Free book cover design software and templates

After designing over a thousand book covers (and earning about a quarter of a million bucks from my design business) I decided I’d rather write full-time than design covers for a living. But, since I’m deeply committed to helping indie authors and pretty established in the publishing community, I’ve devoted thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours into building DIY book cover tools, templates and resources – so authors can design their own covers without making critical mistakes.

This is obviously a work in progress, because cover design is complicated, but the templates have been downloaded by nearly 100,000 authors, and my YouTube videos have over a million views. Here are some things to get you started.

If those resources are useful, please share them! If you need more help or more advanced templates, you can join my Epic Book Design Package and get my first first book marketing course for free.

$30,000 worth of beautiful premade book covers for indie authors

I spent lots of time looking through premade covers. I find way more than I can ever buy (in my last shopping trip I added over $20,000 in covers to my cart). But I want to share these great deals with other authors, and also keep them altogether in one place in case I’m trying to find them again, so I decided to link to my favorites here.

Please note, many of these are not good enough as is – they have potential or great art, but in many cases (not all) the text would need to be redone to really make the cover as epic as the art suggests.

 

Betwixt

Sold By::
Exquisitely Covered Books

 

Creatures – ebook and paperback

Sold By::
Andrei B.

 

Blue Forest – ebook and paperback

Sold By::
Andrei B.

$200.00

Shadows – ebook and paperback

Sold By::
Andrei B.

$250.00

Shadows – paperback and ebook

Andrei B.

The Ends of Space

Sold By::
Covermint

 

 

Tame the Magic

Sold By::
Covermint

 

Elsa

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers

 

Sanctuary

Rocking Book Covers

 

 

 
Straight to Hell

Sold By::
Ivan Zanchetta
$149.00
$149.00
  The Seeds of Hatred

Sold By::
Ivan Zanchetta
$149.00
$149.00
× Crusader

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Ivan Zanchetta
$149.00
$149.00
× Abduction

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Grady Earls
$200.00
$200.00
× Warlock

Sold By::
Grady Earls
$200.00
$200.00
× Porch

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Forgotten

Sold By::
Grady Earls
$200.00
$200.00
× Zero Hope

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Displays

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× The Kingdom

Sold By::
Grady Earls
$200.00
$200.00
× The Decent

Sold By::
Grady Earls
$200.00
$200.00
× The Journey

Sold By::
Grady Earls
$200.00
$200.00
× Cindy

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× For the Crown

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× The Last Spell

Sold By::
Winter Editorial Design
$85.00
$85.00
× Mystic Woman

Sold By::
Creative Book Covers
$90.00
$90.00
× Shattered Glass

Sold By::
Cover Quill
$145.00
$145.00
× Opaque Divinity

Sold By::
Ivan Zanchetta
$149.00
$149.00
× Into the Woods

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× Wolf Ridge

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Plumstone Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Divided Hearts

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RobBridges
$200.00
$200.00
× Contessa

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Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× Reputation

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Flock of Crows

Sold By::
Cover Quill
$145.00
$145.00
× Policing

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Magic of Elysyum

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BRoseDesignz
$180.00
$180.00
× Wide Awake

Sold By::
Joy McGee
$80.00
$80.00
× Warrior biker

Sold By::
Erica Petit
$290.00
$290.00
× South winds

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$275.00
$275.00
× City of war

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$230.00
$230.00
× Autumn death

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$299.00
$299.00
× Thrall

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× Silent tears

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$285.00
$285.00
× Visionary

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× Rain of leaves

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$275.00
$275.00
× Daria

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Dream World

Sold By::
matyan90
$50.00
$50.00
× Quiet Wind

Sold By::
Bukovero
$80.00
$80.00
× Wanderer

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× The Flight

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× Hammer of Doom

Sold By::
Ivan Zanchetta
$149.00
$149.00
× Master of Insanity

Sold By::
Ivan Zanchetta
$149.00
$149.00
× Dreaming of Adventure

Sold By::
Exquisitely Covered Books
$120.00
$120.00
× Into the woods

Sold By::
Raquel Neira Digital Art
$90.00
$90.00
× Secrets

Sold By::
Harper Design
$75.00
$75.00
× Unspoken

Sold By::
Harper Design
$75.00
$75.00
× Set Adrift

Sold By::
Covered Creatively
$75.00
$75.00
× Into The Waves

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× Thorns

Sold By::
LML Book Covers
$80.00
$80.00
× Midnight

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× Caught in the rain

Sold By::
Adriatica Creation
$100.00
$100.00
× The Storm

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× Vampire series three covers

Sold By::
Erica Petit
$890.00
$890.00
× She was every inch a Queen

Sold By::
IndiElaborates
$70.00
$70.00
× Spell Bound

Sold By::
Susan Digital Designs
$90.00
$90.00
× THE STORM

Sold By::
Ragdoll – Digital Art
$60.00
$60.00
× The Red Queen

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× Bad Boy

Sold By::
Erica Petit
$290.00
$290.00
× Torn Ebook Cover

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Ebook Covers Online
$60.00
$60.00
× Wasted Years

Sold By::
Ivan Zanchetta
$149.00
$149.00
× Awakening

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Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Warrior night

Sold By::
Erica Petit
$490.00
$490.00
× Fantasy night

Sold By::
Erica Petit
$490.00
$490.00
× The Pendulous Wood

Sold By::
RobBridges
$150.00
$150.00
× Flying

Sold By::
topbookdesigner
$99.00
$99.00
× Offville

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Arabella

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Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× Clerical Conspiracy

Sold By::
Ivan Zanchetta
$149.00
$149.00
× Urban Fantasy

Sold By::
Love Books
$60.00
$60.00
× Runaway

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× In the Forest

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× Woman in Blue

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× Gods of the Time

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Bukovero
$80.00
$80.00
× Book Cover 236

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Ammonia Book Covers
$89.00
$89.00
× Bound Ebook Cover

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Ebook Covers Online
$60.00
$60.00
× Guide to World traveling

Sold By::
topbookdesigner
$99.00
$99.00
× Fantasy

Sold By::
topbookdesigner
$99.00
$99.00
× Angel

Sold By::
topbookdesigner
$99.00
$99.00
× The Curse of the Werewolf

Sold By::
Winter Editorial Design
$70.00
$70.00
× Fighting Eternity

Sold By::
Covered Creatively
$75.00
$75.00
× Lakeside

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× The Spirit

Sold By::
Ivan Zanchetta
$149.00
$149.00
× Dusk – Print & Ebook

Sold By::
Iskon Design
$89.00
$89.00
× Into the Forest

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× The Duchess

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× Walls

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Melina

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× The Visitor

Sold By::
Ivan Zanchetta
$149.00
$149.00
× Cover 5

Sold By::
ArtestudioTeo
$75.00
$75.00
× FURY

Sold By::
JMN-ART
$50.00
$50.00
× White Queen-full wrap and ebook

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Drop Dead Designs
$70.00
$70.00
× Voices in the sea

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Aeternum Designs
$285.00
$285.00
× Outlander

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Adriatica Creation
$150.00
$150.00
× Free Mind

Sold By::
matyan90
$50.00
$50.00
× September

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Aeternum Designs
$285.00
$285.00
× Eternal autumn

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Aeternum Designs
$199.00
$199.00
× Far away

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$250.00
$250.00
× Melody

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Aeternum Designs
$240.00
$240.00
× Away of forest

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$230.00
$230.00
× Deputy

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Fuming

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× The Voyager-

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× Deception

Sold By::
Ivan Zanchetta

 

× Gothic Christmas 001

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Peculiar Perspective
$100.00
$100.00
× Blood Promise

Sold By::
Camilla Design
$99.00
$99.00
× The Rise of Today

Sold By::
Everpage Designs
$70.00
$70.00
× Rose

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× Silence

Sold By::
lady_amarillis
$85.00
$85.00
× Crooked Road

Sold By::
Cover Quill
$85.00
$85.00
× Archway

Sold By::
GRUNGYCOVERS
$99.00
$99.00
× Ward 8

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Lifers

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Love Romance

Sold By::
Graphic Lane
$46.00
$46.00
× Light And Dark

Sold By::
Enchanted Whispers Art
$75.00
$75.00
× Longing For The Ocean

Sold By::
Enchanted Whispers Art
$90.00
$90.00
× Montana Magic

Sold By::
Covermint
$69.00
$69.00
× Inborn Alienation

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Bukovero
$80.00
$80.00
× Room melody

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$250.00
$250.00
× Free spirit

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$199.00
$199.00
× Flings

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Youngsters

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Crazy Lovers

Sold By::
Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Only Mine

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Serena Daphn
$79.00
$79.00
× Wizard

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$175.00
$175.00
× Lena

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Rocking Book Covers
$60.00
$60.00
× Butterfly

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WaterFall
$30.00
$30.00
× Wistful

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× The dark dreams

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$230.00
$230.00
× Book Cover 205

Sold By::
Ammonia Book Covers
$89.00
$89.00

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 https://thebookcoverdesigner.com/premade-book-covers/new-world-wrap-and-ebook/

https://thebookcoverdesigner.com/premade-book-covers/lucinda-2/

https://thebookcoverdesigner.com/premade-book-covers/in-waiting/

https://thebookcoverdesigner.com/premade-book-covers/the-kingdom/

https://thebookcoverdesigner.com/premade-book-covers/the-shifter/

https://thebookcoverdesigner.com/premade-book-covers/flock-of-crows/

https://thebookcoverdesigner.com/premade-book-covers/blast/

https://thebookcoverdesigner.com/premade-book-covers/the-decent/

https://thebookcoverdesigner.com/premade-book-covers/magic-ebook-and-paperback-2/

Congrats! readerwins.com is available for registration.

https://thebookcoverdesigner.com/premade-book-covers/new-world-2-wrap-and-ebook/

https://thebookcoverdesigner.com/premade-book-covers/queen-of-madness/

https://thebookcoverdesigner.com/premade-book-covers/we-all-shine-on/

https://thebookcoverdesigner.com/premade-book-covers/ravage/

https://thebookcoverdesigner.com/premade-book-covers/the-guardians-wrap-and-ebook/

https://thebookcoverdesigner.com/premade-book-covers/the-vampires-smile/

https://thebookcoverdesigner.com/premade-book-covers/demon-ebook-and-paperback/

 

Dragon Warrior

Sold By::
Cover Quill
$80.00
$80.00
× So Faraway

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$150.00
$150.00
× DARK HUMANITY

Sold By::
Juan Padrón
$35.00
$35.00
× Evolution

Sold By::
Willsin Rowe
$60.00
$60.00
× Trapped

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× Dark Angel

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$150.00
$150.00
× Book Cover #12 (EBook or Paperback)

Sold By::
Amy H.C Design
$90.00
$90.00
× Angel of Mercy

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$150.00
$150.00
× Detective – ebook and paperback

Sold By::
Andrei B.
$150.00
$150.00
× Midnight

Sold By::
Aeternum Designs
$430.00
$430.00
× Wonders Of North

Sold By::
RedHoudini Design
Scepter

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$150.00
$150.00
× Warrior biker

Sold By::
Erica Petit
$90.00
$90.00
× Fantasy night

Sold By::
Erica Petit
$210.00
$210.00
× Warrior angel

Sold By::
Erica Petit
$210.00
$210.00
× The Calling

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× ERZSEBET

Sold By::
London Montgomery Covers
$90.00
$90.00
× Forever- wrap and ebook

Sold By::
Drop Dead Designs
$70.00
$70.00
× Demon Leap

Sold By::
Juan Padrón
$40.00
$40.00
× DARK HUMANITY 

Sold By::
Juan Padrón
$35.00
$35.00
× Trapped

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$120.00
$120.00
× Dream Catcher

Sold By::
Enchanted Whispers Art
$80.00
$80.00
× Huntress

Sold By::
Enchanted Whispers Art

 

 

    PRODUCT PRICE QUANTITY TOTAL
× Dragon Breath

Sold By::
Enchanted Whispers Art
$130.00
$130.00
× Myth Wielder

Sold By::
Covermint
$79.00
$79.00
× The Belladona

Sold By::
London Montgomery Covers
$80.00
$80.00
× Eyes

Sold By::
PastFuture
$65.00
$65.00
× The Scapegoat

Sold By::
Book Covers Art
$150.00
$150.00
× Salem

Sold By::
Erica Petit
$210.00
$210.00
× X Squad

Sold By::
arte´ book designs
$60.00
$60.00
× Searching

Sold By::
Book Covers 2 Buy
$150.00
$150.00
× z-Clouds

Sold By::
Madelene Martin
$50.00
$50.00
× Tidewater

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× Dream Catcher

Sold By::
Enchanted Whispers Art
$80.00
$80.00
× The Fair Maiden

Sold By::
Covered Creatively
$60.00
$60.00
× Vintage

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$80.00
$80.00
× A Promise Kept

Sold By::
Victoria Cooper Art
$65.00
$65.00
× Rose Romance

Sold By::
Erica Petit
$210.00
$210.00
× Emerald Queen

Sold By::
Enchanted Whispers Art
$70.00
$70.00
× The Crows

Sold By::
Enchanted Whispers Art
$80.00
$80.00
 

How to make an ANIMATED book cover that blows people’s minds

Yesterday I saw something on Twitter that blew my mind: it was a promotional image of a book; but inside the book cover the pieces were moving around. It was amazing.

So I started researching animated book covers. I found some examples, looked for tools I could use for making animated gifs, and came up with these.

Animated book cover design, YA fantasy cover by Derek MurphyAnimated book cover design, YA fantasy cover by Derek MurphyAnimated book cover design, YA fantasy cover by Derek Murphy

How to make an animated book cover design that blows people's minds.

How to make an animated book cover design that blows people's minds.

How to make an animated book cover design that blows people's minds.

If you like these covers, can you help me out by pinning them on Pinterest?

If you actually want to READ them, check out my fiction site, Urban Epics.

What good are animated book covers?

They won’t work on Kindle or iBooks (though I’m going to test them anyway, maybe I can find a workaround). But they WILL work on Wattpad, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other social media sites. So whenever you post a promotional picture of your book cover, you could awesomefy it (that’s not a word but it needs to be = make awesome).

Now I just need to learn how to make those animated covers look amazing on a static 3D product shot… I’ll learn that next. The danger is, of course, once I give away all these secrets, everybody is going to do it, so on top of all the author-spam you usually see on Twitter or Facebook, now the images will be moving. It’ll be like Myspace all over again (obnoxious, hard to look at).

So what I should do is keep these secrets to myself, so they only show up on my covers and I have a marketing advantage. But.. I’m not going to. These covers were easy to make, and the tools are cheap. Be extremely cautious, don’t overdo it, but for shits and giggles, here’s a tutorial on designing your own animated covers.

If you like this tutorial and animate your book cover, share your cover on Twitter and tag me: @creativindie so I can see it.

How to make your own animated book covers

Firstly, add some sparkle. I used this site, paid to remove the watermark. It only has a few features, but it plays off the natural light/dark contrast of your book cover, and you can select the areas for some amazing effects.

Here’s a video tutorial.

Secondly, I found DP Animation Maker, a bit more expensive at $37.77, but it can add great effects, especially for light, water and movement.

Animated book cover effect for Michelle Madow's Elementals

Thirdly, I wanted to find a way to morph images, so, for example, a face can blink, or smile. To do that I’d need two or three pictures and merge them together.

Animated gif version of Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave - learn how to make your own animated book cover!


I can do that with http://gifmaker.me. First I have to make the different versions of the cover, then I add the photos and turn them into a gif. I thought this might work especially well to add a “splash” effect with a big quote, review, or description – a little bit of extra sales copy space on your cover image.

How to save/share your animated book covers

The gifs you make can be pretty big; you can try to use Gifmaker’s resizer to make them smaller. If you upload them to Giphy.com the file size doesn’t really matter – Giphy is great for posting on Facebook (if you use a Giphy link it will preview the animated gif, but if you upload the gif straight to Facebook, it won’t play).

However, on Twitter I’d rather just upload the picture directly – Twitter DOES show the animation. A Giphy link works too but it clicks to Giphy, which I don’t like. You can embed the pictures on your website as well, and pin them to Pinterest (where animation works).

Have fun! Remember to tag me if you make your own animated covers so I can see.

Want more tips, book cover design templates and some free books?

I have more free stuff – templates, an email series on cover design, and my books on writing and book marketing.

Click here to get all that and more…

How to become a book cover designer

A lot of young designers (or old designers!) reach out and ask me how they can become a book cover designer or get started in this business.
If you want to start book cover design… watch all the videos on www.diybookcovers.com first; then make 50 sample mockups and put them in a portfolio; then contact a bunch of authors with platforms and offer to remake their covers for free in exchange for a link and testimonial.
If you have great samples, and your price is reasonable – between $100 and $1000, depending on your experience, quality and expertise – you’ll get orders.
How many orders depends on traffic and conversion. So you need to find more ways to convince people to trust and buy from you, and then you need to find ways to build traffic.
I started with nothing and had to work at it for a few years. I priced really low. I did a lot of free work (I still do!). Now I’m focused more on building great content.
If you want to start quickly; run a contest every month for a free cover design and use it to build links, shares and traffic, as well as an email list (of people you know need covers).

 

Is your book cover trying to do too much?

Clients usually start out describing all their characters, a pivotal scene, a hundred details, the expressions on everybody’s faces and the way their bodies are posed.

That won’t work.

All your cover needs to do is:

1) Appeal to your target audience

2) Indicate time period and setting.

That’s IT.

If you need to choose between adding more detail, more scene, more “stuff” and having a simple, powerful, emotional cover (emotion is done by colors and contrast, not so much character’s faces), you MUST always choose the powerful cover and sacrifice the details.

This is very difficult for authors to accept. They say things like “But I want my book to be different. I don’t want it to be just like other books in the genre. I want to explain/communicate to readers all the background and relationships and story.”

I repeat: that’s not what book covers are for.

Almost all successful book covers have one simple scene, often with one (or two characters – male and female if it’s a romance). The character is usually just standing there looking at the reader. The background sets the time and place. The text sets the genre.

Action scenes don’t work well, unless it’s something cliche like a man running with a gun. There are many reasons: first of all, you need to understand that as brilliant as we designers are, we can’t move stock photography around like a 3D model and make them do whatever we want. We can’t pose them. We can’t change their clothes easily. We can’t cut their head off and add somebody else’s (well… we can, but it usually looks a little unnatural).

The more we do to match your vision, the worse it’s going to look, and even if we make you happy and get everything right, it won’t be nearly as strong as something totally different, without all the detail, which is simple awesome, powerful, gripping and beautiful.

It’s much more important to have an amazing cover than it is to have a cover that explains your story.

Let me repeat that:

THE BOOK COVER SHOULD NOT TRY TO EXPLAIN OR REPRESENT YOUR STORY.

At best, the book cover appeals to the right readers.

Full stop.

If you’ve done that, then you can also indicate setting and genre.

If you’ve done that, you can add any other necessary information in a teaser, tagline or the book title. But not too much.

The cover only needs to get them to read the description.

If your cover tries to explain too much, adds too many details, displays a whole scene where people are doing things and interacting and role playing with positions and poses and gestures, there’s a very, very good chance you’ll lose that immediacy, that intrigue, fail to incite curiosity, and readers will glance at it and never read your description.

Which means they won’t buy the book. Which means all the time and money and energy you spent on your book cover was a total waste.

That’s why I start discussions with clients by telling them, “No, that won’t work.” If they want to do it anyway, I refund them – I have no interest in making book covers that will fail to sell books. That’s bad for business.

Authors who have read my articles, and my books on book cover design or watched my speeches or presentations on book cover design, already know that I make covers that sell books, and I’m pretty clear about that on my website.

If you think your opinions and suggestions about the book cover matter more than book sales – you’re wrong. All that matters is book sales. Otherwise, why write books at all? If you are publishing as an experiment in self-expression so you can carve off a chunk of your ego and cast it into corporeal form, that’s fine. But I don’t want to work with you.

I’m interested in working with authors who have stories that readers are going to enjoy, and I make sure those readers pick the book up and give it a chance, and that’s ALL THAT MATTERS.

How to embed fonts with Photoshop (and do you really need to?)

If you’re like me, you use Photoshop for graphic design. It’s better for blending layers and images. However there is some limitation with text – one common and frustrating problem is trying to figure out how to embed fonts.

Photoshop doesn’t have any obvious option for this.

Printers will ask you to embed fonts for quality.

photoshopvsindesign

Take a look at this sample: If you zoom in 500%, the file with the embedded fonts has sharp and clear text – in the other, the text has been rasterized so you only have digital enlargement, which causes pixellation (click on the image to zoom in and see the difference).

However, I’m unconvinced that this difference really matters. When you print files, you’re not zooming in at all. 100% at 300DPI should be as sharp as the human eye can detect.

photoshopvsindesign2

 

I’m going to do some tests this summer, printing out a copy of both and seeing if I can tell the difference.

But in case you have to work with a printer, or even if you’re sending PDF files to Lightning Source (which requires embedded fonts) or Createspace (which doesn’t), here’s how to do it in Photoshop.

Step One

The first step is just not flattening your file before saving as a PDF, which you might do to save space. Instead, flatten the images and graphics but leave all the text layers.

Step Two

Save as a PDF, but choose “Use Proof Setup: Working CMYK.”

saveCMYK

 

Lightning Source and most printers require CMYK anyway (createspace doesn’t).

I prefer Createspace because it’s easier, and actually I don’t think the print quality is really enhanced by these extra options – and it makes dealing with Lightning Source a huge pain, especially for indie authors who don’t understand this stuff.

But if you’re a professional designer working with printers, you usually need to give them what they want. And it may look just a little bit better, clearer, sharper if you embed fonts in your PDF files this way – but as I said, I’m going to do some case studies to find out for sure.

How to get exactly the book cover you want (and ruin your writing career).

Several months ago I was helping an author try to make a book cover.

They had something very ugly, and I made something much better.

I was working mostly for free (something I’m trying to stop doing) because I felt bad for the author (I feel bad for authors with ugly covers). Even though I did lots of revisions and ALSO offered to do the formatting for free, ultimately the author became unhappy that I wasn’t doing it exactly as he wanted, and got fed up waiting for me to make changes.

Today, looking over another book cover designer’s website, I found that the same author had hired a new designer to make him a new cover. The cover design isn’t terrible, but makes basic amateur mistakes like too many colors, too much different and confusing stuff going on (too symbolic) and dropshadow on text – a rookie habit for sure.

Very telling, was the author’s raving testimonial: the designer is a genius. The author got exactly what he wanted. After having “disappointing” experiences with other designers (me), the author is thrilled to have found a designer at half the cost! Wahoo!

That book, with the new cover, has a sales rank of almost 2million. That’s not very good.

Price isn’t necessarily an indication of quality; I know for a fact there are better designers than me charging much less. But I also know there are a lot of designers who are just mediocre.

Finding a designer who will take your money and make what YOU want is a narcissistic exercise of a control freak and is destined to kill your book sales. Especially if you have a certain scene or symbolic representations in mind, or you choose the colors and fonts that appeal to you personally.

I don’t know why, but most authors are drawn to ugly designs (usually because they are thinking symbolically and conceptually, and ignore aesthetics). Their taste in style and design is completely out of whack. They love Comic Sans and red and blue and green and yellow.

If left to their own devices they will use and love really ugly book covers.

Getting exactly the cover you want is usually a great way to destroy your author career.

I try my best to make book covers that sell books; it’s a passion of mine, and I love the challenge.

But the biggest difficulty – the biggest barrier to creating an amazing book cover that sells books – is almost always the author. And that’s frustrating. And stupid.

It’s like having a customer walk into a high-end salon and saying, “I want you to die my hair blue, shave half my head and write my initials with a trimmer.”

And they’ll pay you, and they’re happy, but you still feel like you let them down.

If I were better at business, I would focus on giving clients what they want and making them happy. Except… I know it’s really better, for them and me, if I’m kind of a jerk, refuse to make what they want, and tell them they have to use this or that cover design instead because it will sell more books.

They may be unhappy in the beginning. Maybe they really loved the idea that I shot down and feel regretful about it.

That’s why I’m always happy to give refunds to authors so they can go find another designer to make them happy.

I’m not that guy.

I help you sell books.