One of the biggest assets a book can have is a striking cover but new authors often cringe at the cost of having one designed. I have been designing book covers for over ten years and have learned a few tricks along the way. With the abundance of affordable stock photography available, it is easier than ever to create your own attractive covers. The covers in the image below were each created in Photoshop using fonts that were FREE through sites like DaFont.com and 1001FreeFonts.com and stock images that I purchased from 123rf.com for $3 each:
Let's start with the hi-tech/sci-fi cover:
Cyber Storm (hi-tech/futuristic):
1. This is a file I purchased for $3 in Large format. I trimmed it to a 1:1.6 ratio (recommended by Amazon.)
2. The title is added in a font called Data Control.
3. Because the font used has no bold version I duplicated the layer and offset it by 2px both right and down to make it appear heavier and merged the 2 layers
4. In order to make the title stand out I added an outer glow (Layer> Layer Style> Outer Glow) in a dark blue.
5. The author's name is added in a font called Impact in a neon green.
6. To make the author's name stand out I added a drop shadow (Layer> Layer Style> Drop Shadow) in 100% black.
That's all there is to it. The second cover is for a main-stream contemporary novel:
1. For the background I chose to use a slight gradient that transitioned from black to a deep forest green, this gives the background more depth and excitement than a one color background
2. The title is added in white using 2 fonts, Yorkshire (the script) and Felix Titling (serif font.) The word “Home” is slightly larger than the word “Coming” to add visual interest.
3. The author's name is added using Felix Titling.
4. An image purchased for $3 is added and positioned in an attractive place.
5. In order to add depth to the image I added an outer glow (Layer> Layer Style> Outer Glow) using the Multiply option.
6. A fine line is used to frame the image 20 px outside of the image in a soft yellow-green.
That's it. The third cover is suitable for a romance or historical novel.
1. This is a $3 image exactly as it was purchased.
2. I added a layer and filled a rectangle with black then lowered the opacity to 80% in order not to obscure her lovely figure.
3. The title is added in 2 fonts – Shelly Volante (the script) and Venetian Demi-Bold (serif font). I made the script smaller and colored it a pale gold and the larger text in a bright rose color.
4. I added a slight drop shadow in black to highlight the title.
5. The author's name is added using the Venetian Demi-Bold font in the same pale gold.
6. To add that elegant, Victorian touch, I added two small, pale gold ornaments using a free font called Victorian Free Ornaments – one is right-side up and one is upside down.
There are a lot of free ornament fonts which are great fun to use. Your computer most likely came with a Character Map program already installed that you can use to explore these fonts. Others I have found useful are Borders 1, Borders 2, and Calligraphic Ornaments.
If you are writing a series it is easy to change the cover image while keeping fonts consistent to maintain a look. The three covers below are from my Halcyon Beach Chronicles series. The first two have similar imagery and colors but when it came time to design the third cover I wanted somewhat of a different look because of the story. By using the same distinctive fonts, even with a change of composition, the overall impression remains.
Creating your own covers this way can save beginning authors a great deal of money and give them a distinctive and professional look.
Thanks for reading.