When it comes to making a cover, you want to search your book’s genre for the top sellers to get ideas of what readers expect. The cover is your most important bit of advertising. If the cover doesn’t convey genre or otherwise catch the reader’s eye, you’ve lost the sale.
The easiest way to make a cover is to hire a cover designer to make one for you. Here is a list of designers from kboards. But that costs money which you might not have at first.
If you are going the traditional publishing route, you likely won’t have any say in your cover, nor any worries about it. Most new indie authors try out KDP’s Cover Creator. The problem with that is they have very few templates and most look better suited for foldout pamphlets than actual books. They have very poor design and look DIY.
You should study these three web articles to learn at least the basics of what makes a good cover:
You can use the Cover Creator to add text to your own cover background, but that runs into the problem of having poor font choices. Here is a website that has 300 fonts broken down into genre. If you study book covers, you’ll notice that the font (typeface) changes depending on genre and is just as important as the background image to get the sale.
FontSquirrel has many free fonts you can download. Just make sure they have the right license that lets you use them for commercial use on images you can display or print. Most fonts won’t let you embed them in an ebook without paying a lot more for a different license that allows embedding since that’s basically wrapping up the ‘how to make the font’ into the ebook.
If you use a program like Word, you can use the built in fonts as part of Word’s license unless the version is specifically home (not Home & Business), student, or non-commercial.
There are numerous free images out there, but you need to check their licensing to make sure they are appropriate for commercial use.
Types of Image Licenses:
- Royalty Free License – Lets you use the image up to 500,000 times. This is what you normally want.
- Royalty Free Extended License – Lets you use the image on derivative products like t-shirts, mugs, or posters. There’s usually no quantity limitation on this one but it’s more expensive.
- Editorial Use License – Anything with this license cannot be used for commercial use, only for newsworthy articles.
- Creative Commons License – Photographers require attribution but aren’t usually available for commercial applications.
- Public Domain – Images from government agencies like NASA are free to use however you like. They cannot copyright their images which go into PD automatically.
Instead of using KDP’s Cover Creator, you can make the cover yourself with any graphics software that allows layers. You want layers so you can put the text on top of the background image and edit it later.
Once you’ve finished the cover, make sure it looks good at thumbnail size since that’s what readers will see initially when searching for new books to read. You want the image to clearly convey genre and the title to be readable at that size. once you get famous, you’ll want your author name to be legible too. 🙂
In order to create a paperback, you have two options: make a full wraparound PDF or use KDP Cover Creator to generate the spine and back for you. The advantage of the latter method is it saves time and is super easy. The downside is you don’t get much customization.
If you make a wraparound PDF, you’ll have to make it exactly fit your book’s chosen trim size. You can download KDP templates to make life a bit easier.