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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