Designing a cover for your masterpiece often involves a lot of hand wringing and angst or the exchange of hard-earned loot. I’m going to walk you through how I use open-source (i.e., Free) software to create a cover image file to send to your publisher.
A lot of people use a cover artist to create a cover, but you have to pay for the service, and sometimes if a book doesn’t sell, then you never get into the black. First, let’s talk about finances.
I’ve always created my covers but assume that a writer is going to spend somewhere between $50 – $300 per cover. You may pay more or less but adjust the numbers to match your unique situation. For the purpose of this explanation, let us assume a price of $50 for a cover. I would think that you are going to pay at least $50.
If your story is going to sell for $2.99 as that’s the lowest price you can charge and get a 70% commission on each sell. Three bucks means that every copy you sell will put about two dollars in your grubby hands
Complicated math tells us that you have to sell 25 copies of your story to pay for the $50 cover design fee. Twenty-five copies may mean that you’ll be working for the cover designer instead of yourself. For a new author, having to sell twenty-five copies may mean that you will never make a penny on a story, much less be able to buy that new vibrator you’ve had your eye on.
I’m going to attempt to create a cover with InkScape for my upcoming story, House Party 3, to show you how easy it is.
First, download the development copy of InkScape 1.1 at InkScape.org. The current released version is 1.0 but go into the development section and download the latest version. You will also need to download 7zip if you don’t have it. 7Zip or another type of decompression program will open the file.
Unzip the file and place it on your computer. Using the Windows explorer look in the \bin folder and double-click on InkScape.exe. The development version doesn’t have an installer yet so you have to manually start it. What I did was create a link on my desktop to run the program.
I create simple covers with typically an image, a text box with my name, and a text box with the name of the story. So it’s three things mashed together.
- Double-clicking on InkScape.exe should start the program.
- Click on File | Document Properties.
- I always make my covers 1600 pixels wide x 2400 pixels high. If you use different size covers, enter the width and length as appropriate. Change the Display Units to Pixels (px).
- In the middle of the Page document properties, first change the Units to Pixels (px). Then enter a width of 1600 and a height of 2400. Your Document Properties should look like this.
Then click on the X to close the window.
- After closing the Document Properties, you should see a wireframe and checking the rulers; the size should be 1600×2400.
- Using the Windows File Manager, find your cover image. Left click on the image and holding the left mouse button down, drag it over and drop it inside the frame. Just okay the default import options.
- The image will likely not fill the wireframe of the cover.
- Point in the middle of the picture and holding down the left button, drag the image until the top left corner snaps to the corner of the frame.
Using one of the corner handles, drag the image until it fills the frame. I’m assuming that your image is the right ratio of width to height. If your image is not a 1:1.5 ratio, then you’ll need to open it with GIMP or PhotoShop and crop it. I’ll save that exercise for another time.
- At this point, our wireframe should have the background image fully filling the frame.
- Click on the A on the left hand tool box to creat a tex box. Click inside the background image and you should see a blinking vertical bar. Type in “House Party,” without the quotes. Select the pointer tool (the arrow at the left side, top). Then drag the handles until the text looks reasonable. As the background is dark, click the White square on the bottom, which will change the text to white and better contrast the letters against the background.
- Pointing in the middle of the text box, drag the words around until they look good. Remember you can drag the handles to change the size of the words.
- Using the same method, add a three on the dude’s shirt.
- Across the bottom, type in my name, Larry Archer. Our cover is complete!
- That wasn’t hard, was it? Now we just need to export the image. This is an area of InkScape that needs to be cleaned up, in my opinion. First, save your cover to the computer.
- Click on File | Export PNG Image. Set the Image Size DPI to 300. Then change the width and height to 1600 x 2400. Note that the DPI changes to 96 but ignore that for now.
- Click Advanced in the export section, then change pHYs to 300 DPI.
- Click the Export As button and select a file name and location.
- Then finally, click the Export button, and we are done.
If you right-click on the exported image, it should be 1600×2400 pixels and ready to ship off to your publisher. Pat yourself on the back for saving money and you’ll be able to pocket all that loot rather than sending it off to the cover designer.
What is nice about object software such as InkScape, everything is an object, which can be moved, resized, or deleted easily. Once you have a starting cover, save it as a template. By opening a template, all of the setup steps are already done for you to minimize the amount of work to create a cover.
Until next month, this is Larry Archer, signing off and reminding you that National Masturbation Month is almost over, so keep practicing. If your credit card is burning a hole in your pocket, grab a dirty story to read from Larry Archer. Some of my stories are on Kindle Unlimited and can be read for free. Check out my blog at: https://LarryArcher.blog