Book Cover Design Tools for the Self-Published Author

Finally! After years hunched over your laptop tussling over which adjective perfectly captures your main character’s eyes and searching desperately for that perfect ending, your book is done and ready to be launched into the world. You already have the perfect title, but wait! You still need a cover. As a self-published author, it may be intimidating to start with all of the online outlets claiming they can make your book the next bestseller. After all, you’re a writer, not a designer. To help make the process a little less intimidating, here is a brief list of options that can give your book the beautiful face it deserves.
Hire A Professional Designer
As a self-published author, it may be beneficial to set aside some funds to hire a professional designer. The cover can be an excellent marketing tool and help communicate the subject, genre, and mood of the book in a single moment to the potential reader and having someone with experience in this realm may help increase sales. If funds allow, here are some options to explore:

  • Bookfly Design: For a fully personalized cover design experience, Bookfly Design will work with self-published authors one-on-one to create the design of their dreams. The small studio on the Oregon coast offers editing services as well. The intimate experience stands as the most expensive of these options with ebook design starting at $549.
  • BEAUTeBOOK: From cover to interior to website design, they will take care of all your design needs. Bestselling author Gregg Olsen took advantage of their services when designing Bitter Almonds, but the “bestseller look” may cost a pretty penny. Ebook cover design starts at $275.
  • Covertopia: If you are short on time, premade covers from Covertopia may be your best option. Choose from hundreds of genre-specific covers, and Covertopia will customize it with your title and author name. Premade covers start at $119.

Do It Yourself (for little or no cost)
Here in Portland, Oregon, we take pride in getting things done ourselves, and there are numerous online outlets that help guide you through the book design process with relative ease. For many self-published authors, making the cover is not the issue. Instead, the difficulty lies in making a cover that simultaneously captures the feel of the book and stands out among the sea of professionally and self-published books alike. If DIY is more your style, check out some of these online guides:

  • Adobe Creative Cloud: Want a professional looking cover? Invest in the applications used by professionals. InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator are excellent tools for creating both cover and interior book designs. Your subscription also includes video tutorials to help you navigate the tools and techniques available on the different applications. A single app subscription starts at $20 a month.
  • Cover Design Studio: This online resource claims anyone can make a cover on their site in under an hour. While the overall process is sure to take longer than that, this is a quick and easy option for authors short on time. Simply download a template and start customizing. Cover Design Studio offers a hundred DIY templates to choose from, starting at $19.
  • Amazon: Kindle Direct Publishing has their own cover creator, complete with a video tutorial. Simply add a personal image, choose from ten design templates, customize your font and color scheme, and submit. This tool is free when publishing through Kindle Direct.
  • CreateSpace: The entirely free cover creator from this self-publishing outlet allows you to create semi-custom designs with relative speed and ease. You can begin with a premade cover, which you can customize from color to font, and incorporate images from their free gallery.

5 Ideas for Summer Book Tourism in Oregon

The sun has finally shown its face after months of chilling rain and grey days here in the Pacific Northwest. If you’re anything like me, you’re torn between your can’t-stop-won’t-stop addiction to reading and your desire to soak up some of that sweet, sweet sun while you can. Lucky for us, I’ve created a list of ten books and corresponding activities for this summer. To keep it local, I’ve made sure all of the books are set in the Pacific Northwest, and all of the proposed activities are set in Oregon, primarily the Portland area.

  1. Book: The Ocean in My Ears by Meagan Macvie
    Activity: Ice Cream Tasting!
    While navigating the drama that comes with being a senior in high school, 90’s teen queen Meri Miller spends quite a bit of time devouring ice cream at her local Dairy Queen in Soldotna, Alaska. So, in her honor, the first activity is ice cream tasting! There are a lot of wonderful ice cream shops in Portland. You could hit up the famous Salt & Straw, which offers a tasting option where you can try a few of their deliciously unique concoctions. Or there’s Ruby Jewels Scoops, Cool Moon Ice Cream, and many more available on this list.
    Don’t forget your copy of The Ocean in My Ears; the lovely watercolor-style design of the cover next to your sweet treat will make an Instagram-worthy moment you won’t want to miss!
  2. Book: 50 Hikes in the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests by Sierra Club Oregon Chapter
    Activity: Hiking, of course.
    50 Hikes is a guide curated by the Oregon Sierra Club providing trail information and maps, directions, and a guide to regional plants. The guide has options for all skill levels and different hike lengths, all within an hour of the city, so it’s the perfect option for any Portland hiker. Grab a hiking partner, pack some provisions, and take in the sights of these beautiful, underrated forests.
  3. Book: At the Waterline by Brian K. Friesen
    Activity: River Tours
    At the Waterline follows a man who finds himself living and working among a motley crew on the Willamette River. Take a river tour, of which there are many, which can be found here, here, and here. If you’re looking for another option that involves drinking beer in an active group setting, consider the BrewBarge. Get familiar with the setting of this wonderful novel and enjoy some of the most interesting characters you’ve ever had the pleasure of reading about while soaking up some sun on the river!
  4. Book: Dot to Dot Oregon by Sid Miller
    Activity: Roadtrip!
    I’ll admit this activity is a bit more of a commitment, but road tripping is such a quintessential summer event, and this book lends itself to it so well that I couldn’t resist including it. In fifty poems, Sid Miller explores seven routes covering a variety of environments, including the coast, mountains, and Idaho border. And, for those Portlanders looking to stay closer to home, there are even some routes for inner-city Portland. These poems will make you look at Oregon in a whole new light and bring you into summer with fresh eyes.
  5. Book: Brew to Bikes by Charles Heying
    Activity: Brewery Bike Tours
    Brew to Bikes: Portland’s Artisan Economy profiles local businesses and explores the way businesses, from microbreweries to bike manufacturers, have changed the way locals consume. In its honor, I suggest doing a bike tour between some of Portland’s many microbreweries and not-so-micro-breweries. There are a few different services where you can rent bikes both for groups and individuals, including the Nike Bikes conveniently located all over the city. They’re bright orange, so you really can’t miss them. For breweries, here are a few places you can find some lists to inspire you: An Essential Guide to Portland’s Breweries, Travel Portland: Portland Breweries, PortlandBeer.Org: All Breweries.

Have fun, be safe, and soak up the sun while you can!