Create a Professional Looking Book Cover on Windows 7 for $18.50

This post explains how you can create a professional looking cover for your self-published book using the Paint program, a free tool that comes bundled with Windows 7, and at the cost of only $18.50 for cover art. Keep reading for detailed instructions.

Addendum: iStockPhoto now sells 6 photo credits for $9.75.  Even cheeper!!!

1 Buy Your Cover Art

This is the part where your $18.50 comes into play. Right up front ;-). But don’t worry, it’s also the funnest part (according to my wife, Melanie).

Go to the website and shop for a cover image that you like and that represents the topic of your book. Search using keywords to find just the right image. You pay with credits which cost $1.54 a shot. Look for an image that costs no more than 12 credits. Also, try to find an image that is as close as possible to 1280 pixels by 854 pixels (book shaped).

Now, go create an iStockPhoto account, buy the least number of credits you can (e.g. 12 credits for $18.50), then buy the cover image you want.

Download the cover image to the Pictures directory of your PC. Retain the original file name and append the subject of the image to the end of the name.

P.S. When searching for a cover image, be thinking of where on the cover you might put the book title and author name. Light letters on dark areas or dark letters on light areas work best.

2 Start the Paint Program

Paint is a free graphics program that comes bundled with Windows 7. We’ll be using this program to create our eBook cover.

To start the Paint program, left click the Start button and select Paint from the menu. If Paint is not displayed in the menu, enter “Paint” into the search box and invoke the program from the resulting menu.

3 Open Your Cover Art

Left click on that weird looking icon to the left of the Home menu at the top left of the Paint window to open tne File menu. From the File menu, left click on the Open menu item. The Open window should be displaying your Pictures library. Scroll down until you find the image you just bought and downloaded. Double click on the image to open it.

4 Zoom Your Image

Odds are that your image is so large that you can’t see the entire thing in your Paint window. Left Click on the View menu and then the menu item Zoom out until you can see the entire image.

5 Resize Your Image

Now we’re going to make the image the right height, 1280 pixels.

Left click on the Home menu and then left click Resize in the Image category. Within the Resize and Skew window, left click the Pixels radio button. Now, enter the Vertical pixel height of 1280 in the text box supplied. Left click the OK button to resize the image.

6 Save Your Image

At this point, we want to save our work in progress. Left click the funny icon to the left of Home and select Save As and JPEG Image. In the Save As window, name your image after the book it will be used for (e.g. knaveOfHearts).

7 Title Your Image

Before titling your image, let’s set a text color so we’re sure we’ll see what we type. Left click the Home menu, then click Color 1 in the Color category. Now, choose a color to the right that you’ll be able to see (e.g. white on a dark background image or black on a light background image).

Now we’re going to place the title of the book over the image.

Left click on the Text tool (the bold capital A in the Tools category). Now, left click in the image approximately where you’d like your title to appear. Type your title. Don’t worry about how it looks or where it is yet, we’ll be fixing that next. You can enter carriage returns to display your title on multiple lines.

8 Customize the Title

First, select the text you just typed so that we can modify it. Do this by placing the cursor at the start of the text, holding down the left mouse button, and dragging the curor over the text. Once the text is all selected (has a light blue background), you’re ready to customize it.

With the text selected, use the Text Tools to change the font, size, attributes, and color of the text to your liking. White and black are the best text colors since they stand out the best, while red looks like blood ;-).

Once you’re done customizing the text, left click on the text box and drag your mouse to position the text box where you want it. Click on the little boxes hanging on the text box to change the boxes size.

Use all of the above techniques to resize and position your title on the cover. Remember to leave room for the author name. Try to make the title as big as possible to that it can be seen in thumbnails of your book cover.

When you’re done manipulating the title, click anywere on the image outside the text box to nail it to the image.

9 Add the Author Name

Follow the same process outlined above to create and position the author name over the image. In most cases, the author name is smaller than the title, but you’re in control, so you decide.

10 Save Your Finished Book Cover

Your cover should be done and looking fine.

Left click on the funny icon to the left of the Home menu and select Save to save your finished cover.

That’s it. You’re cover is ready to be displayed on your web site or used to publish your book at Amazon, B&N, SmashWords, and CreateSpace.

by Brian Jackson

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3 thoughts on “Create a Professional Looking Book Cover on Windows 7 for $18.50

  1. I don’t use, because in their license agreement, they explicitly forbid using their images on anything that is printed through print-on-demand, and since I create both ebooks and paperbacks, this meant I couldn’t use their images on my covers. (I exchanged emails with their legal department just to be sure about this.) It’s possible that it’s changed since I last checked, but I simply switched to, which I’ve been happy with.

  2. I think I used istockphoto for my cover art and they told me I could use it 500,000 times. As I doubt I will sell more novels than this it seemed fine to me. They emphasized that I couldn’t use it for things like mugs, t-shirts etc.

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