Creating Covers for eBooks

Now I am creating covers for my stories before I upload to Smashwords I need to learn more about photo manipulation, so I downloaded and tested a free program called GIMP over the holidays to compare with Adobe Photoshop Elements and Corel Paint Essentials.

The name stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, hence GIMP.

I found it easy to point and click to feel my way around the program and I was impressed with the different fillers available. One in particular was brilliant. I can scan in a pencil sketch and use a filler to automatically change the pencil lines to ink, without spending hours inking each pencil line as I have been doing with Photoshop Elements.

The documentation is easy to understand and covers the basics for each menu item if you are not familiar with graphic packages.

There are many web tutorials that you can follow once you are familiar with the menus. I followed a few Adobe Photoshop tutorials but worked through each in GIMP. Just search in Google for tutorials in the different areas you need to learn.

I also draw cartoons so follow a few comic sites. One good site is Comic Related which has lots of tutorials you can follow, even if you are not good at drawing.

I check this site every few weeks and have discovered some wonderful techniques I can use both for drawing and manipulating photos for cover pages.

On a side note, another comic site I follow Superhero Nation has a list of Common Mistakes of First Time Novelists that is helpful for writers, so check it out.

Back to covers. Check out the following covers on the sites below.

H.P Mallory

J A Konrath

Better yet, go to the site of your favourite authors and check out their covers. Or check the best selling ebooks on Amazon or Smashwords, B&N, etc.

Take note of the different fonts for different genres, what part of the story the cover based on, whether the cover is funny, serious, etc. then try with your own story to create a similar cover.

The best way to practice creating covers is to copy your favourite authors or copy covers that get your attention.

See if you can either take your own photos, or locate a picture you can legally use from the internet, or even draw a similar picture to the one on the cover you like. Remember to include the web site link where you found the picture in the cover information of the story as per their requirements.

Scan it into your computer, arrange on a page inside GIMP, crop if needed, and add the text for the title and author and save as a gif or jpeg. Then open a copy of your first file, and make changes to the font and size of the text, or change and crop the picture, blurring the edges or changing the colour hues, etc using all the different tools, fillers and colours and using layers and save again.

I lost the lot of one attempt because I could not back out of one change, so now save every change until I have finished the photo changes. Once you are familiar with the jargon and steps involved, you will be confident to create your own covers for your own stories.

Fun stuff! Please let me know how you go and what you think of the free program GIMP.


4 comments so far

  1. Shayne on

    I just wanted to make mention of the fact that JA Konrath has a guy that he pays to design his covers, and HP Mallory used stock images that she purchased from a website. So, for anyone who isn’t an artist, one of these two methods might be the way to go.

    • djmills on

      Either way, you need a graphic program to pull the text and graphic together for a jpg or gif. Have you used GIMP?

  2. Shayne on

    I have used GIMP, which I like, and I’ve used Adobe Photoshop (which you can get extremely cheap from I like both, for different things. If I remember correctly, I used both to get the header image on my blog the way I wanted it – I ran it through photoshop first, to adjust the hue and contrast, then converted it to a file that GIMP would read (.jpg or .png, can’t remember which), and ran it through the Soft Glow filter.

    I also have Adobe Illustrator, which is needed if you want to work with vector art (like HP Mallory’s covers are). Vectors are cool, ’cause they don’t use pixels, so you can make them as large as you want and they never get blurry.

    • djmills on

      Thanks for the link. I bookmarked the site for future reference.

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