This is one part of the ebook publishing process a lot of authors find the most daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Creating a Kindle ebook cover isn’t difficult. What does cause problems is lack of suitable artwork and basic understanding of image file creation.
Assuming you do have suitable artwork, this tutorial will take you step by step through the process of creating a Kindle book cover. I’ve used my Kindle ebook, The Inbetween as an example.
CREATING YOUR TEMPLATE
You will need some form of image editing software to create your Kindle ebook cover. I use Photoshop 7 but there are lots of other packages which are either free or much less expensive. Just make sure your programme allows you to use “Layers” and save as a .jpg file. Most of them do. (More on this later!).
Amazon recommend you set your book’s cover file to 1500 to 2400 pixels with a 1.6 ratio to the short side. If 2400 pixels is the long side, this works out at 5 inches by 8 inches at 300 dpi. This is fine, but can look rather square. If you prefer a more typical book look, set your file to 6 x 9 inches at 300 dpi.
Here’s what you do. Go to your image editing programme and select NEW from the file menu.
You should see this screen although it will NOT show these settings! You will have to change them by using the options from the drop down menus.
Check carefully that your settings match these exactly! (For 8 inches by 5 inches.) You should see something like this:
This is your Kindle template and it is a good idea to save this now as: Kindle Template and then again as the name of your ebook. In my case The Inbetween cover.
Close the template file to somewhere you can easily find it when you need to create a new Kindle cover. This will save you from having to keep repeating the file set up steps.
This is the fun and frustrating bit! If you are not familiar with image editing software or have limited image resources, keep it as simple as you can. I also strongly suggest you make full use of the LAYER options in your software.
What this means is you put each item you want including on your cover on its own layer. This will allow you to move things around without affecting any of the other graphics or text. Here’s how I built up the cover for The Inbetween using Layers:
Open your Kindle eBook cover file which you duplicated from the ebook template.
Open your main image file. Mine was fire.jpg
It’s at this stage you may start to run into problems if you do not understand some basic information about image files. Youy graphic ideally needs to be the same resolution as your Kindle template file otherwise it will either be too big or too small.
You can change the settings of the image file by selecting IMAGE SIZE from the IMAGE menu.
As I had to build this file from various other elements, I made sure I created it to the correct size. Note 1500 pixels by 2400 pixels and 300 dpi which means I haven’t had to change anything.
The next step is to copy the image and paste into your Kindle ebook file. How you do this will depend upon your image editing software. In Photoshop you can simply use the Pointer tool and drag into the cover file.
If you are not able to drag the graphic into your cover file it may be your image is set as a Background in which case click on the layer in the Layer palette and change it to a Layer. Alternatively you can copy it and paste into your template.
You will first need to Select All from the Select menu and then click on your cover file and choose Paste from the Edit menu. (Photoshop 7, other programmes will have these commands but may be located differently).
Hopefully your graphic will fit nicely into your cover file, but it is also likely it will be too big or too small. If this is the case you can alter the size to some degree by changing the settings from the IMAGE menu so go back to your base image, in my case fire.jp and click IMAGE/image size.
Here are the dimensions for fire.jpg which as explained before are correct. Your graphic could have any numbers in these boxes. If your file is very big and shows Resolution at 72 dpi or similar, uncheck the Resample Image box and change the Resolution to 300. This will make your image smaller. If too small, try stepping down from 300.
If your file is too small, uncheck the Resample Image and change Resolution to a lower figure, (but not lower than 72). This will make your image bigger.
If you look closely at The Inbetween you will see that the cover contains three distinct items of text:
The first two are essential and the third is a good idea if you can manage it! Each of these items of text occupies its own layer which means I can easily move them around the cover without disrupting the whole design.
This is the Layers palette for The Inbetween Kindle cover. The bottom layer contains the fire.jpg image The 3 Text items are on 4 layers. The very top layer contains a border. The small icons at the bottom of the palette allow you to easily delete layers, add new ones and turn them off plus other features.
From this palette you will see that under each Text layer, denoted by a capital T, I have applied a range of effects to the text. This isn’t necessary! If you are not into graphic design, keep it simple!
CONVERTING TO JPEG
Once you are satisfied with the look of your cover all that remains is to convert it into a format which Kindle can use. Kindle supports various file formats, but prefers JPEG so first of all, SAVE YOUR FILE ENSURING YOU HAVE MAINTAINED ALL YOUR LAYERS! This should be the name of your book. This is vital as it is highly likely you will want to edit this file at some later date.
You then need merge all those layers to reduce your file size.
Go to the LAYER Menu and select FLATTEN OR MERGE LAYERS. If done correctly there should only be one layer showing in the Layers Palette.
Then save your file as a JPG. Hitherto you have been saving as the native file of your image editing software, e.g. Photoshop, psd. Kindle cannot read this so don’t try uploading it!
From the File menu select SAVE AS … you will be shown this screen:
Make sure you are saving into a directory where you can find it! Fill in the file name with your book title and most importantly select JPEG for the file format.
That’s it … All done! You can now upload your cover to Amazon’s Kindle Select programme.
Here’s what The Inbetween looks like on Amazon. This is a thumb nail of my cover which Amazon created so you don’t have to worry about creating an additional file.
Finally, if you are really stuck and would prefer to have someone do the whole thing for you, see my Kindle ebook cover design service.
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