Make An Imaginary Book Cover

4 minute read
Author: SarahWHQ

Hey there. Busy procrastinating? Yeah, us too. Let’s play a little game we like to call The Wasting Time By Pretending We’re Doing Real Work Book Cover Game.

It goes like this:

  1. Get your book title by going to the random quote generator and picking the last two or three words of the final quote.
  2. Get your book cover by going to Flickr Last 7 Days and picking the third picture
  3. Get yourself a free account at Canva, select eBook or book cover, pick a template, and go for your life. OR try out this handy Penguin Classics Cover Generator. OR use another picture editor of your choice. OR just imagine it in your head because you can’t be faffed. It’s all good.
  4. Once you’ve made your book cover, head over to Twitter or Facebook and show us what you’ve got!

Here’s a couple we made in a passionate fit of procrastination:

Image of two book covers. The first shows a circular timelapse of stars over mountainous rocks with text: Their Greatest Extent by Sarah Lewis. The second shows the underside of an ocean pier at sunset with text: Your Own Limits: a novel by Jo Gatford.

ENDLESS potential for work-avoidance, right?

But that’s just the first step.

Now you’ve got a shiny new book cover, can you reverse engineer a story into it?

Let’s try:

Round 1: Their Greatest Extent

Err. Pushing against limits. Something about hiking and solitude? Something about trying to find the most isolated place they can to watch the stars? Light pollution. Busy lives. Something like that… A soaring work of literary fiction exploring the boundaries society places on us and the ways we live with them, or against them. Ahem.

Round 2: Who’s in it?

Umm. Some people? A woman and a man? *Shrug* We’ll figure that out later.

Round 3: What are they doing?

Two highly competitive friends (high powered jobs/extreme sports nuts?) take six months out (made redundant? Why would they leave their jobs?) to visit some of the most isolated spots in the world. <Clickbait time> What happened next blew their minds!

Round 4: What do they want? (The ol’ internal conflict versus external conflict chestnut)

They think they want to push themselves to their physical limits and go places other people haven’t, but they realise they’re but wee specks of dust in the universe and it’s that discovery that pushes them to their psychological limits. Maybe they learn that they should just chill the fark out.

Round 5: Elevator pitch (the blurb on the back)

Running away from controversy amidst global economic crisis (that’s how they left their jobs) two hedge fund managers (or other suitable high power professionals) decide to explore the most isolated spaces in the world. Their adventures lead them to discover some deeper truths about themselves, and they realise that money and power isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be.

Image of a man standing in a shower gesturing broadly and saying 'voila!'


Once you’ve got yourself a book cover (or two, or more), set a timer for, say, 20 minutes to noodle around with some ideas. Reverse engineer a story from your cover image and/or title. See where they take you. You don’t have to write a whole frickin’ novel, but you might find your ideas magically morph into something you’d like to have a go at writing about…

Then go post up your book covers and tell everyone your story idea!

P.S. You can totally do this for your own stories/work-in-progress, too – except you already know the title and you’ll need to find an image/typeface that accurately represents it. But once you’ve got a version (or several versions) it’s pretty farking cool to see your book as a ‘real’ thing. You can even print it out and stick it above your desk to remind yourself what you’re aiming for. Or even make your own paper version:

And now, dear writer, you need to get back to actual work and get on with the book writing part.

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