Casual Curiousity, Learning the Basics About E-Book Covers

So I’m back from San Francisco; I’ll talk more about the trip over the weekend. In the meantime…

With all the self-published books going around, and with some of these authors putting together their own covers, I got curious about the process. Me getting curious about something is usually very dangerous, and leads to me doing something silly, like trying to learn how it’s done. So I spent a day or two trying to figure out how authors made their own covers. Of course, they’re unlikely to come out looking like any of these, unless the author has drawing/designing talents in addition to the writing…

Borrowed from

Borrowed from

Borrowed from

Here’s what I’ve learned thus far.

Apparently, the easiest way to do it without having to draw anything is to use stock photos–these are photos available for licensing online, also used for things like graphic design or images on websites. Some are free, some have fees associated with them. The licensing agreements themselves vary as well. Some are creative commons. Some require credit to be given to the photographer, some don’t. Some require specific permission each time a photo is used, some don’t.

These images can then be edited–I’ve seen various programs recommended for editing, especially free ones PhotoScape and even Powerpoint for less tech savvy individuals. Some people just change the size of stock images and use them as covers, others do more photo manipulation. ShelfBuzz warns against using stock photos as they are, though.

I saw various responses as to whether or not this was a good idea. Some people were of the opinion that, as it’s not that difficult to do and you don’t end up paying for a product you may or may not like, why not? Others stress that a professional looking cover impacts sales, and is worth the investment of hiring someone who has a better sense of design.

There is conflicting advice going around for what the size of the cover should be. I’m seeing a bunch of people state that 600×800 pixels is a normal size for Kindle, though for some reason the sizes are all different across all of the e-book selling platforms. Others say that the size ratio of a book should be 1:1.5 or 1:1.6, which more like 600×900 or 600×960, in order to correspond to the dimensions of a dead tree book.

There’s even more conflicting information going around for fonts to use inside the book, which I stumbled upon while wondering about the cover title fonts. Some people say Times New Roman is the standard for a reason, others say it looks unprofessional. Almost every blog I happened upon said something different about recommended fonts. As for the book title fonts, the information there was a bit more uniform, with people often suggesting the use of fonts that don’t necessarily come with the computer.

With these things in mind, I may have actually attempted to play at making covers. They aren’t necessarily pretty.

So overall, everyone has a different opinion and everyone disagrees. What a surprise.

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