Make a great cover for free. [40/52]

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This post will be more applicable to those who are self-publishing their books. From what I’ve heard, the author has little to no say in the cover design of their book. But, for self-published authors, that responsibility rests fully on your shoulders.

Let’s make sure we’re on the same page before going forward: Do not take shortcuts on your the cover of your book.

You’ve worked for months (or years) on getting the story just right. You’ve spent time editing multiple drafts to make sure the story is just right, and that the characters come alive. People are looking for any reason to not read your book, don’t make it easy for them to pass on it by making a sub par cover.

So, how do you do this for free? Here are three tools to use to make great covers for free.

One: Unsplash

Unsplash is a massive website with thousands of free, high quality photos. Just search some keywords for your book and get started. I did this for the cover of my first book, The Rose Weapon, and its sequel, When Embers End.


Two: New York Public Library Digital Collections

The NYPL Digital Collection is great for old or vintage images to use on your book cover. Like Unsplash, there is a search option so you can find exactly what you’re looking for. One thing to note: there are a lot of items that are not in the public domain, so be sure to double check the copyright status.

I used an old postcard for the cover of my novella, The Mystery at Pancake Shores, which takes place in the American NE in the late 50s.

The original image from the NYPL digital collections.

The original image from the NYPL digital collections.

The final cover for  The Mystery at Pancake Shores.

The final cover for The Mystery at Pancake Shores.


Three: Canva

Canva is a quick, template based web program for graphic design. Canva has templates for book covers, so you can find one you like and then add your own images (from Unsplash or the NYPL) and make something great.

Using these resources will help you be able to compete with the traditionally published book covers. However, I do have to say, there is nothing that compares to a professional graphic designer. If you can afford it, higher a professional whose work you like, and have them make a custom cover for you.

Shoutout to Logan Greer for his awesome work on my covers.

Jump. Build, Fly.
F.C. Shultz