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Making Your Own Book Covers (Indie Authors on a Budget)

If you're anything like me, an indie author with a very limited budget to spend on the production of your books, then this might be something you'd want to read.

So, when I say my budget is limited, I MEAN limited. I am my own editor, cover designer, writer, promoter, etc. I even did an audiobook and I read my own book my closet...with a hand-me-down mic. I'm getting pretty used to doing things myself and figuring out ways to make it work. At least as best I can. Do I wish I could hire real professionals for some of these things? Absolutely, but it's not realistic right now. SO, here is how I make my own book covers.

I have a photographer for a fiance. So, at first, I actually thought I would have to hire people and do actual photoshoots for my book covers. Then I thought, "ok, that's not happening. That's a lot of money and time and I'm a broke ass b*tch..."

Then, I was surfing a copyright free photo website and I found a photo I recognized.

When I looked into it, I realized it was from the cover of a romance book that I had just read. Then it clicked. DUH. I opened an account on (If you're thinking of using them, too, be aware that it's a monthly plan in which you can download a certain number of photos per month. This amount builds month to month, but if you don't download all your photos and your plan runs out or you cancel, you no longer have access to what you paid for and have to renew your subscription to get them. But it is one of the less expensive sites out there. Just be aware and make sure to download!) Other websites I've heard of or used are ShutterStock, istockphoto, and Envanto (Currently I am using this, but haven't delved too deep. They also provide music, photoshop presets, and tons more for a monthly price)

On these copyright free photo websites, you can type in keywords for things you want and it will give you an almost endless supply of what they deem related to those keywords.

photos, it's time to start editing. I personally use Photoshop (You can download it for a small monthly fee) and I was lucky enough to get training with the program when I was in college for fashion design. To get a basic understanding of it, all you need to do is refer to Youtube. Here is a link to one very basic beginner's guide for 2022 Photoshop (Photoshop has updates so previous versions of the program might be a little different so it's good to keep up with current tutorials) I actually never got taught how to use Adobe After Effects, but after hours of Youtube tutorials, I can do the basic video editing. Photoshop isn't as complicated, so once you know the basics, it is pretty fun to play with. I might do a little speed video of how I edit photos into book covers in the near future, but for now, just look around for tutorials. There are plenty out there.

Photoshop also has add-ons you can download. Some are free and others aren't, so shop around. You can get things like font styles, brush strokes, pre-made photo filters, and tons more.

Now, depending on your level of editing know-how or even just your preference, your cover could be super intricate or pretty basic. Both are fine. I have some covers that are barely edited and others where I changed the colors around, stretched the image, composited multiple images, completely altered facial structures, etc. In my opinion, there is such

a thing as over-editing, too. So if there's a lot you want in your cover, step back and look at it as a whole before you finalize it. I find I have to do this with any kind of artistic project I do because it's easy to get carried away.

When it comes to sizing, make sure to find the specs you need for your book. All of my books are 5 x 8.5. If you're making a paperback cover, you'll need to factor in the length of your

book as well for the spine. If you're published through Amazon like me, then you can calculate these dimensions in their cover design section and download a template, which you can open with Photoshop and design on top of. If you're SUPER new to photo editing, this might all sound a little complicated, but I swear it's not once you get a basic understanding.

Below are some examples of book covers I designed! Some are early versions of book covers that I ultimately decided against. Others are just examples of the possibilities and things you can do with pretty basic editing.

If you have questions, please feel free to message me! I love hearing from you. If you're interested in having me design your cover, also feel free to ask!


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