Let’s talk about the second or third circle of my own personal hell.
Book cover design.
As most of you know, I’ve released my first original novel online called Finding Fae (it’s free and you should totally go read it). It updates every Friday, so when I’m not coming up with blog posts on Mondays, I’m working on plots, dialogue, character development, and editing.
I’ve become a writing machine. I don’t sleep at night anymore because I’m busy agonizing over chapters. I don’t eat anymore because, “Oh my God, the update is on Friday/Monday, I can’t miss it!” I’m so busy just throwing crap out there into the void that is the internet, I momentarily forgot about the quality of what I was throwing out there.
Picture it (pun wasn’t intended at first but now totally is). You’re a lone ranger in a sea of millions of other stories, desperately trying to get people to just read your work. Obviously, you’re advertising like crazy and networking like no other, but the issue still stands.
You need a great book cover. But how is this achievable? You don’t do Photoshop, you may not have that artistically-trained eye unless it’s trained on a paragraph, and you don’t have a lot of startup capital to spare. So how do you make something professional, aesthetically pleasing, and only looks like a million bucks?
You do it yourself. And then you end up with something depressing like this:
I know, I know, insert all cringes here. I was going for a minimalist look, okay?! And I also used a different title. A long, long time ago, I started writing because I sucked at drawing. Seriously, if I had the patience to make pretty pictures, I’d be telling stories through that medium instead of jotting down fancy-schmancy words to impress you all (like self-deprecating? Aesthetically pleasing? Who is this laptop-heathen trying to kid?).
So I finally decided to try and do something about it. After lurking on several writing sites where regular writing-Joes had gorgeous book cover designs, I finally found someone who could tell me how this near-impossible feat was actually done. PLOT TWIST: It’s actually kind of easy. And you only need a smartphone to do it. So I decided to use today’s post and tell you all about my adventures in graphic design.
That’s right, folks. We’re talking a Write Club DIY-special. A DIY-special for those of you writers in the same position I’m. Where you just released your original novel for anyone and everyone to read to get that *exposure* and have no plans to make money off of it in the immediate future.
You need to download yourself a couple of apps on your smartphone. I’ve already gone ahead and written down a list of the apps I used on my book cover, as well as one I may get in the future. I also added links to them so you can see the summary of the app written by the creators themselves. I believe they are all available on both iOS and Android.
PicsArt (free): This is what I used to create my book cover. It has a ton of options for filters, color schemes, and effects. You can also layer pictures so you don’t have just one depressing-looking flat image to work with.
Back Eraser (also free): When you want use multiple images on your cover, this is the app to get. Say you find two great pictures and you want to layer them. With this app, it’s easy. You just use your finger (or a stylus) to trace around what part of an image you want to keep, and everything else gets removed! It’s awesome, but does take a little finessing and some trial and error to make it work.
Phonto (free as well): This app gives you more fonts to choose from than PicsArt so you can give your title a little something extra that will make it pop!
Superimpose ($1.99): I haven’t tried this app because I’m cheap, but from what I’ve gathered, Superimpose is the metaphorical bomb.com in the photo-editing game. It’s used by pro photography folks as well as your average Joe. It’s pretty much a one-stop shop and takes less time to get a final result because it’s basically Back Eraser and PicsArt in one app.
The apps I used were pretty easy to navigate and after playing around with PicsArt, Back Eraser, and Phonto (I won’t tell you for how long), even my technologically-illiterate self was able to create this.
Now we can all breathe a collective sigh of semi-relief. It’s still not great, but it’s definitely better than it used to be. Right now, I’m regarding it as a good placeholder until I can find a graphic designer.
Again, guys, all of this was done for free on a smartphone. The images were ones I found online so they aren’t mine and I claim no rights over them. I’m not making any money off of my novel, so I’m not making any money off of these images. I advise you to primarily use clipart or pay someone to create a book cover for you if you plan on selling your novel, but this is for the folks like me who are just starting out.
Hope this helps!