Monday, March 19, 2012

Creating Your Own Cover

The first thing you need to decide when making your own book cover is the size. The average size for a digital novel is 6 x 9 (inches). The pixel count is 1800 x 2700 at 300dpi. Be sure you get the highest quality photos available. You'll want your cover to ROCK! It's the first thing potential readers will see and it could mean the difference between a sell, or them moving on to the millions of other e-books available to them.

I had an idea of what I wanted my cover to look like. That's good in some ways, bad in others. Because I had the picture in my head, it made it very difficult to find the right photo. I scanned hundreds of stock photos on three different sites before finding it. And it's PERFECT.

This is Kira, the main character in my YA Paranormal Romance, BOUND. Don't you just love her eyes?  Okay, so I love the photo, but right away I see problems. For one, it has an ugly blue background and it's taken in landscape, not portrait, which will limit how much of the photo I can actually use. But I still love it, so I played with the "watermarked" version until I knew it would work, then ordered the high quality version from DREAMSTIME. Here it is:

As you can see, I flipped it horizontally. I didn't want her nose on the spine of the book. Something you need to consider when making your own. Think of the placement. Now I needed to crop it and get rid of that background. I use Photoshop CS3 to edit photos, but there are a ton of free programs out there.
This was the most time consuming and tedious step. I didn't want to lose the integrity of the photo or all her whispy hairs, so I blew it up and literally erased one pixel at a time along her hair line.

Now for the back ground. I spent several more hours (yes hours) searching for the right background, but didn't find it. Then I remembered a few photos I took when camping a few years ago. Here's the one I used.

I cropped the section I wanted and placed it behind the portrait of Kira. When I was finished, I realized I had yet another problem. UGH! The portrait didn't fill the 6 x 9 inch cover, at least not at the size I wanted. You can't see it very well above, but there is blank space at the top and bottom. I didn't want her face any larger and I didn't want to distort it by stretching it.  What I decided to do was fill the space with black and then texture it a little.

Here it is!


Here are some tips to keep in mind while in the creating process:

1) THINK AHEAD!  Thank goodness for my friend Ali Cross who asked a very important question. What about the other covers? Will you use the same model?  *panic* I hadn't thought of that. Frantic, I searched the stock photos and luckily found a whole slew of pictures taken of this same model. Whew!  I've since purchased two for the same price as this one. Now I'm set for the entire series. I've also saved all three photos in several different places in case my computer crashes.

If your book is the first in a series, make sure you like the style of the first cover because the rest of the books in the series should match. I'll use the same font and place the title and my name in the same positions. The only real difference will be the photo used, and even that will be similar. The photos I purchased for the other covers are all head shots of this same model. Uniformity is key here. You want your "fans" to recognize your work. (Yes, you're going to have fans.) SQUEEEEE!

2) THINK SMALL!  Remember that this cover will be a little tiny thumbnail on or wherever you choose to sell your book online. Make sure it rocks TEENY. Is the title visible? How about the author's name?

3) THINK POD!  Are you doing a printed version (print on demand)? If so, you'll have to create a back cover as well. For mine I used the same background photo of the forest. I darkened it a little so my cover copy would show up and then added a fun element. The story has a white tiger in it, so I cropped one from a free stock site and placed it in the forest. I still might darken it a little more, but you can at least get the idea here. What do you think?

You'll also need to create the book spine detail, but that should be easy enough. Be sure to leave room at the bottom right for your BAR CODE and ISBN number. And you'll want to leave plenty of room for those endorsement quotes from Stephanie Meyer and J.K. Rowling, right?  RIGHT?

If you'd like to know more about creating book covers, join the INDELIBLES on Tuesday, March 27 on Twitter for #IndieChat. Heather McCorkle will join me and a few of the other Indelible authors to answer any questions you may have about covers. It starts at 9:00pm EST.  


The cover for Christine's second novel, BROKEN, will be revealed on April 1st, 2012. Watch for it!!


  1. I couldn't even tell your cover was homemade! I think it's awesome and thanks for sharing the process!

  2. This is a great post! So informative. Thank you!

  3. Awesome post! I didn't realize it was homemade either. Great job! It was perfect.

  4. Wow, what a wonderful post and killer cover! Thanks for sharing all of this info--so helpful to newbs like me.


  5. Replies
    1. What a great project and the outcome was super. Thanks so much for the walk through on your cover.

  6. This is great! I'm sad I'm missing the chat though-it's on my birthday! :) Thanks for sharing all of this-how cool to know it doesn't take big bucks or the fanciest photoshoppers to make an awesome book cover!

  7. Great tips. Cutting out backgrounds in Photoshop can be a pain for sure. But it definitely looks better because of your extra effort.

  8. This is a great post. Great info.

  9. Oh man, I wish I could do this! I just don't have the 'eye' for it. But yours looks amazing, and your instructions make it look so easy! Thanks for this!

  10. Creating covers has become one of my greatest passions, which is why I now do it as a side business. It's so much fun and it's amazing what we can create now days with the programs that are out there.

  11. Oh man I may have to save this for myself.

  12. I know how it is, scanning those stock photos! You wouldn't believe the amount of time I invested. Oh wait, yes you would. Now I try to shoot my own.

  13. thanks for sharing the process -- I'm sorry I missed the chat last night, but dang, you've got some cover talent going on!

  14. Just now getting around to reading this - so informative and it made me feel like even I could possibly create my own cover. This is the last aspect of being an indie author that I haven't tried. Thanks so much for the step by step and for telling us all the things you considered!

  15. Great post. Thanks! I'm going through cover design right now. Just can't get it right yet. This was helpful.

  16. Wow! I'm humbled by all the responses to my post. You guys are awesome!