The Case for DIY Cover Art

Ok, so for my current project, I am going the indie publishing route, for reasons I discussed in this post

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and researching about the process and different steps. One of the biggest stumbling blocks I’ve encountered is the issue of a cover. Most advice-givers will tell you that if you want your book to sell, you should pay a professional to make your book cover.

I agree! I can almost always tell when an ebook cover has been made by an amateur, and it does put me off buying the book just a tad. Even really well-made ones, if they are made by amateurs, tend to stand out. 

However, this is a DIY situation for several reasons. 

  1. I can’t afford to pay a professional to make me a book cover. Prices I’ve seen range from $250 (doable) to $2500 (WTF!), but from what I’ve seen you get what you pay for. I can’t afford high quality and I don’t want to waste money on low quality, especially since low quality can be free if you do it yourself 🙂 
  2. My publishing plan is to publish a series of novellas (one of the many reasons I’m going the indie route). This means each novella will need a different cover–a minimum of 5. Even if I were to hire a designer at $250, multiply that by 5 and you get $1250. Again, not feasible. I’m a teacher for crying out loud. I didn’t go into this career for the pay. 
  3. I enjoy graphic design. I’ve never had any formal education in it, but I’ve been known to play around with photoshop and I’ve made stuff I’m proud of. 

So for now, that is a piece of advice I’m going to ignore. Hopefully, I’ll be able to pay for a professional cover at some point in the future.

Here is how I’m going about cover design. 

  1. Look for inspiration!

I just googled “best recent cover art” and found a treasure trove. It gave me a good idea of what kinds of fonts, backgrounds, moods, etc. people have been using recently. Here’s a collection of my favorites so far. NOTE: I haven’t read most of these books, so I can’t speak to their quality. All I can say is I love their cover art. 

  1. Find or make a template

Once I had an idea of what I was looking for, I set about making a template. I wanted a template for the title, subtitle, and author so each novella was obviously a part of the series. I wanted to brand them, I guess. So whatever template I chose, it needed to be good. 

Here are a couple of examples of my first attempt at template design:

So same fonts, same location of the title, subtitle, and author’s name. I wasn’t disappointed with the design, but something about it seemed amateurish. 

So I tried again. Here are a few examples from my second round of cover attempts. 

That’s as far as I’ve gotten with the design. I like this template a lot more, but I’m not opposed to criticism or suggestions! I’m probably going to do a round three to see if I can come up with anything better. 

To make these covers I actually used Canva, not photoshop. Even their free accounts have tools and resources that make this type of design pretty easy. 

Comments, suggestions, and ideas are always welcome!

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