self-publishing success for indie authors

Book Design, Ebook Design

How to make a book cover for $1 using

It’s getting pretty easy to self-publish an ebook and start earning money. Conversion from your Word document to .mobi or .epub is painless and automatic. But your book’s success still depends on having a high quality cover, and until recently, there haven’t been any good, reliable, easy to use and cheap online graphic design tools to help you make an amazing cover.

So today I want to introduce you to

Login to Canva and you’ll see a bunch of preset options, including a “Kindle Cover” at 1410 x 2250. That’s actually a bit small these days but it should still work.


But you can also just enter custom dimensions – I recommend 1600 x 2700.



And they’ve got a bunch of nice looking templates to get you started quickly.




(Compare the ones above with these hideous covers from the Kindle cover design templates on Amazon).



Plus, Canva is ridiculously easy to use – and integrated with stock photography sites so that you can search for and buy any image for $1. Just make your design and pay $1 to download a high quality version that’s ready for Kindle and other ebook sites.

You can upload your own image and apply cover filters, and even vignette to get the style you want. You can upload multiple layers and use transparency. Canvas is really one of the best online photo editing tools available right now.


Good enough to get started

You may think you need a mind-blowing, soul-shattering book cover to be successful – you don’t. But it helps a ton if you have something that is clean and professional. The difference between a professional, clean, aesthetically pleasing book cover design and a life-changing cover design isn’t as large as the difference between the same cover and something ugly and homemade.

It has to pass the first glance. If you think your book is ready, get a cover for $1, choose a great photo and some nice fonts, and let the public get their hands on it. If you start selling and getting reviews, you can use the money to invest in a nicer cover.

(The alternative is to pay a lot of money for book cover design in the beginning, which can be worth it if your story is amazing – but can also be a big financial risk, and you’d have been better off spending all that money on advertising or a spot on BookBub).

Truthfully, the cover templates on Canva are a little boring, but they are still nicer and cleaner than what you could expect from a cheap cover designer. And if you’re a non-fiction book cover, the “flat design” style of the templates on Canva will work well for you, because it also happens to be what’s hip for most non-fiction genres (so for non-fiction, I might recommend Canva even over expensive book cover designers!)

The limitations of Canva

Although Canva is a way better option than most other cheap book cover design tools, there are some things it can’t do.

1. There aren’t that many font options, and you can’t upload your own, which is pretty limiting for book cover design – the font is a huge part of what will make your cover stand out, and it will be an integral part of your author branding.

2. There are no text styles like dropshadow or glow, which can make a cover more dramatic and help the text stand out.

3. Although there is transparency, there aren’t any blending options – blending between layers is how you get those really striking effects, for example adding a textured blood splatter or a ghostly rising mist over the scene. Blending lets you build book covers with depth.

My Solution (coming soon!)

So while I recommend Canva as an excellent source for a cheap book cover, right now I’m spending thousands of dollars developing my own online graphic editing software for book cover design. It may not be as sleek and beautiful as the Canva interface. It may not be quite as polished and easy to use.

But of course, my version will:

1. Use system fonts so you can find the perfect font for your design.

2. Have lots of cool text effects.

3. Have blending options for layers.

It won’t solve all problems, but it will be the most robust book cover designing tool in the world.

It’s not ready yet, but when it is I’ll add it to (should be finished by August 2014).


Written by: selfpublish

Derek is a book cover designer finishing a PhD in Literature. These days he spends his time building tools and resources to help indie authors publish better on his blog, Read More


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