Before jumping into creating your own cover, there are four areas to consider:
- You need to know and understand good placement of the key elements of a cover.
- You need to think about fonts, their styles, and how different fonts can meld together to create a cohesive design.
- You need to think about the images you will use, how they will impact the psychology of your reader for good or for bad, and whether, at a glance, a reader will be able to give a good guess as to what genre the book is in.
- And finally you need a program that can put all those elements together for you in a professional way.
1. Understanding of Key Elements
Here is a 5 part series all about book covers:
Here's one more article I found helpful: http://www.macgraphics.net/blog/2010/01/29/key-elements-of-professional-book-cover-design-for-self-published-authors/
Once you've read the above articles and maybe Googled to read a few more on your own, it's time to start thinking about fonts. The sites below have thousands of fonts to choose from. Be sure to check the licencing options. "Free for Personal Use" does not mean you can use that font on your book cover.
The next area to consider are the images that will go on your book cover. Remember to take into consideration your genre and the mood you want to convey when choosing your images. The sites below offer the ability to download a comp image so you can play with the design before you actually fork out any money. I've only listed a few here. A quick Google search will reveal many more sites that offer royalty free images.
http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons - There are many images here free for your use. Again, be sure to check the licencing options. Not all the images on the Flickr site are licensed for commercial use.
4. A Compilation Program (Software)
My personal preference for a program to put all the above elements together is Photoshop. However it is fairly, okay terribly, expensive. However, you can download the program and try it out for 30 days for free. I can almost guarantee that once you try it you won't want to go back to any other program you've tried.
Here is a link to the free trial page: http://www.adobe.com/cfusion/tdrc/index.cfm?product=design_standard
Gimp is another fairly powerful program, and it is free: http://www.gimp.org/
Here is a link to an article that lists several more. Many of these I've never tried, so proceed with caution: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2371593,00.asp
Did you create a cover that turned out fairly well? Feel free to share it, and anything you learned through the process, in our comments below.