Lets face it. People do judge a book by its cover. It is not that people are shallow, but the reality is, when a person is choosing a new book to read or an article to click on, there is only so much to go on. Readers have, literally (bad pun I know), millions of books and articles to choose from, with many titles being uploaded every day. In order to stick out from the others, you need to have a good-looking cover that will get people, at least, to click on your book and read what it is about. And until you can afford a talented designer, this will get you started.
The first step is to find an image. You would be surprised how many royalty-free, high-quality images there are which you are allowed to use for commercial use. Type in commercial-free images in Google and a few sites will come up. I recommend using pixabay.com, it has photos that are on par with Shutterstock and will not cost you a cent. Shutterstock is also a good option if you don’t mind spending a few dollars. The site has options to use an image for unlimited digital downloads (a good image for bloggers who only have their post online) and to print up to 500,000 copies. And if your book is selling 500,000 times, you can afford to extend your license from there. But check the free sites first, especially for new bloggers and writers.
Here is an example of looking for a tree in winter, type ‘tree winter’ in the search and click on the magnifying glass:
You can see there are a lot of quality, free-to-use photos available:
When you are looking for a photo, you need to keep in mind what you are using it for. Most photos are square (which is fine for bloggers) ,but if you are using it for a book cover, you want to pick one that is the shape of a book (or one you can crop into that shape). You also need to consider where the text is going to go. Photos that have open sky, a solid color, or an empty wall in the background work well. You want to find a space where the text will stand out and not get jumbled with a background image. And when picking a photo, don’t hesitate to go more abstract, especially if you can’t find an image that properly represents your work. If it is a love story about being apart in the winter, maybe a photo of a bare tree that is almost frozen. Use your imagination, you are a writer.
I picked a photo of the side of a tree in the foreground, it makes for an interesting visual and the blurred background is primed for text.
Click free download and choose medium:
It should download to your downloads file. Now, it’s time to turn that great image into a book cover using MS Paint.
We’ll look at that process tomorrow in part 2 of our article.
~ Nicholas Bugden