Saturday, September 1, 2012

How to Create Your own Book Cover

So You Wanna Do Your Own Cover Art?

        I had finished writing my novel, ‘Forever Young The Beginning’and I learned that the publishers of eBooks all wanted cover art for a digital book. Being a newbie this was news to me, but I pondered it because two sites I visited both said that it was better for sales. Really, they discouraged any submissions without cover art, so I grudgingly set about doing a cover for my book, even though I never had intended to do a paperback version.

        I soon learned that I would need to buy Adobe Photoshop for a really professional look, and I learned that there was a terrific learning curve associated with that program. I tried to download Wimp, a freebie for photo-managing that was recommended to me by a friend. My computer’s security system did not like it and quarantined it, so I dropped that idea.

        Not wanting to get bogged down learning all of the many things in the Adobe program (it IS gigantic); I opted to do my own cover art. I was starting at the bottom of the learning curve about self-publishing then so I did not want to get bogged down learning all about Adobe at the same time. I figured that doing my own art work would not take as long and would surely not cost as much. It turned out that I was correct.

        Armed with some black construction paper, the title page text in Vivaldi font, and a tiny jar of el-cheapo nail polish bought at Big Lots, I bravely made my way to Fedex/Kinko’s.

        Using scissors, a glue stick, and my bottle of Big Lots’ finest nail polish, I put together a cover for my new book. I let the nail polish dry for ½ hour and then gave it to the clerk at the counter. In minutes, I had my first proof and a jpeg saved to my flash drive for a few dollars. I can tell you, I was disappointed, yet encouraged. It was a sad moment for the guy behind the counter because the nail polish had gotten warmed up by the copying machine and he was trying to get it off of the glass with windex!

        I went home and sat pondering my first attempt, but I gamely sent it out to a few unlucky friends for an evaluation, and I was pleasantly surprised that they liked it. Let me say here that black construction paper is not black, but it is a nice shade of dark gray, so my cover background was dark gray as well.

        I was doing some other work and noticed that I had an app on my computer (Microsoft Windows 7 system) that was called ‘Paint’. Duuhhh!! I soon had my jpeg in there and it was easy to get the gray background to become jet black. I retouched the blood and resent it to those unlucky ones who had seen it the first time, including an author friend in N Carolina.

        He sent me the exact same layout in a font that he had in his Mac computer, and I sent it around for an evaluation. It was 50-50, with my wife and kids liking the Mac fonts better. So I ran them through Paint and produced a new image to take to Fedex/Kinko’s for another proof.

        If you are going to use Paint, the first thing you need to do is to slow down your cursor speed to nearly as slow a setting as you can find if you want sharp straight lines and details.This is even truer if you have recently drunk coffee and have caffeine jitters!Magnify it 4 or 5 times to work, and then take it back to the original size. You will never see all of your little squiggles, jitters and such.

        Long story short, I had finally gotten a decent looking cover art jpeg for around $12 or so.

        For those of you who are not doing a paperback, this is as far as you will have to read.

        After getting my book live on Amazon Kindle, I turned my attention to a proper cover for a paperback book. I uploaded my file to Createspace POD and they sent me a template for creating a complete book cover for a paperback book, 6X9 size. They had given me a formula for calculating the thickness of the book so that I could design the spine artwork to fit in the allotted space for that book. The blurb on the obverse side had to be sized to leave room for a bar code and ISBN.

        After prepping, I again set off to Fedex/Kinko’s for another session. There were three more trips there to get it exactly right. This is an important thing to remember if you are going to do this yourself: Be certain to save all of your work on a flash drive and back that up at home in ‘My Docs’ and on another flash drive as well. You never know….

        BE SURE TO HAVE THE CLERK AT YOUR COPY SHOP COPY AND SAVE THE SOURCE FILE. That way when you return for this or that (and you will) there is no additional setup charge. My total cost on it was $44, tax included. Save it as a PDF as well as a jpeg. Paperback producers want a PDF for book covers.

        After you successfully get an interior file and a book cover file both uploaded to your POD paperback company, and they tell you it was a successful upload, you will be offered a download of what they are going to print. Get it and go over it page by page.You will get a picture of the entire book cover opened up and laid flat, showing all 3 surfaces. It will look like your proof from the copy service you used.

        Strange things can happen to nice looking docs after conversion processes. Anyway, even though your interior file now looks good, and you got a good report on your cover PDF, do order a proof copy. DO NOT OMIT THIS STEP. My proof cost me around $9.50 being it is a 719 page book. There was about $3.50 in shipping too for a total of $13. It was money well spent., because there were issues that did not show up until I had the book in hand.

        There was then some back and forth with Createspace. They were terrific to work with and stayed on it. They sent me proofs to inspect each time and they were at no additional cost to me. And they sent them express UPS, not the normal basic ground rate service.

        The 3rd time was the charm it turned out. Having a copy of the source file made it so easy and kept my cost down each time I took it to Fedex. I never had a problem with Fedex/Kinko at all. All of the problems in my paperback were in the process at Createspace. Regardless of that, they were a great team to work with and you can reach them by telephone very quickly and easily, 24-7. I am very happy with their product and their efforts on my behalf.

        I ended up having around $12 or so in my jpeg cover for Amazon Kindle for my eBook. Adding that to my complete cover image for the paperback book, my total expenditure ran somewhere from $55-$60 all told, plus some 7 trips to Fedex/Kinko.

For all of you indy authors and self-publishers out there, that is my ‘cover story’, and I am sticking to it!

Gerald Simpkins



wish i had talent any talent.
john w.

Nic Bast

Thanks John,

But like Gerald said. It doesn't require much talent just soeme work with the write tools :)


That really looks good...I especially like the 3-D font and the way the 'blood' drips off the Y like a fang into a pool of 'blood.' It must have taken awhile to get just the right shade, but worth the wait!


Nic Bast

Hey Krissie!

I totally agree with you. The font and the blood are the best aspects! I also liked the black/red contrast. I'm glad you liked it as much as I!


The cover and the first sentence should draw you in. The title and the blood-dripping knife image are contradictory and draw a reader in to see what the story is.

Nic Bast

Indeed I totally agree. What draws me in is the cover first and foremost. Then it's the Synopsis at the back then the first few chapters.

Muhammad Amir

I visited both said that it was better for sales. Really, they discouraged any submissions without cover art, bookmark manager so I grudgingly set about doing a cover for my book, even though I never had intended to do a paperback version.


For those who might be interested the font is called 'Moonshine'. It was part of a large package of fonts that a good friend of mine bought and installed on his Mac computer.

For a larger close up of it here is the link:


Hmmm…nice cover!

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