Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Creating a Cover for your Self-Published Book

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.

To learn more about High Desert Haven click here.
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21 comments:

  1. I love your new cover, Lynnette. Excellent job! Congrats on the new release!!!

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  2. Yes, your cover is truly gorgeous, Lynette! This is a really great tutorial. I haven't tried doing a cover, but I've considered it for a couple of things. Don't know yet, but it's nice to know I can look back on this if I do. Blessings~

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    1. Thanks, Naomi. It really is easier than it might sound, and a lot of fun, too.

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  3. Good advice, Lynnette. Creating your own cover is an extension of your art. I really do believe we can judge books by their covers these days.

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    1. I so agree. It is so important to match the "genre" of your cover to the genre of your book. Readers looking for certain genres really are attracted to certain styles of covers.

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  4. This is beautifully done! Thanks for sharing - creating book covers is a favorite hobby of mine and you did this one brilliantly. Thanks for the tips!

    Jessica

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    1. Jessica, it's also one of the things I've enjoyed the most in this new journey I'm on. Thanks for the kudos. :)

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  5. I've said it before to you ... but I'll say it again ... Your covers are awesome Lynnette!

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  6. Looks great Lynnette...it so happens I'm looking into a book cover for my 1st historical romance right now...so this is timely! Thanks for the great advice :-)

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  7. Sure thing, Lorna. Glad it was helpful. All the best with your new book!

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  8. I tried one cover for the print version of The Map Quilt, but ended up hiring the same cover artist who did the eBook for the publisher. I admire your ability to learn and do!

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    1. Yeah, it probably has to be something you really enjoy doing to take the time to learn all the ins and outs. :)

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  9. I had no idea you did you new book cover. I was just thinking that I like it even better than the first one. You should go into business!

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    1. Katie, I've actually toyed with offering design services for covers... maybe some day... currently I don't have the time to launch another new business. :) But if someone already had a design business and wanted to hire me as a designer, I might just jump at that opportunity. I think that would be a blast.

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  10. Thanks for the tips! Just the info I was needing. Love your cover. May your readers' hearts be stirred.

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  11. Hi Lynette, well that’s superb helpful tips! I really like this cover. It contains a lot of useful information. I can set up my new cover idea from this post. It gives in depth information. Thanks for this valuable information for all.!

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