So you’ve decided you want to make your first, second, or hundredth ebook cover without paying someone else or spending a dime out of pocket? Great! There are plenty of ways to do this by yourself.
In fact, I’ve made 41 covers for my ebooks without spending any money (though I hear there are some good resources online that can do so for very cheap). Take a look at this cover I made:
Or this one:
Or this one:
Each one looks professional, or at least like it wasn’t made by an amateur in their spare time in an attempt to save money but still appear professional.
So What’s My Secret?
Simple. I played to my strengths. I knew what I wanted my covers to look like and how I wanted them set up. No one knows better than the author how an ebook cover should look, right?
One HUGE disclaimer I’d like to add here: my technique uses stock photos, or high quality photographs you can take yourself. If you’d like a custom made, story-specific title, such as aliens fighting each other in space, then this approach might not be right for you. As it turns out, I used this method primarily for the sake of cost. Being a self-published author can be expensive, and nothing is worse than producing shoddy-looking works. So if you think this method might be right for you, read on, my friends!
Step 1: Find your photos
There’s a plethora of free stock photo websites. Some of them are limited in how many you can download, whereas others will allow you to download as many as you’d like. The only drawback is that these photos can be used by anyone, and may or may not have been used by other writers, companies, or social media sites. Be mindful of this, but don’t let it deter you. There are countless free photos on the web; chances are that unless you’re picking one that’s well known, you might be the only one using it. It’s the sad truth, but much like many ebooks, people who release free stock photos might never have their work seen by the public.
Also be sure to check that the photo you use does not have any copyrights on it and that you are able to modify it for you own use. This will become important down the line whether your book is successful or not.
For the sake of showing the process by using an example, I’ll pull a random photo off the web for an imaginary novel, “Writing Technology” by me, Wisteria D. Jones. This is just an imaginary title, and will not be available… unless I think it’s got potential and write a story for it of course!
Here’s the picture I found that looks like it’ll do the trick:
With that step completed, on to the next one!
Step 2: Use Canva to create your properly sized book cover
My go-to site for creating ebook covers is Canva. I found them quite by accident last November and have been in love with them ever since. The only drawback I’ve found is that their app, while handy for formatting on the go or while I’m at work on my phone, is buggy and crashes quite often. I haven’t encountered any problems with the website while using my laptop, and rather enjoy the ease of which they allow you to format many different designs. You can do CD covers, twitter feed photos, FaceBook headers, and more! It’s amazing what they offer.
This is what the site looks like when you choose to edit an ebook cover. They have A TON of free cover formats. Just pick one you like, put your own photo into it, and get to editing!
Step 3: Format
Here’s where the fun starts. Your first step is to pick a book layout that you like the best. There are tons of free ones, as well as some that you can pay a small amount for. Choose whatever feels best to you, but know that you can edit the text, design, and overall layout to fit whatever vision you have for your ebook. For this demonstration I’ll use one of the first ones on the list and just work with it.
This layout is simple, easy to use, and looks nice. Our first step it to put our own photo into the cover and adjust it how we’d like. Obviously the photo I chose was too big to fit onto a cover, so I had to crop it a bit.
Nice. We have our photo in place, and it’s already starting to look pretty good. Now we can edit the text to say our title, author name, and other details such as the name of the series or one liners.
Hmm. Not quite what I wanted. The great thing about this site is that you can change the font, size, and position of any text you add to the cover. in this case, I want font a different style and size of font.
Hmm, still not quite right. I think I’ll change the text font one more time. In addition, I feel like the font is sitting inside the picture and not popping out of it. A good trick here it to duplicate the text, change the color, and put it behind your original text. This gives it that ‘pop’ that makes it look like it’s coming out of the cover.
Oh, yeah! That’s perfectly fine for our needs. I could easily spend hours trying to find the perfect font, sizing, and space for the words, but for demonstration purposes this is fine. The best part about creating your own cover is that you’re only limited by your imagination! Have fun with the process. For my first dozen or so covers I had a friend close by who was willing to give me a subjective opinion on it. My main questions were usually: What do you think this book is about? Do you think the cover is eye-catching, or off-putting? Would you read this book?
Based on their answers I’d adjust accordingly, but I never let my original idea die. If someone didn’t like my cover, but I myself really loved it, I would keep it as is. I would, of course, try my best to make small adjustments towards what they said would be better. In the end, I didn’t try to please just one person, but instead tried to put out something that I would be proud to have made.
Step 4: Download as JPG
You’ll see three options in the top right corner of your screen. Share, download, and make public. Choose the download option.
A menu will drop down and ask you what type of file you’d like. Most self-publishing websites will only take JPG files, so it’s important to download the file as such. Push the download button and your cover is ready to go!
Step 5: Upload to your online publishing site
The final step is to simply uoload your file to the site you’re using to publish your work! All sites are slightly different, and some might want you to download different file types, so be sure to check the website you’re using for specifications.
And you’re done! That’s it!
That’s all she (or he) wrote! You now have a cost-free, professional cover for your ebook that you can be proud to say was edited by the author! Or, if you’re a nice friend, you can do this for someone you know, a client, or anyone who needs a fast, cheap book cover that doesn’t require it to be hand-drawn, editing, photoshopped, etc..
I hope this short tutorial helps all those writers out there like me who are writing on a budget, and that it can be a great starting point for those trying to save money before they’re able to hire a personal team to oversee these kinds of details. Good luck on everyone’s future endeavors, and hopefully we can all grow and learn together!