Sunday, August 4, 2013

Steps of Creating Covers for Western Fictioneers Novels And Ebook Giveaway

The next Western Fictioneers novel to be published will be Jory Sherman's BUZZARD BAIT. I start with the right shape for a cover even if I end up covering it up with a full image.  The color really doesn't matter at this point.  This gives me the shape 6 inches wide and 9 inches tall, which is trade paperback size.

All of the novels published in The Western Fictioneers Library have the same text and logo at the top of the cover.  Colors may vary, however. The black is easy to read on the orange/yellow so that's what I'll start with.

Next I need an image.  I can't find just one picture that fits what I want the cover to say, so I'll add a blend of them. Over at I bought this image (2847541).  This doesn't feel like a blue book to me, so I took the photo over to a photo editor and played with it.  I painted the blue over with a golden orange. You can find images to buy all over the internet, just search for them on Google. Never use an image that you do not have permission to use.

With the change in color I ended up with this image.

I added the hang rope image to the bottom of the cover.


Next I changed the color of the original rectangle to blend with the image.

With a title like BUZZARD BAIT, we have to have a buzzard.  I found this one on Print Shop.  I think it'll look great with the scaffolding.

Is it better to put the author's name on top or the title?  I know there's been a lot of debate on this subject, but honestly I use what I think works best with the image.  I'd rather have the title take two lines than the author's name, so space-wise I decided to put Jory's name on top.

I used akaPosse font for the text.  This font was found just by Googling 'free western fonts'. It's a very visible font, so I think I'll use it on the title, too.

I want to give this a little more of a western feel.  I go looking for a bull skull.  I found the perfect one in a clipped photo, but it requires me to have my disc in the computer and I'm away from home, so I keep looking. I like this one, but I need it clipped.

Fortunately the program I'm using, Print Shop, allows me to hand crop. Adding the skull tells more of the story.

Now I want to add a little text, but the spacing doesn't work that well, so I copy the hanging image and crop the bottom, then copy and paste that section to add a little length to the pole.

This gives me added clear space I needed at the bottom for a little cover copy.

Add a few words to intrigue the reader, and I have a finished cover.

Jory Sherman's BUZZARD BAIT will be featured in tomorrow's Western Fictioneers blog, so be sure and come back.

The following are covers from The Western Fictioneers Library. All are great reads and a bargain at $2.99.  Covers have Amazon links and you'll even find a few are on sale for only 99 cents right now.

One lucky person will get to choose a free ebook from any of The Western Fictioneers Library books, including Jory's newest coming out tomorrow, BUZZARD BAIT. The winner's name will be drawn from the people who comment.


  1. I had no idea the process is so involved. Thanks for the education.

  2. I love the creative process. Very interesting. Thanks.

  3. Beautiful job. Will the same image appear on the paperback version?

  4. huh. Never realized it was done with something like photoshop...

  5. It's pretty simple, really.

    Michael, usually I don't do paperback reprints because they can still be found in paperback. If the author asks, I will.

  6. Great post. I'm bookmarking this for the future when I'm ready to release some stuff to the world. But, between now and then, I think I'll practice. Thanks!

  7. Livia, you are way too modest, my dear. Anyone who creates digital art will tell you it takes time, effort, a sharp eye, and a steady hand to isolate all the elements that go into a composite image. You've surmounted all those challenges and thrown in a healthy dose of creative vision to establish a visual identity for the Western Fictioneers Library. Can you hear me applauding? :-)

  8. Wow Livia! Involved or not, you have a magic hand when making covers.

  9. Thank you so much for the eye-opening lesson. I've never been one for graphic design and now know I probably never will, but knowledge is priceless. I have a better understanding of the proces and that will be helpful as I work with a designer. Doris

  10. Livia,

    They say that you can't judge a book by its cover, yet book buyers often do exactly that in deciding whether or not to buy. And that means having an attractive product that is evocative of the title and the book content is so important. I think you do a superb job of interpretation and I have been more than happy with all of the covers you have done on my books. Thank you for the insight into the creative process.


  11. Livia, thanks for walking us through the process. It helps to understand the rationale behind these process. Also, as an aside, I was impressed by the cover for James' THE MAN IN THE MOON. It had just the perfect feel to it, if that makes sense.

  12. Thanks, Livia, for the insight into all your hard - and rewarding - work. And of course usually the paperback might have to be altered if the cover text doesn't fit the createspace or whoever's template! I've already downloaded Frank's trilogy and will be rounding up some others soon.

  13. The clothes make the man, and quite often the cover makes (or breaks) the book. Livia does a marvelous job designing the WF covers.

    Jim Griffin

  14. Wow! Thanks for all of the nice comments.

    Tom, I really liked the way the cover for THE MAN IN THE MOON came together. I thew out the first cover I made and started over. Sure am glad I did.

    Meg, I have used GIMP. It was on one of my computers before the fire. I never did replace it. I also have Photo Shop, which I still haven't put on my computer. No time to relearn a new program.

    Nik, I have found that the covers work fine for paperback. I just match the spine and back to the front. Sometimes with a simplified image, but usually with a matching colored rectangle, then fill in the information in the correct places.

  15. Looks easy in the hands of a professional. I like the Buzzard Bait cover very much!

  16. Thanks for demystifying a part of self-publishing that seemed really difficult. Now I think I could do it. I'll save this e-mail for reference.

  17. Very informative. I've been through the process from the other side, as it were, choosing images and approving the stages for my covers. It's a lot of work and I surely appreciate the graphic designers!

  18. Livia, you have such a talent for these covers, and even though I may never be brave enough to try to make my own cover, I am fascinated to learn the process it takes! This is a wonderful post that many people will find very useful, and all will find interesting! Thanks for being so generous with your knowledge.

  19. Livia, do you get to read the book before coming up with the design or do you just get an outline from which to come up with a cover that illustrates something from the story?

  20. I left a message yeaterday, but it didn't show up. Don't know why, but I'm going to give this another try.
    I always wanted to know how to do this. It's quite a process I see. I think it takes some talent to choose just the right font and images. What program do you reccomend to use for adding images and fonts to a picture?

  21. Steve, I do get to read the books. I scan them, remove headers and footers, then fix OCR errors as I read. This process takes time, so I can only publish a couple reprints a month.

    Sarah, I like using Print Shop 23.1. It's the only Print Shop that works with Windows 7. It makes it easy to layer, allowed me to add fonts from free websites, and exports jpgs when I'm done. If any adjusting to the size is needed in the end I use a simple photo program like Microsoft Office Picture to crop any white off the exported jpg then resize to 1600X2400 which is the smallest size Smashwords will take and works for the other sites.

  22. The winner of the free book is Joanne Walpole. Joanne, if you can email me at and let me know which WF book you want and in what format, mobi, epub, Word, PDF, I'll get that to you.