Jimmy Thomas on 3,400 Romance Novel Covers

Jimmy Thomas graces over 3,400 romance novel covers and makes it easy for any Indie author to use his images. Check out this video for so much info on the subject and visit his website for contact, http://www.romancenovelcenter.com/

Jimmy Thomas is on more romance novel covers than anyone on Earth. He’s got great advice for Indie authors plus very affordable resources to create covers for your books with Jimmy on them! Pre-made covers, custom covers, so much information in one show. Featuring host, Jason Matthews and special guests, Jimmy Thomas of Romance Novel Center, graphic artist, Fiona Jayde and indie book reviewer, TJ Mackay.
Websites:
Jimmy Thomas – http://www.romancenovelcovers.com/
Jason Matthews — http://www.thelittleuniverse.com
Fiona Jayde – http://fionajaydemedia.com/
TJ Mackay – http://www.indtale.com/
G+ Pages:
Jimmy Thomas – https://plus.google.com/u/0/117578944660952701044/posts
Jason Matthews – https://plus.google.com/117850331447734054313/posts
Fiona Jayde – https://plus.google.com/u/0/105036381451979623221/posts
TJ Mackay – https://plus.google.com/u/0/114115748314864197411/posts

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Ebook Covers New Smashwords Standards

Smashwords will soon require ebook covers to have a minimum length of 1,400 pixels and a recommended width of 1,600 pixels with a recommended height of 2,400 pixels. Why? Couple of reasons: Apple’s bumping their previous minimum from 600 to 1,400 to display covers better on those lovely iPad screens, and because there seems to be a magic formula for hot sellers in the 2-3 ratio of width to height as in a 6×9 book.

If you’re already selling ebooks in Apple via Smashwords, have no fear—no change needed even if yours has less than 1,400 pixels. It’s only for new ebooks or authors who make updates to their ebooks where the needed length will come into play for Premium Status and distribution to those coveted retailers.

Read all about it from Mark Coker, the CEO of Smashwords in his blog below.

New Ebook Cover Image Requirements Coming to Satisfy Higher Resolution E-Reading Devices

Heads up.  Effective on or about July 15, Smashwords will begin requiring higher pixel counts on ebook cover images. Why the change?  Starting in August, Apple will require that all new ebook cover images be at least 1,400 pixels wide.  Their previous minimum was 600 pixels. Since Smashwords requires vertical rectangle (height greater than width) images, a new recommended ebook cover might be around 1,600 pixels wide by 2,400 pixels tall.  Why 2,400?  2,400 is 1.5 times 1,600. (…keep reading)

Thoughts, comments?

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Pixlr Photo Editor for Ebook Covers

Galaxy Girls vs The Evil Publishing House 1An Indie author friend suggested playing around with pixlr photo editor as a nice tool for working with images and perhaps making book covers. It’s a browser-based editor similar to Photoshop that requires no download, yet it can do many things to alter images and even create them from scratch. In fact, Pixlr can be used entirely for self-publishers who want to design their own covers. For me, a total newbie to this program, my immediate impression was that it had some nice features and also some real drags.

Since I’m a big fan of free images from Flickr’s Creative Commons, I somehow gravitated to this photo from Matthew Mendoza since it seems like a fun image for a mock book cover. These ladies have a great Halloween theme, perfect models for our example ebook. What shall we call it? How about, Indie Galaxy Girls vs The Evil Publishing House. (Remember to only use photos, videos or articles with permission and proper crediting.)

Galaxy Girls vs The Evil Publishing House 2Okay, so we have our lovely models dressed in galaxy garb. The background doesn’t feel very galaxy-ish so let’s find out how well Pixlr deals with this first issue: we don’t need the mall in the background. Using either the lasso or eraser tool, the undesirable mall elements are fairly easily removed giving us a white background, which we can alter later. Next idea that comes to me since guys will be guys–even though our Galaxy Girls are universally attractive, we know that sex can sell ebooks so the cover editor (moi) has decided to give them a  boost for sexier crime-fighting power with 6 well-placed clicks of the mouse using Pixlr’s bloat tool. The following changes now render our cover at this stage on the right, leaving us with our heavily endowed Galactic crime fighting ladies sans mall background. Have to admit in a juvenile way, that was fun. Since an alteration was made, the need exists to double-check with the permission owner that it’s okay, but since we’re not selling Indie Galaxy Girls, this shouldn’t be a problem.

galaxies girls 3Next we can add a background that’s more appropriate for our heroines, something like a space scene. That was easy, as it should have been.

Then comes the hard part. I tried and tried for what seemed like hours to get some text in there that looked half decent. True, book cover text font is not my specialty, and this last and very important task just didn’t work at all.

In the end, had to admit defeat. Just couldn’t come up with any text that looked respectable to accompany my Pixlr mock book cover. Perhaps some of you reading this are wizards with this program, but this author was not and didn’t have the time to become one. And so Pixlr was abandoned as a method for ebook cover design, or at least it was deemed good for some things but not others.

Give me Inkscape or Gimp any day. Also free, far more powerful, and (in my opinion) a heck of a lot more intuitive. And if you want to hire some affordable help, email list@smashwords.com for cover design and interior formatting. Or you can read the PC World article by David Daw below for more info on choices.

How to Edit Images for Free

Want to do some serious image editing without spending a lot of cash? Here are a few of the better image editors that you can download for free on your Windows, Linux, or Mac system. (…keep reading)

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Indie Authors Home-Made Book Covers part 1

Indie authors wear many hatsWhen self-publishing, the average Indie author wears many hats while transforming the words of a manuscript into an ebook or paperback. This means handling multiple jobs of the publishing biz that would normally be done by specialized pros: editing, interior formatting, cover design, marketing, etc. The Indie dilemma–you can’t just write unless you have deep enough pockets to hire out for many professionals.

Enter discussions in forums and you’ll likely hear energized opinions of what authors should or should not do for themselves. Editing probably stands out the most, but another heated debate is on cover design. Should an Indie author design her/his own cover? Well, the tools exist online to do it for free, so is that reason enough to give it a try?

It was for me. I’ve done it 7 times, and although my covers haven’t been nominated for awards (nor will they), I do sell books. Ultimately the reviews and referrals sell more than the covers, but let’s not get off track. This post is not intended to be an argument for or against doing it yourself; it’s just to give examples from authors I’ve met in cyberspace who made their own covers and are willing to share experiences. This is not a contest nor is it meant to be in any order, and for those who still insist on hiring out… at the bottom are affordable solutions.

Before judging these books by their covers it’s important to recognize that plenty of Amazon best-sellers have less-than-stellar front faces. http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/books/ is a list of top 100 paper-books, not ebooks, and it may surprise you to find many simple designs (basic photo or graphics with text) on best-selling books. Seems about 20% of the books on this top 100 list are simple enough to be reproduced by the average Indie.

Here are some covers made by Indie authors using (mostly) free resources.

Love of My Life Memoirs of a Love Lost cover by Angie Russell

Title: Love of My Life: Memoirs of a Love Lost

Author: Angie Russell

Description from author:  Cover was made using Adobe Photoshop CS2.  Basic elements were applied like text, cropping of photograph, soft glow, etc.  I’m a novice in Photoshop but was still able to make a cover I was proud of.  Took me about 2 weeks and 8 drafts.

Author’s blog: www.angienrussell.wordpress.com

Amazon Kindle page: www.amazon.com/dp/B004YQDPR6

***

Baba's Kitchen Cover by Reisa Mary StoneTitle: Baba’s Kitchen: Ukrainian Soul Food with Stories From the Village

Author: Raisa Marika Stohyn

Description from author: I used a Kodak digital. I brewed a pot of traditional borshch, with hand cut vegetables. As I have no experience in food photography, it took ten days to get the shot! Days 1-9 were frustrating. I got complicated, adding a head of garlic, a lemon slice and bread. I soon discovered that cold borshch looks unappetizing; I heated and washed utensils daily. Lighting, props, even spoon angle had to be precise. Once I was happy, I used Picasa’s free photo editing program to fine tune and add text.

Author’s website: www.ukrainiansoulfood.ca

Amazon Kindle page: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006WPZE6M

***

Severance by Shawn Cannon cover

Title: Severance

Author: Shawn Cannon

Description from author: I created my book cover for free. I used an open source program called GIMP. It is very similar to Photoshop, without any cost. Google was a terrific resource to find royalty free images. There was one photo, that I did ask for permission to use. Custom fonts were found online for free as well. After that, it was just trial and error. By no means am I an artist. I was just dedicated to playing around with GIMP until I found some looks and features that I was ultimately pleased with. I did not want a cover that looked like it was created by an amateur, and I was determined to keep my costs down in the process. I probably spent ten hours in all from start to finish.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shawntheauthor

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Will Love for Crumbs cover Jonna IvinTitle: Will Love For Crumbs

Author: Jonna Ivin

Description from author: I knew what I wanted for the picture, so I asked a friend to pose and another friend with a good camera to take the shot. The rest I did in photoshop. Found the text on line and downloaded it for free. Painted her sign myself. All free!

Author’s website: http://www.jonnaivin.com/ (Still working on website. I don’t know much about them.)

Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Will-Love-Crumbs-Memoir-ebook/dp/B006V1KQLU

***

Red Poppy cover by Phil Davis

Title: The Red Poppy

Author: P. Alan Davis

Description from author: The making of this cover was very simple. I used a photo of a Maui Poppy I took last year. Because I needed a more vertical image for a book, I rotated the image 90 degrees. I posterized it using Nero and adjusted the color from lavender to more of a red hue using the same software. The image was inserted into a MS Publisher file and the title and by-line were added. I saved it as a PDF then converted it to JPG. I did two separate covers–one for Kindle and one for paperback using the same image but different layouts and text.

Author’s blog: http://padaarch.blogspot.com/

Amazon Kindle page: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00652M1G8/

From Interview to You're Hired cover by Dr. Angela Massey***

Title: From Interviewed to…YOU’RE HIRED! A Short Guide to Interview Success Strategies

Author: Dr. Angela Massey

Description from author: First, I studied some of the book covers on Amazon to get a feel for what’s selling and would probably work. Second, I paid for the cover picture from iStock.com. Third, I created the cover in myeCovermaker.com. Since I’m not a graphic artist, I wanted something easy to use, yet sophisticated enough to provide a nice looking cover. I went through four revisions before settling on the current cover, and I’ll probably change it again! All in all, creating the book cover was the most demanding part of my book writing process.

Author’s website: www.lifeonpurposellc.com redirects to www.drangelamassey.com

Amazon Kindle page: http://www.amazon.com/Interviewed-YOURE-Interview-Strategies-ebook/dp/B006UXUVUK/

***

Neverdark cover by C. S. Einfeld

Title: Neverdark

Author: C. S. Einfeld

Illustrator: Aaron Einfeld

Description from author: Aaron designed it originally in pencil, then using CGI, primarily DAZ studio and a bit of Bryce.

Author’s blog: www.authorcseinfeld.blogspot.com

Amazon Kindle page: http://www.amazon.com/Neverdark-ebook/dp/B0069TD5AI/

***

Desert Harvest cover by Wando Wande

Title: Desert Harvest

Author: Wando Wande

Description from author: I used open source software, Gimp. The painting is a public domain image by Federick Remington.

Author’s blog: omnifish.wordpress.com

Amazon Kindle page: http://www.amazon.com/Desert-Harvest-ebook/dp/B006OEVPB4/

***

twilight of the bald and other stories by Robert Challis

Title: Twilight of the Bald and other stories

Author: Robert Challis

Description from author: I wanted a striking image featuring a smooth cranium, for which I was the ideal model. After taking a digital photo and adding the text, I experimented with photoshop effects rather randomly. The effect I used is from filters/stylize/glowing edges, then adjusting the fine controls to the degree of brightness I wanted. A self photo removes any copyright issue as well as being satisfying to the vanity!

Smashwords book page: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/75022

***

Extreme Skiing and Psychedelic Mushrooms cover by Jason MatthewsTitle: Extreme Skiing and Psychedelic Mushrooms: The Art Of Chasing Fear

Author: Jason Matthews

Description from author: Mostly proud of this because I made it in 20 minutes. The photos are freely available from Flickr’s Creative Commons. I used Inkscape for everything including the photo transparency and text graphics. This cover is from a free short story, and it’s the example in my video class teaching e-publishing with free resources.

Author’s website: http://ebooksuccess4free.webs.com/

Amazon Kindle page: http://www.amazon.com/Extreme-Skiing-Psychedelic-Mushrooms-ebook/dp/B005OZJ1JC/

***

Now for those who really want some affordable professional solutions, here are some ideas:

  • If you email list@smashwords.com, you can get a list of cover designers as well as ebook formatters–experienced, inexpensive and approved by Smashwords.
  • Contact Bradley Wind via his Flickr page – http://www.flickr.com/photos/bwind3/sets/72157617997470513/ and see about an affordable cover.
  • oDesk.com specializes in hiring out for small jobs with people from all over the world.
  • 99desings can have multiple artists competing for your job, though expect to pay more for it.
  • Some of my favorite free online programs useful for making book covers include: Inkscape for graphics editing, Flickr Creative Commons for photos, and Picasa for simple photo editing.
  • In the comments sections, feel free to either offer your services or recommend a cover designer.

I titled this post part 1 because I believe many other Indies might show up in the near future with covers and stories of their own to feature. Look for an update here if it’s out.

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