The last section of the Publish Your Book download I shared was about planning your book. The step after that is of course to write your book! After that I’m suggesting that you draft your book cover, even if it is only a rough sketch (and there’s nothing to stop you thinking about this before you have finished writing, either).
Create Your Book Cover (First Draft)
Just because you are self publishing, this does not mean you can get away with any kind of book cover. Your book cover will still be a huge part of what inspires people to check out more details, even if it never sees the shelf of a single bookshop.
Your book cover must look professional AND be easily visible at the small sizes that get displayed on online bookstores. If you have skill with any picture editing software, now is the time to use it (or learn it), but first take a look at book covers that you like – or even that you have on your own bookshelf. What made you pick up the book? Was it something in the appeal of the cover, the colours used, humour or the message you got from the title? Well you’ve already worked on the title, so it’s going to be important to be able to read that at a small size.
This is only a first draft, so you could draw it by hand (even if it’s a rough sketch) or as I said create it in a photo-editing programme if you have one on your computer. If you have an idea for a picture on the cover, you could use one you already have that fits your needs (so long as you own the copyright), or think about taking a photograph specially. The higher resolution the photograph the better your results, so see if you can get the use of a good camera for this.
There are also places online where you can find or purchase images to use, but you run the risk that others have used the same image before, so I would not really recommend this unless you pay for exclusive use. If you do go this route, make sure that you have paid any fees due. On no account copy a picture without permission, as you will be breaking the owner’s copyright. When your book sells millions, they will be sure to notice and to sue you for your ill-gotten gains.
All images need to be 300 dpi (dots per inch) when they are printed in order to give a good result, so you need to create images with a resolution of 300 pixels per inch.
For the final version of the cover, you will need to know the exact size of the book and the technical requirements. You won’t know that until later, where you will find the detail about finalising your book cover. Don’t spend too long on your cover at this stage, as any of the elements that make it up could change in the next stage – Revision and Formatting. Don’t worry if all you have at this stage is a rough sketch, as Lulu (which is the print on demand company we are using to self publish) has some tools to help you create a book cover if you need them.