Help Me Design

It is amazing how design finds its way into all professions. Whether you are a graphic-design guru, a website developer, a technical writer, or any other professional who has some sort of visual element in their day-to-day (so, everyone), you are surrounded by design. So let us dive into some resources for the non-designers.

Adobe Help
Adobe can be a fickle mistress, controlling our experience through buried functions, robust shortcut keys, and a beautiful array of possibilities. It is amazing how creative a non-designer can be once given the power through Adobe Creative Cloud. But for those who aren’t willing or able to sit in on weeks of Adobe workshops, here are a few resources that may help.

  • InDesignSecrets
    InDesignSecrets is a creative network family of sites and services for InDesign users. Considered the world’s best resource for all things InDesign, InDesignSecrets has a robust network of help forums, sites, and services that help users get past the most grueling of holdups.

  • LinkedIn Learning
    LinkedIn Learning (formerly is an online learning platform that has a bounty of lessons on everything from creative practice to business practice. It is primarily for multimedia and software development, and student accounts are affordable and provide valuable resources like software tutorials, design concepts, and coding fundamentals. If you don’t believe me, read the reviews—LinkedIn Learning speaks for itself.

Adobe Resources
Not every design project starts from scratch. Designers often use resources or inspiration from other creators or creative spaces. Often borrowing a simple brush stroke, font, swatch, or pattern will evolve one’s work into something unexpected. So here are a few resources you can mine.

  • A Gold Mine of Adobe Illustrator Resources
    Melissa Scroggins has done the design community a huge favor and listed over two hundred free Adobe Illustrator resources. On the blogging platform, Scroggins lists an awing amount of brushes, patterns, symbols, vectors, and swatches. This is a post worth getting lost in.

  • Font Squirrel
    Font Squirrel is a legitimately free typeface resource that has thousands of completely legal and high-quality fonts. Font Squirrel handpicks and organizes popular fonts for easy finds, but depending on the typeface, designers can go down any serif or sans-serif rabbit hole they would like.

There are thousands of resources out there, and these are only a few; but hopefully these help those who either are just getting into design or need some online inspiration. Happy designing!

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.