literary_equine (literary_equine) wrote,

Creating Book Covers For The Poor, the Inartistic, and the Desperate

I have recently been commended for the covers of the recent essay and fiction story I put up on Smashwords. The pictures are here and you can click on them to enlarge them:

However, I confess that being financially strapped, inartistic to the point of unable to draw a straight line even with the aid of a straightedge, and desperate, I was able to create them quickly and dirt cheap:

Here's how it's done:
  1. Go to and download their FREE paint program.
  2. When you open the program, the size of the canvas is perfect for Smashwords, CreateSpace and Lulu for their standard covers.
  3. Pull down the Image menu and click on Rotate 90 degrees.
  4. Now go to the Internet and in the Image section of Google look for classic paintings or the subject of your cover. On the left of the screen under Any Size, click Large.
  5. Select an appropriate painting, and download it to your computer desktop (or cut and save in your browser). The vast majority of these paintings are in the public domain, but be careful as some photographs of them are copyrighted and some paintings have not yet entered public domain.
  6. Cut and paste the picture into the Paint program. It will be bigger than the canvas so it will ask what you want to do. Click on Keep Canvas Size.
  7. Move the picture around with the mouse until the part you want on your cover is framed. Now the title.
  8. Using text in Paint can be rather tricky for the novice so be patient with yourself. On the Tools pallet located in the upper left of the Paint screen, click on the Text button. This changes the screen above to the name of a standard font (normally Arial) on point size 12.
  9. It's easier to make titles by first clicking on the Center command. Now here is where it gets tricky.
  10. In the lower left hand corner is a color pallet. If your cover is dark, make the primary color of your text white. If it is light colored, keep the primary color dark.
  11. Now click the cursor on the screen where you want the text CENTERED and I would recommend you make sure it aligns with the 300 mark on the ruler which is the exact middle of your cover. Type in your title.
  12. Now without clicking anywhere else on the cover, go up to the Text area and play with the various fonts and sizes. The changes will show up immediately on your cover. Until you click somewhere else on your graphic, you are free to play as much as you want. (Note: Don't get too odd with fonts and sizes and another recommendation: If you use a subtitle, use the same font as your main title, but a size or two smaller.)
  13. When you get what you like, add your author name around the bottom, but a little to the right. See my own covers for examples.
  14. Happy? If not, keep doing Ctrl Z until you get back to your normal picture before you added text or start over again from Step #5,
  15. Save as a jpeg file and upload it as a cover to Smashwords, Lulu or CreateSpace.

Note: Even though the picture is in the public domain, you should always give credit to the painter. On my essay at the end, I have: Cover graphic is taken from the 1834 version of Edward Hick’s "Peaceable Kingdom." On the story, I wrote: Cover picture is 'Landscape with a Bridge and Fortress', 1843 by Andreas Roller (1805-1891).

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