All about ebook covers for beginners!
From searches to my site I realise that there are quite an amount of authors with questions about ebook covers. It may be your first publication and getting an ebook cover designed and uploaded may be a daunting task. Here, in alphabetical order, I attempt to give a short definition or explanation about all aspects pertaining to ebook covers as well as their paperback versions…
attribution – many images, even if paid for, require image attribution. That means you must give credit to the site it was purchased from or to the photographer who took the image or both. It may look like this: “Cover model image by Konrad Zune used under license of Runflowerstock.” In addition it is customary to give credit to the ebook cover designer – “Cover designed by Melody Simmons.” This looks professional as all traditional publishing houses have credits at the beginning of their book, including a credit for the cover designer.
copyright – any image or photograph on the internet belongs to someone! There are two categories of free images one may use – Creative Commons images, which are images donated for free use by photographers, and Public Domain images, which are images older than say a hundred years (it differs from country to country). Still these images usually require attribution, and some have restrictions that make it difficult to use them on a cover, such as that they may not be altered in any way.
All other images need to be purchased from image sites or photographers. Usually this does NOT give you the exclusive possession of the image – it just allows you to use it on your cover. To get an exclusive licence you have to pay $300 per image or more.
Even if you take an image with your own camera, you will need signed model releases from any person in the photograph, and signed property releases for any buildings in the photograph. That’s why it’s easier to use images from stock sites as they take care of all legalities. Images from stock sites may cost on average $5 – $60 per image.
Please be aware you cannot just copy an image from anywhere you find it on the internet! Be it Flickr, Google Search, Photobucket, Adult XXX sites or wherever – each image belongs to an owner or a photographer and you have to get permission IN WRITING to use the image. This is to protect you from being sued.
ebook cover – a cover for a book that is made in a digital format only. It is a file that is in an image format. There are different image file formats such as JPeg or PNG of GIF. Each online ebook retailer has its own specifications for the size and file format they prefer. An ebook cover cannot be uploaded in a Word Document format. I have a detailed article about ebook cover dimensions and size for further information.
ebook cover artist – a person who does original art from scratch and draws characters and elements either by hand or digitally with a graphics tablet. This process is more lengthy and hence more expensive than digital manipulation.
ebook cover designer – someone who specialises in making ebook covers. They normally use digital manipulation to build up a cover by combining several elements from stock images, and sometimes they draw in certain aspects. They also change hues and lighting and add textures.
ebook cover size – this may refer to the dimensions, file size or resolution of a cover. Please view my article on ebook cover size specifications for clarity.
custom-made ebook cover – a cover that is designed for a specific book with the desires of the author taken into consideration. Usually several possible compositions are done and once the author chooses one it is further refined. It involves several revisions and changes.
paperback cover – the ebook cover is turned into a paperback cover for physical printing. A spine and back page are added and the format and colour mode may be changed too. Read more about paperback covers here.
premade cover – an ebook cover that was designed by a cover designer from his or her own inspiration or according to what they think authors may want. It is not a custom design for a specific book, but it is also not a template that will be re-used. It is sold only once and becomes the exclusive cover of the author. Premade covers are often used for short stories because generally they are cheaper than custom-made covers. This is because they take less time as there are no revisions and different possibilities, and usually just the title and author name are added in. Premade covers are also used for full-length novels if the author is lucky enough to find one that suits his or her book. Premade cover shopping can be fun and some authors purchase covers before even writing the book. If you purchase several premade covers with a similar style they can also be used for a novel series – just request to designer to make the fonts on all the covers the same.
Visit my Premade Galleries to view samples of premade covers.
stock images – there are image sites that sell photos and artwork that can be used to make a cover. These sites allow one to purchase an image license so that an author can use the particular image on 250 000 or sometimes 500 000 copies, whereafter an extended license needs to be purchased. Please note a stock image cannot be uploaded AS IS as an ebook cover. The book sites will not accept it. It needs to have an author name and title added, and some ebook sites will reject it if no title has been added. To make a cover unique it is good to combine two or more images. Images also need to be re-adjusted to the size requirements of an ebook cover. Besides that, it is a good idea to combine at least two different images or to alter colours and add textures in order to attain a more unique cover.
uploading an ebook cover – this is very easy! If you have your cover in the right size and file format at the ready, every ebook publication site such as Kindle Direct Publishing or Smashwords has a simple button to click on for the upload – all you do is click, select the cover from where it is stored on your computer and it will upload and it’s done! The book sites will add it to the stores themselves and usually they add a larger copy into the ebook too, so it can be downloaded by the reader as part of the book. You do not put the cover into the book yourself – you just upload one copy to the self-publication site separately from the manuscript of your book and they will do the rest.