As a self-published author, creating a book cover image can seem challenging if you've never done it before.
That's partly because creating great, original book cover images is an art form that takes lots of learning and practice - and taste! - as well as an understanding of genre conventions and the latest trends.
But creating a good-enough-for-now book cover image is a very different story!
If you're starting a new book, and you don't have the budget yet to hire a professional cover designer, you can use popular tools like Keynote, and image archives like Unsplash, to make a book cover image good enough for you to set up a web page on a self-publishing site like Leanpub, or even to hit the publish button to get the first version of your book up for sale!
(If you'd like to use PowerPoint instead of Keynote, please go here.)
Later, if you start getting sales for your book, you can use some of your royalties to pay for a professional book cover image, which will hopefully increase your sales even more.
OK, here we go!
Setting Up A Template Cover Document
First, open Keynote. On a Mac, you'll see something like this:
Click on "New Document" at the bottom left:
You will then see the option to "Choose a Theme":
For this tutorial, we're going to choose the "Basic White" theme. To create the new document, click on the theme, and then click on the "Create" button at the bottom right:
You will see that a number of text boxes have been added to the document by default, like this:
Select and delete all of these boxes, to get a blank document:
Now, we need to change the size of the slide to match the size of the book cover image we want to create.
To change the size of the slide, click on "Document" at the top right:
Next, click on the "Slide Size" option at the bottom right, and in the dropdown you will see, select "Custom Slide Size...":
In the box that will pop up, you can set the pixel width and height of the slide:
On Leanpub, on the page where you upload your book cover image, we show you our own cover image size recommendations based on the page size of your book.
Specifically, this is determined by the page size of the PDF we create if you are using one of our own book writing modes.
If you are uploading an ebook file to Leanpub that you have created yourself, then we recommend a book cover image size of 1800 pixels wide x 2700 pixels high (which is equivalent to 6.0 inches wide x 9.0 inches high, or 15.24 cm wide x 22.86 cm high).
So, for this tutorial, we are going to enter 1800 pixels for the width of our document, and 2700 pixels for the height:
After you have entered the numbers for the width and height, click the "OK" button:
In Keynote, you will now see that the slide has changed:
At this point, we recommend that you save the document.
To save the document, type Command + S or go to File > Save... in the Keynote menu at the top of the screen.
You will see a box pup up where you can enter a name for the document:
We're going to call this document "Book Covers":
Once you've entered the document name, click the "Save" button:
You will now see the name of the file at the top of Keynote:
Ok, the next thing we need to do is add an image!
For this tutorial, we're going to select an image from Unsplash.
Red tape time!
As an example, here is a link to the Unsplash licence: https://unsplash.com/license.
Here is a link to the image we have selected for this tutorial:
Once you've downloaded an image with the appropriate license to let you use it as a cover for your book, you can just copy and paste it into Keynote, like this:
You may find that the image is bigger or smaller than the available space in the slide. If this is the case, you can just resize the image and move it around until you get the result you want.
To resize the image, click on it, and then you can click and drag the corners of the image:
Next, we need to add two text boxes: one for the title, and one for the author name.
To add a text box for the title, select "Text" at the top:
This will make a little text box with the word "Text" in it appear on the slide. It may be a bit hard to see:
Click on the text box and drag it to the top of the slide:
You may see a vertical yellow "guide" line in the middle of the slide, showing that you have centered the text box on the slide, which is what you want to do.
If you do not see the yellow guide line showing that you have centered the text box on the slide, right-click on the text box, select "Align Objects", and then choose "Center":
Next, with the text box selected, click on "Format" at the top right:
This will open the "Format" sidebar:
Click on "Text":
This will open the text formatting menu in the sidebar on the right:
Next, type the title of your book into the text box, make sure to select the text in the text box, and then in the Text formatting menu, select the font type, size, and color that you want:
Typically, you want to make sure the words stand out against the background, so the text will be easy to read wherever it appears online, for example on a bookstore web page, on social media, or in an ad.
Next, we need to add a text box with the author's name.
To do this, select the text box, and then copy it, by typing Command + C, or by right-clicking on the text box and selecting "Copy":
Next, type Command + V to paste the copy of the text box onto the slide. You will see the new text box on top of the old one, slightly overlapping:
Click on the new text box and drag it to the bottom of the slide:
Again, look for the yellow guide line to confirm that the text box is centered, or right-click on the text box, select "Align Objects", and then choose "Center".
With the text box selected, choose font type, size, and color that you want:
Here's what the slide looks like without any markup:
You may have noticed that we named this file "Book Covers", not "Book Cover". That's because you can use this same file to make multiple covers, or try different variations, just by duplicating the slide, and then making changes to the new slide.
To duplicate a slide, select it in the sidebar on the left, and then type Command + D, or you can right-click on the slide and select "Duplicate":
You will now see that you have a new slide you can play around with, without altering your first slide.
Next, we need to export the slide as an image, in the correct format for uploading, typically .png or .jpg.
To export the slide as an image, in the Keynote menu, select "File", then "Export To", and then click on "Images...":
This will take you to an "Export Your Presentation" menu:
In this case, we only want to export the first slide, so we'll set it to "From: 1 to 1"
For this tutorial, we are going to select "PNG" from the "Format" dropdown:
When you have selected your image export format, click on "Next...":
This will open a menu that will show you where the new file will be created. In this example, it will be shared to the "Desktop" location:
Next, click "Export":
In the export location on your device, you will now see a new folder, with the exported image file:
Open the folder, and you will see your image file:
Double-click on the image to open it. Here is what our image looks like in the Preview app, on a Mac:
OK, we're almost done! Next, you'll need to upload your book cover image to whatever self-publishing platform or platforms you have chosen.
(For instructions on how to upload a cover image to a Leanpub book, please see this article.)
Here's what this cover looks like on Leanpub, for a book that has not been published yet:
OK, that's it!