How to Create That Perfect Wattpad Cover

An overview of how to design an interesting story cover and why it’s vital to your success as an author

A.D. Argyle
5 min readMar 15, 2020
Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

Wattpad was created in 2006 by Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen as a way to encourage reading and writing. What started as a small business is now an international phenomenon that draws millions of users a year. With the launch of Wattpad Books, the company’s hardcopy publishing house, Wattpad has revolutionized the writing industry, shooting unknown writers into worldwide stardom.

Being an author has never been more convenient or exciting.

If you have dreams about publishing through Wattpad or joining their Paid program, you’ll need popularity, unique content, and strong work ethic. The first aspect of your story that appeals to the reader is your cover photo. In professional writing, you’ll likely pay for someone to design a cover for you, but for now, it is helpful to dip your toes into this branch of artistry.


How do you create an appealing cover without spending an arm and a leg? How can you achieve that polished look that mainstream books have? New sites are constantly coming into the market but they’re not all the same.

Personally, I use a few different sites, depending on my needs. In this article, we will look at the three sites I frequent the most: Unsplash, Pixabay, and Canva.


Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

When we begin looking for images, it is important to understand creative commons licensing and how to credit artists for work used in your project. Creative Commons licensing covers images and similar works to be used freely without the need for credit directed toward the author. (Although it is definitely appreciated). A lot of photo-collecting sites like Pinterest or PicsArt are not recommended to gather photos from because it is difficult to know the licensing agreements behind each image. This can make for a difficult situation that is just best avoided completely.

So, if Pinterest is out, where do you find an unlimited amount of images that are under the creative commons license and free? My favorite choice is Unsplash.


Unsplash is the most popular site for free images. Millions of users and photos come together to create a database with an infinite amount of high-quality, story cover-worthy images. Each photo has the name of the creator located on the screen which allows me to easily credit artists if I’d like to. It’s not necessary, but again, it’s wholly appreciated.

The negatives for Unsplash come down to the absence of vector images. As someone who enjoys illustration, this is a disappointment because I really think Unsplash has a way of drawing talented artists into the folds of their site.


Pixabay is another image site that works under creative commons licensing like Unsplash but this site also has vector images, which are silhouette images that can be applied over another image.

The downside to Pixabay is similar to Pinterest; the original artist gets lost in the chaos of the site. There is almost no way to know who the image came from, just who has posted it. Also, the image quality is less than you can find on Unsplash.

When you have an image selected or several, you’ll need a site to create the cover. For this, I use Canva.


Canva has a little bit of everything and a ton of add-on content for a-la-cart prices. In addition to vector images and free images under CC-licensing, Canva also has the ability to add text, filters, and overlays.

If you’re willing to pay for the extras, Canva also has many premium features like resizing, transparent backgrounds, and more, making it the ultimate tool of a graphic designer.


Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

The image you choose to represent your book is more important than the font or the layout. The photo will allow your audience to get a feel for your story and will boost your credibility as an author. While anyone can pay for a personalized cover, learning to create your own covers can give your story an unbeatable edge.

Genre plays a huge part in the direction of your cover, including the font you will likely choose. A horror novel won’t have pastels and a fantasy novel would be unrecognizable without the classic mash-up cover composed of a striking main character against a fiery background.

Research popular covers in selected genres for more inspiration.


Like the photo, font helps to convey the genre. However, there is more leniency than with your cover image. There are more eccentric fonts like Comic Sans, or if you’re interested in something more refined, a Garamond font, might be for you.

As much as I would love to discuss this one further, fellow Medium author, Eugene Sadko wrote up an incredibly detailed article that focuses on this exact subject. It was so well-written that I couldn’t have said it any better.

The direct link to his article is here.


Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

Using these three sites has allowed me to create unique, high-quality covers that are sure to draw in an eager audience. We’ve often heard that it’s irresponsible to judge a story on its cover, but I believe the opposite is true. Outstanding covers give depth to the novel you’ve worked so hard on. Your cover represents your story’s message and is the reader’s first glimpse into your abilities as an author.



A.D. Argyle

Ashleigh is a creator from the States that explores social issues and interests.