not Typography

A book cover is not just art. The typography on a cover including the title, author’s name, and any other text content is just as critical as the graphic elements. While AI technology is always evolving, currently AI does not integrate typography with cover art design. This means that writers who choose an AI-generated design will either have to create the typography themselves or work with a graphic artist or cover designer to complete the necessary details for their book’s cover anyway.

AI Cannot Match Personal Creativity

Just like using a book template can result in a formulaic book, AI artwork lacks creativity and results in a familiar appearance that just doesn’t compete with a talented artist’s hard work.

AI Content Can Repeat Bias

Since databases that AI-developed artwork comes from reflect what other people have created or injected into the database, common stereotypes will likely be included in the artwork it generates. The AI algorithm has no way of checking for this kind of built-in bias, so authors have to be careful not to include any offensive imagery.

What Are Other Options For Self-Publishing Authors?

Developing a gorgeous book cover that will attract the right readers is a critical part of self-publishing a book, but authors have more options than turning to artificial intelligence to come up with one that looks great without the potential pitfalls that AI brings.

Do it yourself. If you are a talented graphic designer, you may be able to create the graphics yourself.

Hire a graphic designer. Working with a designer is an excellent option for self-publishing authors. Talented graphic designers offer their services as freelance artists on sites like Fiverr and Upwork, perfect for writers who want to leave the artwork to a professional.

Engage the services of a cover designer. Self-publishing authors can work directly with a cover designer. These experts are skilled in creating both the artwork and typography necessary to bring together a beautiful front and back cover.

Work with a printer that offers cover design services. Some printers, like Publishing Xpress, offer expert cover design services to help self-publishing authors. These professionals know what it takes to build a cover that reflects a book’s genre, theme, and the author’s vision with memorable typography, beautiful graphics and all of the details

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