How to Design an ePub Book Cover


Vision 73


How to Design an ePub Book Cover


Connie Cockrell

Copyright © 2013, Connie Cockrell, All Rights Reserved


I was ready to send a short story out to be epublished, but I didn’t know what to do next. When I self-published my first book, I went to CreateSpace ( and it was easy. They even helped me pick a cover from their own stock of cover pictures.

Now it was different. On the recommendation of a friend, I decided to publish on Smashwords, ( as they seemed to have the most comprehensive set up for publishing a short story. I downloaded their style guide and managed to format my story to make it easier for it to be published. I thought I was done until I got to the step that asked me to upload my cover. Arrgghh! I don’t have a cover!

I went to my writers-in-arms on FM Chat and asked around. I could buy covers from one of several of the people on FM who design covers or I could download the cover template they have on the site at the Indie Publishing page: available for anyone to use.

Not having a lot of spare cash, I leapt at the chance. I managed to get the template downloaded but you need a program to work with it. Photoshop is the application of choice but I didn’t really have the money to spend on a Photoshop program. Gimp is similar to Photoshop and is free!

This How To does not tell you about all of the details on how to use the Gimp program, for that you’ll need to get some training. I found (after someone pointed me in that direction) some YouTube video instructions on how to use Gimp to make lovely pictures, and general information on the program. See: and for basic program tutorials: . There are many more out there too.

So here’s how to pull together a VERY simple cover for your ebook.

After you’ve downloaded Gimp and the template, open up the Gimp program. (Note: when you download it, be sure to keep all of the windows together. I missed that cue the first time around. There is a design window and two tool windows. You'll definitely need all three.

Once Gimp is opened, open the folder where you have the template file stored. Just drag and drop the file into the Gimp Image window. The original template is still safe in the folder you put it in and a copy is now ready to work on. Be sure to Save As your new file name so there is no over writing later. I used the Cntrl Z function to delete mistakes. I used it a lot. If I did something that didn’t seem right or was downright wrong, Cntrl Z was my friend.

How to Change Background Color

1. In the Layers, Channels, Paths, Undo window (to be called the Layers window from herein out) select the layer called Top. You’ll see a small picture of the top part of the cover with the blue color.

2. In the Toolbox window, select the bucket Fill tool, which looks like a paint bucket.

3. Moving down the Toolbox window, click on the BG (for back ground) color fill button.

4. Up the Toolbox window you’ll see two squares, black over white with an arrow in the upper right of the two boxes pointing to each. These boxes indicate the fore ground and back ground colors. Click on the white box, for the background color.

5. A change background color window will pop up. Select your desired color and click the OK button.

6. In the Image window, click on the top area of color. The area will change to your selected color.

7. Do the same for the layer titled Bottom, be sure to click on that layer to make it active. Then repeat the process you went through to change the Top color.

Change the Title

Of course you’ll want to change the title to your own.

1.In the Layers window, select the layer called The Yellow River - tweaked.

2.In the Toolbox window, click on the Text symbol, a capital A.

3.In the lower half of the window, leave Hinting on, the Force auto-hinter off, and the Antialiasing on. Generally I leave the text color alone (black is the default) but you can change it to any color that looks best with your cover color. Again, the change color window will pop up, make your selection and click OK.

4.There are justification boxes to choose from also. If you read the instructions that came with the template, you know it’s recommended that you leave the text left justified.

5.Moving back up the box, clink on the Aa font box. The instructions recommend Century Gothic, but others can be used. I had a lot of luck with Century Gothic Bold. Other good options: Futura, Trebuchet, Gill Sans, Georgia, Times/Times New Roman or Palantino. Select your font.

6.Finally, select the size you want. If you have a long title, a smaller font size is recommended. My had a two part title: A Trio Of, I made font size 225 (the size is in pixels) and the second part, Animal Tales, I made font size 300. I needed two lines for Animal Tales. Remember, since the cover will be viewed as a thumbnail, you want the title at least, to be as large as possible so it can be read.

7.In the Layer window, scroll to the layer that says The Yellow River - tweaked. To the left you’ll see an eye. Click on the eye so that the title is no longer visible. Note: It’s still there, it’s just not visible at the moment.

8.In the Image window, click on the place where you want your title to begin. It gets a little tricky here. Assuming you’ve decided on a left justified title, put your cursor exactly where the upper left corner of your first letter will be. Click. A pop-up text box appears where you can type in your title.

9.Click the little button under the text window that says, Use Selected Font. Then type in your title. Note: This new title (or the first line of your title) is now a new layer (check out the Layers window.) If you don’t see your text in the Image window, go to the Layers window and click on your new layer, it will be your title (or part title). At the bottom of that section are little green arrows that point up or down. With your title layer selected, click on the up arrow until that layer is at the top of the list. You should now see that part of your title.

10.If you have more title to add, go ahead and follow steps 8 and 9.

How to add the Author Name

1.Go to the Layer window and click on the layer: By I.P.Daly. Click on the eye symbol to the left of it to hide it.

2.In the Toolbox window, click on the font tool and in the pop up window most of your previous settings should still be there. If not, reset them to the font you want. I changed the font size to 200 for my name and I used right justification. A note here; your Author Name should be pretty darn prominent. This isn't the time to be shy, make it as large as the template will allow and still have a nicely balanced cover image.

3.In the Image window, click about 1/3 of the way across the image from the left to make sure your have room for your whole name. I didn’t use By, but you can if you want. Make sure you’re clicking your starting spot halfway up (if you’re using just one line for your name) so it’s centered in the bottom space. If for some reason your name spills out over the right margin, delete the layer. (There’s a trash can symbol in the Layer’s window at the bottom of the list of layers. Make sure you have your new layer (your name) highlighted. You don’t want to delete any other layer.)

4.If you want two lines for your name, each line, just like each line of the title, will be a new layer.

Replacing the Template Image

1.In the Layers window, scroll to the layer called Layer 4 where you should see the photo, click on it

2.In the Image window, click on the picture and click delete. The photo will be gone.

3.You’ll be left with a white space. I found a photo for my cover that completely filled that space but if you have a photo that won’t expand that far, leave the white space around the image. (The white is a background color and you can select that in the Layers window at the very bottom of the layers list. You’ll see two boxes, both black outlined. You can try and change the color of those boxes. If it doesn’t work for you, just turn it all back to white.)

4.Open the file on your computer with the photo or art you want to use on your cover. Drag and drop the photo into the Image window. It will probably be in the wrong spot.

5.In the Toolbox window, click on the Move tool, a four-way arrow. In the Image window, click on your image and move it into place.

6.If the image isn’t quite the right size, that can be fixed by clicking on the Scale Tool, 4th to the right of the Move tool. Use this to re-size your image.

7.It’s difficult to get all of the edges lined up correctly so I used the Measure tool to adjust the edges of my image to match the template right and left, top and bottom edges. Note: be sure you aren’t moving your layers. Use Cntrl Z to delete any mistakes.

Cleaning up the file

With any luck and having viewed the tutorials and followed the directions, you have a basic, simple but elegant ebook cover. A couple of last things. These files can be huge. Once I was sure my cover was good, I saved it once with all of the layers, just in case. Then I opened it again, renamed it, and proceeded to delete any layer that didn’t belong to my cover. I know, it’s a little scary, but you don’t want that file to be any bigger than it has to be because you’ll note it saves as a .psd. That’s fine as long as we’re working within the program but to send it off to Flickr or Smashwords or whatever, it needs to be saved, generally as .jpg or .bmp. I used .jpg.

When you save the file you get a pop-up window. To save it as .jpg, go to the little button about half way down the window on the left called Select File Type. When you click on that another window opens and you can scroll to the JPEG option. Once you select that and click the Save button, you’ll get a pop-up warning window about the need to Export the image. Go ahead and click the Export button.

This is by no means a lesson on Gimp but I hope it was through enough for you to get a basic cover done. Take a look at those tutorials. I think cover making will become a new hobby! Here's the link to the book with the cover I made with the help of the template.

A Trio of Animal Tales, by Connie Cockrell, Smashwords,