Monday, March 12, 2012

RACHEL MORGAN, AUTHOR of GUARDIAN and her EASY STEPS TO CREATING AN EBOOK COVER ...

Happy Monday everyone...

I hope you all had an awesome weekend. Well, as promised today is my interview with author Rachel Morgan. Her incredible new book, Guardian, launched last week to stellar reviews! Check out mine here.

Today, Rachel is going to tell us all how to create a ebook cover....

Take it away Rachel ...



Easy Steps To Creating An eBook Cover



When you’re a self-published author, cover design is something you have complete control over. Scary, but also fun! You can hire a professional designer to do it for you or, depending on what you want, it’s possible that YOU (the writer with minimal design skills) can do it yourself!



Here’s what I did:



Step 1: Purchase a royalty-free image 

You may think this is the easy part, but I spent literally HOURS searching through images to find the perfect one. And the perfect image for your book won’t always be perfect exactly the way you buy it. Perhaps you’ll zoom in and only use the bottom right corner. Or just cut out something on one side. So remember when you’re searching that it may not be for a specific image, but for a specific element that you can cut out of whatever image it happens to be in.

(Some royalty-free image websites: Fotolia, Shutterstock, Dreamstime, iStock)



Step 2: Make relevant adjustments to the image (if needed)

In my case, I needed Vi’s eyes and some of her hair to be purple.

Adobe Photoshop is complicated! It’s also super darn expensive. I downloaded a free trial version of Photoshop (which only lasts 30 days—and no, you can’t reinstall it after that—so the pressure was ON for me to make as many of my covers as possible before those 30 days were up!) and then I Googled things like “How to change hair color in Photoshop CS 5”. I never would have figured it out on my own!

There are also free programs (with fewer features) that you can download, like Paint.net and Gimp.




Step 3: Create a new PowerPoint document

Now this may seem weird to you, but PowerPoint is the program I do all the rest of the work in. You may be thinking, “But that’s a program for making slideshows for presentations.” And yes, you’re correct, but you can also save the individual slides as images.

To get the slide to be the right size for a book cover, you can change it under “Page Setup” on the “Design” tab (in Office 2007). I decided I wanted my covers to be 1080 x 1600 pixels (Why? I can't remember!). So… I went to Google once more and searched for “convert pixels to cm” and got the numbers I should insert into the “Page Setup” section of PowerPoint. Width: 25.58 cm, and height: 42.33 cm (you would search inches if your program is in inches).

(Hint: if you’re uploading to Amazon for Kindle and you want the image to fit the Kindle screen exactly, your cover image must be exactly 600 x 800 pixels)




Step 4: Find a font that is free for commercial use

Yes, you should read the license stuff, or next thing you’ll find out that the awesome “free” font you found is actually only free for personal use, and now you’ve plastered it all over the internet with your name attached to it! I like the website Font Squirrel because you can search for fonts by style and read the license for each one. If in doubt, there’s usually an email address you can send an enquiry to just to make sure you’re allowed to use the font. Also, some fonts are not good quality when the size is increased (like they would need to be for a book title), so check that out.




Step 5: Put all the elements together 

Insert your cover image into PowerPoint. You can use the crop tool to cut it to the right size, or cut out the part that you want. Insert textboxes for your title, series names, sub-title, author name, whatever. Move everything around until you're happy. 



Step 6: Save the slide as a .jpg

Click “Save As”. Next to “Save as type”, click the dropdown menu and select JPEG (*.jpg). Give your file a name, click “Save”, and when the little window pops up, click “Current slide only.




IMPORTANT POINTS TO REMEMBER:
  • Simple is usually better for an ebook. Too many elements could be too distracting, and appear too small on a computer screen.
  • Large, clear image. You need to be able to tell what the image is when it's shrunk down to the size it will be on an Amazon search page.
  • Large text. If the title is too small to be read when the book cover is shrunk, make it bigger.
  • Non-embellished text. The text may be large enough, but if it's so embellished that readers can't figure out what it says, that's no good.


The Evolution of a Cover



Cover reject 1: Way too many elements. Font for Creepy Hollow too embellished. Main image too small. Can you even see that that's a 1 in the top left corner? (The title was going to be in the blank, black space)

Cover reject 2: I now had a much larger, clearer image (yay!) but the curly bits at the top next to Creepy Hollow were a bit skinny, and the title font, while I absolutely loved it, just wasn't legible enough when the cover was shrunk.

Cover reject 3: Okay, fixed up the title font. Then I wanted something “magical” in the black part at the top. Those are meant to be stars or sparkles, but they just ended up looking like littel white spots.

Cover reject 4: This was actually my “final” cover that I revealed to the world, but after it'd been out there for a little while, I decided I didn't like the sparkles hanging around the right side of the word Guardian (I called them fruit flies; my boyfriend called them dandruff. Either way, they had to go!)





So here's what ended up being the final final cover:




I hope you like it as much as I do!


And wait! Before you go . . . There's a giveaway!




a Rafflecopter giveaway



~  ~  ~




Rachel Morgan is the author of Guardian, the first novelette in the Creepy Hollow series. She was born in South Africa and spent a large portion of her childhood living in
a fantasy land of her own making. These days, in between teaching mathematics to high school children, she writes fiction for young adults.




Buy Guardian from


The Creepy Hollow Series


Author Info



Thanks so much Rachel for show us just how easy it is to create an ebook cover.... I am sure many bloggers will find this quite helpful when they are ready to publish their new works.

Everyone don't forget to enter Rachel's giveaway AND have an amazing day!
--

41 comments:

  1. I'm working on a short story collection right now, and this is EXACTLY what I needed. Thanks for this!

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

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  2. Johanna - Thanks :)

    Alex - Once again you are one of the first people to visit a blog post! It is amazing how you keep up with everyone! And thank you :-)

    Sarah - Glad I could help out!

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  3. Wow. I'm now feeling a little overwhelmed. Think I will definitely need to do this in stages!

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  4. Sorry, Ellie! It really isn't that tough when you actually get down to doing it!

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  5. Laying out the work for all of us to look at. Nice one, you guys! I loved your tips and seeing how this cover came into being. :)

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  6. What a great post--and I agree that the cover is one of the most important parts of the book. It's like your #1 marketing tool! I love this one, and I've got Rachel's book on my Kindle just waiting for me to read it. Best to you guys!

    Hope you're well, BB! :o) <3

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  7. Great advice, Rachel! I love having an excuse to play around in Photoshop. Thankfully, I bought it back in college (when I was still eligible for the educational discount). It's outdated now, but I love it. :)

    P.S. Michael, I gave you the Awesome Blog Content award today. :)

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  8. Thanks, David and LTM. The cover really is #1. In most cases you see a cover before you even read what a story is about.

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  9. Wonderful tips! And I love the cover art for GUARDIAN.

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  10. Awesome cover. Still not sure if I could figure it out. But I love yours.

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  11. Hi Michael. Hi Rachel. Awesome cover. Thanks for your step by step guide. You've done well!

    Denise

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  12. Wow! I had no idea how much went into making a cover. No wonder yours is gorgeous, Rachel.

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  13. Great post!

    I didn't know you do that much with images in PowerPoint; must keep that in mind.

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  14. Rachel you did an awesome job. CS5 is SO complicated. I'd love to take a class to become more proficiency with it.

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  15. Thanks for sharing this great information with us!
    Your cover is fantastic:)

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  16. This is a fantastic, clear, and concise guide. You should put out an entire eBook on how to publish an eBook! Roland

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  17. She definitely makes it sound so easy! And that cover is gorgeous. :)

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  18. Wow, you put a lot of time and effort into this cover and it shows. I wouldn't even know the first thing about getting a non royalty image or permission to use fonts! This is great info! Thanks for sharing, Rachel!

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  19. Wow! I didn't know you made your own cover. Now I'm REALLY impressed. = )

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  20. Carrie - I think only people in the US are eligible for the educational discount, which really sucks...

    Cherie, Natalie, Denise and Theresa - Thank you!

    Eagle - I've found PowerPoint to be really useful for creating images. Weird, perhaps, but true!

    Ciara - I would SO love to take a class to learn how to use PhotoShop properly!

    Roland - Thanks for the idea, though I don't think I'm expert enough for that yet ;-)

    Alleged Author - It IS easy! Lol :)

    Abby - I didn't know anything about royalty free images or font licences in the beginning either. It's all just stuff I picked up along the way...

    Melissa - You don't need to be TOO impressed ;-) Lol.

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  21. You did a great job on the cover, very eye-catching, and that's coming from a cover designer. ;) Nicely done!

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  22. Great info Rachel. I have Gimp to help me with my other self published ebooks.

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  23. This was a very informative post Rachel, thanks for sharing. And yes, your last cover is just perfect. It's clear and concise. We also have to take in the fact that Kindle shows black and white cover pictures.

    Thank you Michael.

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  24. Heather - Thanks, that means a lot coming from a cover designer :-)

    QueendSheen - I could be wrong, but Paint.net looked easier to me than Gimp so I tried that instead (I know, I know, they're probably BOTH really easy after the complicated-ness that is PhotoShop!)

    Nas - Thanks for the reminder about the fact that Kindle doesn't show color. That is also something to consider...

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  25. Thank you so much for sharing! The cover is stunning!!!

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  26. Waving at Michael.

    I'm working on a new cover now. I find them fun. So far I'm kind of hating it, but that'll change...eventually.

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  27. Cool! I really enjoyed going through that process w/ Rachel. I've been shoulder-deep in publishing/photo editing software for work and seeing it all broken down into a neat process like this was somewhat cathartic for me. But I'm SO not ready to take on Photo Shop yet. Baby steps. ;)

    Thanks, Rachel & Michael!

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  28. Candy - Thanks for liking the cover :-)

    M Pax - I hope your "kind of hating it" changes soon!

    Nicki - You can definitely take on PhotoShop in baby steps. I certainly didn't do complicated stuff!

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  29. Thanks for the great post, Rachel! I wondered how you created such a great cover. I have Photoshop Elements and wanted to get CS5 until I saw the price tag. Ouch! A friend of mine told me you can "rent" it by the month.

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  30. Stina - You're welcome :) Hmm... I didn't know you could rent CS5. Interesting. That's something to remember.

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  31. Great post and tips... sure is a lot of work, but totally worth it... Rachel's cover is awesome... Thanks for sharing

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  32. I came over from E. Arroyo's blog. I'm impressed with the cover. Good information in the article on creating a cover.

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  33. I loved her post. She's so right about the steps and time and rewards.

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  34. Thanks Michael and Rachel. Great post. And I love the cover!

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  35. Hello lovely Rachel, hello Michael! Wow - what a great tutorial on how to create a most stunning cover and The Guardian is gorgeous - especially the shades of purple!! Yay!! Take care
    x

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  36. Wow!

    Thanks Rachel for such a great article/post.

    I've already bookmarked it :)

    Thanks also to Michael for having Rachel over... smart man :)

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  37. This was extremely helpful. I've bookmarked this page so I can return to it. Thank you so much for sharing this info.

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  38. This was really great! Thank you Rachel and Michael for sharing your time, space and insight! :D

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  39. Wow! That was great. Thank you, Rachel! Your cover is beautiful!

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