e-Book Covers

It’s said you “can’t tell a book by its cover” but every book needs a cover that will “hook” the prospective reader so they’ll pick it up and look inside.

I’ve just finished editing and rewriting A Pirate of the Caribbees by Harry Collingwood. When I say rewriting I mean I converted a 100 year-old text with such archaic writing as:

“For pity’s sake,” I ejaculated, “give me something to drink!”

“Ten thousand pounds?” I ejaculated.

“Thanks,” answered I, with alacrity.

I spent the last four months working to turn the book into something that reads as if it were written in the 21st Century. I pared out nearly 9,000 words from the original text that were just unnecessary but left the basic story line intact.

Next I had to come up with a cover for the book.

Getting cover art isn’t easy. Most writers hire an artist to do this for them. Fortunately I’m working in a genre where there are plenty of images in the public domain. That is they aren’t covered by copyright and can be used by anyone.  In my search I came across a fantastic illustrator named Howard Pyle. Pyle even opened his own art school and one of his students was N. C. Wyeth who did the illustrations for Treasure Island that those of us of a “certain” age surely remember.

I loved Pyle’s pirate illustrations and it was a tough job picking the one to use for the cover of my latest effort.

There are certain things you have to look for in a picture when you’re choosing cover art. Your first consideration is, where are you going to put the text so that it doesn’t interfere with the picture. There has to be enough blank, or empty space for you to do this. Next, you have to go to some sort of photo tampering program and create the cover.

For my first four efforts I used the Microsoft Paint.net program. It was fairly easy to use,”user friendly” and quite intuitive. But then I got hit with an incredibly vicious virus that forced me to reformat my hard drive back to the original factory settings. Fortunately I’m pretty good at saving my work as I go along so I didn’t lose a whole lot of stuff when I reformatted. However, no matter what I tried I couldn’t get Paint.net to reinstall.

I searched all over for another program to use and believe me there are a ton of programs out there. I needed simple and I needed FREE. I downloaded several that just didn’t meet my needs. One that kept popping up and that I loaded is called GIMP. It’s a great program, so I’m told, but the learning curve would challenge a PhD candidate at MIT. I downloaded YouTube videos showing how to “work with layers,” resize photos and everything you need to monkey around with a picture to get a cover you wanted. I couldn’t figure out how to make the damned thing do what I wanted. The frustration kept building. I didn’t want to spend days learning how to make the program work.

Then I found something called Photo Pad Image Editor. It’s WAY better than Paint.net in what it does and within less than an hour I got it to do what I wanted. Talk about “intuitive” and “user friendly.” This is the program to have.

So this is what I came up with:

What do you think?


Filed under digital books, digital publishing, e-publishing, ebook, indie authors, indie writers, writing

3 responses to “e-Book Covers

  1. Nice!
    I am considering self-publishing one of my stories & finding a title is probably the thing I fear the most. Gives me some hope that it worked out well for you!

    With this book I didn’t have to worry about coming up with a title It was already there since what I did was to edit and rewrite an existing book published a century ago. The title of the book I DID write myself, Despair, came about from the content of what the protagonist went through. I’m really not happy with the title and have been tinkering around with a hundred ideas but haven’t hit on the right one yet.

    BTW, I bookmarked your blog.

  2. Hi Richard:

    Congratulations. That pirate looks like the one we had in Panama a long time ago. His name was Henry Morgan. We had more than our fair share of pirates in Panama Viejo during the Spanish colonial period.



    Morgan was quite a character and his story has been told and re-told many times. Hell, they even have a rum with his name on it these days. My favorite book about Morgan was Cup of Gold by John Steinbeck. I read it when I was in high school and I have it on my Kindle today.

  3. LOL – when I saw the name Henry Morgan, the first thing I thought of was rum.

    This was a interesting post. I especially was glad to see your mention of GIMP. I’d heard from a couple of folks it’s a dynamite program, but both of them are Linux users, etc. etc., so I figured it was way about my pay grade. I’ve never even heard of Photo.pad. I’ll have to look into it. I use Picnik, myself, with an occasion bit of the French program Photofiltre thrown in.

    I just learned this week about Morguefile, a great source for copyright free photos. You can check it out here.

    I gave up on GIMP. It’s NOT user friendly and intuitive only if you hold an advanced degree from, say, MIT. Photo pad, on the other hand, took me less than half an hour to figure out and did exactly what I wanted it to do. In fact, I like it better than Paint.net which I thought was a great, easy to use program.

    I looked at Morguefile and browsed around a bit but didn’t see anything I might use in the genre I write and edit in. Also, copyright free and Public Domain are not the same thing. There are a lot of “copyright free” sites but you can only use their stuff if you subscribe to the site and pay a fee. Public Domain, on the other hand is free to use and I’ve found tons of good stuff just doing Yahoo searches.