Creating your book cover
Introduction to Elementary Graphic Design
You can produce a fairly good book cover design with your word processing program. If you have any version of Microsoft Word, you have a lot of design tools. I would consult your word processing handbook to learn how to navigate the program and how to use your tools. I won't go into the very basics and assume you know what a shape and a text tool are and how to use them. You probably know how to use your font list to choose a type style or styles for your cover design.
I have created a template illustration for a very simple cover design and then I will show you a cover jacket I designed and used for one of my books. The design of your cover will depend on what you plan to do. The possibilities are endless. Especially in the way you choose to use type on your cover. Take a look at other books and their covers and examine the graphics and how they are designed and composed.
I will cover the elementary steps in creating the framework of your cover and placing the basic elements. And then, you can go wild and design your cover with the tools offered in your word processing program.
Template for a simple book cover
Setting up the framework for your cover
Use your rectangle tool and create three oblong boxes. The middle box will be 8 inches tall by the thickness of your book. A 150 page book spine is about 3/8th of an inch wide, but measure the thickness of your book to make sure. The right box, 5" x 8" is the same size as the right box as you see in the illustration above these boxes form the cover and the back of your book.
You will position your cover elements within these boxes. Most word processing programs have click and drag so you can move things around reshape and resize as you need. You may set your cover up using the layout above or set it up in other ways by your choosing. I suggest to try one version, save it, do a save as, and rename your next idea: Cover number 2, or something like that. You might try three or four different layouts before you settle on what you want. Put your ideas into a folder labeled: Book cover.
After you settle on the layout, You can use your line and fill tools to add color to your book cover with type colors and fill in the rectangles of your layout with color. Look at examples of other covers to get an idea of what colors work. It doesn't cost you anything to create, save and label many different versions of your cover before you decide on what you want.
You can import and insert graphic objects and photographs into your book cover. In fact, you can cover the entire front of your book with a photograph. Make it a bit larger than the size of the book. I created a red outline 1/8th of an inch outside the book area. You can create the same for trimming purposes. That is called the bleed edge. You should also insert trimming marks at each corner of your cover document to use when you trim your cover. You should use dotted lines above and below each edge of the spine to show you where your fold is going to go. You will trim off the bleed area outside the cover and the picture or solid color will run off the page.
I am going to include an illustration of a cover jacket (see below) I produced for my fourth novel. The graphics may seem complicated at first, but with some practice you can create good graphics with your word processor program. If you want to get more involved with design and you want to spend the additional money, you can purchase more complicated page design software from Corel or Adobe.
Cover jacket for the novel, Dark Sabbath
Your final book cover design
More than likely, you are creating a book to be shared among family and friends. You do not have to worry about marketing decisions and placement in bookstores. There are many design books you can consult that will offer you more detailed advice in choosing your cover design if you are creating your cover for a wider distribution beyond the home. Take a look at the covers of best selling books. Many of the covers are quite simple but striking in their effect and ability to draw your attention to them.
Now that you have created your cover, you are ready to print it out. I have experimented with certain 60 to 70 lb bristol board you can purchase in a pad at your local art store. This type of thick paper will print in your inkjet printer. Just set the paper type for heavy matte. At this point, you will also set your choice for print quality. You should choose the Best Photo which will give you the highest resolution printing result. You can also purchase brand name specially coated heavy matte paper designed for your printer. You will get the best color results with brand name coated paper although the cover will not be as thick or durable as with the heavier bristol stock.
You also have the option of creating a cover for your book that is not printed. In case you wanted to create a diary with a blank cover or if the book is created by your child, he or she may want to create their own hand drawn art for their cover to personalize it using crayons or markers. In that case you would draw the outlines and the trim marks with a ruler and let them fill the cover with their art. The possibilities are as broad as your imagination. In any case, the next step is to attach your book cover, which will be described in the next hub titled: Attaching your book cover.