How to create a book cover using free photo editing software

First up I want to make it clear that this is how to do the final editing of your cover not how to make the artwork. You can commission an artist to create the artwork or if you have some artistic abilities yourself you can choose to make it.

If you plan on releasing your book through print on demand and as an eBook it is always best to start with the paperback cover as you can crop the eBook cover from it once it’s completed. This is how I will be approaching it.

Now before you get started you need to make sure that your artwork matches the specifications of your book trim size or if the artwork will cover the spine and the back of the book you need to do a few calculations beforehand. Note that I am using the guidelines set out by CreateSpace.

To work out what size your artwork needs to be you need to follow these formulas.
Cover width = bleed + trim size + spine width + trim size + bleed
Cover height = bleed + trim size + bleed

To work out your spine width you simply multiply the number of pages by 0.002252 for white paper or 0.0025 for cream paper. And the bleed size is 0.125 inches.

Here is an example:
0 .125 + 5 + 0.665 + 5 + 0.125 = 10.915 inches wide
0.125 + 8 + 0.125 = 8.25 inches high

If you require more help regarding CreateSpace covers you can find it here
Now to create your cover you will need to have a photo editing program and the one I will be using is a free to download program called PhotoScape.

After downloading PhotoScape you want to launch the program and click on the editor icon. Then to begin you want to resize a plain white image to the size of your trim plus the bleed, to do this in PhotoScape you will need to convert your measurement into pixels, to do this I use an online converter.  

Once you have the dimensions you want to click home on the bottom navigation bar and click the arrow next to resize and select adjust height, afterwards you will want to do the same for width. Save and then open your artwork.

Next you want to insert the plain image you have just created, to do so click the object tab and then the photo icon. Locate your image and then click ok.

Once inserted you will see a pop up where you will want to slide the opacity down so that you can see the artwork through the plain image. Now position it to the left and clicking on the plus paper icon duplicate it and position the second to the right. This will give you a frame of reference as to where to place your text.

Next you want to set out all the text which will appear on your book cover. Simply click the T icon and in the pop up you can change font style, size, opacity, alignment, and add shadow if you wish.

Note that to create your spine text you will want to select vertical.

After everything is where you want it you can delete the plain image by clicking the rubbish can.

Next step is to save, it is very important when you are saving that you select 100% quality and select a DPI higher than 300.

Now that you have saved your cover you will want to make a cropped version for the eBook. For Kindle a cover of 1563 x 2500 pixels is a recommended size and for Kobo and Smashwords 1600 x 2400 is recommended.


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