How to Publish with KDP: Part Five

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Hello SErs. Harmony here. As promised earlier, here is the fifth installment in the post series dedicated to taking a step-by-step look at how to get your finished manuscript from your computer and on sale on Amazon in both ebook and paperback.

If you’d like to take a look back at the previous posts in this series, please click on the links below:



Part 1 (Software for Writing) :

Part 2 (General Formatting Necessities) :

Part 3 (Ebook Conversion) :

Part 4 (Paperback Formatting) :

To make it easy to browse back and forth, I’ve set all links to open in new tabs. As this series progresses, I will update the links for you so that each post includes links to all past posts in the series.

So, here’s Part Five: Software for Making Book Covers, and Image Resources

One of the great surprises of my writing career was discovering that I had an artistic side for images as well as for making things up. I’ve found that I love making book covers and ‘playing’ with digital images. It took a while to get it right, though, and I had a steep learning curve ahead of me about what the best book covers require.

See some old posts of mine HERE on the rule of thirds and book cover layouts, and also HERE on keeping things legal.

My favourite piece of software for editing images and making book covers for both paperbacks and eBooks is Photoshop by Adobe. It is such a versatile program and allows you to work in layers. It saves to many formats including jpeg and PDF, which you will need for uploading to KDP.

The downside is that it takes a lot of learning and is expensive. Still, I’ve used it for years and I love it. And the world-wide-web has plenty of free tutorials available to help you out whenever you get stuck. I bought mine when it was still a one-off fee for lifetime access, but as with a lot of software these days, it has now gone to a subscritption model, which adds up over time.

If Photoshop is outside your budget and/or ability, below I list some other programs for you to try out …

The next best, it seems to me, is Gimp. And it is the only decent FREE software I have come accross. A lot of fellow authors swear by this program. The developers have a website dedicated to the program, which includes lots of tutorials. Gimp has features similar to Adobe Photoshop, such as clone stamping, custom brushes, and layering. Some authors have found that it can have issues with colours, and they end up using Affinity (more on that below) to fix the issue and then migrating the image back into Gimp for finishing off.

Both Adobe Photoshop and Gimp are cross-platform; however, Gimp also works on Linux and other non-windows, non-Osx systems.

Adobe also offers a low-priced eBook cover creator called Spark, which you access online. However, it is limited to eBook cover creation and doesn’t currently offer paperback options. So, to my mind, your fee would be better spent elsewhere.

Canva is another paid online resource, which offers a wide variety of cover template options and stock photos—all of which can be used with a single click of a button. You can then customize each book-cover template with your own pictures, fonts, and other items. While it is a paid option, it is a about half the monthly subscription of Photoshop.

Affinity Photo also uses layers and is quite versatile. This is a paid program but is cheaper than Photoshop and is a one-off fee. Like Photoshop, Affinity has the magnetic lasso, which is so useful in so many ways.

Both Gimp and Affinity open files from Photoshop, but Affinity is better at preserving the colour from those files than is Gimp.

As well as image manipulation software, you will need a go-to digital image library that you can trust as far as copyright and commercial useage goes. Below, I show both free and paid options for you.

On the free side, Pixabay is way up there on my love-it scale, and it has a vast collection of license free and Public Domain (copyright released) images.

Wiki Commons is another useful image resource for Public Domain images.

Also, Deviantart is a great community of artists who showcase their work. Some make their images freely available, but for others you will have to contact the artist directly and ask for their permission.

On the paid side, Shutterstock is way up there on my love-it scale.

Then there is Bigstock.

Also, Deposit Photos offer both free and paid images, but I have found their range more limited than Shutterstock and Bigstock.

As well as images, you will need to look at fonts for your book cover. Whichever font you choose, you want to make sure that the title is readable at thumbnail size. This is because retailers like Amazon will list books on their site at thumbnail size until you click on a particular book’s sales link and go to the sales page. So, you want your cover to look appealing at such a small size, as well as at a larger resolution.

Not all fonts are licensed for commercial use. So do check before you use a font on your book cover, or within your book, for that matter.

Here is a list of the top Free Commercial Use Font suppliers on the web …

  1. 1001 fonts
  2. Font Squirrel
  3. Canva (50 free commerical fonts)

Below I list and link to all the software we’ve covered today, as well as legal image sources. Please note, none of these links are affiliate, and I get no benefit whatsoever from sharing them.


  1. Adobe Photoshop @ £19.97 per month. (Because Adobe is too clever, they will only show me the UK site. If you Google it, they should show you the relevant site for your country.)
  2. Affinity Photo @ £48.99 one-off fee for computer.
  3. Canva @ $12.95 per month on a monthly plan, or $9.95 per month on a yearly plan.
  4. Adobe Spark @ £10.10 per month (but limited to eBook only).


  1. Gimp




  1. Pixabay
  2. Deviantart


  1. Smithsonian Institution Public Domain Images
  2. New York Times Public Domain Archives
  3. Wiki Commons


  1. Shutterstock
  2. BigStock
  3. Deposit Photos

Whichever image resource you use, you must check the licence terms for each and every image you choose. Some are for online or personal use only, others will allow for limited commercial use, and yet others will allow you to purchase an extended license for unlimited commercial use if you feel that is what you need.

As well as the useage license, you will need to make sure that alteration or editing of each image is allowed, and also check to see if the copyright holder has put on any restrictions (such as no pornography or erotica useage, or violence-related, etc.).

That’s it from me for today. I hope you’ve found this post useful. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, and I’ll see you all again on Monday, March 2nd, where we’ll be taking a look at making your book cover for your eBook, part A–using Amazon’s create tool.

©Harmony Kent 2020

(If you're reading this post on or after March 2nd, 2020, then here's the link for Part 6 A in the How to Publish with KDP series: Please note, the link won't work until March 2nd, 2020.)

22 thoughts on “How to Publish with KDP: Part Five

  1. Very interesting post, Harmony! Thanks for all the links, too. I generally use PaintShopPro, which I began using many years ago when I did digital painting with an electronic pen and Wacom tablet for a living. It was considered “the poor man’s PhotoShop” at that time. I still use it because I’m used to it, and can work in layers, and do many of the other things PhotoShop does. Professional graphic designers, though, definitely go for PhotoShop, and I’m sure it’s even more versatile. Meanwhile, over the years, PaintShop has become pricier, anyway, so that makes Photoshop even more appealing if you need a “serious” program.

    While I still do some playing around with images and photos, I don’t do my own covers. Fingers crossed that remains the case. I’m very lucky to have a wonderful graphic designer as a very good friend, and I hope she never gets tired of working with me. But I am very happy for all the links to legal images and other programs for manipulating them. It’s always good to learn how to use new ones (against the day when your favorite one will suddenly cease to work, and you can’t get it any more.) Plus, some of the smaller programs are faster for many jobs. I’m keeping all of these for reference. Thanks for another great post. Sharing!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I also had the one time fee paid Adobe Photoshop. However, when I got my new computer, the download no longer worked. I switched to Gimp, and have also purchased Affinity Photo. I must say, I hate to pay monthly subscriptions for software, but I realize that is the way the software industry is moving.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very informative post, Harmony. I’ve used Photoshop for making book covers, and I also love BigStock for images. I like the fact that even their “small” size is very large and their credit packs are affordable. I’ll have to check Shutterstock and see how they compare.

    I did download GIMP and have played around with it a bit. It definitely seems to be an excellent free resource. A few of the tools feel cumbersome to me, but I think that’s because I’m not well versed in it yet. Thanks for the information!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ll have to surf back through later. I can always use another source for free use images. I have an app called ProCreate that is very powerful. It’s Apple only and works with Apple Pencil. Sadly my skills are limited to stick people, but I can still outline what I want from my artist.

    Liked by 1 person

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