You may not want to hear this again and again, but a good book cover design for your indie title is a deal breaker. In a sea of available books, the design should be a stopper - meaning it causes a customer to stop, read your blurb (which should be stellar, too - but that's another post) and move to click the buy button. These two in combo should be a one-two punch that flushes the "gotta buy" urge to the surface. The price should be the closer, but that is another article, too.
We've all seen those fabulous covers and it is not just traditional publishing houses that can create those images. Yes, they may employ artists with enormous talent. Yes, they may be able to afford photo shoots and the expensive photo editing software. You don't need all that to create a good cover.
This cover is two separate pictures bought off Bigstock Photo. They were combined using a program you most likely already have on your computer. If you can use Word, you can use this program and create a cover like this. But I'm ahead of myself.
When I started on this indie journey, I couldn't afford a cover designer. I could barely afford to keep the roof over my head and food on the table. But I had a story to tell, a burning desire to connect with my readers, so I launched into what would turn out to be one of the most fascinating turns of my career - equal to that moment I decided to write romances. That would be creating compelling book cover designs to sell my books (and those of KLG Press).
I'm going to tell you the first secret to designing a good cover. It's the pictures. It's deciding one or two strong images that represent your story, then scouring Bigstock, iStockPhoto, Shutterstock and dozens of free image sites for the right picture and not quitting until you find it. Then it's knowing what you want your potential buyer to recognize first from the cover and making sure your eye goes to that when you do the layout. Whether picture or title, work with that.
I use PowerPoint and Gimp. PowerPoint comes with your Microsoft Office Suite and Gimp is free to download on line (it's a free photo editing program). Word encompasses some of the PowerPoint structure for uploading and manipulating pictures, but not all. That's why I made the jump over to PowerPoint.
Oh gads, I can't use Powerpoint. Yeah, I'd only made slides. I learned and so can you. Need help with that? Lynda.com.
If you have the ability to read directions, you can figure out the size of your book cover, buy the appropriate picture, and embark on creating that cover that is in your imagination.
I went a couple steps further. I studied typography and color and bought a 10,000 font program to supplement Microsoft's measly offerings. I admit you probably won't develop the obsession I have with typography and spend the next two years compulsively creating, but truthfully you can design a compelling title and author brand with what you have...just please God, not Times News Roman.
If you feel you need more help than that, here's a couple places to start:
The Book Designer
Here's a couple outstanding book designers to pay attention to:
And remember -- a picture is worth a thousand words.