How to Self-Publish Your Novel Professionally – Step Two: The Cover

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Alright, so you need to find a cover for your novel. It’s all edited, but it needs an image. A strong image. A distinct image.

What you need is a book cover, and there are three ways to get one. First, let’s go the easy route. Let’s assume you have money.

Honestly, buying a cover is the easiest route. Here is where I would suggest to go for a reasonable price. (I don’t know how much covers can cost, but I know that that site makes pretty covers for a price I can almost afford.) You just need to talk to a professional and they’ll make something you love. If you don’t love it, don’t pay them for it. Just make sure that everything is reputable and don’t assume that because you’re paying for it means it’s going to be a great cover. Hey, if you give me $50 I’ll make you a cover. Does that mean you’ll want the cover I make? No.

The next one is also easier, but a lot less solid. This route is going to people and begging for a free cover. I’ve gotten a few decent covers from people at the NaNoWriMo forums who just wanted to design things for fun, but you have to make sure that everything checks out on those.

Finally, and what the biggest trouble is, we have making your own cover. Let me say right now that no matter what you do the cover-maker that CreateSpace uses is crap. Seriously. Do not use one of those covers. It screams “SELF-PUBLISHED”, and that’s not what you want people to think when they see your novel.

Here are the biggest tips I have for making your own cover:

  • Don’t just use an image off of Google. You need to know that you have the right to use that picture. You can either buy a stock image to use or find a free stock image. Obviously, the free one is free, but the ones you pay for will usually be better quality and have a bigger selection. It’s up to you which one you use. Remember, if you need more than one image, buying them can get expensive, and it’ll be worthless if you have no photo editing skills.
  • Use a LARGE image to start with. The bigger it is, the better it will look when compressed down for print. I used an image that appeared alright on screen, even though I knew the resolution wasn’t that high. When printed, the image itself looked alright, but the text looked a little blurry. I couldn’t fix the text because I couldn’t make the image bigger to increase the text resolution. I ended up needing to find a different image and redoing my cover completely.
  • Go simple. Unless you’re a graphic designer, simplicity is key. Seriously. Don’t overdo yourself. It will look terrible.
  • Get opinions on your cover. If most people like it, that’s good. If one person says “Oh, it’s obviously not done by a professional” because they already know that you made it yourself, ignore them. People always assume that self-published works are bad. Take a book and slap “Penguin” on the side and you’ve got yourself a book twice as good as the exact same thing with “CreateSpace” listed as the publisher.
  • Practice makes perfect. If your editing skills aren’t that great, remake book covers for books you already know. Try to recreate them with your own skills and free images. Once you learn the techniques that get the image you like, you’ll be ready to work on your own cover.

I was going to outline step-by-step how I made my own cover, but I figured that I would make a YouTube video instead. At least one of you better find it useful, because I may have downloaded a Trojan trying to get a program to capture my screen.

The quality is shit, but it gets the basics across. It’s 14 minutes long though. So there’s that. (There is a reason I picked blogging over vlogging.) If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I used the photo-editing program GIMP because that’s what someone recommended and it’s free. Photoshop would be unquestionably better, but I’m being as cheap as possible. I basically just made my cover with the steps in the video. Here is what my book cover looks like:

legitcover

If you missed it, part one is here. Part three will be interior formatting.

 

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