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) : https://wp.me/p7OGru-29t
Part 2 (General Formatting Necessities) : https://wp.me/p7OGru-29J
Part 3 (Ebook Conversion) : https://wp.me/p7OGru-2ah
Part 4 (Paperback Formatting) : https://wp.me/p7OGru-2eS
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.
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 …
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.
- 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.)
- Affinity Photo @ £48.99 one-off fee for computer.
- Canva @ $12.95 per month on a monthly plan, or $9.95 per month on a yearly plan.
- Adobe Spark @ £10.10 per month (but limited to eBook only).
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: https://wp.me/p7OGru-2gQ. Please note, the link won't work until March 2nd, 2020.)