Since I just recently created a cover for my latest release and I also recently had a friend ask what she even needed to do to get started creating a cover, I thought I'd write a post for beginners on the steps you'll need to take for a cover if you are just launching out into self-publishing.
1. You will need a photo-editing software. Gimp is a good free one. Personally, I prefer Photoshop, but that's probably just because I'm used to how it operates.
2. You will need to either create a template with bleed lines for the final size of cover you'll need, or you will need to download one. Createspace has templates for all sizes of books so that's a great place to get one. Otherwise, most printers will offer free templates for your use. You'll open this template in your photo-editor and then create layers on it of your other cover images.
3. You will need to purchase your cover images from a Stock photo site. My two favorites are www.bigstock.com and www.fotolia.com. Other good ones, but maybe a touch more expensive, are Istock, Dreamstime, Shutterstock, and Getty Images.
4. You'll need basic knowledge of how to manipulate photos in your photo editor of choice, obviously. However, YouTube is a vast sea of knowledge and helpful videos on various techniques. So if there's something you'd like to do, but don't know how, simply search there and likely you'll find a tutorial.
5. A word on font choice. Choose a font that is going to be easily legible, especially keeping in mind that most people will only see your cover in thumbnail size on the distributors sites. (Amazon, B&N, etc.) It generally looks more professional if your name is in a different font than the title of the book - but keep your fonts down to 2 or 3 at the most. For more freedom in word placement, put each word or segment in its own layer. Then you can drag them to the exact position you want, or angle them etc.
6. If you choose to create a paperback, you'll also need to find an image for your back cover and spine. (Although neither really have to be an image - they could just be a solid color with text.)
7. When it comes to the size of images to buy, remember that your cover should be set to 300dpi. (Dots per inch, or pixels per inch.) That means if your cover is 5.5 x 8.5 you will need images to cover 1650 x 2550 pixels. If your image will only cover part of the cover, you can estimate the correct size of image you need to purchase based on its approximate pixel area coverage.
The cover to the right is the cover I just finished for my latest Christian historical romance, High Desert Haven. To give you a bit more of an idea of how this works... This cover has 3 images, plus a title-plate and text. Image 1 is the map in the background. Image 2 is the woman. Image 3 is the cowboy and horses at the bottom. The links will take you to the original images for each of these 3 and if you click through you'll notice that this woman was actually a modern day bride. I lopped off her head and faded her in a bit. For the cowboy, I wanted him to be to the left for a nice balance, so I reversed the image. But that didn't get him far enough to the left of the cover for my liking, so I cut off one of the horses and put that horse on the other side of the image, which allowed me to push the cowboy further left. I could have also purchased a title plate from one of the stock sites, but I created this one with some brushes in Photoshop and a paper background.
Anyhow, that's a quick overview and hopefully sparks your inner muse to see the possibilities for your own covers. I'm sure there are readers of this blog who have infinitely more experience with this than I do. So what tips and tricks do you all have to share about cover creation? Feel free to share your latest cover creation in the comments.
Linda Apple is the author of Writing From Your Soul, Writing Life ~ Your Stories Matter, Connect ~ A Simple Guide to Public Speaking for Writers, POW; Promises Kept and Women Of Washington Avenue, her debut novel and the first book in her Moonlight Mississippi series. Her personal experience stories have been published in 16 of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her devotions have been published in numerous devotion magazines and books. She lives in Fayetteville Arkansas with her husband, Neal, their five children, five children-in-love, and ten grandchildren.
Jody Bailey Day writes inspirational fiction from west Texas. Her debut novel, Washout Express, released June 2013 from Harbourlight Books. Her short stories, poems, devotionals, and articles have appeared in Mature Living, Splickety Magazine, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Southern Writers Magazine, and Christiandevotions.us, She is a two time Grand Prize Winner at the East Texas Christian Writers Conference, and a Faithwriters.com Best of the Best award winner. She and her pastor husband have six grown children and nine grandchildren.
Deborah Dee Harper writes from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, by way of Michigan, Kentucky, Alaska, Mississippi, and Alaska (again). Deb is a graduate of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild classes and writes Christian humorous and inspirational books for both children and adults. Her children’s adventure series, Laramie on the Lam, available in both e-book and print, is being re-published as six individual print books. Her Road’s End series (Misstep, Faux Pas, and Misjudge) for adults is also contracted and should be published soon. She is currently nearing completion on the first book of another series. She is represented by Terry Burns of Hartline Literary Agency.
Lisa Lickel is an award-winning multi-published inspirational novelist, blogger, reviewer, and writing mentor. A freelance editor, Lisa loves all things historical. Her work has appeared in Writer's Digest and Christian Fiction Online.
Liberty Speidel has been a voracious reader since reading her first Nancy Drew book. But she was telling stories long before then with her figurines from Disney's Rescue Rangers. When she's not writing, you may find her gardening, baking, crocheting, or hiking. A lifelong Kansan, she now resides in the Kansas City metro area with her husband, children, and chocolate Labrador, where she could rival Captain Jean Luc Picard in consumption of Earl Grey tea. She is the author of Emergence, Retaliation, and Capitulation, novellas and novels in her series featuring superhuman and police detective Darby Shaw.
Donn Taylor led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterwards, he earned a PhD in English literature (Renaissance) and for eighteen years taught literature at two liberal arts colleges. His poetry has appeared in leading journals and is collected in his book Dust and Diamond: Poems of Earth and Beyond.His fiction includes a light-hearted mystery, Rhapsody in Red, and two suspense novels, Deadly Addictive and The Lazarus File, and a historical romance, Lightning on a Quiet Night. He is a frequent speaker at writers’ groups and conferences. He lives near Houston, TX, where he continues to write fiction and poetry, as well as essays on writing, ethical issues, and U.S. foreign policy.
Editor/Author Linda Yezak lives with her husband in a forest in east Texas, where tall tales abound and exaggeration is an art form. She is a speaker/lecturer for various writers' groups and conferences. Her fiction books include Give the Lady a Ride, The Simulacrum, and The Cat Lady's Secret. Her nonfiction books include Writing in Obedience, co-written with Hartline Literary agent Terry Burns.
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