Your Book Cover: Part 4

Google book covers and unbelievably, this is one topic on which almost EVERYONE agrees: book covers are important. They catch the eye of a potential reader. Unless you are famous already and people are buying your book because of your name and not because the cover caught their eye, people will want to see a pleasing cover that depicts what genre your book is and what it is about. Not only that, but it has to look good small. Thumbnails are what people see online, and if you make your print too small, readers could pass you by.

I think people can get caught up in designing the cover, and that necessarily isn’t a good thing. Some books are long and have many parts. Can you allude to every single scene in your book with the cover picture? No. But that doesn’t mean some haven’t tried. Unfortunately, a lot of readers will equate a bad cover with bad writing. It’s not fair, but I’ve been turned off by covers, and you probably have too. There’s a website dedicated to lousy book covers and you can find it here.

You don’t have to design the cover yourself. If you’re on Twitter all you need to do is tweet, “I need a cover,” and within half an hour I bet you would have a dozen choices in designers you could hire. You can go on Fiverr and find a graphic artist. You can look there for editing, formatting, marketing, or whatever else you think you need help with. (I’ve never used products or services on that site, so this is not a recommendation, only an option.) You could trade services with someone: they design your cover, you edit, or beta read their next novel. Maybe you have a technical school near you that offers a graphic design program. You could reach out to the instructors there and ask if a student would like to earn a little cash on the side. Maybe your neighbor has a high-schooler who knows a little something about Photoshop.

Whatever the case, you might have spent money on your ISBN numbers and maybe paid an editor, so you’re already in the hole with this novel and don’t want to pay out any more. I get that, and that was pretty much my situation by this point too. But I won’t lie, I was pretty proud I did my cover myself and while I could have benefited from being more patient, a mistake I won’t make again, it turned out okay. Granted, I wrote 1700 SPECIFICALLY to get my feet wet in the indie-publishing pool (thanks, Jewel!). It was not a project near and dear to my heart (sorry Ben and Lila), it was not a labor of love. I didn’t spend five years writing it. So if you handle your manuscript like it’s gold,  you plan to market and advertise the hell out of it, and you want a fantastic cover, I would encourage you to get help, at least a little guidance, because I can only tell you what I can tell you, and it isn’t too much.

Anyway, I knew this blog post was coming, so I have been saving simple covers I like, but again, this is not an endorsement. I like the simplicity of them, and I looked for covers I knew I (and you) could replicate in Word.

This one pops up in my Twitter feed a lot and I love the simplicity of it. It’s a Romance, just looking at the cover tells you that. There aren’t a million things going on. The author made the back cover color match the front font. I think the whole thing works well, and it consists of only one picture, some text, and the author name. The COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL, Amazon added, as I took a screen shot of the book on Amazon’s site.

This one doesn’t give you any clue to what it’s about, only probably (hopefully) it takes place in the winter. But I do like how simple it is, and it’s an example that even if you’re working with just one picture, you can break it up with text boxes to make it look different. The back is the same picture, only faded, with the blurb typed over it.

She did it again here, which is a great idea if you are writing a series.

Sherry Lewis is a bigger name, but she still takes advantage of a single photo with some pretty font. I love the cover for A Thirty-Something Girl. I love the title, I love her name at the bottom, not centered. It’s elegant, simple, pretty. I didn’t snag the backs for these, but I hope you’re getting an idea of what you can do by yourself. You ARE NOT limited if you don’t have help. You can make a decent cover. You have options.

Take your time looking for a photo you want to use. Look through lots of sites (though please make sure the pic is available for commercial use, or pay the fee to buy it), or take your own photo. (I would recommend using a camera, not the one on your phone because you want a very clear picture, and CreateSpace will not print something pixilated, and you won’t want to either.)

I think that is is for now. I’ll make a fake cover for Running to Love in the next blog post.

Until next time!

Your Book Cover: Part 3 (Template)

This blog post is only going to consist of the directions on how to make your cover template using Word. I know many of you will drop off after you get it, and that’s cool. You just want the formula for those sweet text boxes, and I understand that completely. So without further ado . . .

Before we go into creating a new Word file, you need to have some numbers handy:

First, your spine width. We already have that figured out, right? (Running to Love’s was .64″.)

Second,  what is the trim size of your book? Did you decide 5×8, 6×9?  We need it to calculate the size for the Page Layout:

(Width of trim size x 2) + spine width = Width of cover trim size
I would choose 5×8, so Running to Love’s Width would be 5×2+.64, so 10+.64= 10.64
(What you are doing is adding the width of the back cover, the width of the spine, the width of the front cover.)

Height of your trim size = Height of cover
Running to Love’s would be 8.

Add .25 to both: (These are the measurements you’ll need for Step One, below.)
Width ( 10.64 + .25 =  10.89 )
and Height ( 8 + .25 = 8.25 )
This is for bleed so that your images are going all the way to the edge of the cover. Make sure your text is not near the edge of the text boxes or it will be in the bleed area and may get cut off during printing.

cover template with bleed

Keep your text out of the red areas. The template you’re making won’t have the red areas, so you’ll have to guess.

Now that you have the dimensions you’ll need I’ll type out the instructions.

Open a new Word Document. (I’m using Office 365.)

Please remember to save often.

1. Set the paper size in the Page Setup Menu in Layout. In Page Setup, choose more Page Sizes at the bottom of the list, and enter the width and height for your cover file. Ignore the error message if you get one.

page set up

error message

2. In the Layout Menu under the Page Setup tab, set Margins (choose custom margins at the bottom of the menu) to 0. I didn’t get an error message, but I’m using Office 365. Just ignore it if you get one.

3. Under the Insert Tab, choose Text Box, and make one text box. Change the dimensions to the cover of your book: 5×8, 6×9, etc. This will be your front cover.


4. Insert another text box that will be the spine. Use the width you calculated, and the height is the same.

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5. Insert another text box that will be the back cover:

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If they don’t fit, move them around. The lines of the right side of the back cover and the left side of the spine will overlap to look like one line. The same with the right side of the spine and the left side of the front cover. If your mouse isn’t accurate, or your hand is shaky, use the arrow keys on your keyboard.

2017-04-06 (3)

It’s very important that you move these boxes, not stretch them so they touch–that changes their size and will distort your cover.

6. Add a barcode box. A quick search says they are: width 2″ and height 1.2″ The template above also has the dimensions in the yellow barcode box. Use a small .25″ x .25″ to place the barcode box, then delete it. Zoom in so you are accurate. You don’t want to have CreateSpace move it because that might mess up what you’ve got going on back there. They may not even move it, they may just tell you to redo it. Let’s not find out.

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2017-04-06 (5)

So this is the finished product. Keep copies of it everywhere because you’ll be able to use it for other books. You’ll need to change the Page Layout dimensions to change the spine because your books won’t all the be the same length, and the front and back text box dimensions, if you change your trim size. There is a bit of math involved, but please remember to have a finished and formatted manuscript before you do any of that.

I think that’s it.

The next blog post will be about inserting a picture on the front cover. I’ve been on the lookout for a while for covers that simply use a picture with text on top of it for title and Author’s name. Surprisingly, you can make some very pretty covers. 🙂