How to Get a Cheap Cover XV

So, what was that third thing I said was on the back of all books? The bar code, the copyright and….  Oh, come on. Stop being silly – it’s the “back of book description” – or the “synopsis” or the “hook” …  you can call it what you want, but any way you slice it, it still means that you have to tell people what your book is about!

You’d think this would be the easiest part of the process. After all, you wrote the book, you edited it, you know it inside and out and – and chances are that if you were to tell me what your book is about right now, you could write two or three pages on it. You can already see where this is going, I’m sure. That’s right, you have to condense, condense, condense and yet still hook your readers.

(You may scream now)

Done? Good. I’d hazard a guess that those of you who aren’t screaming already have a nice, short synopsis/hook written up, whether for query letter attempts, promotion purposes, or because you’re just that damn good. Great! In that case you can skip ahead. However, for those who don’t I’ll try to give you some pointers.

The first thing is length. Depending on your font size, you could probably fit quite a bit on there, but keep in mind that most people quit reading after two paragraphs, unless it’s especially gripping. Yeah, two paragraphs, I know. Where have attention spans gone these days?

Oh look – something shiny!

Hmm? What? Oh, right. That nasty hook. So, how long should it be? I’d say nothing over 300 words. If it helps any, mine sits at 242, including the sample excerpt at the top, which looks about like this:

************
He lay on the floor in a heap. A puddle of congealing gore, so dark it looked black, spread out around him and made the carpet fibers stiff.

“Patrick.”

Whatever killed Patrick wasn’t human, but if it wasn’t an animal what else could it be? What else is there to be?

Katelina is about to find out that if you turn over the rock of reality and look underneath it you’ll find things that hide in the shadows away from the light. Things you don’t want to see. Blood drinking monsters called vampires.

But what do you do when the vampire happens to be so beautiful you can’t stop looking at him? Or when he’s your only hope against a mob of monsters that think you’ve wronged them? Sure, maybe he saved your life, but how can you trust – really trust – someone who isn’t even human?

Katelina has no choice. Hunted by a coven of vampires, she has to rely on Jorick to help her escape. But no matter how far they run death chases them like a shadow until their only alternative is to turn around and fight.

Trapped between light and dark, the pair must travel down a path of mystery and terror as their pasts are slowly revealed and their passions ignite. To survive, the two allies must join in an ancient power-struggle that could very well decide their futures and the fate of the vampire covens…

******************

So, now that you have a word count in mind, what should it say? Some good beginning ideas are to start with “The main character is about to face this challenge because…” or “In the town of whatever the main character is…” or “It was just after some event when the main character…” – see how the most important information is right there? It’s just like writing a newspaper article – who (the main character), what (faces this challenge), when/where and why. From there you can expand on the details of the challenge – and complications – the character faces.

For instance, above, Katelina is turning over the rocks of reality to discover vampires because her friend Patrick was murdered. The first complication to her dealing with this is that the vampire is hawt. And of course, the fact that Claudius wants to kill her is a pretty big complication. Here there is a miniature solution, of sorts – this hot vampire might save her – but here comes the next complication: she doesn’t know if she can trust him because he is a vampire, after all. Blah blah. You get it.

You may be wondering now, should you put an excerpt at the top? Sure, if you have a very, very short one that you can tie into the description/hook without too much bulky explanation. I wouldn’t suggest more than two sentences, personally, but if you can make more than that work then go for it. I’ve seen book backs that have an entire paragraph from the book; in this case it’s usually the very first paragraph, though.

It is worth noting, however, that a back of book description is different from your query letter. In the query letter you mat give away plot points that you don’t want to give away on the back of the book. You can also pepper this with the ever annoying rhetorical question that most agents hate, and the melodramatic moments, like “lost in a world of darkness and betrayal” that are unacceptable when querying. Query letters are built to be precise and super informative, this should be precise, but it can be much less informative, depending on what you;re going for.

Over all, my best advice is to just jump in and mock something – anything – up. Have people read it and listen to their comments. You could even put different ideas up for vote in your blog or website (I’ve done this for a lot of things.) Heck, maybe you can even find a friend or family member who is brilliant at writing these kind of things. Just like with the art work – never overlook the abilities of those close to you. You could be sitting on a treasure trove of amazing ideas.

 

Do you have any suggestions on writing the dreaded synopsis?

How to Get a Cheap Cover XIV

Yes, we’re working on the dreaded back cover, which you may, or may not, need.  If you’re publishing an eBook you probably won’t have anywhere to PUT a back cover, but if your book is going to be printed through a POD, etc, then you’re going to need one!

Depending on your POD of choice and their cover builder, chances are they will put the bar code in for you, so all you’re going to need to do is leave a space for it. (The templates usually have it marked where the barcode goes) And you know your copyright information. If you’re making a one piece back cover, a simple format is to put the following in the bottom left hand corner of your cover:

© Publication Year Your Name (eg: © 2010 Joleene Naylor)
All Rights Reserved
Your website address

If you’re using a cover creator, it may  do this for you, or have a pre-made text box for you to insert the necessary text into.

A note on website addresses:

If you have a cool  dot com – like joleenenaylor.com –  you can present it without the http or sometimes even without even the www. – aka:

JoleeneNaylor.com

Use your judgment on what looks better.

Also, notice how I capitalized the first letters of my first and last name? Before that address was a jumble of foreign letters but now, thanks to the capitalization, it has been broken up into two words that your customer is more likely to remember.  for instance:

http://www.brokentooth.com

http://www.BrokenTooth.com

The capitalized letters will make no difference when typed into the address bar of a browser – joleenenaylor.com and JoleeneNaylor.com both go to the same place, just like Google.com and google.com both land you at Google.

If you have an awkward website address, like:

joleenenaylor.freewebhosting4-ever.com

then you might want to put the www. at the beginning of it. As with anything, the shorter you can make your website address, the better. So, if you’re setting up a site  through a free site, always check the availability of shorter extensions. For instance orgfree.com offers anything from coolpage.biz (not a very professional ending, is it?) to xp3.biz (better) and several in between.

okay, next one is going to be about that horrible synopsis *shudder*

How to Get a Cheap Cover XIII

In the long, long series on how to make a book cover, we are now discussing the mysterious – and sometimes unnecessary – back cover.  If your book is an eBook only, then some of this information won’t be pertinent to you, however, it never hurts to know more than you need.

So, we discussed designing your back cover last time. Now, once you have an idea on what you want, it’s time to get started putting it all together! I do want to take a moment to explain your options to you:

1. You can make it as a single image (like we did in the tutorials for the Winter’s Chill front cover) and then upload it to the cover creators (remember to make it 300 dpi – or Dots Per Inch!).

2. You can make your front cover, back cover and spine into a single image – or “wrap around cover” – and upload it as a PDF.

3. You can completely put the cover together in the cover creators. Choose the option that works best for you.

Of note on the PDF. I’ve heard that some people have problems getting the wrap around cover PDF to work. I had a friend who converted mine in adobe Illustrator for me (No, I’m not rich enough to own that program!), and I had no problems at all, but other programs/converters might. If it does you can either just relax and make your front cover and back cover as full images, then upload those to the cover creator and drop in place, so that the only thing you loose with the method is the fully customizable spine. OR you can download the trial version of adobe illustrator and convert it yourself. I won’t lie, though, I don’t know if using it for a potentially commercial application is against the licensing agreement when you install the trial or not, so you may want to check this. Also, Authentisoftware.net CLAIMS to sell this $600 program for 90$. I don’t guarantee this is legit, but if anyone else knows we’d all appreciate some info.

Cover Templates:
LuLu one Piece: http://www.lulu.com/en/help/book_covers_faq#cover_dimensions
LuLu two piece explained: http://www.athleticaid.com/yaquinapress/CoverExamples.html(very detailed!)
Create Space one piece templates: https://www.createspace.com/Help/Book/Artwork.do

PDF conversions for wraparound covers:
Adobe Illustrator trial download: http://www.adobe.com/products/illustrator/
free online converter: http://convert.neevia.com/
free converter download: http://www.brothersoft.com/office-convert-image-tif-
jpg-to-pdf-free-205621.html

Bmeps (you need some computer skills for this one): http://bmeps.sourceforge.net/install.html
Image converter plus: http://www.imageconverterplus.com/download/
Image to PDF 2009:http://www.softpedia.com/get/Office-tools/PDF/Image-to-PDF-2009.shtml (image must be less than 400k in unregistered version)

How to get a Cheap Cover – Part XII

I’m back from the dead (not literally) with the last batch of blogs in the Cheap Cover Series. What was supposed to be a hand full of vague posts has spiraled out of control, let me tell you! However, I am planning to compile it all and turn it into an ebook on Smashwords,  just so you know.

You make think that you’re pretty clever because you are doing an ebook, and ebooks do not need a back cover. So ha! Well, technically, you’re right. They don’t need a back cover. But wouldn’t it be cool to have the option of printing a copy up for your friends through, say, lulu, for Christmas? Yeah, well that copy is gonna look pretty dumb with a blank back cover. Not only that, but the back cover “image” makes a good website tag, or a good promotional tool, even if the book is an ebook. Just a couple of things to think about.

Now, the first thing you should do is grab a book – any old book will do – and flip it over. Take a look at what is actually on the back cover. You may see some kind of simple artwork or photography (sometimes a continuation of the front cover image wrapped around, or even the front cover over again). You might see an author photo and bio, but you will see a bar code, a “back of book description”, and copyright credits.  (We’ll cover those later)

So, besides those three things, what should you put on your back cover? How did I decide what to include on mine? This is where I pull out my honesty cards. That friend of mine who did the original layouts and such also made a sample back of book cover, using my query letter synopsis and some of my artwork (that was actually for something else, but that’s neither here nor there).

indie back original

I could take a moment here and tell you what is wrong with this design, but as someone did it being kind, I won’t. It’s the thought that counts, and beside, it did something more for me than just showing me what it could be – it gave me a place to start.  Sometimes, staring at a blank, empty stretch of document –  or image –  is really daunting. In fact, sometimes staring at the nothingness can be so overwhelming, that it can paralyze a person.

So, what’s a good way around this “nothingness” paralysis? Look through your book collection, google image search for “book back cover”; in other words, find the back book cover you like, and then use it as a building block for your cover. No, this doesn’t mean that you can use any of the artwork, photography, or text from someone else’s cover. That’s stealing, and copyright infringement and lots of other nasty things. You still have to plug your own content in, but this can give you an initial layout, and a place to start at.

While you’re designing your back cover, keep the front cover in mind! The back cover and front cover need to go together – they need to complement one another. You don’t want to look at the front of the book, then flip it over and go “AGH! Why is the cover green and the back fuchsia?!” You want a reader to flip the book over and see a continuation of the front; it needn’t be a literal continuation, but it should convey the same theme, feelings and ideas.

Have you ever seen a back book cover that you really liked? or one that you didn’t like? Why? What about it made it good or bad?

How to Make a Book Cover in PSP

Yesterday I showed you how to use GIMP to make a book cover, so today I am going to show you how to make the same cover in Paint Shop Pro. Why are we doing it in multiple programs? Because, that way you can get an idea of the difference between them.

Unlike our other two programs paint Shop pro is NOT free. However, there is a free trial and if you don’t have this program already, then I suggest you try before you buy to make sure it’s worth the $100.00 to you. (for the purpose of this tut I am using this free trial version)

***I AM AWARE THAT ON THE COVER INSTEAD OF “CHILL” I USED “CHILD”. DON’T POINT IT OUT!****

1..

If you want to follow along, you can get our sample photo here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/pandora_6666/4401062690/sizes/o/

Since we’re making a full sized cover, you may also need to download the handy cover template:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/pandora_6666/4411724247/sizes/o/

Yes, it’s huge. IMPORTANT: all information should be INSIDE the red lines. Anything that bleeds into the red might get chopped off when the book is printed!

Okay, so install PSP and let’s get going!

The first thing you want to do is go to the full editor mode

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Now, we need to close the learning center

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And open the layer pallet:

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And materials:

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So now we have this:

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First open the template and the picture:

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Select the winter photo (so it’s on top) and hit copy:

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Now go back to the template.png and then go to the layer pallet and make a new Raster layer:

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Just hit okay on the pop up

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Now paste the winter photo as a New Selection:

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Now make this image “full screen”

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Then go to selections – select none:

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Choose the pick tool :

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Grab the corner and drag to resize the photo (note, the dotty line will show you where it will go when you release the mouse – it won’t actually apply until then):

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If you make it too small, then grab the corner and drag it back large again. Once you have it sized about right, use the node in the center to put it where you want it. Remember, everything that extends outside of the canvas – aka what you can’t see – won’t end up visible on your cover.

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Now make a new layer named frame (use that new raster button) and hit okay:

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Choose the selection tool in the tool bar (you may notice that if you click just to the side of a lot of tools there are more options – we need the plain old selection tool)

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Use it to draw the inside of our black frame – click and drag until it makes the box the size you want, then let go

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Now go to selections – invert

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Then choose the flood fill tool

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And make sure our color is black

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Then flood fill it by clicking inside the selection

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Choose the select tool again and right click once in the middle of the image to unselect the frame. Now click the alphabet tool

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And go to the tool options pallet and change some settings – for one thing we want Vivaldi for the font – at size 58 (type it into the box)

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Now, go to the material palette and make sure white is the background color, and shut off the foreground color:

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Then click roughly where you want the words to go and type them in (NOTE: Older versions of PSP have a text box that pops up – and I like that better! However, this is what we have now, it seems…)

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Hit the green apply arrow when you’re done

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A selection box appears around it, use the center node to move into a precise position

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If you want to zoom in, do so by using the zoom tool:

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And clicking on the image until it’s the size you want.

You may notice that we have automatically created a new layer by choosing text – pretty cool, huh? This only happens if you make your text a Vector vs a Raster. Since it is default to vector, we will leave it that way.

32

Now for the author name and tag line. Check your colors again (white background, foreground shut off) Go to the alphabet tools pallet and change our font to Garamond, and the font size to 48 (again, type this number into the box), then click at the bottom and type in your author name and click the green Apply arrow:

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You can use the center node to reposition the text

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And you can also use the corner nodes to resize it – like so:

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I want to take a minute to look at the layer pallet again. In order to see all your vector layers, just click the plus sign:

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Now, let’s make our tag line at the bottom, “Once you feel its kiss, you’ll never be the same…” – leave it as Garamond, make it size 20 and click the Italics button, also be sure to check your colors:

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Cool, huh? Repeat this for our second tag line (A tale of cold terror) above the title:

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I would like to take a moment to mention something about applying text. Let’s say you want to change your color or font size before you’ve applied, but after the words are typed in? To do this you need to HIGHLIGHT the text to be changed:

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There are a lot of text effects: bold, underline, strike through, and you can even make the font “fatter” by tuning that foreground color and changing the stroke width – however, to get to a lot of these options we need to make the tool options pallet bigger:

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However, we don’t need any of that right now. I just thought you should be aware of it

Moving on, we’re ready for our emphasis frame. Select the eyedropper/color picker tool:

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Use the eyedropper tool to select a color from the image – one that is not so dark that it disappears into the black, but not too light. We want the text to be what stands out. The color inside the “box” is the color you will pick when you click.

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Now, choose the rectangle tool:

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Go to your color palette and turn OFF the background color:

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In the tool options palette, adjust the stroke width to 10 (you may need to drag the pallet bigger if you haven’t yet! –just grab where it joins the main window until you get a lighter colored gray line and drag down)

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Then click on the image where you want the rectangle to start and drag it until it’s the size you want (releasing the mouse button will make it automatically apply):

48..

If any of your text need moved, then select the layer that they’re on, then choose the pick tool and drag them where you want them:

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There is one more thing we can do to fine tune this cover. Select one of the layers in the vector grouping (this will be wither your text or your rectangle) You can tell which one is selected because the text will be bold (yeah, they need something a little more specific, *I* think)

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Than go to object – align – horizontally align in canvas and click it

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This text is now perfectly centered. Continue to do this to your other vector layers

Now SAVE AS – under file, name it cover. PNG do NOT save as a JPG!! JPG’s have lossy compression, aka they LOOSE information when they save it, and that’s what makes all those hideous fuzzy things you see on a lot of web images:

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(note should you need to change it to png – check the second text box – then use the drop down arrow to get a menu and select png)

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Click yes

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And you’re done!

cover finished - resized.

FULL SIZED COVER: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pandora_6666/4413464810/sizes/o/

At this size, your cover is big enough to use for a print book, like at Lulu and Createspace, or you can still use it as en eBook.

One final note: your pc might not be able to handle this image size well, depending on your RAM and processor. If it won’t, resize the images by changing the dpi to 100

dpi1

dpi2..

dpi3

dpi4

When your cover is completed – and saved as a merged png – then close it and reopen it and change the dpi back to 300. (you may need to type in the 6 x 9 inches or the 300% as well as the dpi)

dpi5..

The next installment will be those pesky back covers, and then we can get back to the whole indie publishing experience! (I should turn this cover thing into a book! Yeesh! Talk about out of hand!)

How to Make a Book Cover in GIMP

I’ve been discussing covers, and I am supposed to be posting the final part – “How to Make a Pesky Back Cover”, however, I’ve changed my mind. I had some questions on the wordpress blog, so I’ve decided to actually do some short tutorials on making the cover – using the three programs I mentioned: Paint brush, gimp, and Paint Shop Pro

We’re going to attempt to make the same basic cover in each program. Though, you’ll see that it won’t look identical, still, the idea is there.

Yesterday I showed you how to use Paint Brush to make an eBook cover, so today I am going to show you how to make the same cover in Gimp. Why are we doing it in multiple programs? Because, that way you can get an idea of the difference between them.

First, you may need to get GIMP. It’s a free program – go to http://www.gimp.org/downloads/ and ignore the bit about binary installers. I don’t know what it’s supposed to mean, but you don’t need to get anything else. Just click the download link:

1

If you want to follow along, you can get our sample photo here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/pandora_6666/4401062690/sizes/o/

Note this is a BIGGER version of the one we used yesterday! So, even if you downloaded it, you need to also download this one. Why? Because GIMP is a better program, so we are actually going to make a full sized book cover instead of the smaller one we made in paintbrush. Because of that, you will need the handy dandy “Joey Cover Template”:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pandora_6666/4411724247/sizes/o/

Yes, it’s huge. IMPORTANT: all information should be INSIDE the red lines. Anything that bleeds into the red might get chopped off when the book is printed!

Okay, so install Gimp and let’s get going!

When you open it, the first thing you may notice is that there are “bits” that are independently floating around. Don’t panic, they’re supposed to be that way. If you’re going to use this program a lot then you can customize all of that, but I’m not getting in to any of that, so we’re just going to leave it as is.

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First open the template (you will probably have to MOVE one of those floating “bits” – just click on the bar on top and drag it, like you would any box in windows):

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Open your picture in the program:

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Now, go to the cover template and find out the size of it by going to image – canvas size:

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Highlight the height and copy it by right clicking inside the box and choosing copy:

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Now go back to the tree photo and choose image – scale image:

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In the pop up box, paste the copied height numbers into the height box – if you click inside the width, you will see that it automatically updates itself to keep the image the same proportion. When you’re done, hit scale:

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Now go to edit – copy:

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Then go back to the template and first make a new layer by right clicking where it says Background  A new box will pop up, just hit okay, and you will now have two layers in your pallet:

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Then choose edit- paste

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Choose the move tool

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Move the photo where you want it – remember, our photo is wider than our cover, so we’re going to lose some of it. Those dotty lines show you where the photo extends beyond the canvas edge, while what you see is what you’re going to keep:

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(Alternately, you can just copy the image without resizing it and use the scale tool to resize the image, but for a beginner, I think the resize, then copy method is easier. It’s personal preference)

Now, make a new layer by right clicking in the layer pallet and choosing new layer, only name this one frame:

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Now pick the rectangle selection tool:

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And draw a rectangle to create our frame – click where you want the corner to start and then drag it until it’s the shape/size you want (what is INSIDE this rectangle is what will be showing of our picture after we get our frame done)

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Make sure the foreground color is set to black, and choose the flood fill tool:

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Then choose selection – invert :

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And flood fill the frame:

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Choose the select rectangle tool again and click once in the middle of the image to unselect the frame. Now click the alphabet tool, and in the tool pallet below the tools, change the options. As you may remember, we used Vivaldi in Paint Brush, so do the same here, also, choose white for the color, just like we did there. What will change, though, is the font size. This is a bigger image, so it needs a bigger font size – in this case 280 (type it into the box). Also, instead of having to use spaces, we can just choose to center the words automatically. Cool, huh?

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Now draw a text box (click where you want the corner to start and drag, then release when it’s a good size). If you make it too big or too small don’t worry, it can be resized by dragging the corner smaller or larger.

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Now, inside the small pop up, type in our title: Winter’s Chill, and it will automatically appear on our image:

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If you need to, you can click inside the text box and drag it around, or resize it. When you’re happy with it, click close on the text editor.

You may notice that we have automatically created a new layer by choosing text – pretty cool, huh?

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Now for the author name and tag line. Go to the alphabet tools pallet and change our font to Garamond, and the font size to 180 (again, type this number into the box), then draw a text box at the bottom and type in your author name:

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Oh no! It’s too high… well, just grab it and pull it to the bottom, then hit close:

<27

Now let’s do the same thing for a tag line “Once you feel its kiss, you’ll never be the same…” – but wait – there is no Italics! Hang on, we can fix that, just go ahead and make the tag line for now (I changed the font size to 80, btw):

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Now choose the shear tool:

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It puts a yellow box around our text – grab the corner and pull it to the right until the font looks italic:

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Then click the shear button to apply:

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Cool, huh? Repeat this for our second tag line (A tale of cold terror) above the title:

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At this point, it’s worth looking at our layer pallet again – holy smokes! Where did all those layers come from!? Well, they were auto generated. Snifty, huh?

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So, make a new layer (right click, choose new layer) and name it box

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Now select the eye dropper/color picker tool:

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Then go back to the layer pallet and select the layer with the winter tree photo on it:

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Then click inside the image with the eyedropper until you get the color you want to make the emphasis frame. Remember, we want the title to really pop, so we want to pick a subdued/darker color – but not so dark that it disappears against the black:

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Now select our box layer again

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Then choose the path tool

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At this point, you may want to zoom in

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Now, draw a path to create our emphasis frame – click where you want it to begin, then click at the next corner – grab the green circles and move them to make the line straight:

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Continue around until you have a rectangle:

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Now, in the tool pallet choose “stroke path”

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Change the line width to 9 and hit the stroke button:

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Now click on another tool so you can see your finished cover!

If any of your taglines need moved, then select the layer that they’re on, then choose the move tool and drag them where you want them:

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Now SAVE – under file, name it cover. PNG do NOT save as a JPG!! JPG’s have lossy compression, aka they LOOSE information when they save it, and that’s what makes all those hideous fuzzy things you see on a lot of web images:

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(note – you may need to use the Browse for other folders) to save it exactly where you want)

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Move the slider to 0 for better quality

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And you’re done!

cover finished - resized

FULL SIZED COVER: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pandora_6666/4412694759/sizes/o/

At this size, your cover is big enough to use for a print book, like at Lulu and Createspace, or you can still use it as en eBook.

Next up is Paint Shop Pro!

How to make an eBook Cover in Paint Brush

I’ve been discussing covers, and I am supposed to be posting the final parts – “How to Make a Pesky Back Cover”, however, I’ve changed my mind. I had some questions on the wordpress blog, so I’ve decided to actually do some short tutorials on making the cover – using the three programs I mentioned: Paint brush, gimp, and Paint Shop Pro

We’re going to attempt to make the same basic cover in each program. Though, you’ll see that it won’t look identical, still, the idea is there.

If you want to follow along, you can get our sample photo here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pandora_6666/4401062690/sizes/l/

(Yes, we are doing this in miniature because it’s easier to work with. For an eBook, this will be good enough. However, for a print book, you will need to use a larger image size and make a larger cover – about double this at least, or else it will turn out blocky when it prints. Also of note, we are NOT worried about the 6×9 cover size because, again, this is for an ebook where it won’t matter. If you are making a print cover, you’re going to want to start with a picture that is already 6 x 9 inches!! To get an idea of the image size you would need for a 6 x 9 print book, you can download this handy dandy front cover template I made.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pandora_6666/4411724247/sizes/o/

You can use it if you’d like – that’s why I do this stuff – but of note is that all IMPORTANT information should be INSIDE the red lines. Anything that bleeds into the red might get chopped off when the book is printed.)

Step one is to open your picture in the program:

1

Choose the rectangle tool and make sure the last option is chosen (aka background color only).

2

Make sure you have black set as your background color:

3

You do this by RIGHT CLICKING on the black in the color pallet (A.)

Now, draw a rectangle across the top of the picture by clicking, dragging, and releasing:

4

Do the same thing along the sides. As you go you will need to scroll down and do it in small pieces.

5

To keep it lined up, start from the edge and pull your box towards the center. Release the mouse ONLY when the line is even with the one above it. If you need to, there is an Undo button, but there are only THREE undos.

6

When you get to the opposite side, you can either use a ruler or get a piece of paper and put it against the monitor. Now, make a mark on either side of your black border. Move the paper so that it overlaps your screen and the marks line up with the other side of the cover, then use this as a guide. You can also use your finger, an ink pen, whatever you have handy – or just eyeball it:

7

If you look closely, you will see that I have accidentally neglected to go all the way to the edge of the picture. If this happens to you, just draw another rectangle up the edge, careful to keep it from overlapping.

8

When lining up the “pieces”, you can use the zoom feature for more precise work by going to View – Zoom – Large Size:

9

When your borders are done go back to the bottom and make it thicker than the other three sides:

10

Now SAVE – under file, name it cover. PNG do NOT save as a JPG!! JPG’s have lossy compression, aka they LOOSE information when they save it, and that’s what makes all those hideous fuzzy things you see on a lot of web images:

11

Now, let’s do our type. Go to the Alphabet tool – MAKE SURE YOU HAVE TRANSPARENT BACKGROUND SELECTED! (The bottom box):

12

Now draw a text box across the top (note, where you put the text box is where the words will show up, so put it where you want it!!)

<13

Now choose your font face (here I’m using Vivaldi), size (90 – I got this by TYPING 90 into the box and hitting the enter key) and whether you want it Bold, Italics, etc.

14

Also remember to choose your color (I’m using white):

15

Now, click inside that text box you made and type in your title (in this case Winter’s Chill)

16

If you need to center it, or what not, then you can use spaces to do so.

When you’re happy with it, just click somewhere else and it will be applied automatically.

17

Now for the author name and tag line.

Scroll to the bottom and choose the alphabet tool/colors again.

Draw a text box and pick a suitable font – in a smaller size (I went with Garamond, size 50 – again, I typed that number into the text box next to size)

18..

Type in your name and use spaces to center it:

<19

Now let’s do the same thing for a tag line “Once you feel its kiss, you’ll never be the same…” Only, we will make it italic to make it look a little different.

20

And let’s add another one at the top for fun – do it the same way you did the others, using the spaces to center it:

21

Lookin’ good, but I like squares, so, let’s add a nice emphasis frame. Since we want the title to be the thing that pops out, use the eyedropper to choose a color from the picture – put the eyedropper in the location of the color you want and click it once:

22

Now, choose the line tool, and the desired line thickness:

23

To use the line tool click where you want the line to START and DO NOT LET GO until you have dragged the line where you want it to END:

24

Your line will automatically straighten as you move it around. If your line ends up crooked then hit UNDO and start it over again. Once it’s done – and straight – we’re going to “cheat” – select the selection box tool

25

Now draw a box around our line, making it as slender as possible, and also making sure to NOT have black at the top and bottom aka:

26

Now copy…

27

And paste….

28

29

As you see, it pastes is right against the edge, but that’s okay. So long as the dotty line is around it, and we’re on the selection tool, we can move it where we want it. So, scroll up and put it where you want it, then click off of it.

30

Now paste the line in on the other side – make it as close to that side as you can get. But don’t worry if it isn’t perfect, we can fix it.

31

Now, select the line drawing tool, and draw a line from one side to the other, where you want your frame to end:

32

We’ll fix this later. Meanwhile do the same thing at the top

33

Now, to fix this. Pick the paint brush tool:

34

Make sure your color is black in the pallet and then zoom in on that large size and use the brush to clean up the stray lines:

35

Zoom back to normal size and save!

36..

And, you’re done:

cover finished - resized

Full sized cover: http://i76.photobucket.com/albums/j35/pandora_6666/forblog/covers/paint%20brush/coverfinished.png

Pretty easy, huh? Of course, there is the size issues with paint brush, so I really don’t recommend it for making print covers, but for an E-book it will work perfectly. If, however, you want to use paint brush to make your print cover, start by opening TWO paint brushes. In one, open the book cover template, and in the other open the picture you want to use on your book cover (remember it needs to be BIG!) then copy it and paste it ON TOP of the template, and go from there. As I said, it can be done, but it’s hard to see much of the cover at once.

I should be posting the gimp version tomorrow, so stay tuned!

How to Get a Cheap Cover – Part XI

(I’ve been running a series on my MySpace blog called “Adventures in Indie Publishing” where I tell everyone how I made a muck up of it all so that they don’t have to.  At the moment I’m exploring “How to Get a Cheap Cover” and, after a suggestion from Ruth, I decided to post it here as a series )

Before you can actually make your cover the best thing to do is get your cover template. If you publish through create space you can get the template really easy by uploading your interior file. Once you do a link will appear that says “download cover template”. The resulting template will be perfectly sized.

If you know your page count you can also get your one piece templates here:

LuLu: http://www.lulu.com/en/help/book_covers_faq#cover_dimensions

Create Space: https://www.createspace.com/Help/Book/Artwork.do

These are one piece cover templates – think of it as if you pulled all the pages out of a book and then laid the cover flat out.  Even if you are doing an ebook it will make your life easier to download one of these.

The best way to use these templates is in a program that allows for layers, such as Paint Shop Pro, GIMP or Photo Shop. You could do it in Paint Brush without layers, but it would make it infinitely more difficult. Remember, if you don’t have any of these programs, GIMP is a free download, and it’s a pretty powerful program, might I add, with a lot of online tutorials to get you going.

You may notice that Create Space says that you must use a program that saves the image as a PDF, but this is not so. Yes, you will need a PDF in the end, but there are ways to convert it, which we will cover later.

Handy Glossary:

Bleed: The Bleed is the area between the “safe zone” and the trim line. Anything that you want to completely fill the space, eg go clear to the very edge of the cover, should extend INTO the bleed for safety sake.  This includes background/fill colors.

One Piece Cover: This is a cover that wraps around the whole book. Imagine taking all the pages out of a book and laying the cover face down and open. That’s a one piece cover.

PDF: Portable Document Format; created by Adobe, it’s used for everything from ebooks to manuscript submissions

Safe Zone: the area of the cover where your content is “safe” aka it won’t get trimmed off when they cut it down for the book.

Tagline: The snappy line on the front or back of your book that catches people’s attention.

Trim Size: This is the size the book is “trimmed” to, aka, the size of the final product. Anything drawn outside of the trim lines will be cut off without question.

How to Get a Cheap Cover – Part X

(I’ve been running a series on my MySpace blog called “Adventures in Indie Publishing” where I tell everyone how I made a muck up of it all so that they don’t have to.  At the moment I’m exploring “How to Get a Cheap Cover” and, after a suggestion from Ruth, I decided to post it here as a series )

The font – or typography – on your cover can be just as important as the picture you chose. I’ve seen covers that would have been brilliant had the font worked well, but instead were only mediocre.

So, where do you find a font? Well, there are a lot of “free” font sites out there, but my favorite is Dafont.com. They have a great variety, it’s neatly organized into categories, the fonts are labeled with their individual licenses in the preview pane and, even cooler, you can choose the text you want displayed in the previews.

When I was looking for a font for my cover, I knew I wanted a serif font. Wait, Serif font? That’s a font like times new roman that has the little bits on the ends of the letters. This blog explains it with a great illustration: http://www.thepixelboutique.com/2009/03/the-truth-about-type/ .

So, anyway, I wanted a serif font that was close to times new roman and was in all capital letters. So, I hopped onto Dafont and….

covers 2

Now you’ll see there are different kinds of Licenses on the fonts: Free for Personal Use (this means you can do what you want with it so long as it’s for yourself, like personal webpages, gift labels, etc), Free (this should mean free for all, but you should always check the website of the font creator, or the read me file included in the zip file you download to make sure they mean free for commercial use), Shareware (which allows you to use the font for free as an evaluation, but you need to eventually pay for it) and Public Domain (which literally means not copyrighted).

Remember, even if it says Free you should still check the website or read me file. I’ve found fonts before that were labeled free, but then their technical information said that in order to use it for anything that you received payment for you had to notify them and send them a free copy of the product.  The font I used – Optimus Princepts – has the stipulation that if I make any real money off of it I should donate some to a charity. However, I haven’t made any yet, so….


Picking Just the Right Font:

So, even looking at only the free fonts, how do we know what font is THE font? A lot of it comes down to the gut feeling. “Does it look right?” If it doesn’t, then that’s not the font you want. But, I’m going to try to give you some design pointers.

1. You will probably want to use two fonts on your cover – one for your title and the other for the author name or tag line. You could even use three fonts, so long as they really go together, but any more than that will make your cover look too chaotic.

2. That really cool, twibbly font may look awesome, but can you READ it? You want people to be able to read the title and author name easily.  If they have to squint to figure it out, you’ve failed. Covers should impart information quickly, so a simple font is best, even for a “fancy” cover. There are plenty of clear, easy to read fonts that have some extra loops or swirls.

3. If you must use that super swirly, twirly font then try using it for the capital letters of the books title only, ala illuminated manuscripts of the medieval period. This will give people half a chance at reading the rest of it.

4. Don’t mix too many different kinds of fonts. For instance brush script would look horrible with a futuristic, bubble font.  Use only one dressy font and then use very plain fonts for your other(s). You only want one to really grab their attention; if they’re all trying to stand out at the same time then it will just be a confusing mess.
5. One way to give the illusion of mixed fonts, without having to actually use more than one is to take advantage of bold and italics.  of course, don’t go overboard.

Once you have your font(s) chosen then download, unzip and install.  If you don’t know how to do that, then this guy shows you how: http://mintywhite.com/xp/xcustomization/install-new-fonts-in-windows-vista-and-xp-how-to/

some more handy links!

serif/sans serif explained:http://www.thepixelboutique.com/2009/03/the-truth-about-type/
how to install fonts: http://mintywhite.com/xp/xcustomization/install-new-fonts-in-windows-vista-and-xp-how-to/

find fonts:
dafont : http://www.dafont.com
1001 free fonts: http://www.1001freefonts.com/
Urban fonts.com : http://www.urbanfonts.com/

Manfred Klein: (all free for commercial use) http://manfred-klein.ina-mar.com/

Larabie Fonts: http://www.larabiefonts.com/

Typodermic Fonts http://www.typodermic.com/larabie-fonts.html (some are free, some cost)

Ultimate font download for $30.00 http://www.ultimatefontdownload.com/?gclid=COaj3Ieq36ACFY2F7QodgnUTDA

Does anyone else have any good font resources?

How to Get a Cheap Cover – Part IX

(I’ve been running a series on my MySpace blog called “Adventures in Indie Publishing” where I tell everyone how I made a muck up of it all so that they don’t have to.  At the moment I’m exploring “How to Get a Cheap Cover” and, after a suggestion from Ruth, I decided to post it here as a series (because it’s a long, long post!)

So far in this series we’ve covered the “picture” that will be on your cover, but there’s another component that is just as important, yet often ignored, and that’s the type (aka, the title, the author’s name, etc.)

I’m going to assume that if you’re making a cover then you’ve chosen your book title and author name (to use your own name or a pen name? Hmmmmm….)  but that still leaves a couple of things: the back of book description for, you guessed it,  the back of the book (which I’ll cover later) and the question “To tag line or not to tag line?”

What’s a tag line? A tag line is that little sentence on the cover of a book that grabs your attention. Things like “Soon to be a major Motion picture” or “Five Stars – the New York Times” are tag lines you’re probably not going to deal with. However, if you have a review already, or even just a cool comment from a friend or relative like “Gripping, suspenseful tale”, then you can use this for your tag line. The key to this is that you want something catchy, and you want it to sound professional. You want to use their full, legal or pen name, not their nickname, screen name or “Uncle Bob”.

If you don’t have a “blurb” from someone then don’t worry, you can use something else that adds to the title of the book. For instance my title is Shades of Gray and my tag line says “Not everything is black and white…” (Yes, I realize now that “Nothing is black and white” would be better, but such is life) which I carry over to the back with “Not everything is black and white, not even vampires…”

How do you come up with a tag line like that? That depends on how much you’ve “over thought” your book. If you’ve had the six month craft-the-perfect-quer- letter-fight, like I did, then there’s a good chance you’ve over analyzed it to the max. When I started that gruesome task, all I could think of was, ‘the book is about some really cool vampires.”  But, as I was forced to examine and reexamine and make up a load of artistic crap *cough*,  I came to the conclusion that though, yes, it IS about really cool vampires, the whole theme of the book was that there is no good and evil, or right or wrong, it all depends on where you’re standing. For instance, had I written the book from Clausius’s point of view, it would seem that Jorick and Oren and Katelina were the bad guys because they have kidnapped his mate.

So, after over analyzing the book, I came up with the “blurb” to tack on the end of my query letters, aka the “Nothing is Black and White”, which not only made my “theme statement”, but also played off the title. Funnily enough, it eventually got cut out of the query letter as the people helping felt it was to “derived”. But what is too “derived” for a query worked well for a tag line, I think.

That said, my best advice is “Don’t over think this!!” Don’t stress about it, or spend hours or days wracking your brain. Just sit down some afternoon and write out a list of ideas, even sucky ones. Then, wait until the next day and go back through the list and see what pops out at you. It’s even better if you can get a friend or family member to take a look too.

Another option for a tag line could, of course, be something like “The Sequel to Whatever”, or “Book Two in the Underwater Monkeys Trilogy” (I’d so read that!) or even “From the Author of How to Make a Rainbow out of Cheese“. But, it has to actually be relevant to your book.

Of course, if you don’t have a tagline then don’t worry. You don’t need one. However, tag lines are  handy things to have because you can use them in so many other places besides just the cover, like advertising blurbs, email signatures, you name it.

Does anyone else have any advice on how to come up with a “blurb”?