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 Keynote instead of PowerPoint, 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 PowerPoint. On a Mac, you'll see something like this:
(If, instead of seeing a new document like this, you see the option to select a theme for a new document, or something like that, please select the plainest theme available.)
You will see that a number of text boxes have been added to the document by default.
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 "Design" in the menu at the top:
Next, click on "Slide Size":
In the dropdown you will see, select "Page Setup...":
You will new see a menu that looks something like this:
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 6.0 inches wide x 9.0 inches high (which is equivalent to 15.24 cm wide x 22.86 cm high, or 1800 pixels wide x 2700 pixels high).
So, for this tutorial, we are going to enter 15.24 cm for the width of our document, and 22.86 cm for the height:
After you have entered the numbers for the width and height, click the "OK" button:
You may then see a box that asks you to "Scale Up" or "Scale Down":
Since it's not clear from the box what this means (though it presumably a matter of pixel resolution), and in this tutorial we're just interested in doing good enough and not getting a Ph.D. in PowerPoint by searching its documentation for an explanation, let's just go with what PowerPoint selects by default, and click on "Scale Up":
In PowerPoint, 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 PowerPoint menu at the top of the screen. (If you're on a PC, instead of a Mac like in this tutorial, you'll type "Ctrl + S" instead of "Command + S".)
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 PowerPoint:
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 Powerpoint, 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 do this, click on "Insert" in the menu at the top:
To add a text box for the title, select "Text Box" at the top:
Hover the mouse over the image. You will see the mouse pointer with a little square "A" icon:
Click near the top and center of the image. You will see an empty text box with a flashing cursor:
Next, type the title of your book into the text box:
Next, with the text box selected (i.e you need to click on the text box if it is not selected), go the the PowerPoint menu at the top and select "Arrange", then "Align or Distribute", and then choose "Align Center":
This will center the text box on the slide:
Now, select "Home" in the menu at the top left:
Next, with the text in the text box selected, choose the font type, size, and color that you want, and move the text box up or down on the slide, until you're happy with the result:
(You may need to center the text box again, after changing the font size. If you move the text box around with the mouse, you may see a vertical red "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 red guide line showing that you have centered the text box on the slide, with the text box selected, go the the PowerPoint menu at the top and select "Arrange", then "Align or Distribute", and then choose "Align Center".)
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, click 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 guide line or guide lines 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 in the text box selected, type your name, and choose the font type, size, and color that you want, repositioning the text box on the slide until you like how everything looks:
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 PowerPoint menu, select "File" and then "Export":
This will take you to a menu where you can name the file:
At the bottom of the menu, you will see an option to choose the "File Format":
For this tutorial, we are going to select "PNG" from the "Format:" dropdown:
When you have selected your image export format, you will see something like this:
Confusingly, even though we set the slide width and height in centimeters, the image export option is showing us the width and height settings in pixels, and is not labelling the numbers as representing pixels:
Well, that's what tutorials are for!
Here's the good news: you can just ignore these numbers altogether.
Note that you can also choose whether you want to export every slide as an image, or just the current slide:
When you're ready, 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!