Creating your own Book Cover Art

If you’re the kind of person who likes doing everything yourself, then you’ve probably already turned down all of the art concepts that your publisher has sent you. They more than likely just weren’t quite what you’ve envisioned gracing the cover of your novel. Lucky for you, there are free programs and software tools at your disposal to help you create the perfect cover, and you don’t have to take a single computer course to learn how to use them.

The program I use is a free design software called G.I.M.P(www.gimp.org). This is basically free Photoshop, with a similar interface, usability, tools, brushes, etc. It’s easy to pick up, and there are many tutorials available to help you learn the basics to get started. My favorite instructionals came from Youtube, and a quick Google search will bring up hundreds of others. There are guides on how to make planets, houses, people, animals, etc. Nearly every sort of artistic scenario you can think of has a tutorial associated with it.

The learning curve for using G.I.M.P is relatively small, and within a week, if you keep a steady schedule of practicing and watching tutorials, you’ll be able to start working on your first cover. If you have an artistic background, you can shorten this time nearly in half. My suggestion, for beginners, is to start small. Create something similar to a tutorial you’ve watched, but not so similar that people liken your image to the original. Embellish it, and let that be your first picture. Then, using your new found knowledge of how to create a picture with G.I.M.P, work on your first original design.

Make sure you use a template that’s big enough to shrink if needed, but not so small that it shows up pixelated when you turn it into a cover. 1600 x 1200, and 1024 x 768 are great templates for a cover image. You can turn it into a poster to sell at Book Signings, use it on your website, create a desktop background, and more.

Sometimes a simple picture tells more about your story than a complex design ever could. Think about starting with a basic one-color background, and then use the text tool to make an extravagant book title. If the font you’re looking for didn’t come installed with the program, you can always Google search free font downloads, and find the one you want.

Be careful not to make a cover with too much going on. It will distract from your title, and sometimes turn people off from your book. Try and get as much feedback on your picture as you can before sending it to the publisher for review. Post it on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc. A great website for showing your art and receiving feedback is Deviant Art (www.deviantart.com). You can create a profile and upload your photo’s instantly, and by commenting on other pictures on the site you can draw attention to your own.

Before I made my own cover, I contacted various artists and companies to see about having them create a cover for me. But what I found was that most will charge in between $200-$500 just for one picture. It was then that I realized I could make my own cover for FREE, I just needed a little patience. So I did my research, and the advice I’ve provided above is everything I followed while saving money and creating a photo that I felt was perfect for my book.

If you have the money, but don’t have the time to make your own photo, then check out 99 Designs (www.99designs.com). You can set the amount of money you’re willing to pay for a picture, and then designers will bid on your project and upload pictures for you to choose from. Whichever picture you like the best “wins” the contract, and just like that you’ve got a picture you enjoy, for the price you’ve set.

Editing your Book like a Professional

Book editing is not free, unless you do it yourself, or find someone in the higher education field willing to assist. But chances are they will take longer than you would like to complete your manuscript, as they have other duties that take priority over your project. Luckily, there are many tools available to make sure your book receives as much editing as it can before sending it to a publishing company or literary agency. In this post, I’ve highlighted my two favorite editing programs. Having a properly edited book is absolutely key to your success as an author. You might have a great story, but if it looks like a middle school child wrote it, you will be turned down at every stop. Don’t worry, there is hope for even the most grammatically challenged among us.

The first on the list of tools is a Thesaurus. Before I wrote my first book, I don’t know if I’d ever opened a Thesaurus, much less even seen one. The schools I attended growing up never required us to learn how to use one. Even now, I don’t own a Thesaurus, but I use an online program (www.thesaurus.com). It has everything you need to transform your book from a chaotic mess into a literary masterpiece. It’s also attached to (www.dictionary.com), for those moments when you really want to use a big word, but don’t quite know if you’re using it correctly.

The second online program is EditMinion (www.editminion.com). I’ve only used it a few times, but it’s been great as a writing assistant. The website is still in Beta mode, which means it might not catch everything, but if you feel that your book reads more like a scrambled word puzzle than a novel, then this website will work wonders for you.

If these tools aren’t working out for your book, then do a quick Google search, and I’m sure you’ll find plenty of alternatives that will suit your needs. Don’t forget to utilize the tools provided by Microsoft Word, or whatever document creating software you use. Technology has made it nearly impossible to not have a cleanly edited manuscript, so be sure that you aren’t missing a valuable asset by trying to rush through your writing.