How to Create a Book Cover
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How to Create a Book Cover Using Stencil

You book needs a GOOD cover. Here’s how to use popular services like Stencil (or Canva) to create a book cover worthy of the book you’ve written!

Full transcript:

Hey Accelerators! It’s Christopher Maselli with Writing Momentum, and a few days ago, I posted a video about how great Stencil is and why I like it so much. It’s a program kind of like Canva that you can use to create images. Well, I use it to create book covers. And one of the questions that came in was from Yolanda and she said, “Hey, I like that you can create book covers, but how do you create the spine and the back cover?”

So I’m going to show you exactly how I create a book cover from start to finish. So to start off, what we want to do is you want to take your book that you’ve already got formatted and see how many pages it is. Now, this is really important because depending on the number of pages in your book will change how thick that spine is. So, for instance, if this is my book, the spine will change on width depending on how many pages are inside.

OK. And so let’s look at this particular book I have open and let’s just see how many pages it is. Scroll down here and it says it’s 184 pages. OK, so let’s keep that in mind because 184 pages is what we need. Now, knowing that, we need to go and get the template from Amazon. This is going to help us. This is the basis of what we’re going to use because we’re going to publish this through Amazon.

Now, they have kind of a wonky address to get there. I don’t know why they don’t make it easier, but so because of that, just go to WritingMomentum.com/toolbox. And there you’ll see that I have a direct link to the Amazon book cover templates. If you click that, it’s going to take you to this page, which allows you to download a template specifically for the size of book that you’re creating. So the trim size on this book is a 6×9 and the page count, remember, was 184 pages.

OK, and then asks you for the paper color you’re going to choose. That’s important too, because those papers are just slightly different weights, which means they’re different thicknesses, which again will change that spine. So this one, I’m going to choose white paper and then I’m going to download the cover template. OK, download it, I’m going to save it. And then next I’m going to go to Stencil. To go to Stencil, go to getstencil.com/app.

If you don’t subscribe to Stencil, it’s only like $15 a month or so. Not bad. And again, I like it better than Canva, but you can do the same kind of thing in Canva. So what I need to do now is I need to change this workspace I’m working with to match the Amazon template. So here’s how I do that.

First of all, I’m going to open up that template and look at it. And I want this PNG file that they sent me. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to right click on it and I’m going to get the info. If you’re using windows, it’s going to say, like properties, something like that. Click on that and then it’s going to give you this little dialog that’s going to show you the exact dimensions of the template. In this case, it’s 3803×2775. 3803×2775. I’m going to copy that. I’m actually going to paste that in here so that I remember because I’m surely going to forget otherwise. 3803×2775. OK, so now I’m going to change the template size.

So I go down here and I see “create custom size.” Now this again will be different for every single book that you create because that spine is going to be different based on the number of pages. So you’re just going to create one. I’m going to say “custom book template.” OK, and then this one is 3803×2775. You see, why I had to write that down, OK, and that’s in pixels. OK, so now I’m going to say “create.” And what it’s going to do now is it’s going to create that template for me, I’m going to select it, and now you see that it has changed this to be 3803×2775.

That’s perfect. I now have my background. OK, so I’m going to delete that and I’m going to delete the background image so it’s just totally clear. Now, what I’m going to do is I’m going to go back to that template that I downloaded. So let me grab it. It is right here. And I’m going to drag and drop that right onto Stencil and watch what happens. It’s uploading to Stencil, and this is a pretty good sized file so it’s going to take a few seconds. Because remember, this is made for print, so this is a really, really big file. So it takes a few seconds to load in. And I end up having a bunch of these in Stencil for every different book I do. Again, it’s going to be a different template. OK, so there comes in. So wait one more second while it processes, the anticipation grows and there it is! All right.

So what I’m going to do now is I’m going to drag this and you want to drop it instead. It is your background. This is not an overlay. This is going to be the background of your entire project. So drop it there. And there it is. See how it’s going to fit perfectly, OK? And this shows me what my book needs to be like. So now what I need to do is start building the book. So I’m going to do that. I’m going to start with a photo because that’s how I like starting. So this book is called “Stronger than the Storm.”

So I’m going to I know I want a snow storm image. And so I’m going to look over here. I typed in “snow.” Let’s see if we can find any images. This is kind of a, this is in the wintertime romance series. So let’s see if we can find something that’s kind of interesting that could fit that theme. And so you see, we got a lot of great snow images here, and I’m not loving any of these.

Here’s one with a woman. I bet this might work nice. I’m going to drag this and I do not want to set this as the background or it’s going to replace the template. So instead I’m going to overlay my image. OK, this is a nice image. OK, so now I’m going to put it right here and I’m going to drag it. And I want this to actually be the cover of my book.

Now, as you can see, I’m covering up my template. It makes it hard for me to know where to position this. So I’m going to take the transparency of this image. And just temporarily, I’m going to make it a little more transparent so I can see the template in the background. Now I can see. So I’m going to move this. I want this to be centered right there on the front of the book. So she looks like she’s just made for that image. OK, that’s very cool.

OK, now, temporarily, while I work on the cover, I’m going to turn the transparency back and let’s now put a title on. So I need to add some text and I’m going to this is called Stronger than the Storm. So I don’t like that font at all. So let’s choose… I chose one earlier. It was called quicksand, I thought was kind of interesting. This one. So there’s the word “stronger.” That’s nice. Let’s change that white, though, because we’re gonna get this whole snow motif.

It’s going to be on her coat. So I think we’ll be able to see it just fine. And I’m going to increase the size “stronger.” Right. Something like that, and I’m going to duplicate this and change this one to “storm.” Right. It doesn’t look so bad and then I need a “than the,” so I’m going to I’m going to duplicate this again and type in “than,” but I’m going to make that a lot smaller. And you know what?

I want to change this one, to be another font. Let’s do something a little fancy, like…See what was it? You know, I think I uploaded my own font. Yeah. So you can upload your own fonts and Stencil too. Here’s one that I liked. This is called “Great Vibes.” This is a Google font. It still needs to be a little smaller. That’s a little bit big and so…Goes something like that… “stronger,” maybe a little bigger.

Let’s go to like 40 point, OK, and then I’m going to duplicate that. “Stronger than the Storm,” that looks pretty good. Let’s move those down. I’m just tapping those down on my down arrow, see how I can manipulate that?  Looks pretty good. I don’t think I want this actually capped. “Stronger than the storm.” OK, that doesn’t look so bad, let’s put the author’s name on here. I think I’m going to stick with this font for the author, so I’m going to duplicate that.

But let’s make that a lot larger. And her name is going to be, let’s do “Kristi Maas.” Right. Maybe that’s my pen name when I’m writing romance novels. All right. Let’s put that down there at the bottom.

That doesn’t look bad. And then up here, I want to, remember I said this in the “wintertime romance” series, so I’m going to go ahead, and again, I’m actually I think I’m going to do maybe this font. Duplicate that, I like to duplicate, I think it’s a little faster to be able to see what you’ve got and then I’m going to type in “wintertime romances,” make that a lot smaller.

And you know what, we need to make the background, let’s see. Let’s make the background of this like the color of the rosiness on her cheek, maybe? It’s not quite pink enough, not quite what I want. I want something a little more pinkish. It may be a little dark, but you get the idea. I’ll probably play around with that for a little while. And whoops, moved the wrong one. There we go.

You can see now, now again, I can’t see my templates. I don’t know quite what I’m doing. So I’m going to click on her again and I’m going to lighten the transparency so I can really see what’s going on back behind here. And so now I can see again exactly what I’m working with. So there’s “wintertime romances” and then, you know, I’m going to do something fancy over here. Check this out.

So I’m going to go ahead and go over here to the icons. Going to grab a circle and I’m going to put that like here. A little smaller and I’m going to make it look like this is part of that bar. See how it’ll line-up and snap real nicely? You probably need to move it over, which means I’m going to have to move this over to make it look balanced, and then I’m going to change the color of this to match that. OK, now it looks like it’s all one piece, right?

And then I can take that same copy and can duplicate that, take off the color on the background. And I’m going to type “book” and… That up here, a little bit smaller. You see how this just starts to come together and starts to look really nice, really nice and professional. I really, that’s why I love Stencil you can see how easy this is. And I’m doing this in real time. Right. And not speeding up the video or anything.

Looks really nice. There we go. So that’s that’s essentially how we’re going to start the front of the book. I might I might do some other fancy stuff with something with her name, maybe put a different background there something. But for now, I’m going to keep it the same.

One issue I can already tell I’m going to run into is I don’t want this bar going over the spine like that, right. Because that’s going to look kind of funny. So I need to go back here and I’m going to take off this background color and I’m just going to add a bar of my own. And so I’m going to take this bar here and I’m going to create my own across the front. And I’m just going to have it come to like about right here, and you do need to know that… And then move that back. So it looks just like it was made to go there.

OK, so here’s what you need to know about these Amazon templates is that the the orange part of the template is where there could be some movement. So you just have to know that this bar is not going to be perfect when it’s actually printed. So I don’t like to put all the way to the edge because that could end up on the side of the book. So I kind of just kind of have to eye it and say maybe around there’s not bad, it’s OK. If it goes on to the side a little bit or if it cuts off, you know, before the side, that’s OK, too.

So there then is the front of the book, right? If I go ahead and bring her back into focus, you can see that looks pretty slick. Not bad for just a couple of minutes from work. Right? And like I said, I might work on this a little bit more, do something. I feel like there needs to be some color down by her name or something, but this actually is not bad. OK, but I have to work on the spine now.

So now I’m going to bring that transparency back again on the cover so I can see where the spine is. And what I like to do is I like to take the same font. I’m going to duplicate this and then I’m going to flip it, OK, and then make it smaller. So it’ll fit right on that spine. Now, here’s a little secret when you’re doing something for an Amazon spine, this font cannot in any way touch that orange on either side.

If it does, they will kick it back and say, sorry, this doesn’t pass the test. So make sure that you do not touch it or it will get kicked back. OK, so they’re “stronger.” And actually, I’m just going to go ahead and type in “than the storm” and then just make this rather than do the other fancy one on the side. I think that’s good enough. And then I’m going to balance right there. Right.

See how nice that looks? Now that white may be hard to read there. Let’s see if we bring that transparency back. Oh, it’s actually not bad. So I might have to turn that black and see how it looks. Let’s just see. If we turn this black, what happens? Oh, it’s even better. OK, so let’s leave that like that and then I want to put her name on there. So I’m going to duplicate. And I’m going to add “Christy Maas,” right?

I’m going to shrink that down, put it down there and I’m leaving some room because that’s where I’m going to put the logo. OK, so I’m going to go to my logos. I’ve got a little Writing Momentum logo since this is going to be published by Writing Momentum. I want to put that on there. And this is the logo I’m going to use, OK? As you can see, it came in gigantic. Don’t want that. I want it to be really small.

And then again, I’m going to flip. No, no, I’m not going to flip this one. I want this to be straight, but I need to be even smaller because this is going to have trouble clearing that boundary again. We’ll see what that boundary is. Again, transparency back. I do that a lot as I’m creating. I move that transparency back and forth so I can see how things look. OK, there’s the Writing Momentum logo there. The spine is done. Doesn’t that looks slick? And you can see I just did that in a matter of minutes. Now we have to do the back of the book.

OK, so to do the back of the book, I’m going to start. If I have an image like this, it doesn’t cover to the back, that’s too bad because I love it when an image has enough side material that I can just have it flow right onto the back.

Unfortunately, this one does not. And because Canva (Stencil!) Doesn’t have a lot of ways to flow one image into like a block or anything, I’m going to have to do a hard block here. You’ll see what I mean. It’s still going to look fine. So I’m going to take a block and I’m going to go ahead and put this here again. We’ve got to see that background image. So I’m going to have to move the transparency back. OK, and then I’m going to take this block and make it go all the way to the bottom and all the way to about right there, I’m going to go just onto the onto that.

OK, so now you can see this is where I’m going to create the back of the book. Now, this also, like the other one, is an image that I need to fade back a little bit so I can see what I’m working with as far as the template goes. So I’m going to fade that back just slightly. You can see where the barcode goes. I don’t want to mess with that. That’s what Amazon’s going to put on.

So now I can go ahead and take my publishing logo. I’m going to put that on the back cover. I usually put that down here near the bottom, OK? And then I’m going to go again, grab… I think I like the harder block here… And you know what? I want to change this to actually a white color. And then you’ll see why. Because I want to use this color here for the back of a quote. So I’m going to go like this.

Actually, let’s just do two of these. Let’s do one there and one there. This one I want to match this. And in this one, I’m going to put a little bit about, let’s just say, about the book. OK, so I’ve got some copy that I wrote earlier. You could put an author image on here or something if you want to. You know, I mean, it’s up to you, but I’m just going to put some copy about the book.

OK. Here we go. Again, I would change this up obviously quite a bit, and then up here I’m going to do the same type of thing, but I think the color of this box needs to change. So I’m going to grab maybe the color of her coat and then I’m going to fade that back. That’s kind of interesting, and then I’m going to grab a quote from the book here and I’m going to paste that in. Paste.

And then I can… There we go. OK, so something like that. OK, so now again, this doesn’t look great in my opinion. I would spend a lot more time working on this, but I just want to give you an example. So now let’s say I love all of this, OK? Maybe when we put a you know, what we should do, we should put a picture of the author on here to see if I got a picture of me in here that we can use.

I don’t know if I do or not. Maybe I do, or logos, you know. Oh, here it’ll be under uploads. I clicked, OK, so here’s a picture of me and my wife, let’s pretend this is just me for this case, or maybe we wrote this together, right? So this is the author photo. I’m going to take this. I put this, you know, in the corner here, something like that anyway.

You get the idea, that kind of thing. OK, so now I’m going to you need to go ahead and take away the transparency on both this and the cover ups. It’s up here. And boom, there’s your cover. Now the back cover doesn’t look great on here because I haven’t spent a lot of time on it. But if you spent as much time on the back cover as you did the front cover, it would look really nice. I really don’t like this image of us on there. It doesn’t look quite right.

So spend as much time as you would on the back cover as you would the front, and you could get a real nice cover. Now, this is it. This is the full-on cover that I can download now. And you just hit download. You go ahead. And what I do when I download it is you want to choose print, right? And you can go ahead and save it as a jpg because then you need to open it up in and save it as a PDF.

OK, so usually like on the Mac the preview program. Let me just show you: a book cover, OK, print 300 DPI, its full size and I want standard compression and I’m going to click on the download. Again, this takes a moment for this to happen because this is a huge image and when I download it, it’s in JPG format which would be perfect for an ebook if I just wanted just the cover and I wasn’t doing all the back cover too.

But because I’m doing the back cover too, it’s a lot bigger and it’s in JPG, which is not what we need for Amazon book covers. It wants PDF. So I’m going to save it and then I’m going to open it. Now when I open it on a Mac it opens up in Preview, which is great because Preview here it is in Preview. It allows me to go up to if I hit File I can hit “Export as PDF” and then see I can go ahead and go to my desktop and I can save this as “bookcover.PDF.”

And so there you have it. That’s how you create a book cover with the side spine and the back cover in Stencil. Again, I apologize for the crudeness of that back cover. I would actually want to create something a lot nicer on this book. For instance, we just did a standard background. Here’s something that we did a little more fancy. You can see we’ve got the we got a couple of different blocks. We put some images behind it. There’s the picture of the author. This was all created in Stencil also. Right. OK, this is for a comedy book. And so you can do something like that anyway.

Hope this helps. Yolanda, thank you again for the great question. And I hope all of your writing has momentum!

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