We can write a book today for many reasons. Some people want to do this to fulfil a dream others want to be famous, and others want to make money off it but independently on what are your aspirations and goals to create a book is an exercise that follows some techniques and some steps.
We need at first to decide what subject will be the book about and to accomplish this task we need to decide what will have in it as content.
The content of a book does not necessary need to come from our research or ideas we have in mind. Sometimes we do not need to write the content of our book from the scratch. There are other methods to find and put down the content of a book without plagiarism or copyrights infringement of course.
We can go and watch webinars, lectures and workshops from a specialized skilled person in a determinate field we are going to write. Then we can write down all the possible ideas we can absorb from these lectures and organized them in a logical way and create our new ideas and then use it as part of the content of our book.
We can even pay someone specialized in the field our book will talk about to write it for us. In this way, we will be hiring a writer to sell us his work and publishing rights. We can find freelance writes in websites like www.freelancer.co.uk, www.hireawriter.co.uk or http://hire-a-writer.com/.
We can take a look at the market and see how similar books have their covers designed. The cover is a very import part of the book although everything is important in the book creation process. Many books sometimes they sell not because of the content of it but because of the cover. The cover has a visual appeal, and there are some readers they are strongly influenced by what they can see in a glimpse when they have the first visual contact with the book. It is like to fall in love at the first sight.
We do not need to be a graphic designer to have great results in designing our book cover. If we have enough time and the right tools, we certainly will be able to achieve a fair and very good cover design. The front image on the book cover is the most import piece of the book cover. If we take the time to select a very good photo, we will have our job half done.
To have some professional results we can use some programs such as Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator with great graphic results.
We also have great free alternatives like the program Gimp. But we need to have in mind that these programs although are very good in photo manipulation and graphical design they demand some time from us to learn to use them.
If we want a prompt solution, it could be worth we use more familiar easier programs like a word processor or a very simple graphics application. With a little bit of patient and effort, we also can obtain very good results in this way. There are others methods of creating a book cover as online websites where can find book cover templates and automatic tools we can produce a cover almost immediately like http://diybookcovers.com/, 3 D Book Cover Generator, https://www.canva.com.
Will my book cover look fine as a thumbnail?
With the increasing rate of people buying e-books online we have to make sure our book cover design fits, and it is all readable as a thumbnail image.
We can test this shrinking our book cover to an eight of its full size. If after we shrink it we cannot read the title or the author name and nothing else is clear we should increase the font size and change the contrast and use strong colours and bold text.
We also can look for a professional book cover designer, but if we decide for this option, we must be careful and have in mind our budget. We can go for a very expensive graphic designer company or if our budget is modest and we are not expecting to spend too much we as we mentioned before can go and hire a freelance designer. We can find freelancers in websites like Fiverr, freelancer.com, freelancers.net and freelancer.co.uk.
Of course, if we still want to design ourselves the book cover we first need to choose if we are going to use a design platform we can find online like http://diybookcovers.com/, 3 D Book Cover Generator, https://www.canva.com or if we are going to use traditional graphic software like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. But these last two graphic design programs require a considerable training to use them.
Another option if we want to design ourselves the book cover is to use MS Word, and we will be explaining in detail if a quick view how to do it.
Designing the book using MS Word 2010 (Other versions of MS Word will be similar although some versions they do not have all the features MS Word 2010 has).
In this tutorial, we will see how to blend images, add transparency and layers, use font effects and Kern, strip background and the main principles of book cover design with MS Word 2010.
All the information here will not work in all MS Word versions, but the process will be similar.
You can download here this tutorial in PDF if you prefer.
How to find and choose the pictures we are going to use for our cover
The first impression of our book cover and quality will depend first on what pictures or art design we are going to use and how they fit together in an appropriated way. Also, we need to get cheap or even free pictures for our first book cover work design.
We can follow some tips for choosing and getting these photos:
1) We need to be as simple as possible. Too many complex visual blended images can lead to a visual pollution.
2) Another aspect is that we need to cause an emotional reaction as the old popular expression “love at the first sight.”
3) Do not use an obscure picture. Use a popular or, at least, a well-known one.
4) Match and blend colours
5) Do not put too many colours or too many blended images or massive titles
We can use a colour wheel to decide which colours are favourable and which ones complement each other.
Some bestselling books they use orange and blue-green. But Violet and Green works fine.
Try not to use too many colours otherwise they can be very distracting. We can go for one or two colours.
Some bestselling books they use orange and blue-green. But Violet and Green works fine.
Try not to use too many colours otherwise they can be very distracting. We can go for one or two colours.
We first need to find an outstanding background scene. This scene can be a landscape, building, an interesting place. We need to think what we want as a background about of what the book is.
Then we need to find something for the foreground – bodies or faces are welcome here.
Be careful when choosing models from stock photo websites. They can be good but if it as a well-known one the chances someone already uses it in a cover are great. We can even use these models, but we can show some parts of the body instead of their faces.
Also, we can hire a model and with a camera take our pictures. But this is a more elaborate way to have book cover picture.
But if you decide to take pictures yourself of a hired model we always need to take the pictures against a white or black background.
We also can add some unique symbols, objects and other details our book cover foreground.
Another technique that works fine is if we put the model picture covering the whole top section of the book cover and a landscape scene at the bottom reserving a middle area of the book cover for the title of the book.
For starting this picture search, we can make a relevant list of all the elements we want to show in the book cover.
A stock picture means an image we can buy the copyrights and use it for our book cover.
We can buy pictures and images for $20 to download, but we always need to check the image license if it is an Extended License so we can use it for our book covers. The rules and fees they are different for each site we use to buy and download our pictures. But before we buy anything it is better we download a sample of the image so we can use and test it in our book cover project design.
Well, all these choices in size depend on the size of my book cover. A book cover 6”x9” normally takes 1800x2700 pixels. It is a good size for Kindle, other eBooks format, and printing. If we want a tall and thin book we can make it 5”x8”. It will make a ratio 1.6 recommended by Amazon. Most publishers they do not pay adequate attention to these details but on most of the devices, the book is tall and thin.
On our Stock pictures medium or large sizes will always work, we just need to check the pixel ratio. We must have in mind if we choose a landscape photo it does not need to be as long as the whole books cover.
We can use some websites like the ones below:
The problem in use stock pictures and images is that we sometimes can come across with a book cover that is using the same picture we are using in ours.
Of course, there are other ways to produce your book cover picture. We can hire a photographer, but this could cost something around $1500 to $250.
Another alternative is to go to Flickr.com and find some photos under the creative common area (https://www.flickr.com/creativecommons. As long we attribute the picture on the back cover of the book or on the title of the page to its author we can use it on our book cover.
We can go and try a community for artists, and graphic designers called DeviantArt - http://www.deviantart.com/browse/all/resources/stockart/. Over there we can find one resource section of stock images that we can use since we mention the source. But many artists have different rules for using these images so we must be careful and read the about any particular rule and sometimes send a message to the author of the image.
Sometimes we can hire an artist on Deviant Art for $250 and create our Art design for our book cover.
Although we are going to cover here how to blend your images on the book cover design in MS Word, we can pay someone on www.fiverr.com and have our pictures or images blended by a Photoshop expert if we are not up to do ourselves.
Another idea is to find a very old painting and use it for our book cover design. Most of the paintings older than 70 years old normally do not have copyrights, and we can use them. We can find some in sites like http://www.wga.hu/index.html.
Since we have our pictures, we then can follow to the next step of our tutorial.
First we need to open MS Word.
Go to File >> New >> and then click Create on the right side.
We should have a blank document.
Then we need to adjust the size of our page to 6”x9” in the Page Layout.
Go to Page Layout and then click on Page Setup.
Change it to 6”x9”…
It is not necessary we have big margins. We can go to Page Layout again and then set the margins to 0.5” to all options.
Now we are going to add our first picture to the book cover template we just adjust the margins and size.
We can cut and paste the picture, or we can choose the option to insert > picture.
When we insert the picture, it will automatically stretch to the margins. We can move it to adjust it on our template. To do this, we double-click on the picture, and we click on “Wrap Text” option on top and we choose “Behind Text”.
The “Wrap Text” option will allow us to scale, resize and move the picture around.
I will move it up to fill the top of my book cover.
We have now two layers, and we can open “Page Layout” and choose the “Selection Pane.”
This option will give us the view of all our layers, and it will be easier to have a broad view of them. If we want to hide one layer for a moment, we can click on the “eye” button and show it again when we want. Sometimes it is a little bit complicated to select which layer we want. If it is too complicated to select the image we want we can double click on the border of the picture instead the middle of it.
No, if we want to remove any background of any picture to allow us to use another background we can double click the picture and choose the option remove background. If we cannot find this option we can right click the menu Page Background and add a customized button “Remove Background”.
Now we have to mark areas to remove and mark areas to keep in our picture. This is a good tool because we can customize for example our sky in the picture and from one night, cloudy sky makes it a nice bright star sky with a full moon. In our case here we removed the background, and we added some new elements to the picture.
Tip: if we need to go back and undo some changes, click on the curving blue arrow next to the Save to disk icon.
After we insert the new picture as a background, we need to click right and choose behind the text as we did before and then choose the option to send it to back adjusting the size in a way it covers the wholly removed background.
The Third step is to insert a banner in the middle of the pictures we have just inputted. In our example here this was done before. And to do this, we need to go to “Insert” and then click on shapes and select the rectangle that we are going to use as a banner.
After we insert the banner, we right click the banner and then we click on “Shape Fill” to choose the colour. In our case, we customize the colour a little bit adding more colours.
We have a line around the banner, and we do not want that. To remove this line we just right click the banner and choose “format and shape” and the option “line colour” and we click on “No line”.
Now we can add some text in the middle as the “Title of the book”. We go to insert and choose “Textbox” and then we choose “Draw textBox”.
Our text box now has a white background and a solid border line. We do not want that and to remove them we just double-click the text box and “format and shape” and we choose “No Fill” and “No line”.
Now we can type our title. If we cannot see the text, we highlight it and go to the “A” symbol and change the colour over there. In our case, we choose white and make the text bigger.
The font is a very important element of our book cover. We cannot afford to go wrong and use something weird or something completely ordinary from windows system in our daily bases. We need to be creative and out of the ordinary so we cannot use the Basic Windows fonts like Times New Roman or Calibri for example. In our case, we are using Adobe Gothic.
We should not use more than three types of Fonts, but we have to avoid using more than one too super creative one.
We can browse the internet for more fonts but have in mind that some of them we need to pay to use it.
The maximum font size in a word is 72pt, but we can type a number and choose any number. In our sample, we are using 36, but if we had a smaller title fitting in our text box, we could type 100 if we wanted.
Another element very important in our title is “the space between the letters”. In our sample, we are using 3.5pt. To adjust spacing we have to click in the Home menu>Font and then on the little arrow on the corner of the menu Font. When the window opens, we choose advanced, and we change the spacing by 3.5pt. We also can choose the spacing among normal, expanded and condensed. We have chosen here expanded.
Now we want to add the Author’s name, and if we use the Title text box, sometimes it moves to further down everything. The best option here is to insert another text box as we did before and adjusted the central position and fonts of our text.
We can adjust the Author’s namespacing to expand by 10pt.
Finally, we can make our Title a little bit more attractive making the letters glow around or even change into a gradient and change the texture of the letters.
We can use the Text effects options in the Font menu and in our case we have made it gradient and orange.
We must note that when we change the Font using Text Effects the spacing comes back to normal, so we need to adjust to make it again expanded by 3.5pt.
Finally, we can add some fill behind the Tittle of the Book Cover like a texture picture to break a little bit the plain hard background we have at the moment.
We can insert a texture picture like rocks in our case here and bring it to the back of the Tittle of the Book.
We then brick the picture behind the text to allow us to make the size and position adjustments.
Then we can send the picture backward and make it behind the text. If it is necessary, we can click on the other two pictures to bring them forward about our texture background picture.
We can analyse the typesetting from several professional published books to find out what is the standard typesetting in the market.
Most of the publications they look very similar inside and with many different categories of books we can have an idea about what kind of typesetting is the standard today.
We usually have A4 or US Letter size for page size in most of the word processors as a standard, but this is just for home printing. Normally the publishing industry does not use these formats, so the first thing we need is to adjust the book size. But of course, we are talking about printed books and we know for an e-book the standards in size change. For e-books, we can use 6”x9” as we used in our book cover tutorial.
Here we can find below a table about some standard sizes for some different books:
|Book (trim) size (mm)|
|Height (mm)||Width (mm)|
|Sheetfed Offset litho|
|American Royal *||229||152|
|Pinched Crown Quarto *||Up to 248||171|
|Crown Quarto **||246||189|
|B Format / Large Crown ***||198||129|
|American Royal ***||229||152|
|Pinched Crown Quarto ****||Up to 248||171|
|Crown Quarto ****||246||189|
|* printed in 32-page sections|
|** printed in 16-page sections|
|*** printed in 8-page sections|
|**** printed in 4-page sections|
Our font and text size need to be clear and consistent. Very different fonts maybe they are creative and good for book titles, but usually, it is not a good option for the entire book. Sometimes it is very hard to read too many decorative fonts like English Gothic for the entire text.
Some authors tell us serif fonts are the easiest fonts to read for a long period. Good serif fonts are Caslon, Century and Baskerville.
But if we have an e-book or a PDF they also tell us good fonts to use are Arial, Optima and Verdana.
There is an interesting video from people at “Penguin” explaining the importance of choosing the right typesetting.
We can choose a font that fits better in our type of book we are writing. The maximum readable lengths per line are 12 words. If we set up 12pt for our typeface which is the best for legibility, then our line length is determined for us. Also, we should change our margins to fit the 12 words per line in average.
It is a standard way to start a new page for each chapter. We can do this by adding page breaks after the last sentence of each chapter. In MS Word, we can achieve this in the “Insert” menu by selecting “Break”.
Some authors prefer their chapters to start on the right-hand page. If we want to start in this way we need to make sure that each chapter starts on an odd-numbered page.
We can add some interesting icons and some decorations at the beginning of each chapter. We also can choose some motif for our icons depending on what type of book we are writing.
Photos, illustrations and diagrams can help us to make our book have a more vivid content. Children’s books always benefit and stand out if we use a lot of illustrations for example. But we also have to be careful and use high resolutions photos and illustrations.
It is very important we make sure that the presentation of our book is consistent throughout of the entire book. We must keep the layout and size of the headings and text consistent. As simple we make it as easier will be for the reader’s eyes.
If we spend a long time writing our book, it will be worth to spend a good amount of time reviewing and editing it. Sometimes it is better to get an outside opinion about the layout and grammar review of it.
We can get a professional to review our book but before we have to have in mind our budget and what we are willing to achieve and cost and benefit. We can go for the most popular and more expensive ones, and if we are willing to pay $500 for a book review, we can find companies like https://www.kirkusreviews.com/indie/ or https://www.forewordreviews.com/.
Of course there other ways to get a cheaper and good book review from other professionals and we can go for example in companies like http://www.sanfranciscobookreview.com/ or http://www.pacificbookreview.com/. We can get even free books review from very honest and professional people like http://www.midwestbookreview.com/. Another good reviewer organization is http://readerviews.com/submissions.html. We can send a copy of our book for free to them. They also have other kinds of publicity services.
Another option is the Book Reporter. It is another way to go for an alternative book review because they can provide a fair good free review.
Down here we have another list that it is worth for sending our electronic copy of our book for a free review:
But before we use one of these mentioned sites for our book review we need to be very patient. One of the reasons for this is because there are thousands of self-published authors and do not be surprised if you receive a message saying: “Due to a great demand …” So if we cannot get it at the first time try again and again and be patient.
One thing we must have in mind before we send our work for review to anyone. We must register our work in copyright protection organization to secure our work. One good online company we can use is the www.protectmywork.com. We can register with them and upload our manuscript and then have an international copyright recognition certification linked to our work online. This is a better option than to send a letter with the manuscript attached to it to ourselves.
In the past as authors, we had to have a large investment for printing in great quantity. We had to deal with storage fees, posting the books without any guarantee the books would sell.
Today we have other many options to print our book and one of them is what people call Print-on-demand. It is a very good way for self-publishing authors to print and distribute books. In this method, when someone order the book it is printed and the posting and delivery of it is a “printing on demand” company responsibility. We can find several good ones in the market like https://www.lightningsource.com/ and https://www.createspace.com/ .
Traditionally mainstream publishers release a hardback book before they do a paperback one. But we need to have in mind that the hardback ones are very expensive to publish, and the price is very high. Probably if we go for hardback, we will have problems in have a viable price and people will not buy it.
Printing-on-demand paperbacks are much cheaper, but we need to be aware that the quality varies. What we need to do in this case is to pay attention for a printed proof of our book to check the quality of it.
Another way of going self-publishing is instead of printing the book we sell e-books.
E-books during the last ten years became incredibly popular, and it is a very cheap opportunity for writers to have their work published quickly.
There are several different formats of e-books like ePub or as the old PDF. We can pay a professional to format our book to a digital e-book format, or we can use free software like Calibre to do ourselves the formatting job.