We’ve all heard how important it is to have a really great book cover. Despite the old adage, “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” we know we all do — right? Right. And you’ve probably all read how damn hard it is to create really great covers. True?
Okay, now here’s where the contrarian in me comes out. I say hogwash to that. Here, let me
explain. I see many really good authors who end up getting stopped, sometimes for weeks, months or longer, in getting their book published because they don’t know how to create a really great cover, and they don’t have the funds to hire a professional.
So I say, don’t sweat it. Lower your standards just a bit. Go for creating a good cover — the best cover you’re capable of. And that my friends, is not nearly as hard as you may think, especially with the resources that are now available.
Now, this is where I have to differ a bit with one of my ‘indie publishing idols’ and mentors – Dean Wesley Smith. Dean advocates to invest the time, energy and money to learn how to use InDesign — a professional piece of software that the experts use for cover design. It’s an Adobe product that sells for about $500. I’m sure it’s very good, and probably worth the time and money…but if you’re just started out, I’m guessing many of you just choked when you saw that you’d have to lay out 500 smackers just to produce your covers. This is especially hard to swallow if you only have a book or two you want to publish at this point.
Sure, down the line, such an investment could be the way to go…but I’d like to offer a few other choices that will get you moving forward with much less effort — ie, a much shorter learning curve, and far less money to invest.
(Just to clarify, Dean recommends InDesign for covers to be used for your Print-On-Demand books. For electronic editions, he recommends using Power Point.)
Book Cover Option #1 – iWorks Pages
My good friend and fellow writing colleague, Joe D’Agnese turned me on to Pages (and in the process became that much better a friend.) If you work on a Mac it’s a very simple, intuitive program with which you can create quite nice covers. And at less than $20 it won’t break the bank. Apple even has a 30 day trial so you can test it out before you buy. To shorten the learning curve even further they have a set of short tutorials on how to use Pages. (Some of the covers in my book cover collage above were designed using Pages. Read below for a little contest I’m having.)
The downsize of covers created with Pages is that they’re really only good for your e-book editions. But there is a way around this with Option #2.
Book Cover Option #2 – Createspace Book Cover Creator
Createspace has, what I consider to be, a very credible Book Cover Creator. With it and a little imagination and creativity, you can create countless different book covers. There are approximately 40 different book designs, but each one can be widely changed with different themes, different background colors, back cover content, and front cover images. In fact, by using something like TechSmith’s Jing, you can capture the front cover image and make it into a perfectly usable cover for your e-book edition as well.
Sure, there’s a bit of a learning curve to deal with, but here comes Shelley Heitz to the rescue with her video tutorial on how to create a cover with the Createspace Cover Creator.
Guess the Book Cover Context
Okay, here’s a chance to have some fun and to win a prize for just playing along with me. The image above is of seven of my book covers. One was created professionally, the other six either Ann or I created using either Createspace or Pages. I’ll go ahead and let you know that Life On Purpose: Six Passages to an Inspired Life was the one done by a professional book cover designer.
You mission, if you choose to accept it, is to figure out which of the other six books were designed using Createspace and which were designed using Pages.
The first person who guesses it 100% correctly will win a copy of whichever of the seven books they would like. I’ll run the contest until March 16, and announce the winner the following week. Please, one entry/guess only. Enter your guess by clipping and pasting the names of the book that are below into the comment box (even farther below). Then, if you think the book was designed using Createspace, type next to the title a CS. If you think it was created using Pages, type in a P next to it. Simple, right? Fun too.
Spiral of Fulfillment
Dominion Over All
Seeds of a New Birth
Clarion Call 1
From Spark to Flame
One Last Tip for Now – Where to Get Images for the Covers
I’m sure there are a ton of options here. I’ll give you the four that I use most regularly:
From my own photo album – This is great because if you took the picture yourself, you know you own the rights to use it (at least in most cases).
Dreamtime.com : This is a great resource for royalty free images that are very reasonably priced.
MorgueFile.com: Free and royalty free.
Find and Seek Permission: Three of my favorite images that I’ve used on covers came from my searching the internet for them, then tracking down the artist and negotiating to use the image. I’d never use an image without the artist’s permission – that’s bad karma not to mention illegal in most cases. But I have found artists to be quite understanding, generous, and willing to collaborate in this way.
In fact, three of the covers above have such images. Care to guess which three? <Grin>