Want To Design Your Ebook Cover Yourself? It’s Painless With Powerpoint. Follow This One Design With Me. Then Unleash Your Own Creativity With Abandon.
Take a look at all the ebooks I have created, using my own cover designs. My library has so many of them as a series.
Many people ask me how I design my ebook covers, so I decided to use this blog post to teach you what I do and how easy-peasy the whole thing is with MS PowerPoint.
Try to follow my design pattern in this article, and then break free with your own creativity once you get familiar with the design elements in PowerPoint.
It’s not just painless, it’s real fun too. You don’t need to be a great designer to create an ebook cover design that any child can produce. Really!
At Solohacks Academy, we believe in learning to do things ourselves, so we don’t spend hard-earned bucks on outsourcing. Plus, it’s all part of the enjoyment of learning to be a self-sufficient solopreneur. The little things you learn by “trying out” make you feel super confident. And design is one of those things that you may have thought it’s not up your street – till you discover it’s no great shakes.
1. Setting the dimensions of your ebook: my choice of 600px width by 800 pixels height is a great size
Chances are you may have used MS PowerPoint before just to make slidedecks or presentations. But did you know it’s one super-easy way to create ebooks? And further, did you know PowerPoint can be used to create ebook cover designs in a jiffy?
I use PowerPoint all the time for my ebooks, and I have created at least 60-plus ebooks so far. See a small collection my branded ebooks below. I want to show you one quick ebook cover design you too can create with PowerPoint – so the next time you try it out on your own you can do whatever you like with the features that PowerPoint gives you.
So here we go then. We need to start with the right size for your ebook – my favorite size is 600 pixels width by 800 pixles height. This size is a vertical format (unlike the horizontal slide format that PowerPoint gives you by default). So let’s begin by changing our slide dimensions in PowerPoint.
As shown in the image below, open a new blank presentation in PowerPoint. Click DESIGN on the top menu (Point 1), then select SLIDE SIZE (Point 2) and in the drop down box select CUSTOM SLIDE SIZE (Point 3).
NOTE: You can click on the many images below to see enlarged versions of them. Don’t be overawed that it’s such a long article. It’s detailed enough for beginners. But if you already know PowerPoint, you’ll run through it all at speed.
This will open a dialog box where you need to enter width and height of your desired slide dimensions. Never mind if the fields show dimensions in inches. Just go ahead and type 600px in the width field and 800px in the height field (Point 4). (Ignore if Powerpoint changes your dimensions to inches.) Just click on the OK button as shown below (Point 5).
This will lead to one more dialog box asking if you want to MAXIMIZE or ENSURE FIT. Click ENSURE FIT as shown below (Point 6).
This will now give you a slide of your ideal vertical orientation and size. Select the two default text boxes and delete them, as shown in this last image below (Point 7).
That’s it, you now have a bare canvas to style into your ebook cover design.
2. Work on just one slide in PowerPoint: set a muted gradient background that lifts the other colors on the ebook cover
Now that we have a blank cover slide in PowerPoint, we need to fill it with the ebook cover design. You can apply a solid background color to the ebook cover, if you like, but I like the richness of a light gradient background. Giving the ebook cover design a background color helps lift the other items you put on it.
To start with the background, first click on FORMAT SLIDE on the top menu (Point 8), then in the formatting specifications options that you get (on the right panel on the screen), select GRADIENT FILL in the radio buttons (Point 9). Now to set our gradient correctly we have to use the 4 arrowed gradient tool as shown below (Point 10). (If you don’t have 4 arrow-shaped markers on the gradient tool, click anywhere on the tool to create a new additional arrow-shaped marker.)
In all see that you have four arrow-shaped markers. Let them, for the present, be in any color.
We want to achieve a gradient that goes from black at the top of the slide to white in the major portion of the center of the slide to black again at the bottom of the slide. So click on the first arrow-shaped marker of the gradient tool (Point 11), drag it to the extreme left of the tool area, and then select the color tab to black (Point 12).
While you are working with the gradient, also make sure the ANGLE field says 90° (Point 13). If it’s any other angle the gradient may not be exactly vertical. It may change its angle. Try it.
Now do the same for the arrow-shaped marker on the extreme right of the gradient tool (Point 14). Drag it to the extreme right of the tool area, and then click on the marker to select it, and select the color tab to black (Point 15).
Now that we’ve worked with the black parts of the gradient, select the remaining two arrow-shaped markers on the gradient tool (Point 16), one by one and select the color tab to white color (Point 17). Check your gradient on the slide. If you need to make the white area more, create more space between the two white markers (get them closer to the black markers at the extremes of the tool). Adjust positions to see if the gradient looks smooth and is consistent at the top and bottom edges of the slide.
All set? Your gradient background is done.
3. Select and size down a great book cover image: give it a bit more with borders, shadows, and angles – if you wish
Choosing a great photo to use on your ebook cover is an absolutely important thing. A compelling image becomes a magnet for the eye, no matter how wonderful the rest of the design is. So choose your main photo with care. It can be a photograph, or a cartoon, an illustration, but remember that it has to go with the ebook title you have in mind.
There are many places online for sourcing good images. I personally prefer photographs over illustrations, as they have a lot of detail to hold the eye. I source them from 123rf.com. The smallest available size of the image is good enough for an ebook.
As I come from an advertising background we have a dictum I always follow. The image to match the headline or title must never be like “A for Apple”. In other words, the image must not be a literal image of the title, but add some extra pizzazz to the title.
For instance, let’s take a book title for our ebook as: “HOW MUCH MONEY HAVE YOU MADE IN THE TIME YOU’VE SPENT TRYING?” Obviously, our ebook is about making your time more valuable. An “A For Apple” image would be to put a clock on one side of a weighing scale with a dollar sign on the other side. Too pat!
Instead, I’ve chosen this image below to go with the title of the ebook. It’s got more of an unusual and eye-teasing approach, wouldn’t you say?
Once you’ve chosen your image insert it into the PowerPoint Slide we’re working on for the ebook cover. Notice I’ve moved the image slightly lower than dead-centre because I want there to be enough space above the image for the ebook title to stand out boldly.
To insert an image follow the image below. Select INSERT (Point 18) and then select PICTURE (Point 19) to choose the image downloaded to your computer.
You can resize the image by clicking on till you see the “little squares” on all sides (Point 20). Drag them in or out till your image has good equal margins to the left and right of it.
You can add a border to the picture if you like (Point 21) as shown below. With your image selected, look for FORMAT on the top menu, then select PICTURE BORDER, choose a color from the palette and a border WIDTH.
It’s also a great idea to give the image a bit of a shadow to “lift” it off the background. To do this, follow the image below (Point 22). Select FORMAT, then PICTURE EFFECTS, then SHADOW – and then choose the first Outer Shadow. If you want to tinker with the size of the shadow choose SHADOW OPTIONS right at the bottom of the shadows panel and experiment with the numbers.
Check to see if your image looks good with a hint of shadow (Point 23).
We’re done with the image. Bravo!
4. Pick a couple of colors from the image as your “coherent colors”: give the cover design a harmonious look and feel
Now that you have your main image in place you need to work with a palette of colors for the title area above the image, and the bottom area below the image. How do you choose colors for your ebook. There are two ways.
To get a mellow and rich look, you can pick one or two pleasant or attractive colors from the image itself. (Alternatively, you can pick a color that contrasts strongly with the colors in the image, if you want the title area to stand out.) I’ve planned to try out one pinkish color from the skyline of the image.
In the illustration below, I first draw a box for my title area (in whatever default color PowerPoint allows) by selecting INSERT on the top menu, then SHAPES, and in the drop down of shapes I choose a rectangle. I get a cursor which I can drag to draw a rectangle with margins around it that match the margins of the photo we set earlier (Point 24).
To pick a mellow pink from the image, see the illustration below. Select the rectangle shape you’ve drawn, then select FORMAT from the top menu, and the EYEDROPPER tool from the drop down. Your cursor will change to an eyedropper, and clicking on any part of the photo will make that color fill the rectangle shape (Point 25).
Similarly from the color palette under FORMAT you can choose a contrast color instead, as I have done below, to get my yellow color into the rectangle (Point 26).
I much prefer a contrast color block for my title so I’ll stick with this yellow. Remember to give the rectangle box an outline and shadow as you did for the photo.
5. Choose your brand color as your accent color: this must go across all books you ever create to make your brand memorable
You know now how to draw a rectangle, give it a color, and give it a border and a shadow, right? Now we’ll draw another recatngle below the photo image identical to the yellow one on top, but obviously smaller in height to fit in the available space. This recatangle is for your highlighting your own name as the author, or for using your brand name instead.
If you notice all my ebooks, I may change the images and title area colors, but I keep my branding area in my “house colors”. This is to keep my branding consistent and to impress my brand color on all those who read my books. This brand color also dominates my website background, and is used in many places wherever my brand needs to come across. In my own case, this pale green color is my “house color”.
Use my color as a starter idea and then you know how to change the color to your own “brand color” as we did in the earlier step, right? So here is the look of the ebook cover after I’ve added a rectangle with my brand color, outline, and shadow (Point 27).
We now look good to go for the title text …
6. Planning the title area of your ebook: using a strong color and a resounding font to stamp the name of your ebook
We’ve already got a title for the ebook “HOW MUCH MONEY HAVE YOU MADE IN THE TIME YOU’VE SPENT TRYING?” We now need to choose a good strong font and color to type this title into the yellow box atop of the photo. If you have a house font for your brand you could use that in its strongest version. Or you could reserve that brand font for your own name or brand name at the borrom of the ebook cover and use a different font for the title.
Before you decide the font just type in the title with any default font to see its spacing within the yellow rectangle. Create a TEXT BOX by choosing INSERT From the top menu, then TEXT BOX. It allows you to trace a rectangle using your cusror, and it shows you a flashing cursor so you can start typing (Point 28).
By default the text box has a transparent background. If it is perchance filled with some color and you want to make it transparent. right-click the text box and change the Fill color to NO FILL (Point 29).
Now click in the text box to start typing your title. Ideally it should be centre-justified. So after typing the text, select the text, then click HOME, and then click the symbol for centering text (Point 30).
Now, you can play with the title font. To make mine bold, I have selected the text, then chosen HOME, the font Arial Black in 20 pt size, and the color dark blue to go with the photo image (Point 31).
Now that we’re done with the title, let’s look at the author’s name at the bottom of the ebook cover …
7. Complete the author name area of your ebook cover design: use your brand colors to best effect without overpowering the title
This one is simple. In the same way that you got your title into the yellow block at the top of the photo image, get your own author name (or your brand name) into the brand-color block at the bottom of the photo image of the ebook cover. The process is the same.
Create a TEXT BOX in the green rectangle, type in your name and center the font, then change the font to a size and color that feels right (Point 32).
Here’a an image after the author name is filled. Choose the same color and font as your title or a different one … most authors use their second (or accent) brand color here for their name text.
That was easy, wasn’t it?
8. Change the shapes of your title, image, textboxes at will for a more funky effect: creativity is the key to making ebooks stand out
You may be thinking: Is this basic rectangular blocks design for an ebook cover all that we can achieve in PowerPoint? Certainly, not. Now that we have the basic building blocks in place, here’s where the creativity starts. PowerPoint allows you to ‘change shapes” at will. So your staid-looking ebook cover design can become a funky one in a jiffy. Here’s how.
Every object you’ve used on the ebook cover can be changed for “shape”. See the two images below.
The Staid Ebook Cover:
Funky Adaptation of Ebook Cover:
To change the shape or size of any block you’ve drawn, just click on the shape. You will get “little squares” around it and a “circle at the top”. Clicking and dragging the “little squares” will help elongate the shape in any direction. If you want to change the shape altogether, click the outline around the shape, then choose FORMAT from top menu, then select EDIT SHAPE and CHOOSE SHAPE (Point 33).
To shift the shape angle, click and drag the circle on top of any shape when it is selected. The shape will rotate till you stop dragging the circle (Point 34). You can thus change any shape or any text box – or rotate it – by the same method.
To change the shape of a photo image is slightly different. Clcik on the photo first, then select FORMAT from the top menu, then CROP and then CROP TO SHAPE (Point 35). Choose the shape you want.
Was that easy, or what?
9. Carrying over your ebook cover to the inside pages and back cover: it’s just a question of keeping the design continuity
The inside pages of your ebook and the back cover could carry over the front ebook cover design just for continuity. I do this very simply for the inside pages by right-clicking the space below the cover slide in the left panel. Create a new slide. In the new slide, on the right panel, just create top and bottom narrow rectanguar blocks that take the same colors as the cover design color blocks (Point 36). The white space in the middle can be used for the content of the ebooks. I can create any number of inside pages by just clicking on the left panel under the second slide and selecting “Duplicate Slide” … thus adding “duplicate slides” of the first inside page.
For the back cover I can just duplicate the ebook cover slide, drag it to the last position of the left panel, and resize the elements on the gradient background to be smaller than they are on the cover. I can also insert a text box and type in the copyright notice or contact email address (Point 37).
That leaves us with just one last thing to do …
10. Save your ebook cover and export as an image if desired: keep a collection of sizes in all formats ready for various uses
To give your ebook cover, inside pages and back cover a finished look, you may opt to give every slide a slim black border. This is easy. On the ebook cover slide, draw a rectangle box shape from top left corner to right bottom corner. It may fill with any random color but don’t worry, for now.
Give this big rectable shape a border, just like you gave other boxes their borders. Once you do that, then choose to fill NO FILL in the FORMAT>SHAPE COLOR dialog box (Point 38). If you want to give the same border to other slides of your ebook – the inside pages and back cover – just click on the border in the first slide and then paste on Slide 2, Slide 3 and so on. It will appear everywhere in exactly the same place.
There’s just one half-step left, but it’s an important one. See how your ebook cover design looks in different sizes, because you want your ebook thumbnails to be clear and readable and distinct. To check this out, simply slide the size slider at the bottom of the PowerPoint screen as shown below (Point 39).
Notice I’ve tried it on another design version of my ebook cover. If your cover design looks good in a variety of sizes, you’ve done a good job.
Remember to save your ebook cover slide by choosing FILE>SAVE AS and choosing JPEG Interchange File Format. If prompted say “Just this slide”. Save the .jpg file on your computer in different sizes with filenames you can recognize.
So What Are Your Thoughts? Do Share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of Knowledge Commerce solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
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- How To Format An Ebook Easily In PowerPoint … 10 No-Sweat Steps
- How To Protect Your Ebook From Piracy And Plagiarism … 10 Top Tips
- How To Promote Your Ebook Across The Net … 10 Far-Reaching Routes
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