So dear readers, as promised I’m going to talk to you about the dreaded book cover!
I know that most of my followers are writers, and often self-published as well, or considering that route. When you’re in that situation, the more information you can find, the better. So to that aim, here’s a short tutorial, chalk full of links and helpful hints. I’ll keep this short (it’s around 1200 words) because I know how little you want to wade through a word heavy slog of a tutorial : D
We can start with the question: Pay for it, or make it? There’s nothing wrong with paying someone else to make your book cover, if you can afford it. There’s also nothing wrong with accruing a hardcore useful-as-all-fuck skill. Pre-made book covers are expensive (if you don’t have extra money). Unless you’re some triple-bestseller writer, you don’t have money coming out of your ears. Your expenses will quickly overtake your income.
Alright, let’s begin. ❤
1. What program do I use?: I used Microsoft Word, something that most writers have on their computer. I will have to experiment with open office sometime, just to see. Don’t feel like you have to stick to one program either, do what works. Aside from MW the one program I see most recommended by self-published writers is GIMP https://www.gimp.org/ It’s useful, but also very, very complex. As a free download though, I highly suggest getting it and playing around.
2: So how do I start?: Let’s get the size right first! I’ve used a width of 11″ and a height of 16″, and that’s worked very well for me. Need to change this is Microsoft word? Go to ‘layout’, then ‘page setup’, then ‘paper’ (may vary in different versions). Alright, pretty blank little canvas, let’s tear it up.
3. Where do I get pictures?: Every book cover has a picture, and believe it or not, you have tons of resources when it comes to pictures. Let’s list the top options.
- My camera. Don’t be afraid to try to produce your own photos. Of course most people want models, so this option is not for most. However, if you have an idea in mind, pursue it, see if it works.
- Create your own artwork. I did this with my first book of poetry and don’t regret it. This requires art skills of course.
- Stock photos. These are free to use, sometimes with caveats, so read all documentation carefully. I’m only going to list the sites I’ve used personally, but there are a ton out there.
pexels is great, no attribution required. The downside is the spare selection, and most likely over-used photos. Just remember you can crop photos, or otherwise alter them to make them look new.
morguefile has a huge selection! All photos must be altered if used though (no sweat, that’s easy to do).
deviantart has a lot of user generated stock photos. Always, always check the posters rules though, since they vary widely. Most of these have a caveat about use in pornographic material or such (I’m not sure if this extends to erotica, which is of course not porn, but people get touchy).
scarlettcox.com has this awesome little blog post just for erotica writers (but also has a lot of other stock photo links). It goes into detail about things you need to be careful about as an erotica writer.
4. How do I make my font look all cool?: So the oft given advice is to not use Microsoft word fonts for your cover. What’s a writer to do? Here’s the site I used https://www.dafont.com/, which is user-generated. PRO-TIP: on the very right of the font it will say things like ‘free for personal use’, ‘donationware’, ‘demo’, or ‘100% free’. You want a font that’s marked 100% free. Unless you find something you like and want to support the maker (kudos to you). Free for personal use means you can’t use it on things like book covers (or you may have to contact the maker of the font for permission) FYI.
5. How will I know what a successful layout looks like?: Hit the bestseller list frequently, take notes. Ask yourself what appeals to you, what makes you want to hit that link like it’s hot. PRO-TIP: Borders are out. They look tacky (unless done well). Most smooth looking book covers have a background picture that seems to expand past the frame and out of sight, and if it merges with blocks of color it merges softly and unobtrusively.
6. Ok. I have all the parts, now how do I put them together?: Since this is a basic tutorial, I’m not going to go into lush detail (but this super useful blog does https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2013/10/20/book-cover-design-ms-word/). Instead I’ll list the top tools in Microsoft word.
1. Insert. VERY important. Try it first. Insert a picture, then make sure to go to ‘format picture’ and find the ‘wrap text’ button. Choose ‘behind text’. Other wise you won’t be able to move the picture around the way you want. The other type of insert you’ll be doing frequently is ‘insert shape’. This is awesome for placing text on the page. Go ahead and insert a rectangle, right click and add text. Once you’ve done that, just go to ‘format’ and find your ‘shape fill’ and ‘shape outline’, and select ‘no fill’ and ‘no outline’. That way it will just be text in front of your photo, or other colored blocks. PRO-TIP: If you want to tweak the opacity (how see through the photo is) you simply insert a shape, then go to ‘shape fill’ and select ‘picture’. In my version of word you have to open ‘more options’ so you get a side bar, go to the fill section (under the little paint bucket) and you should find the ‘transparency’ bar there.
2:Remove background. If you want to get all fancy and ‘photo shop’ go to the ‘format’ section of your picture and look for ‘remove background’. Once you click that it will show you the picture with a bunch of blocks of pink color (that’s what will be removed), with a little tweaking you may be able to pare the picture down to what you like.
3.Send backward and bring forward. This is handy if you put a picture in on top of an existing design. You can also find this in ‘format’
4. selection pane. This will save you a shitload of time. Go to ‘home’ and then ‘select’ (just like when you plan on copying all the text) ‘selection pane’ should be there. Once it pops up as a side board it will show you all the different objects on your page, which allows you to easily select the one you want to work on even if you can no longer see it.
7.How do I turn this damn thing into a JPG?: Go to ‘save as’ save the file as a PDF. Then go to https://pdf2jpg.net/ or a similar site.
8. Anything else?: Take your time and play around, get comfortable. Once you’ve got something you like, find a critique group, or get feedback from a reliable (and honest) friend. Whatever you do, make sure you start making your book cover long before you plan on publishing.
A few other useful links:
http://www.creativindie.com/resources/ (tons of useful stuff here)
https://blog.snappa.com/free-stock-photos/ (a huge list of stock photo sites to check out)
Have questions, comments? Other useful advice? Did I screw something up? Tell me below! : D