Your Book Cover: Part 1 of Who Knows?

Book covers are the hardest part of the publishing process if you don’t have software experience, like me. I know nothing of Gimp, Photoshop, or InDesign, some of the top software programs used to make covers. I don’t know a Photoshop layer from a cake layer. Did someone say layer cake?  Sorry. Distracted.

layer cake

I depended on Word to do my cover. With the exception of a little mistake on my spine and my lack of patience with playing around with how I wanted my cover to look, I don’t think it turned out too terrible. The cover is simple, which is what I needed due to lack of experience, and wanted since I have seen some covers where they look like Photoshop decided to spew all over them. Here it is:

cover example for blog

I will end up fixing my name (I want it bigger), and I don’t like the picture orientation (I’m going to crop the couples and have them off to the side). I think the back could be spiced up a bit. There are a lot of books out there about creating a pleasing-looking cover. I read this book by Rayne Hall. She touches on creating a cover that will catch a reader’s eye. I also read this book by Annie Acorn. There are also many blogs about it, and articles, so I encourage you to take time and Google, find out what you like and don’t like. What it comes down to is you have to make sure the picture you want to use is available for commercial use. I used a photo from Pixabay. I like the site because it clearly tells you that certain photos are free for commercial use. Seeing this makes me feel better:

commrerical use

Of course, if you are hooked on a picture you want to use and you have to pay, that is your own personal choice. I just don’t want you getting sued down the road because you used a photo that wasn’t available. Maybe you have other options: you’re a painter and can paint your own cover, or you know someone who will for you. Maybe you are a photographer and want to take your own picture. (Look up copyright laws when it comes to businesses or public/private areas in your photo. You may need permission to use them.)

With that being said, I was talking with Jewel (you’ll see her name come up a lot because we talk a lot) and I asked her if you didn’t have any experience with Photoshop if your husband wasn’t around to help you, where would you go? What would you do? And she said, I would use the CreateSpace Cover Creator.

We will start there.

The Cover Creator is the next step after you have downloaded your formatted manuscript into the CreateSpace website. Just for the sake of the blog, I uploaded an incomplete manuscript of Running to Love, my NaNo project from last year. I’m editing it now. When you download your manuscript it goes through a kind of a mini-review and you can look at it through their online viewer. CreateSpace freaked out at me because Running isn’t formatted yet. FYI, even if you try to push your manuscript through and the mini-review says there’s something wrong with it, a real person at some point will catch your errors and make you do it over. I just did it so I could get to the Cover Creator. When you get there, this what you’ll see first:

cover

Choose matte or glossy and then click on Build Your Cover Online. This launches the Cover Creator. The Cover Creator gives you five pages of cover choices. This is what the first page of choices looks like:

cover choices

I won’t go through all five pages. Even without loading a book, you can see the choices, but it will say spineless in the 6×9 description under each choice because you don’t have a valid manuscript uploaded to the site. Anyway, so you can see there are some choices and you need to match as closely as you can the cover to your genre. Running to Love is a Romance, so I need something kind of romantic. With the Cover Creator, you can upload your own photos (up to a point, depending on the template you use) and change the fonts too. Let me choose one:

cover choices 2

Notice they put almost everything in it for you. There is space for your blurb, your author pic, your imprint and barcode (again, don’t buy one from Bowker, CreateSpace will give you one for free). They designed the cover for you and you don’t have to worry about the spine text.  Let’s say I don’t like the picture, color, or font. You can go in and change it:

cover choice 3

Not bad, though the cover does not depict what my book is about: two people whose hobby is running, and they fall in love. I couldn’t find a picture on Pixabay of two people running, but there is more than just that one site that offers free pictures for commercial use. You get the idea though. Using the Cover Creator is limiting, but not as limiting as you might think. Also, if you are worried many people are using it and you will end up with the same cover as someone else, with the changes you can make to the templates, I don’t think it’s anything you need to worry about. Here’s another stab at it. I couldn’t change the font and changing the back cover color changed the font color too:

cover choices 4

I would need to make my author picture smaller so it would fit, but otherwise, it doesn’t look bad. Again, I don’t think it depicts what my book is about, but at least you know how easy it is to make your own cover. Later, I will show you how to make your own (VERY SIMPLE) cover, but it’s nice to know that if all else fails, you can make a nice one using the Cover Creator. I encourage you to play around; maybe you’ll like what you come up with.

Good luck!

3 thoughts on “Your Book Cover: Part 1 of Who Knows?

  1. I had cover art professionally done, and tried to use it for my CreateSpace edition, but it refused to center the artwork, the title kept falling off the page. I finally gave up and had my cover artist do it for me! Bless him, he didn’t even charge me extra. Good for you for doing it yourself, it looks great!

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    1. awww. I’m sorry you had trouble. I remember what you said about CS darkening the covers, so I lightened my up a smidge. I didn’t notice any difference from screen to print, so that was nice.

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