Saturday, March 15, 2014

Post Apocalyptic, Stephen King-ish Book Cover

Five miles outside my small hometown in Texas is a small stretch of land with eight cars from the 1930's and '40's lined up at an angle near the fence line. They are rusted and dark with no trace of paint or interior. They appear to be sinking into the soil.

I don't know what it is about rusty old vehicles but I wish I had a pickup like one of those sitting in my front yard. I'd plant flowers and vines overflowing from the truck bed. A soothing mix of desolation and charm.

My favorite pre-made book cover today is this post-apolcalyptic design:


I borrowed a sample title from William Faulkner.

Here are the stock images this one was made of, for those who are curious:


Here it is with the Rule of Thirds overlay, which I mostly ditched.


Then I was looking at those "points of impact" (the four spots where the lines cross) and thought that one below the pikcup would be a good place for a half-buried skull.


It's on my pre-designed book cover store.

P.S. If I ever get a pickup like that in my front yard, I'm going to paint cracked, faded letters on the side that say "Butts McCracken Plumbing". Dang, I am truly inspired now.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Build your own book cover on CreateSpace

This is a step-by-step tutorial for authors who want to use their ebook cover to "Build Your Own Cover" on CreateSpace. With this, you can select a color for the back and spine that coordinates with your front/ebook cover as well as enter your back matter right there on-screen. This is a great way to get your print-on-demand book going without the expense of hiring someone to design the entire wrap-around cover.

If you're not a do-it-yourselfer, or want your back and spine to contain design
elements from your front, check the print cover service on my store.

A note about your ebook cover size: Hopefully most premade cover designers are delivering ebook covers at size 6x9" (1800 x 2700 pixels), 300 dpi. That size will meet specs for kindle upload, smashwords upload, the 6x9 print cover, and the 5x8 print cover with a little nudging (you'll see what I mean in the steps below). It can also be easily adjusted to meet kobo and nook specs.

This tutorial skips the details of entering your title, authors, and uploading your interior document file - they really do walk you through it simply, step by step - and goes straight to the book cover design section. So work your way through the Title Information, ISBN, and Interior sections.

When you get to the Cover section, follow these steps to use your ebook cover file for your print book:


  • Click "Cover" in the onscreen menu.
  • In Step 1. You'll select your preference of glossy or matte cover finish. In this example I've selected the Matte finish.
  • In step 2, on the same page, select "Build Your Own Cover Online".
  • The "Launch Cover Creator" button then appears; click it.




  • When the cover creator loads, click "Next Page", at the bottom, until you get to page 5 of 5.
  • Select "The Spruce" and click OK.



  • When you get to this point, you'll see each step lined up on the left in those blue bars.
  • First select a "Theme". The different themes just change the font used for the back matter and spine, as well as the shape of the photo box (you can ditch the photo box in a later step if you prefer). Take a look at them and pick the best one for your genre. I've selected "New Dawn" for our sample.
  • Click Next.
  • This takes you to the Title box on the spine. It is probably already filled in from when you entered your book details earlier but you can to take a look here and change anything that needs changing.
Books with fewer than 100 pages will
not have a section for text on the spine.
  • Click Next.
  • This takes you to the Author box on the spine. Again, probably already filled out. If you have 2 or 3 contributing authors you could take this opportunity to just list their last names if you want. Or uncheck the "Visible" box to leave the author name off the spine completely.
  • Click Next.



  • Now we get to upload our cover.
  • Click "Upload", find your cover's .jpg file (you do not need a .pdf here) and double-click it. It'll take a few seconds while it uploads. I tend to design ebook covers with the text pretty close to the edges, so if CreateSpace gives you any smack for the text, email me and say "Hey Cheryl, can you adjust that text for my print cover, it's too dang close to the edge." I'll say "Sure man, no prob." (and no extra charge).
  • The red around the edge will not appear on your actual book; they're just showing you the no-fly-zone where image is good but text is not allowed. You can see the text doesn't look quite centered but just imagine your image extending all the way through the red border and you'll see it winds up centered after all.
  • Then you see where you can nudge it in different directions but it should already be centered and ready to:
  • Click Next.



  • Now you're at the author photo. You could upload your author photo, or uncheck the "visible" box to make it go away: OR if you have a person/people on your cover, crop the image all the way down to their faces (1.5x1.5 at 300 dpi - holler if you need help), save it and upload it in the Author Photo section. Now you've got a cool cover feature on the back.
  • Click Next.
  • This takes you to the Back Cover Text.
  • Remove the sample text they've inserted in the text box, highlight it all and hit delete.
  • Copy your blurb from wherever you typed it up and paste it into the text box. Or type it up right there in the text box.
  • Click Next.



  • Now for the fun part - Background Color.
  • Click that gray box and you'll get a drop-down box full of lots of colors to choose from.
  • Test any colors you think would coordinate with the main colors of your cover. I tried a few greens for our sample but wound up going with the "pale goldenrod" predominant in the sky.
  • We'll fix the font colors in the next step.
  • Click Next.


  • In the Font Color section, you have a white box to click and get another drop-down box full of color choices for your text. I chose the darkest green for our sample.
  • And NOW you're ready to click Submit Cover. Woohoo!

If all went well, you're back at the first screen shot, from the beginning of the cover process.
Click "Full Size Preview" and there's your cover.

If there were any problems (for instance, text too close to the edge, like we discussed earlier), they'll give you a little alert that there's a problem to fix. Make the suggested fix and move on. Happy happy.

  • Click "Complete Cover" and you'll see Upload Complete in the same area. You'll also notice a "Change Cover" button in case you want to make some adjustments or, you know, change the cover.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Predesigned book covers with beautiful dresses

I spent a few hours today designing premade book covers with beautiful dresses. I read a comment on kboards the other day where one lady said she didn't care if a romance had a guy on it or not as long as it had a beautiful dress. Several others chimed in agreeing. I was thinking, man, that is so true; when I'm browsing for a historical romance to read, a beautiful dress will draw me in every time.

So I went shopping for images of beautiful dresses and more images of beautiful backgrounds. And a lot of times I just make my own backgrounds when a particular idea gets stuck in my head like this first one in red.

Here is the beautiful dress collection from my predesigned book cover store...

favorite predesigned book cover of the day
my favorite premade book cover of the day





There's some hubbub on another kboard thread where a poor guy thought he had the only cover with a particular cool image but was disappointed to find out otherwise (some other designer). Most of my covers wind up different from the stock images I start out with. Mathilda Falling started with a white dress on a dummy with a plain gray background; then I incorporated my background and that "foggy whiteness". Dear Violet was the girl in the dress (gave her long hair, the stock image had pinned up short hair), a chess board, a meadow - three separate images, and tons of digital "paint". You get the picture. Some photos are so cool to begin with that it's hard to figure out how to make them unique. In Blue Satin the only thing I did was make everything around the girl white instead of natural colors. And her hair was bright red so I tried to bring it down to a more normal brown.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Custom Quickie book cover design

When you already own a high resolution stock image - or have one picked out - and just need a little help giving it that extra "umph", my "Custom Quickie" book cover design could be the solution.


Get details on the premade book cover store.


Just launched a new landing page for those searching for premade book covers ... ccrpremadebookcovers.com . It looks pretty spiffy. Of course all roads lead to the store.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Premade book covers tweaked for a series

Laurie Breton found a few covers on my store that she wanted to use to replace her previous covers. They needed a little adjusting to get them to look more like they belonged together.

We started with these premade book covers...

premade book covers before tweak

She liked the font in "with this ring" so we used that throughout. I also pushed the color scheme in "this love of mine" more toward the blue greens and overhauled the color scheme in "wild heart" to match the rest. Wild heart needed blue eyes for that character, which is an easy change. This Love needed red hair; I suck at changing hair color and keeping it realistic so I snagged some awesome red hair from another image and used that.

Now we have a set of covers that look more like a set, all from various premade book covers...

premade book covers adjusted for series

Laurie also asked me to take a look at the cover of the first book in the series. It was already an awesome image that fit well in the series. It just needed the fonts to match and a little sky paint...

book cover design update LBreton

Next up is the image for her box set, which is already awesome; we're just going to update the font and bring it out of the warm tone into the cool blues and greens of the series. I threw in a 3D image of a box set. This was a first for me; I'll blog a how-to on it later and maybe add it to the services on my store for those who don't want to DIY it.



Find Laurie's Jackson Falls series on her Amazon page. They have great reviews and captivating stories. Laurie is the USA Today bestselling author of Final Exit.

One more graphic so I can pin it...


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Video of art progress for children's book

My author friend K. Meador hired me to do a few illustrations for her children's story book On Top of the Rainbow. Just for fun, I made a video of screen shots showing some of the art progress...





I love the little whistling tune but every time I see the title, this song plays in my head...



Thursday, January 2, 2014

Science Fiction Pre Designed Book Cover

A friend asked if I had any sci-fi book covers on my store. I checked to see if I had very many left before I answered and saw that my stock is dwindling. I'll spend a few days making more. I really like this one. Hope it winds up matched with a great story. Customized with the writer's title, name, and tag line, of course. It's on the store here. 45 bucks as usual.

ccr premade book cover pre-designed sci-fi science fiction

Here are the image files it was made of...


Here it is with the Rule of Thirds overlay. I always start out with that but don't always stick with it as the design progresses. This time I stayed with it completely.


The first thing I did was put in the textured floor and wall image. I placed the line where the floor meets the wall right on the bottom horizontal line.  When it came time for the planet, I moved it up and down, testing it out, but wound up with it occupying the center section with the guy. Mainly because I wanted as much of the red clouds to show as possible.

So we've got our big focal point, the planet in the portal, squarely in the upper two-thirds. Balancing that is the title, tag line, and author name in the bottom third. And then our guy in the center.

Then I took the green grunge layer back off and decided that was pretty cool too.Probably better. Buyer's choice.

ccr premade book cover pre-design sci-fi science fiction