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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Create A Riveting E-Book Cover...in Powerpoint

Very few people are blessed with mad artistic skills as well as writing ability, which leads most indie authors to dread the cover image creation process. That small little rectangle on the screen with your title and name scrunched in is the first impression readers will have of your e-book, before they even get to the book description. That being said, the text and sharpness of image must be just as clear on the product description page as it is on the e-reader. Make sure to check your final cover image on a variety of views in JPEG format by zooming in and out.


Cover Image Requirements:


Amazon.com: 600x800 pixels

Smashwords.com (Imports to Apple, Barnes and Noble, Sony, ect.): 1600x2400 pixels


Cover Image Options:


1. Hire A Cover Designer 

Quick Steps: Check out your favorite self-published e-books. See an Indie cover you like? Look who the cover design is by. Contact them via email to receive quotes.The cost will range, depending on what you want done. Some packages are available for $100-200. Other professional designs that include custom illustrations can range from $500-1000.

No idea where to start? The Kindle Boards have a list of artsy folks:

http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/topic,123703.0.html


2. Create the cover yourself using public domain images/stock photos

Public Domain Images: free images for use that are not under intellectual property rights. Always examine a "public domain" image carefully for licensing agreements, however.

Stock Photos: a collection of random images to be used for creative purposes-at a cost, available on a variety of websites. Stock photos can be as little as a dollar to hundreds of dollars, depending on the size and resolution. Make sure you read contracts carefully to understand what the copyright limitations are for that photo. If you are using a stock photo with a model who is identifiable in any way, make sure the website has negotiated a model release, meaning the model is giving their permission to use their image to create and sell. (This is also important if you've decided to create your own original artwork and are using a friend as a model, for example.)

www.istockphoto.com 

I have worked with www.istockphoto.com for my book covers without complaint. The website can be on the pricier side, but a little extra for imagination and quality will matter that much more to readers. Plus, istockphoto.com always negotiates model releases, gives you a legal guarantee, and offers a wide range of how the image can be used for e-book authors. (In print, the image can be used for book covers up to 499,999 times, before it requires one of their extended licenses.)


Create the E-Book Cover:

Most Important: At the beginning of the post, you noticed that Amazon.com asks for your final book cover image to be 600x800 pixels, while Smashwords.com recently changed their cover requirements to 1600x2400. Always keep these in mind when buying images, as stock websites like istockphoto.com will offer you a variety of photo sizes to choose from. You might have heard the saying, it's easier to scale an image down than to make it larger, and it's true- no one wants to try and resize their cover image pixel count in Paint and wind up with a blurry image. 

However, I bought  the original YEAR OF THE WOLF cover at 1132x1696 pixels and was able to make it work for both retailers. How? I followed fellow author William King's steps for creating an e-book cover yourself in Powerpoint. I give full kudos to Mr. King for his clever thinking and conciseness: 

http://www.williamking.me/2012/02/22/create-your-own-ebook-cover-step-by-step-with-pictures/

Mr. King has written instructions for importing a 600x800 cover to Amazon.com. For Smashwords.com, when you are setting up the slide's dimensions, simply play around with the ratio. For example, I set my slide's dimensions to 16.7 by 25 inches, and then followed Mr. King's steps. When I saved the slide as a JPEG photo, it clocked in at 1603x2400 pixels.


Check Your Pixels: 


Unsure about the pixel count? Hover over the JPEG image icon to see the dimensions. Or open the image up in Paint and check for the Pixels--PX--count along the bottom blue tab. 


Public Domain and Stockphoto Websites: 


Ready to shop around for cover images? Start at these websites:

1. www.istockphoto.com

2. www.dreamstime.com

3. www.shutterstock.com

4. www.publicdomainpictures.net (free and commercial use)

5. http://www.public-domain-photos.com (free)

6. www.flickr.com (check licensing restrictions)

7. www.sxc.hu (free)


*If you are a cover designer who would like to be featured, send me a message.


Sources:


1. King, William. "Create Your Own Ebook Cover, Step by Step, With Pictures." 02/22/2012. Accessed January 2013. http://www.williamking.me/2012/02/22/create-your-own-ebook-cover-step-by-step-with-pictures/.





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