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Designing a Book Cover - The First Layer

I'm gonna take a step back from my typically scheduled posts (like The Legend of Kyd Lumin wiki) and focus on a series of posts that outline the steps I use to design my books covers.

You've written your book. You've proofread it. It's ready to go! You just need that one thing completed before you can upload it for publication.

You need a book cover!

There are many options to do this.

You could hire someone to design it. You can use the generic cover designs offered on some self-publishing sites (don't do this!). Or you could design it yourself.

Let's assume you want to design it yourself and that's why you're on this page. Because, if not, this entire series of posts are pointless.

How do you go about designing a cover?

I use a process of thinking of the book in layers.

The first layer is the main cover image. This is something that captures the feel of your book. That will convey to the audience what it might be about. It could capture the emotion of the story. That critical moment in the climax. Or any number of things that you decide are important to convey in the cover.

Where do you find that perfect image? Do an internet search and just find something that works?

No. Don't do that. It's illegal.

Rather, use a reputable site that offers royalty free images.

A few options are Dreamstime, iStock and Unsplash. Personally, I prefer Dreamstime and have used their images for the majority of my books.

For my upcoming book, The Legend of Kyd Lumin, I found the following image from Grandfailure on Dreamstime. This image has already been cropped to the 6" x 9" size cover. It was actually much larger than this.

Now that I found my main cover image, I do have to make some modifications to this so it is more in line with my story. There are plenty of photo editing programs out that allow you to do this. I like to use the Adobe line of programs.\

So I did some minor tinkering with the image—removing the cowboy hat, editing the hair to a blue tint and the skin color of the arm to a green hue. In addition, I removed those ultra-cool red glowing lines on the arms except at the wrist. And one other final edit but I don't want to talk about it because it's a story spoiler for the upcoming book. All those adjustments are in line with the physical traits of the protagonist in the book.

Here's what I got:

Now, I'm ready to go and start making this look like a book cover.

Check out "The Second Layer" of the design in the next post.


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