Shiny new idea

Every once in a while I get an email about this one book cover designer creating new designs. So of course, I rush over and check it all out. There was this one image that captured me, but I didn’t buy it in time so it got snapped up by another. It was just a picture of blood dripping down a woman’s face. I loved the image so much I had to think of a story to go with it. And I did. I’ve got a nugget of an idea and slowly expanding it.

Anyhow I still wanted to use the image and found it on iStock. I downloaded the watermarked image and experimented with some minor effects on Pixlr.com and I think I got it just right. Does that mean I’m copying the designer? Anyway, the story is only one chapter complete so it’ll be awhile before you see it.

Feet or Fins cover re-done again.

For those who’ve been following Feet or Fins from the beginning, you know that I barely have any graphic design knowledge but at the same time, I was too broke to afford to hire someone. I pretty much went and did the most I could do with what I had. I picked an image that I thought represented the story and only fiddled with a few things while adding text.

For the longest time it was good enough for me and then I changed my mind. I created a second book cover and then, later on, reverted back to the old one. But I still knew that it wasn’t the best I could do, but I moved on to other things.

Today as I was looking through a few websites that featured pre-made book covers I began to wonder again if I could do better. I spent a few more hours looking on iStock to see what I could find. And voila! I found something interesting. So I fiddled around a bit and created this 🙂

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Cover Image for Beyond Calico 85

The image I found for this novella was already sitting in one of my many iStock photo boards 🙂 I like the simplicity a lot (you know because I not much of a photo editor). But I think this book might be near completion by the end of this year or early next year 🙂

The cover was also easy to make. I just bought the image for a credit on iStock.com and using Pixlr.com put the text over it and made it the same yellow in the image. I then went into layer styles and picked outer glow. I made it black, chose a size that was like the other black lines and then merged all the layers down to one image. I then sized it to Smashwords book cover dimensions and voila!

 

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How I make my DIY book covers

As a character trait, I’m more than frugal, I’m a bit cheap. This bleeds over into my writing. I try to do as much as possible myself. Writing, editing, book covers.

So I’m going to write about my techniques for creating my book covers. While I have a creative flair for storytelling, it doesn’t necessarily cross over to design. I have practically zero graphic design training. Red flags when creating my own book cover right? Well, I employ the KISS method.

Keep It Simple, Stupid. 

Image:

Most times, before I even finish the first draft of my story, I’m on iStock looking at potential images to use. Things that I look for is that it is a representation of a theme or idea. This means I am not limiting the interpretation of my book. I can have anywhere from 20 images to over 200. The more I have in a folder, the more likely I haven’t found something I like yet.

Text:

I keep things simple because like I said before I don’t have much experience in graphic design. The program I’ve always used has been Pixlr.com. It’s a simple photoshop website. I’m sure there are more advanced features of the site, but I only how to use the simple things. I think eventually I might have to employ someone, but not until it is absolutely necessary.

Here are the book covers I have created myself in Pixlr.com.

 

Feet or Fins cover image

I’ve found my book cover image AND I’ve turned it into a book cover 🙂

And it has taken me long enough to do so. For at least 18 months I have been looking around for the perfect picture.Something that I thought represented my story the best. I wasn’t keen on getting a designer to make one because I figured ‘why pay for something I can try myself?’ and when it comes down to it a cover image is just a picture and text. And if that didn’t work out then I’d go to someone. It hadn’t even been until recently that I had been in a position to consider paying someone.

In the meantime I just cruised around some photo stock websites browsing for images I thought were decent for what was inside the book. At first I was going to go with Getty, but then they upped the prices and there was no way I was even going to consider it.

Hello!? I was a student and students have no money.

I remember being pissed that the ‘perfect’ image I had picked had been under $50, but then it was over $200. In my anger I just decided that I was going somewhere else. And I’ve forgotten what that ‘perfect’ image even looked like now. Ironically I ended up with iStock, which is owned by Getty but images cost less. Yay? (How does that work?)

So I created a lightbox (overly fancy word for folder) and began adding images. Soon I had around 70, but while I liked the images and thought they held sway with the book, they weren’t quite perfect. At the time I stayed off buying because while they were cheaper, I was still living on a student income. Instead I just browsed the internet for info on book covers. Then a few weeks ago I came across this article ‘Book Cover Design and the Problem of Symbolism‘. Reading it just seemed to make my brain click and I began looking for more images, this time with a slightly different angle. I found some I liked and bingo!

I found one that seemed to address the main issue in the book.

I copied the watermarked image onto my computer and began playing around with it on both Pixlr.com and Paint.net. Within a few days I had something I liked and then I bought the large version earlier today 🙂 While it does take a bit of getting used to two different editing programs I think I made something pretty sufficient. I’ve been checking out publisher websites and while some of their book covers are way out of my skill set, others are quite simple (not meant in a negative way).

I pretty much like the image as it is so I’ve it and I’ve just laid text over it. I made sure to make the words are large so that they are easily readable as a thumbnail image. And here is the final product.

Feet or Fins ebook cover