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Use Google's Picasa for a Kindle, e-book, cover picture.

Updated on September 26, 2012

When it finally dawned on me that the books which I was hoping to publish using Kindle Direct Publishing would need a virtual cover picture, I almost gave up. I'm 68 years old and a bit of an amateur, although I was familiar with Word and Excel. Undaunted, I started a Google search. I found many advocates of Paint. It is not very user-friendly but I followed the instructions and made a few try-outs. They're book-covers, Jim, but not what we wanted!

I then downloaded Picasa from Google. This is a free photo-editing program which finds all the pictures on your computer and makes them available for you to play with and edit. Oh, boy! - I played! - and discovered that it is much more user-friendly than Paint and has a great selection of fancy edits. I could crop a photograph, prettify it, add text and then export it with extra pixels to My Pictures, ready to upload for my Kindle book. I know that I have only explored a few of the many functions which Picasa offers but I was happy with the few basic edits which I used.

For Longdon Green, Farewell, I used a scan of a very old, 35mm, slide, but for Write your Life Story and Publish it, my husband took some snapshots of me working on the book, in the garden, and I was delighted to be able to include my enthusiasm for Picasa in the book: from editing photographs for inclusion to creating a book cover.

I will describe the simplest Picasa processes which I used for creating my books' cover pictures. At any stage you can reverse all you have done by clicking on Picture, at the top of the screen, and then click on 'Undo all Edits'. If you want several copies of a picture to experiment with, use Copy and Paste in My Pictures to produce them. Picasa will find them.

Find and double-click the picture you want to use.

Crop. - Use 5 x 8 - it gives roughly the dimensions of a paperback book. Click and drag across the picture until you get the bit you want. I did this several times until the portion of the picture looked about right for a book cover. When it looks good, click Apply, otherwise Cancel and start again.

Fill Light was invaluable. Most of my pictures were quite dark on the computer screen. Click on the black/white sun icon and use the sliders.

Vignette, on the third paintbrush, was also invaluable - it puts a dark border around the picture. E-book covers may be shown against a white background. If any part of your cover picture is pale, it will fade into the background so a dark line around it solves the problem. You will need to use the sliders for Size and Strength to adjust your border.

ABC is the button to click on to add the text to your cover. You have a choice of fonts and font sizes as well as colours and fills, Play with them. Drag your text into position on your book cover. In this screen shot I have used Arial, Size 60. This is only to give you an idea of what you can do. For my book titles I used Monotype Corsiva with font size 36.

Export when you are happy with your picture. Don't worry too much about where the picture is going If you are using Windows it will go to a folder called Picasa > Exports. You will be able to find it in My Pictures, name it and move it to a more identifiable folder later.

More importantly, Kindle Direct Publishing requires a minimum pixel size of 1,000 on a side of your cover picure with a maximum of 2,500 being the best. Don't be put off. When you click on Export you will be offered the opportunity to alter the Image size to as many pixels as you want. Move the slider to the maximum for your picture.

There are more photographs, in my book, showing examples of how Picasa can be used to produce totally abstract pictures from just a teeny bit of cloud.

I hope those of you who want to write about yourselves and your family history for your relatives and friends will find inspiration in my book, Write your LIfe Story and Publish it. I look forward to seeing your book cover.

Good luck and please let me know how you get on.

Jan Burgess


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