This was a practice book cover for a short story, Fireflies, I published through Associated Content (now Yahoo Contributors). It’s primitive, I know, but it was years ago, and was only for practice.
I used Dazstudio (a free 3D program) for the models, adding the fireflies in Photoshop.
I’m lucky that I have Photoshop to work with, but those of you who do not have this program, here are some tips and free programs you can use;
– Know your book cover dimensions. Createspace, for instance, requires you to know how many pages your book will be first and foremost. This is due to the width of the spine. You can also choose the size of the book.
Createspace Template Tool– This page helps you build a template.
Fastpencil.com offers a nice page on their message boards in regards to book cover dimensions.
– Know your fonts. You might want to go fancy with the fonts, but remember that your book should be easily read for both print and e-reading. Some fonts do not translate well to this, and some fonts you’ve downloaded are not available for commercial use. Try to stick with basic fonts.
– Use of graphics. Any graphics you use, you should own the copyright. This includes backgrounds, illustrations, logo, and photos. I design my own. Also note that some graphics won’t translate onto certain version of e-readers (like the original Kindle sees only black and white).
– Remember branding. If you plan on a series of books, consider using a similar design through the series. This can include graphics, color, layout, and fonts.
– Design your book cover. I prefer Photoshop but you can also use the following;
Gimp– This has a bit of a learning curve, but can do pretty much anything Photoshop can do. It’s a free download.
Sumopaint.com– This is a free online service that has tools you can add shape, fonts/lettering, and designs to layers. It saves in PNG or JPG formats.
And if this becomes too overwhelming, you can opt to hire someone, or ask a friend to do the designing for you. Just remember to credit them in your book.