Create Your Own Ebook Cover, Step By Step, With Pictures

Fair warning, you are about to get advice on creating your cover from a man with all the artistic talent of a slug. Indeed, so small are my gifts in this area that several slugs have written in to complain that my statement is demeaning to their creative abilities. It also has to be said you’re going to be taking PowerPoint advice from a man who is not particularly adept with PowerPoint, especially its Windows variant.

So why am I doing this exactly? Because I can, of course, and because I want to make a point; that even a man with my stunning lack of skill can create an acceptable ebook cover in a few minutes with a minimum of fuss. And if I can, then you can too. I am going to use the cover I create here for the ebook version of my sword and sorcery short story Henchmen so I’ll be putting my money where my mouth is too.

Why PowerPoint — why not Photoshop or the GIMP or any one of a dozen much more powerful programs designed to manipulate images? Because the last time I seriously used Photoshop was over 15 years ago and I can’t be bothered learning how to use it again. Also it costs hundreds of quid. At some point I do intend to learn to use the GIMP but I have not done so yet. So the chances of me being able to write a sensible post showing you how to use such an image editor are precisely nil. On the other hand, I do know how to make PowerPoint do this thing and PowerPoint is something that most of us are able to get our hands on relatively cheaply. It is a basic part of Microsoft’s Office Suite. That being the case, much more powerful programs are overkill.

If you already know how to use  an image editor, go do so with my blessing. If you know how to use Photoshop or The Gimp you probably don’t need me to tell you how to create your own cover. This post is for the benefit of those who have absolutely no familiarity with the process.

Before we proceed, we’ll need to talk about the image you are going to use. Obviously, this should be relevant to your book, and hopefully striking and attractive to the reader’s eye. The rights to images are a bit of a legal minefield. If you use your own images and people appear in them, you are supposed to have the permission of those people to use the image. The same is true of certain buildings and works of art. There are images out there in the public domain and there are also image libraries where you can search through and buy pictures which all the legal paperwork has already been done for. Or if it hasn’t the problem is the library’s and not yours! (Again, full disclosure; one of the many talents and skills I lack is being a lawyer. This is one man’s understanding of a complex subject in which he is not in the slightest an expert.) The image libraries I use are Dreamstime and iStockphoto. A quick Google search will reveal more.

You can find acceptable cover images in the paid libraries for only a few dollars. You may even recognise them from some of the books you own from big publishing houses. I certainly did, which rather surprised me. The image I use here was 13 credits on Dreamstime. (Most libraries use a system where you purchase credits in much the same way as systems like Xbox Live do. The credit is a sort of borderless currency usable within the Image Library.) 13 credits costs about $17/£10.50. In any case, go get an image that reflects your book and we’ll be ready to make a start.

I will be using the OSX version of PowerPoint because that’s what I have screen capture utilities for. There are differences in the Windows version of PowerPoint. I will mention these in the text and hopefully add some more pictures when I get screen capture software for Windows. I use PowerPoint 2010 for Windows, the only version I have any (very limited) experience of. I don’t claim that any of the techniques I use here are optimal and I would be only too happy to hear of a better method of doing things.

I will be following standard menu conventions shamelessly lifted from most of the technical books I have read. I will place the names of the main menu first and separate them with a greater than sign that tells you to go to a sub-menu and all of this will be in italics. So Insert > Photo > Picture From File means click on the insert menu, go down to Photo and click on the Picture from File sub-menu.

Anyway, without further ado, let’s get started.

Open PowerPoint. Pick a theme that suits what you want to do. In this case I am going to pick a doomy white on black theme that will go with my sword and sorcery story.

Now you need to change Page Setup. You can use any unit of measurement you like and, within the restrictions I am about to mention, any size. The main thing is that your proportions should be 6 to 8 (or 3 to 4 if you like). By this I mean your page should be 6 units wide by 8 units high. You will eventually be exporting a 600 by 800 pixel cover and this will save you having to clip it to shape in an image manipulation program. Let’s make this slide 6 inches by 8 inches to give ourselves some room to work with. (Windows version: the controls for this are on the Design Tab of the Ribbon. There is a page setup button there.)

Page Setup PP

Now insert your cover image using Insert> Photo> Picture From File.  (Windows version: the controls for this are on the Insert Tab of the Ribbon. There is a Picture button.) As I said, I am going to use a stock fantasy image I downloaded from Dreamstime. I ran it through a couple of filters in FX Photo Studio to make it different from anybody else’s use of the image. One of the problems with using stock images is that anyone can use them and unless you make some changes your cover may end up looking exactly like somebody else’s. Since the story is a dark comedy about a pair of adventurers who are the henchmen of an evil wizard and in it they encounters some orcish creatures, this image does well enough. It immediately tells the viewer something about genre and content.

Inserted Picture PP

I have made the image bleed over the side of the slide a little which is OK. This leaves a black bar at the top and bottom of the slide which is fine for my purposes. You might want to make the image fit the whole slide. You can alter the size of the picture with the little handles on the side.

Now it’s time to add my name. Let’s insert a text box using (you guessed it!) Insert >Text Box. It is a good idea to stick with the same font for all your covers in order to create a consistent image with readers. In my case, all of my previous e-books have used Caslon Antique so that’s what we will be using here. (Windows version: the controls for this are on the Insert Tab of the Ribbon. There is a Text Box button.)

Move the text box around and experiment with the font size until you get something you like. Make it as big as you can. Remember you need it to be legible as a small thumbnail. The little thumbnails on the left side of the screen will give you a good idea of how successful you are being. It’s a good idea to centre the text unless you are going for a special effect of some sort. I mostly just stretch the text box right across the screen and then use the biggest font size that will fit onto one line. Or if you prefer to have your name on two lines let it bleed over or use two or more separate text boxes for each word in your name.

Orc With Name Added pp

The white text in the hook of the g looks a bit washed out against the pallid background of the image so let’s surround it with a black glow. Select all the text in the text box and then hit the glow button. (Windows version: You need to select the text box you are working. Click on the Drawing Tools Tab when it appears then click on the Text Effects dropdown when it appears. Choose Glow then go to glow options. Click on the color dropdown. Select Black. There is also a Shadow button just beneath the Fonts dropdown which simplifies things a lot at the cost of a loss of fine control.)

Glow Button PP

A sub-menu will come up. Go to Glow and select Glow Options. When you first see this there will be a bar that says No Glow.

No Glow PP

Click on this and you will see a selection of colours under a heading Theme Colours. Choose black. You will then see something like this. Hit OK to apply this to the text.

Black Glow 2

This gives a nice semi-3D effect that makes it seem to float above the image. If you need to use this effect, you can play with the settings until you get something you like.

Cover Name with Glow PP

 

OK– let’s add the title of the book. Add another text box. Play with the font size until you are happy and then give it a bit of a glow if needed. It’s basically just a repeat of the last step.

Cover With Title PP

 

It looks a little bare so I am going to add a quote at the top and a tag-line at the bottom that tells the reader that this is a story of Goran and Malik. They will be able to see that this is one of a putative series of stories.

Basic Blurbs Cover pp

OK– that’s all the elements in place. All that’s needed now is to play around with the basic sizes and proportions and positions until you get something you are happy with.

Anyway, that’s us done. It’s time to export the cover. Go to File>Save As Pictures and click on Options. Set width to 600 and height to 800. (Windows Version: Go to the File Tab and choose Save and Send. Select Change File Type. Choose JPEG File Interchange Format. Push Save. Choose Save Current Slide. As far as I can tell Powerpoint 2010 does not give you a choice of sizes when you export so you will need to open the JPG in an image editor and adjust the file size. You can do this very easily in Paint, the free image editing and drawing program that comes with Windows 7.)

Set Height and Width

Give your cover a title for when it’s saved. Hit OK. That’s it. We’re done here. And there you have it; a colour e-book cover for under $20 and a small investment in time. Once you’ve had a bit of practise the whole process should not take more than 10 minutes.

Henchmen COver Final

I don’t recommend you copy my layout here. (For one thing, I am sure you can do much better!) Instead take a glance at books in your own genre and see what they look like. Note how they use font sizes and various layouts. Find one that you like and try and duplicate the effects. (I am not saying copy the cover, just the style in which it is done!) Play around with things until you are happy. For example, with The Inquiry Agent (see picture on the right sidebar) we used two text boxes for the title with the words The Inquiry in a smaller font than the word Agent.

As a last word, one of the great advantages of this system is that you now have a template you can use for any future releases in this series. For example, when I release future Goran and Malik stories all I need do is load a new cover image, change the text in the title textbox and I am done. This may seem like my usual laziness to some but I like to think of it as efficiency.

By the way, Henchmen is available for the Kindle right now at Amazon.com,  Amazon.co.uk and Smashwords if you should feel the urge to buy it.


If you’re interested in finding out when my next book will be released as well as in getting discounts and free short stories, please sign up for my mailing list.

Comments

  1. Awesome, awesome post, Bill. It really does come across as rather easy :P Thanks for the info. This gives me hope for some of my endeavours.

    • No problems, mate. I still astonishes me how easy this stuff is :).

      • Rhoda Maxwell says:

        Bill, I just discovered you and you are a godsend! Thanks so much. The cover I made is for a young adult book. My next book in a recipe book for gluten–free cookies. I was surprised to see your example with the same title as the one I have. Can I use the title in your template? I have my own photos.
        Best to you and take care.

  2. Awesome stuff here! This is very timely for me as I muddle through the cover design process myself. I am curious about your placement of text. Many of the book covers I’ve studied (okay, glanced at) flip flop back and forth between big title and small author name, (even those with big name authors). I see that in your cover art (which I really enjoyed BTW) your name is at the top and in most of them it is in a bigger font than your book title. Was this a conscious decision and if so, why? Thanks much for the great info!

  3. Good stuff. I happen to use Visio for my layouts. I’d say the key to choosing is that the program allows you to position/resize images and create text (boxes) with arbitrary positioning.

    Yeah, one _could_ use Word, but I wouldn’t even though I’m a Word power-user.

    Many ebook publishing sites or standards want a cover that is at least a certain size, so show your rulers and use them. Might have to trim/crop you photos to fit.

    Go do something great.

  4. I read somewhere else about using Powerpoint to create covers. I can’t afford Photoshop, won’t touch anything Microsoft with a ten foot pole, and GIMP is one of those major roadblocks that I persist in finding a way around. So I’ve been looking at the possibility of using Keynote, part of the iWork suite. I particularly like the idea of being able to save a template because I have a series of short ebooks in mind that I’d like to develop. I suspect your post can serve as a general guide when I try it.

    • My original plan was to go with the presentation software in OpenOffice but I just could not get it to work for me. I found I also just could not get to grips with Keynote but I see no reason why it should not work. Good luck with the covers :)!

  5. What is FX Studio?

  6. M. E. Gerke says:

    Great tutorial, I’ll keep it an open option for the future. I use those Adobe programs to get what I usually need, but this gives me more options for artistic, design, and composition advantage. Thanks for the extra option to broaden my horizons. The original art that you used for the cover, that is what I have to really reach for the next time I design a cover for my stories. Overall, very cool William! Honestly, I never would have realized to use PowerPoint. Seriously cool and genuine.

    • Thank you. I actually read about using PowerPoint on Dean Wesley Smith’s blog last year and I had one of those forehead-slapping “but, of course,” moments. It would never have crossed my mind to use it either until I read Dean’s post. I was settling down to teach myself The GIMP at the time. I still intend to but the pressure is off for now :).

  7. You know, my approach to ebook cover design is quite different. I’d been thinking about writing a post about it for a while.But in my case, I’ve been using mostly vector images from public domain sites that are completely free and manipulating them using an Illustrator-like program called Inkscape that, like GIMP, is free and open source.

  8. Thank you very much for this – this has solved a lot of problems I was having.

    One question – I can’t make my text look anything but cheap and nasty. I’m using Windows, and can’t find the Glow option for editing text anywhere.

    Dave

    • I suspect it depends which version of Office you are using, David. In Office 2010, it’s quite tricky to find. You need to select the text in textbox and THEN the Text Effects panel appears. It is still hard to spot because it’s sort of half hidden behind the other panels of the ribbon. It looks a bit weird because its a different colour but it is there. It took me a long time to find it too. Unfortunately I don’t have access to my Windows machine at the moment so I can’t check any further!

      • I fear my MS Office is too outdated. I’ve managed to use the Shadow tool to make it a little better. Thanks for your help. And again, thank you VERY much for this guide!

        Dave

  9. This is excellent – it’s almost identical to the procedure I use in the GIMP, but this way is much simpler.

  10. Hi William,

    Just wanted to say a big thank you for all the information you have put up in your past few posts re publishing on Amazon/Kindle. I have just uploaded a short story which is currently live and free on KDP. (See ‘It is an Art’ if you are interested.)

    Cheers
    Sharon

  11. You really started something. I bought Keynote, started playing around with it, and after I got a good grasp of the basics, turned out a pretty decent cover for a short story. Just published it on Smashwords: Within the Silence, http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/137817

    I’m so hyped on Keynote — it’s easy as pie to do things that would drive me crazy in something like GIMP or Photoshop. Much thanks.

    • Glad to hear it worked out for you, mate. Nice looking cover. I could never quite make Keynote do what I want myself. Not sure why– it’s supposed to be easier than PowerPoint :).

      • It does require several work-arounds, like creating portrait orientation inside landscape orientation. And I couldn’t find a way to save it as anything but Keynote format, so created a screenshot for the jpg.

  12. Great post; I’ve used powerpoint myself for ebook covers and, while it has a bit of a learning curve and some peculiarities that I still don’t grasp (and I’m still clicking aimlessly through menus half the time), it is a simple and affordable way to get some covers done. By playing with transparency (ie. selecting a color in an image to make transparent) you can actually build designs based on layers of different images — for example I took a parchment background, layered a blood spatter over it, and then layered a picture of a weapon over that. All were purchasable stock images. I found a good procedure if you are doing ‘layering’ like that is to build the image you want, save as a jpeg, crop the jpeg, then open that jpeg as a new powerpoint project and build your titles and things on top of that, otherwise it’s too fiddly.

    There are all sorts of other tricks you can do by changing the shading and saturation, using background images that are built into the program, and playing with fonts and wordart. I certainly have a ways to go in creating stuff I’m completely happy with, but it’s been fun!

    • Thanks Bill, apologies for taking so long to approve the comment. I was at the Black Library Live convention. Excellent tip about transparency. I will give that a try myself at some point!

  13. Even though I’ll be using Inkscape and OpenOffice Draw on Linux, this article is still great for basic design and layout considerations. Thanks!

  14. Great post! I used PPT to rework my book cover for the kindle version. Wish I’d read this post before doing it…I learned a lot of tricks I’d never have come up with on my own. Thanks for taking the time to share all you learned!

  15. Thanks you for tell everyone on how to make an affordable covers. I am a newbie at self-pub. And to tell you the true some of the sites I have been too can to pricey. I wanted to make my own cover after I came across several books using the same pictures, I think the worst cover is where someone pieced together body parts! Like I said, that was when I decided to make my own. I’ll let you know how mine come out. Thanks again.

  16. mike dungey says:

    is there a website where someone can be taken step by step in cover designs like an over your shoulder program? I have less understanding than a second grader when it comes to this stuff, but as an author, I need to learn cover designs, at least the basics.

  17. William, do you have a suggestion on who to use to publish my e-book? I know nothing about formatting or anything but typing the manuscript, I hate to admit…Any help or suggestions??

    • No idea, Rachel. There are plenty of people out there who will take your money. I have no idea which of them are any good. I found that learning to format an e-book took me about an afternoon. If you can use a word-processor you can format an e-book.

  18. Hi William, With your help, I think I can actually do this. I have gone back and forth trying to figure out whether to pay bookbaby to do it or if I could actually do it myself. I’ve found a photo or two on one of your suggested sites, however, I am not sure of which size I should purchase. There is an image and print size from very small all the way up to huge. I’m not sure which I should purchase that will be the best pixel while the right size for a thumbnail of an ebook so that people can actually see it clearly when searching. What do you suggest? Thanks every so much for this very detailed and much appreciated tutorial! Thanks in advance for your prompt and helpful reply.

    • Thanks Renee– you need something at least 600 by 800 for an e-book cover. That’s the minimum size. It will vary with the shape of the picture you purchase. Most will be in the right aspect ratio but some won’t be. In most cases there will be an option to purchase something this size or in the ballpark. If there isn’t, you should get it the next size up. You will be able to downscale it when you export the picture. It should in no circumstances be smaller than 600 by 600 :). You don’t need anything huge unless you are also planning on doing a print book, which is a whole other subject and a much more complex one.

  19. Janet King Williams says:

    Thank you for sharing your idea on covers. Seeing as I’m just starting out and don’t have the money or resources that would make for a more sell able product, I have to do the best I can and learn as I go along. I have to admit that yours is a very affordable way. There is only two book covers on my site that I have used it on so far, and they are “Dunnwood” and “Seoul to Soul”. As I play around with it more, I will be replacing some of the covers.
    If you should come up with other affordable ways, please share them.
    Thank you again.

  20. Bev Walshe says:

    Hi William-
    Thank you for this!!!
    I could not believe how easy it was – I had the technology at my fingertips and I don’t even know it (and my powerpoint is 2003) – I had my cover for The Ungrateful Refugee up on Smashwords in a few hours. I will definitely be down loading your books as the best way I can think of saying thanks!

    Bev

  21. I found out something else very useful in my latest batch of cover designing (and redesiging!).

    Most of my covers had a slight blur to them, noticeable on amazon. Partially this was from not setting the pixel size when I was doing ‘save as,’ which is something you cover above. But it was also from Powerpoint’s default export resolution of 96 dpi (ie. whenever you ‘save as’ a jpeg it does so at 96dpi).

    This details how to change your registry settings (not as complicated as it looks or sounds) in order to save those jpegs at 300 dpi!!: http://www.motifolio.com/tips2.html

    The difference is resolution is pronounced, though I have yet to go through the whole process of getting one of the new images up on amazon.

  22. Hi Mr. King,

    I’m using Power Point 2007 and I’m having all kinds of trouble saving it as a picture. Any advice?

    Thanks!

    • None unfortunately Keith, I am no expert on PowerPoint 2007. I have almost no experience with it.

    • I use ’07 — all you do is select ‘save as’ in the main menu, select ‘other formats’ to the right, and then you have the ability to name the file and select what you want to save it as (jpeg more than likely).

  23. Interesting method with powerpoint. Thanks.

  24. Once again thank you so much for the idea. I have been making covers like a mad woman. My friends are amazed, one even thought I paid someone to make them!

  25. Elizabeth West says:

    Heh, I just did one. It looks kinda cool. Thanks!

  26. I want to thank you so much for this post. I have been trying to figure out how to make ebook covers look professional for so long. I don’t have photoshop or gimp skills either.

    Thanks Again,

    Leigh

  27. simply but awsomeeee…. :)

  28. Mr. King, I love you for posting this. I have been searching relentlessly on this topic, and was preparing myself to just pay someone else to create my Ebook cover. I’m not sure why I never thought of using PowerPoint (I’m a horrible failure at Paint), but thank you, thank you, thank you for suggesting it.

    I’ve also noticed some other intriguing posts here (including ones regarding WoW), so I am officially a fan.

    Thank you, again!
    Catherine

  29. You are the God of the advisers… I tried to use GIMP, but it was so complicated… This is the article of the year to me.
    I have a question: the type Calson Antique is gret for fantasy… Could you recommend me a type for science fiction? The basic fonts of the Open Office Writer or the Power Point are so dull.

    • Thank you. I wish I could recommend a font but I am about as far from being a competent graphic designer as it is possible to get. I don’t really know very much about fonts at all. I just flick through what’s available on my computer till I find one I like. Sorry!

  30. Thank you!! I’m so glad that I found this. I did my eBook in Microsoft Word and now I need a cover for my thumbnail and was ready to rip my hair out until I found this! Now I just have to figure out how to format the rest properly before I finally publish it. But this is a HUGE help!

  31. Michael W. Riley says:

    William:

    I’m relatively new at writing and have been experiencing an encouraging level of success (enough to continue in the endeavor). Money is tight, but for the sake of writing I have just purchased Microsoft Office 2013 and was completely unfamiliar with Power Point and the strength that lies within that program. I was debating and wondering how in the world could I purchase an honest to goodness cover design program, but it was there all the time. So I Google searched and your extremely concise summation came up. I am now in the process of improving my book covers as we speak according to your dissertation.

    What you did was from the goodness of your heart; so this is one “fledgling” author who will never forget you.

    I thank you profusely and wish you the best of luck in your endeavors and the happiest of holidays.

    Parker James

  32. Thank god!! I REALLY don’t have the money to be spending on a cover as much as I wanted something professional…I get made fun of for workin off a Mac and not having any ability to do anything with it aside from typing away on the word processor all day…soooo happy to have found a quick easy way to do my own…best part is it’s free cuz I have my own photos!

  33. This was a fantastic post– I have read and bookmarked. Not just that–but I have created a book cover I am so happy with! I’ve been literally pulling my hair out about what to do–this answered all that. Amazing job! And thank you!
    From,
    Yet another very un-tech savvy person!
    :)

  34. William, your advice was fantastic! I used your step-by-step instructions to give my eBook a much nicer cover than the plain grey one I was using. Heck, people probably thought it was porn…probably would sell better. I’ll be posting your advice on the Facebook page for our writing group. Keep up the good work.

  35. Thanks! This has been very helpful! One question though: It says 3×4 or 6×8 for the Page Setup in MS Power Point, however, what is the equivalent to 1400px? I’m assuming px=pixels? I keep trying to upload the cover, but it always says it must be at least 1400px. Can anyone help? Thanks!

  36. (^_^) I would like to thank you for your site, as looking for information about ebook covers is hard using BING or GOOGLE. (o_o) You simple won’t believe how many sites I found advertising how to make an ebook COVER!? Though, now, I know how and what a cover should look like, now, I only need an article on how to chose a name and the proper picture. I am a creative person, but no experience with that part of it. *Sigh* Maybe I’m searching for too much perfection…

  37. David Jordan says:

    Hello William.

    Thanks for your help and encouragement. I have just created an e-book cover in 30 minutes! It is really just what we wanted. This is a cover for David’s wartime book The Shelter. Gail and David

  38. Thanks. This was very usefull. I’m trying to make a cover image for an e-zine. Cheers from Croatia:-)

  39. well, now. i’ve created my own first book cover in less than 15 minutes. thanks! and greetings from a charlotte, nc transplant from new york!

  40. When I try to create a cover in Power Point, the program automatically reduces the size of the image, when I convert it to JPG. That makes that the cover is useless to send to sites like Smashwords. How can you avoid the resizing of the image?

    • If you are using a Mac, you can follow the instructions given in the tutorial above. If you are using the Windows version (Powerpoint 2010), you can follow the link to the instructions given in Bill Ward’s comment above. (http://www.motifolio.com/tips2.html) If you’re using anything else, you’d be best served by reading the manual since I don’t know the answer :).

  41. William, thank you very much for this information. My book “Case Denied” Cost Benefit Analysis, Your life depends on it, should be completed soon. My 35 years plus in the insurance claims profession has left me with many interesting stories, or at least I think they are. “War Stories” as many in the field call them. Thank you again! Jeff Weiss

  42. Just dropped by to tell you and everyone just how helpful you have been. You have inspired me to greater things. My covers now are much better and I have even had people ask me to do some for them. Please go to my site at http://www.Goldendragonpublishing.com and see what I’ve done. Thank you again.

  43. Thank you so much! I am a young aspiring author and I am hoping to become a self published author within the year and I want to make a snazzy book cover. This will help me so much!

  44. angstafford2013 says:

    Hi William, Great demo. Thank you. I was wondering if you know how to get the cover to display on the file name in the ebook library. When I import my ebook into my kindle library, it just have a default image. whereas the others have their cover displayed as well as the title as the name instead of the name.pdf.
    Thanks,
    Angela

    • No idea, Angela. I use the method detailed in Create Your Own Ebooks, Step by Step With Pictures and my covers always appear in the Library.

  45. Amanda Boyt says:

    Thanks for such a helpful post. I’d like to do more ebooks, but w/o paying for a designer for some of them. Also, I checked out your books & was amazed to find you wrote the books (Warhammer, etc…) that my husband absolutely loved reading years ago. He’s not big on Amazon, but I told him about your books on Kindle, so I know he’ll love them. Must be *kismet*!

    • Thank you, Amanda– glad to be of help. Nice to hear your husband enjoyed my Warhammer books. I am still writing them to the present day. That’s coming up for 25 years now I have been doing them. Scary :).

  46. Paul Davies says:

    Thanks so much for this, William. My previous efforts were in Paint and looked really amateurish compared to the results I’ve achieved using Powerpoint – and all done in twenty minutes flat! Best of luck in all you do.

  47. Hi William. I’ve just managed to use powerpoint for the first time, following your instructions. My stumbling block is that I went into dreamstime and couldn’t work out what size illustration I needed to buy for an ecover. Any ideas? Thanks in advance. Ros

    • Depends on where you’re planning publishing your ebook, Ros. The requirements change from time to time so I recommend reading the guidelines at your distributor of choice to see what they are currently using. At Amazon it is currently something like 1600 by 2400 although that’s just what I remember off the top of my head.

  48. Hi, I was happy to be reminded of the fact that part of my Microsoft Word Package could help me make my ebook cover! I nearly paid more money for another program. One problem however is that I’m having trouble getting the 1600 X 2400 pixel size to work (which is what Smashwords say is the required sizing of all their cover art). It defaults back to lower numbers as though that configuration is impossible. Which ‘page set up’ option will allow me to use those dimensions? Hope my question makes sense!

    • I managed to figure it out. It wasn’t working because I was choosing random sizes under ‘page stetup’ that looked like the size of a book. I’m going to reply to myself; who knows, someone may have had the same question. I basically googled how many inches was 1600 X 2400 pixels and it is 4 inches by 6 inches. After I figured that out, I changed the settings from cm to inches in preferences. Then, once I knew what to enter in ‘Page Setup’, it started saving fine as a jpeg and is keeping those dimensions. Thanks for this site though! Hadn’t even thought of using Powerpoint before this :)

  49. Hi Bill. Many thanks for a great post. I have finished my book but was finding the cover page part a real stumbling block! Amazon’s instructions are to use cover art of at least 1000 pixels on the longest side. Your example uses a 600 x 800 image, is this ok to use with Amazon or have their requirements changed? The photo I would like to use is available as 586 x 819 or 1172 x 1638 pixels and I am confused as to which to buy. Any advice you are able to give would be very much appreciated.

    • Thanks, Sue. Get the bigger one (1172 x 1638) then shrink it down to the size Amazon requires when you export the cover. Amazon has increased the size requirements for its covers since I wrote this article (to match the larger screen resolutions on the iPad, assorted Android tablets and the new generation of smartphones.)

  50. I know it’s been a while since you first posted this, but Thank You so much! I used it to design my Kindle book cover–Fairy Tales for Bad Girls on amazon–I can’t post it here, looks like, and it’s not as snazzy as yours but if I could figure it out, your advice is definitely great.

  51. Hey William,
    MANY thanks for this post. After hours of trying to put together cover art for our first book about living in Ireland, the rights of which after nearly 25 years in print, have reverted to us, I found your post. And viola! Here we go Kindle!

  52. Great article. I am a cover designer, and yes using these methods will get you a cover, but I cannot tell you how many people design their own cover and then want it re-done later. You don’t want your cover to scream that you did it yourself and that you are self published. I love working with new authors and my prices are very cheap, feel free to contact me if you’d like a cover designed that will save you time and money. :)

  53. William, you and this article are a Godsend. Thx for the extremely helpful info!

  54. I want to say thank you so much for your insight on this! It save me time and money. I was about to purchase the Adobe Photo Shop. You are awesome! Now, all I need it to practice to make perfect.

  55. This is brilliant! Thanks so much for taking the time to lay the procedure out like this. I love your book covers. They look so professional. Could you tell me what fonts you use for your title and name on the books – Stealer of flesh and Weaver of Shadow.
    Thanks again!

    • Thanks, Danica. Having written this article, I am embarrassed to admit that the covers you like look professional because they are professional. They were not done by me but by Clarissa at bookcoversale.com who I whole-heartedly recommend. I can’t tell you what the fonts are because I don’t know. Sorry :).

  56. Finally – something I can use to create book covers – that doesn’t require a degree in rocket science!! You sir, are a genius!!

  57. Bill
    One question emerges for me after reading you infomrative articl. I work on a Mac. Can I use its Keynote in place of Power Point?

    Thanks

  58. William,

    Awesome job – I actually just posted this same idea and stumbled upon your article afterward. Here are the links to what I came up with – I have three more made; maybe you’d be interested in running some of them on your site since you have so much readership!

    Tutorial #1 Tutorial #2

    Cheers,
    Kevin

  59. I just started to make my Cover, thanks for the advice. It seems easy enough, but my son is really good with Power point it will take him no time. Thanks again your wonderful

    Extra_Satisfaction

  60. Does the size you mentioned here works both for Smashwords and Amazon.com?

    • This article was written a long time ago, and Amazon, Apple and others change their image size requirements regularly as they improve the screen resolution of their hardware. The best thing you can do is check on their home pages to see what the current requirements are.

  61. William- I realize this article is old, but I’m hoping you can give me some advice on creating my cover. I have a very specific scene in mind for my cover, and I’m going to hire an artist to draw it. She draws mainly in pen and ink, and pencil. She has agreed to do the scene, but wants to know what size paper I want her to draw it on.

    I assume the actual size doesn’t matter since the digital image can be resized, but I’m thinking the proportions do matter- so is there any specific directions I need to give her in order to make my life easier and make the image look the best?

    Also, do you have any experience with converting this type of art into a book cover? I’m not sure what is the best way to go about converting it to a digital format– Scan the drawing? Photograph it?

    Any input would be greatly appreciated.

    • Scanning is the way to go Scott. Just aim for the art to be roughly the same proportions as the shape of the cover. Don’t stress too much about it though since you will almost invariably end up selecting just a part of the image anyway– at very minimum you will most likely lose a bit to bleed over the edges. One thing to remember is to tell the artist not to put lots of detail where the name and title will most likely go– in most cases the upper part of the image. Any detail up there will be lost anyway and may provide a confusing background to the titles themselves. Most cover artists will do this automatically but I mention it in case yours is inexperienced. Anyway, hope this helps :).

      • Thank you for your input. This artist has not done book covers specifically, so that will probably help. One other question- I understand that I need the legal rights to the image. Is there a standard contract or something I can use for this?

        Thanks again.

        • If you are commissioning new art, Scott, it’s probably something best talked over with a lawyer. Legal requirements vary from place to place and I don’t know of any standard contracts available on the internet. If you are using stock images it’s all covered in the terms and conditions of the image library.

  62. Thiago Moreira says:

    Thank you man! Fantastic!

  63. I still have know idea what to do concerning this cover, but your step by step instruction shall yield me the ability to create a fabulous cover. Thanks for your time!

  64. eyal schwartz says:

    Thank you so much
    I am just about to release my first ebook and your how to make your own cover was very helpful. have a happy new year.

  65. Deni Rogers says:

    My Hero…
    having self published with a very amateur cover I found your page and have re-done a cover, which I’m very happy with. (and if I can do it anyone can.) Thank you William. Happy New Year.x

  66. Are you aware at all if it is legal to use drawings of images? For example if I were a crazy amazing artist and see a picture of a person or image I would like to draw and use on my cover (electronically like on an IPAD/drawing app), would this still be a copyright issue, I know you said you are def, not a lawyer but just curious if you may know this answer. Thanks!

    • I can’t imagine there would be a copyright issue if you were the artist. You would own the copyright. Where there might be an issue is with permissions– if you are using a drawing of a living person, for example, you might need their permission to use it– I honestly don’t know. I can imagine there might well be legal problems in certain jurisdictions if you used the image of a living person doing something illegal or that they felt portrayed them improperly.

  67. William

    I’d like to thank you very much for you article above about designing books covers via Powerpoint.
    I produced both the covers of my two novels myself after reading your ‘how-to’ and they both turned out great.
    I saved the resolution as 100 DPI, which suited both Amazon and Smashwords.
    Smashwords distribute to Apple iBooks and Apple insists on at least 100 DPI.

    This isn’t a shameless self-promotion blurb, I thought you might like to see the results I got with your advice and Powerpoint.
    Both covers took me less than 15 minutes to make, once I settled on the picture I wanted to use.

    http://www.amazon.com/ALF-Warz-Sergeant-Kevin-Lumley-ebook/dp/B00EHECCNI/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1389756330&sr=1-1&keywords=alf+warz

    http://www.amazon.com/Crustacean-Carnage-Kevin-Lumley-ebook/dp/B00HURRWIO

    Many thanks: Kevin

  68. Thank you so much for this! You made it so easy!

  69. Beth Douglass says:

    i love this idea so much! But i don’t have powerpoint. is there anyway to do this on microsoft word? PLEASE tell me if there is.

    • I honestly don’t know, Beth. The only way I can think of would be to lay out the cover in Word as you would lay out a conventional book cover, save that as a PDF then convert the PDF to a JPEG. I am not sure how I would go about doing that, but it must be possible. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

  70. Brigitte says:

    Just tried this myself at home and it was so easy! You did a great job with the step by step instructions. Thank you! Great post

  71. Excellent tutorial to design ebook covers. We have featured it here : http://theneodesign.com/best-ebook-cover-design-tutorials/

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