What seems like ages ago I came down on the side of shilling out the extra bucks for a professional looking bookcover. Unless of course you think you’ve got serious skills and really think you can go it alone. This post is for the writer who also has awesome skills in image editing.
Tools of the Trade
We’ll start out with something simple – everything you’d need to assemble first.
Image Editing Software
Like Photoshop (expensive) or the Gimp (FREE). You’ll need a program of that level to create a professional cover – do not attempt to use Microsoft Paint for this! You’ll also need a reasonable amount of proficiency with the program, so don’t attempt before you know what the clone stamp is and how to use it, or how to work in different layers and how to use the mask functions (at the very least).
Ebook covers are first seen by consumers at a size so small it’s likely only the title of the book and a smear of color is all they’ll really be able to make out, so choosing the right font is very important. You’ll want something that’s clearly legible when the cover is shrunk to thumbnail size. You can find free fonts all over the web and there’s even a few sites devoted to talking about the best fonts to use in book cover design if you’re willing to spend a little money on them.
Every book cover, including those expensive looking fantasy covers is created from a bunch of really good source material. This is the place where you very well might have to spend some money. For example in order to get just the image I wanted – I had to buy the image of the boy in the Family Picnic cover from istock.com. Getting just the right image of a person to use in your book cover is possibly the hardest part about making book covers, you’ll scroll through hundreds of free use and paid sites looking for just one that will work that’s also within your budget so don’t hesitate to spend money on it if you have to.
That said for those who don’t want a person’s image on their cover (or those that are going for just a body part visible) there’s a wealth of free options available. Did you know Deviant art has a ‘stock’ photo section? The usage terms aren’t entirely free and clear, you’d have to contact the artist to see if you could use their images for your book but the effort is truly worthwhile! There’s also a free use section of sites like photobucket and Stock.XCHNG which is an open source site similar to and affiliated with istock.com.
You will need at least a basic idea of what you want your cover to look like. A huge folder full of the most awesome and expensive source images money could buy won’t a cover make.
It’ll take time. More of it than you want to imagine. If you’re like me and prone to always shooting just outside of your actual ability to pull off something easily than it’ll probably cost you a few days and a couple headaches (probably one major urge to throw your pc through a window) before you come up with a product you’re satisfied with.