A week of resources and inspiration for the Writer – Day 4

Today’s post will, I hope, be of use to those of us who are considering or already engaging in self publishing. The publishing industry is shifting and has in recent years become a living breathing beast, growing in different shapes and sizes on an almost daily basis. I read countless of threads on forums about the pros and cons of self publishing vs the traditional method and I try my best to stay out of the argument. I do not believe either method is perfect. That being said, traditional publishers are shrinking their exposure to print books and expanding into the digital platform. As a result of this, combined with the ease of creating your own eBook these days, more authors are taking things into their own hands. Be it via Lulu or Amazon’s Createspace, or Smashwords for a eBook.

It has never been easier to get your work out there and ready to read. But I believe to do so with success has never been harder. This post will focus on tools that can help you create the cover that will help you sell your work. Your book cover is in my opinion your single most important tool in getting a readers attention. Of course, in the long run the actual content of your book, good reviews and word of mouth will likely prove the defining factor in your success. However without a cover that draws the reader’s attention you will never even have the opportunity to win their loyalty with your writing.

Before a purchaser reads your blurb, be it in a bookstore or online, before they open up a page or check the sample pages to see whether they like your style and story, they skim over countless covers. If you haven’t put a lot of effort into your cover you are setting yourself back and hindering you possible success.

For those who find utilizing a computer for anything other than basic word processing a chore, I suggest investing in a professional cover. Do a Google search and find one of the thousands of artists who do commission work. I would recommend going for a less well known one as they will be more likely to have reasonable costs and want to do a good job to build their own word of mouth.

For those like me who like to have full creative control over their project, I recommend taking the time to create your own cover. This can at first seem a daunting task, but with a bit of practice you will find that it is not as hard as it seems.

The first thing that you need to do is download either photoshop or GIMP. If you are lucky enough to have photoshop, or willing to spend the big bucks on it, then it is a far superior product. I personally elected to go with GIMP, which is a free software package with similar functions. You can find it free to download at http://www.gimp.org/.

Once you have this, if you are like me and are an infant when it comes to digital art, spend some time watching tutorials on youtube. One’s like the one shown below will allow you to learn step by step how to create interesting effects for your own cover. Play around with enough of them and you will begin to get a hang of using the program.

 Credit to tutor4u for the video.

You will be amazed at how quickly you can create some amazing effects that will convert your cover text from something simple to something which every reader will stop and look at. Remember to watch some videos on creating background images for your covers. Most of the time its a simple process that will take you a few minutes and provide you with an end product you didn’t know you could make.

Next you will need pictures for your cover. I highly recommend http://www.deviantart.com/. The works collected on this site are amazing. However for the most part you will need to get in contact with the artists and purchase or seek permission to use their work. It is highly important that you pay attention to the license and copyright issues for anything you are considering using for your cover.

Other options are to purchase images from stock or royalty free websites such as http://www.shutterstock.com/ or http://au.fotolia.com/. You will find a large collection of images to use. Once you have the images you need, and are sure you have the permission to use them, have a look at some tutorials on how to place them into your cover. Once again there are countless GIMP or photoshop videos online.

Hopefully with a little bit of effort you will be able to create that cover that sets you apart from the beginners in the market.

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