You can judge a book by its cover. If you intend to tackle the subject yourself, and don’t know where to start, read on. This walk through is for the background picture in my book cover only. I will do a typography tutorial later. In this part 1, we are going to talk about the planning and prep to get you to the designing stage. I’m sorry I simply don’t have the room to do a word for word tutorial. That’s why this is just a walk through and it will even be spread across a few parts. Here’s a tip if you feel overwhelmed by jargon – When I was learning, I googled everything I didn’t know with the word ‘tutorial’ after it. I always found something to explain how to do it.
Tools used to create this cover:
- Adobe Photoshop (software) you can get a cloud membership at a decent monthly price, and of course if it’s used for your business, you can tax deduct this membership cost.
- Wacom Tablet. Mine is a 13 inch Intuos version, pretty old-school, about 5 years old. You can get decent ones (Manga version) at the local computer shop for around $150. You only need one of these if you are planning on doing fine and tedious digital sketching/touching up. Otherwise you can use a mouse.
- Computer and access to Internet
- Stock photo website – I used Shutterstock, I find it’s the cheapest. You can also use iStockphoto or search the creative commons license on Flickr.
- Patience – okay, the biggest rule to learning how to use these fancy graphic programs and creating a one of a kind image is patience. For the best results you need to zoom in to the pixel and make your changes there. You can’t learn the craft overnight, but if you have the passion, the desire and the will – you can do it. And let me just say – most of my knowledge has come from the desire to learn, trial and error, a million YouTube tutorials and a few short courses. The first step is deciding you want to do it, the next step is patience.
Before you start
- Book cover research: Do your research. Know your genre. I’ve created a worksheet in my Novel Marketing Printable Kit to help you gather your research. I’m offering the sheet free here. Basically there are a few points of interest. Most genres have a cliché. If you don’t know what you are doing, use this cliché as a guideline. It helps your reader associate your book with others in the series and is about the only place in the world that a cliché is okay. Check out this post about Coverology at Debbie Taylors Blog.
- Then I want you to sketch out your ideal book cover on a separate sheet – I also have printables available in my kit if you are interested, otherwise use a plain piece of paper. Think about how all the other best sellers are doing it in your genre, and how your story goes. Any elements or reoccurring symbols you want to use? Keep in mind that you will need space for the Title, your name and if you are lucky – a referral from a reputable source. If you are doing a flow through version to include the back cover, then keep that in mind too. One or two elements are okay on the back, but mostly – keep it simple. Go to the library and check out back covers if you need help.
- Find out your specifications for you final printed book – look at companies like Lightning Source or Lulu. They often have templates you can use as a guideline. Then set up your Photoshop file to these specifications. Always set as 300 dpi. In the one spread, you want to see your front cover, your spine and your back. Use rulers in Photoshop to keep you designing within the margins. Go to YouTube or the Adobe site if you need further instructions on how to set up a Photoshop file.
Sourcing images for your background image
So by now, you should have an idea of what type of image you want – not including typography. I find that you should worry about typography in another sitting. As long as you’ve made an allowance for where the type will go in regards to your image, its best to tackle this on another day.
Using your sketch, scour the interwebs for stock photos to relate. Look for each item separately. You don’t actually want an image that’s got the whole shebang. You won’t be original then would you? Remember – patience. I’ve chosen an image for the water, each girl, the blood (an ink splot in water from Deviant Art), and the feathers. Try to get each separate image against a white backdrop. Unless it’s the actual background. My background was the ocean. See the image slideshow for an idea of the original image’s I’ve chosen. Once you have your images, save them to your desktop and in the next part, we will talk about how to place everything, and what techniques to use to get the full effect of what I’ve done.