As I progress toward publication of my first book, I’m learning all sorts of new things that are part of the process. Today’s lesson:
I am NOT a graphic designer.
In order to publish on Kindle Direct Publishing for sale on Amazon, you have to have some kind of cover for your book. Realizing this, I started researching ways to get a cover designed quickly and cheaply.
I watched a video tutorial on Ernie Dempsey’s site about how he designs his own book covers using a free utility called Gimp. It lets you edit and manipulate photos, add text, and insert all kinds of cool visual effects.
I thought that sounded great – especially since I’m trying to keep costs down, and the production schedule… well, on schedule. This would allow me to come up with my own design based on my own photography, and I could do it without a PhD or a bottomless expense account.
So, I downloaded Gimp and started playing around with it.
It seemed pretty cool – I even managed to create a basic design using an old picture of my son, looking angry at the camera, and even added the title and byline text to it.
Sadly, it just wasn’t doing it for me.
This is supposed to be a humorous book, and the picture in question showed my son in anything but good humor. Not wanting to portray an otherwise sweet kid in such a poor light, I thought that doing some sort of cartoon caricature of a screaming kid would fit the bill. Luckily, Gimp allows you to draw your own, so…
Here’s my attempt at drawing my own cover, using Gimp to draw on my track pad:
Looks more like a drawing OF a gimp, done on a track pad; or maybe a drawing BY a gimp, drawn on a launch pad – while a departing rocket lit his hair on fire.
Go ahead and say it – I already know.
That thing is just plain awful.
This is just proof that sometimes you’re better off leaving certain things to the professionals – or even to a really talented amateur.
So as of today, I’m still without a cover for my upcoming book.
On the positive side, however, I did learn where NOT to look for one. My artistic rendering of a zombie-stick-person in hysterics is hardly the cover I’m looking for – but since that’s obviously the worst drawing on the internet ever, I now have my starting point, and nowhere to go but up.
So, the search for a good cover begins…
While I stick to writing.
A friend who helps others publish swears by fiverr.com for cover art. Quick turnaround, and cheap enough to not be catastrophic if it doesn’t work out.
Good advice, Andrea – I got the same advice from some other people smarter than me – judging by my drawing, it’s advice I should probably take!
Great post, Mac. And that drawing cracked me up. I’m no good with drawing on those graphics programs either.
Couple of great resources to use with GIMP: I use Bigstockphoto.com to buy images that can be put on book covers. It’s reasonably priced to get the standard license with most images, which allows you to sell up to 499,999 books before having to pay for the more expensive, high end licensing (as I understand the fine print). You could also use a service like 99Designs, which has produced a few terrific covers for me, but they cost around $300. The nice thing with them is that you get dozens of designs submitted from different artists. Lastly, take a look at Elance.com. You could probably get a great design for around $50-100 dollars.
I enjoy creating my own covers but I’m going to try out Elance for my upcoming release of Move the Mountain.
When you use Bigstockphoto for images, just import them into GIMP and watch a few YouTube videos on how to get them Kindle read.
My wife was telling me to quit screwing around and just go to one of the stock photo sites as well. I saw that you used 99designs for The Grecian Manifesto, but the price chased me away – for now, anyway. You did get a really great cover through that process, so maybe that’ll be an option for later books. I hadn’t even considered Elance – I’ll check that out as well.
Thanks for the tips – your webinar video on your resources page was a big help, too. Looking forward to the end of this month, when I’ll have some more free time to read your book!
Mike, I think the drawing looks amazingly like you during the Jet Screamer years!
Ha! I was waiting for one of you guys to make that observation! Good thing Gimps are like wine – they get better (and less stick-person like) with age!
I can totally relate to the DIY mentality, I have dabbled in Adobe Illustrator in the past and do a good job of copying someone else’s work. However, I am not as good at original art. Luckily, I found fiverr and it has been a life saver. I think you should give them a try.
Dabbling is an affliction of mine – I tend to waste a lot of time trying to figure out something new when I would be better served to let an expert handle it. Need to work on swallowing my pride more in order to boost my productivity! I’m working on finding an cover artist on Fiverr, thanks for the tip!