Tips for DIY cover design.
For the true DIY self-publisher, doing your own book cover can be another way to maintain 100% control over the product.
For that, you will have to have the software capable of manipulating photographs, and the knowledge on how to do it.
If you’re just starting out and want to create ebook only files you can download a free program called GIMP ( http://www.gimp.org/ ) This image manipulation program will help you do the basic things you need to make a cover that can be used for ebooks. It works in RGB (Red Green Blue) only so it will not be able to create your print book files which require CMKY (Cyan, Magenta, Key (black), and Yellow). For print-ready files you will need something a little more powerful. The most popular would be PhotoShop.
Now, I won’t be going into detail there (if you want a Photoshop manual, I’d suggest hopping down to your local bookstore.) What I will do though, is give you some guidelines on the basic elements of a good book cover.
A book cover contain three basic elements: striking artwork, a bold book title, and a legible author's name.
Let’s start with art. The first thing you should ask yourself is. what’s my genre?
When picking cover art, you need to use something that fits within the “norm” for your genre. Look at other books and see what overall theme or style they use. For example: Urban fantasy. Lately, the trend for urban fantasy is a kick ass female on the cover. She’s generally in front of or apart of some city view. How about Romance? Generally romance covers have a man and woman in an intimate setting. Simple enough, right?
These are the norms and what you want to use as your jumping off point for searching out your artwork. You want to make sure your readers, who expect a certain “look or feel” to know that your book fits with their standards. That does not mean copy someone else’s cover, it means use it as a springboard.
Once you have an idea of what you want, you’ll need to locate the artwork. There are many places online to find and purchase royalty-free images. Here are a few listings to get you started.
As you can see, there is a wide variety of photo’s out there for you to purchase. Prices and quality span the ranges through the sites but if you’re willing to spend the time looking, you can come up with some beautiful art.
Something to consider when choosing your art.
Because book covers are not just for hardbound and softcover anymore, you’ll need to make sure your artwork translates to the ereader screen as well.
Ebooks are all the rage and that means your cover has to work with ereaders which primarily have a gray scale screen. Certain colors (red for example) will not show up well on a gray scale screen. The same applies to many pastels. You’ll need to check out your artwork in a black and white or gray scale form before finalizing it. Don’t risk alienating readers because you didn’t ensure the artwork was compatible.
Along with that, please keep it simple. Many new self-publishers feel the need to make their cover stand out by encompassing every single element possible from the story. Less is more! Some of the best covers out there are ones with simple yet bold statements.
Beyond beautiful artwork, there is also the typography to consider too. Your title and author name needs to be clearly visible to readers. Remember your cover is the first thing they see. You want to make sure they can clearly distinguish you and your book on first sight.
Things to consider with font.
1. Organize size of fonts in order of importance. Title of the book should be the largest font on the cover. Author name should smaller. Any subsequent text or quotes you wish to add should continue to be smaller in size.
2. Select color of fonts to stand out, yet still feel like it belongs.
3. Organize placement of fonts to work with the artwork, not against it. Don't cover up beautiful artwork with your words. Yes, some things will get covered, but you do not have to plaster a title across the best part of the picture.
4. Don't clutter the cover with text. Only text that is absolutely necessary should be there. Quotes are nice, but limit it to one on the cover. Use your interior pages for continued praise of the book.
Pick fonts that are striking and bold enough to be seen in both large and small sizes. You have to account for the people who might pick you up on a store shelf as well as those browsing the virtual racks.
Amazon is one of the biggest ebook retailers and when browsing through their store book covers are shrunk to about 105x135 pixels. If your book cover doesn’t look good that small, it will turn readers away. Picking fonts that are strong enough and clear enough to be read at this small of a size is a must!
Do not pick more than 2 fonts to use on your front cover. You might think it’s cute to have different fonts for the title, author name, and various quotes, but trust me, it only makes your cover look amateurish. Stick with one, or two fonts for the cover. That includes front, back, & spine.
Once you’ve got your font picked out, placing it on the cover art can be tricky. You want it to fit nicely within the art or around the art without detracting from it.
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to type placement on book covers. No matter where you decide to place the text, try to avoid running your text all the way to the end of the image. In print, you’ll end up cutting off part of the title in the bleed area. In ebooks, your title will just look crowded.
Read more tips and tricks in my handy dandy little guide.
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