"" Rob Parnell's Writing Academy Blog: Make Your Own Book Cover

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Make Your Own Book Cover

Dear Fellow Writer,

Where did January go?

Voom, I've been working on a new book I wanted to get out today - but I'm still only half way through!

Where does the time go?

Anyway, following the success of the Sherlock Holmes story I released recently, I'm collaborating with another author on a follow up series to the Zombie Slayer concept.

Look out for those thrilling new stories, coming soon!

Keep writing!


Make Your Own Book Cover
Make your own book cover

If you're a writer it's unlikely you're also a great graphic artist. 

If you're both, that's fantastic. You can design you own book covers.

The rest of us might struggle designing our own covers and this can be bad news because, in order to sell books, stunning and professional-looking covers are just as important as powerful book content. 

It's a good idea to be on the look out for the kind of covers you like.

Copy and paste the ones that you deem impressive and effective.

Put them all in a file so you peruse them at your leisure. 

Note the fonts most often used for your genre.

Get a feel for the kind of pictures and compositions that you think might look good on your own covers. 

Even when you use professional designers, they like to know what you're looking for - and being able to explain what you want, with concrete examples, will get you a better job done.

Great cover designers are hard to find - and may cost a lot. However, there are cheaper and perfectly viable alternatives. 

Good graphic artists are fairly easy to locate through Google but many of the good ones are justifiably expensive.

For your first Amazon or Kindle book I would highly recommend that you organize your cover yourself - unless you have a graphic artist friend who'll do it for free or cheap. 

You really don’t want to spend a large amount of money on your first book cover, unless you have a lot of back up cash going spare, because it's likely it will take you a fair while to make your money back on the investment.

If you pay $1500 for a good cover, for instance, you will have to sell at least 750 books at $2.99 (assuming 70% royalties) just to pay for it. 

Seeing as, according to industry surveys, the average number of books sold per author is just 200, you can immediately see that it doesn't make smart economic sense to dig yourself into a financial hole with your first book cover.

Some writers do spend all their spare cash on their covers, of course, working on the principle that a great cover may create a bestseller - which does happen occasionally. 

But if you're in it for the long haul and want to live off your royalties, better to use your name to sell your books rather than take a do or die approach to your first book.

The good news is that www.fiverr.com is a great resource for new authors. 

At Fiverr you will discover hundreds of graphic artists who will make a nice-looking cover that will look a whole better than anything you can do yourself.

Generally, homemade covers look bad. We don't have the eyes that most graphic artists are born with - no matter what they charge.

 Five dollars, plus $10 to $20 for an original photograph, will get you a perfectly professional-looking cover, way better than anything you can do yourself.

 If you still regard five bucks as an expense you'd rather not pay, you still have alternatives that are free. 

            1. Get a free graphics editor like Paint or PhotoStudio 5

            2. Download free stock images from one of the many online libraries

            3. Manipulate the images and your added text into a jpeg

A simple Google search will provide you with all the materials and tuition you require. 

You don't need Photoshop to compete.

Besides which, IMHO, Photoshop is massively overpriced and is way too complicated to learn for most mere mortals who just want a basic image manipulator. 

You can actually get all the functions you need with Adobe Elements for a fraction of the price of Photoshop.

I received Elements free with a Canon camera I bought but I still prefer PhotoStudio 6 from Arcsoft (version 5 is free) because it's more intuitive and much easier to use. 

If you're stuck for ideas, Google Images will provide royalty-free photographs you can download in a heartbeat.

Just Google the kind of picture you're looking for and click on Labeled for Reuse in the Usage Rights section of Search Tools. 

Copy that image into a book cover sized file: usually 1500 x 1000 pixels at 200+dpi, using Paint or PhotoStudio

Then choose a plain font: Calibri, Consolas etc., nothing flowery or weird, and then write your book title and name over the top of the image, nice and big, so that you can still read the title when it's postage stamp size.  

White is the safest font color to use on book covers. Any other color starts to look amateurish if you don’t know much about graphic design.

Save the merged file as a jpg. 

That's it. You're done, ready to upload your cover to Amazon and release your 
magnum opus to the world.

Best of luck!

Keep Writing!
Rob Parnell


    Sherlock Holmes

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