Premade Book Covers: 2 Things to Keep in Mind

There’s a quote floating around somewhere that says:

“Don’t go broke trying to prove to broke people that you ain’t broke.”

Exactly. The reality that many authors are on budgets has created an entirely new source of income for graphic designers, many of whom offer premade book covers as well as custom made. These artists have made our life a little easier by offering professional covers at lower rates than custom covers. While custom covers are preferred, not everyone can afford a new custom cover for every book (the exception are those who make their own covers) so consider this post for those of us “balling on a budget.” I believe in investing in your best and if you can afford to pay for a custom cover and high-priced editing, go for it. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, just know you don’t have to go broke to publish your book. The same way we can find reasonable editing prices is the same way we can find reasonable book cover prices for covers that won’t look generic.

But Premades have a unique struggle.

All of the factors that go into articulating your story to a designer in a way that will help them to design a good cover is internal. By internal I mean that if you are choosing the premade, you have to make these decisions for yourself. You have to understand your target audience, your genre, and identify the key features enough mentally to know if the cover is a right fit for you.

Many people have asked me about the cover for Renaissance. The truth is that it was premade and I am blessed to have stumbled on this gem. All the artist did was edit the text. Here’s what a reader said when leaving a review for the book on Amazon:

“The first thing that drew me to this novel was its beautiful cover. A deep blue sky fading into a sunset which bakes an old country road golden brown.”

Guys, I didn’t spend a lot of money on this.

As soon as I saw the cover I knew it was the right fit for Renaissance. Though it’s a premade, there are some things that made it unique:

  • The photo is a real photo taken by Brittany Cox and then sold to designer Najla Qambers to be used for a premade book cover.
  • The elements fit the context of my story.
  • The book matches other books in it’s genre.

I looked at other covers and thought about purchasing a complete custom cover but my money wasn’t agreeing with that so I just went back to that same image, praying no one had taken it. It’s not out-of-this-world beautiful but it was perfect for me. The use of a real country road photo really set it apart. It was also the only of its kind being sold so I was anxious to get it as it was literally just one available. When I was ready, I contacted Najla Qambers of Brick-a-Brack Photography, and secured my cover.

So, two things to keep in mind:

  1. Watch Out for Overly Used Stock Photos

One of the things that made the Renaissance cover unique is the use of a real photograph. There are some great premade design covers out there but many designers use the same stock photos. All designers will have a message that says the book cover is not sold after you buy it, which is true. The same cover cannot be sold again but this doesn’t mean other designers won’t use the same stock photo in a different design. That particular cover may not be sold again but the same stock images can be used again. Keep this in mind when looking for your premade. 

Joshua Jadon sums it up pretty well:

“You also may get less attention from a generic cover because it may be a little easier to ignore. Readers are looking for something interesting and exciting that grabs their attention, and a book that might have the same cover—or at least the same images—as several others often won’t get that kind of attention. A unique style or look can influence readers’ selection process. If your cover doesn’t reflect that … well, it may not get noticed.”

But, your premade does not have to look generic.

It is possible to find a stunning premade that looks custom made. I got tons of compliments on this cover and requests for who designed it. People thought it was custom made.

When choosing your premade (which is great for those of us on budgets and timelines as they are usually both cheaper and delivered quickly), choose premades that are as set-apart as possible and preferably, premades that look custom made. (And speaking of timelines, once you are sure you want to publish a book, it helps to start saving for editing and book cover design months ahead of time. )

2. Watch out for Bulk Premade Deals

Book cover design is a skill. Period. Even though there are designers offering bulk book covers at discounted prices you can edit in Photoshop, it won’t do you any good without skill. I made the mistake of falling for this and while some are nice (and I am competent in editing covers in Photoshop), it is not something I will do again.  A clever move by designers but not too good for authors. Unless you are Photoshop Savvy or have someone on your team who is Photoshop Savvy, it will do little to benefit you. Unless you’re a Graphic Designer or you have a Graphic Designer on your team, you don’t want to put yourself in the position to edit the cover yourself IF YOU ARE NOT COMPETENT IN USING THE SOFTWARE NECESSARY TO DO SO.

While it may start off looking professional, your lack of skill can make it look generic  because graphic designers are skilled in typography, colors, blending colors, and anything else that may require a keen eye. You can mess up a nice cover not knowing what you’re doing which will lead you back to square one. If you go this route, choose covers that do not require much change.

So, two things to be aware of:

  1. Overly used stock photos

  2. Bulk Premade Deals

Here are some websites with some unique premade book covers. There are more, I am sure, but these are ones I’ve investigated myself. I rarely see the stock photos from their covers used by other designers.

For more posts on Indie Publishing, be sure to visit the new Writer Tips page.


Be sure to pick up your copy of Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One) HERE.

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Editing Mock-Ups in Photoshop: Don’t Forget to Hide Layers You Don’t Want to Show

In May, I wrote a blog post tutorial on how to edit Mock-Ups in Photoshop for a professional looking 3D book cover image. I understand it went over some heads (Photoshop is not for everyone), but for those of you who are familiar with it already, be sure that you are hiding the layers you don’t want to use so your image looks more authentic.

Everyone is using Mark Monciardini’s Mock-Ups (Covervault) because they’re free. While everyone is using them, not everyone is familiar with the basics of Photoshop in ways they can get the most out of the experience. It’s like copying someone but because you don’t really know how to do it, it doesn’t have the same look. Mark is the real artist and we are all copying him pretty much. He has extended his expertise to us newbies by generously giving away his mock-up templates. Now anyone, with just a basic knowledge of Photoshop, can have professional looking 3D book cover images. But, make sure you are hiding layers you don’t need so your images don’t look the same as everyone else.

I’m going to use the wine bottle glass template as an example.

What you have here is everything as it is originally. One of the first things you’ll probably want to do is change the book cover. Most people stop here. Boom, they are done. Save. You can do that but it won’t look very original.

Here’s mine with Renaissance cover. It looks good but not very original. I did change something though. Can you guess what it is? No, not the cover. (Learn how to change the cover HERE) I changed something else.

I hid a layer and took something away. That’s right, there are no sparkles.

To switch things up, all you have to do is hide layers you don’t need or want in your image.

To hide the particles, I went over to the layers and clicked on the drop-down menu next to particles. Next to the sparkles, (I like the word sparkles better. Sounds more girly lol), I clicked on the eye to hide them. That is literally all I did.

You can do this with anything you don’t want in your image. Even the background. Don’t like the wine bottle look? Get rid of it.

If I don’t want the background at all, I can hide the background and upload my own. All I did was click on the eye next to backdrop and hid it (you can also delete layers but I prefer hiding them in case I want to use them again).

Here’s a closer look:

Basically, whatever you don’t want in the image can be hid. You can now use the space to add text, a logo or whatever you want. While all this is optional, remember that if you’re going to add text to a mock-up that has a lot going on, we won’t be able to read it clearly if you don’t hide or delete those layers first. Let’s look at one more:

This is the original but remember, you can completely make it over so it looks more you.

First, you want to get rid of all these leaves (unless of course you want them there which I don’t). To hide them, go over to layers and click on the eye to all the leaves. Light Leaf, heavy leaf and big leaf. Hide them all.

The leaves are gone but that background still makes it look leafy. Unless you want that, you can change the background too or hide it altogether.

To change the background, go over to layers and hide the entire background.

What you have is a blank slate. You can now add text, logo, whatever you want.

You can actually upload your own background but we’ll go over that at a later time.

The point is that if you’re going to pay for Photoshop you may as well get as much from it as possible. To help your images to look more authentic, be sure to hide (or delete) layers you don’t want or need.

Here’s a finished one using one of my WIP:

Editing Mock-Ups in Photoshop (In 12 Steps)

I didn’t plan on sharing this but as I was editing some mock-ups I thought it would be nice to share what I am doing.

I am not a professional photographer, and I don’t always have a chance to take professional images. Therefore, I love using free mock-up templates to create professional images of my books. I am learning Photoshop also because if I can master it, I can also start to create my own book covers! (OK, that’s a far way off but a sista can dream).

But, while I am finagling (am I the only one who thinks finagle is a funny word?) around with this, I decided to put together a quick tutorial on what I am doing for those of you who use Photoshop. It’s super easy and if you have Photoshop, you should be able to get started right away.

Note: I’m not a professional “Photoshopper” and have instead found my own way of editing mock-ups because this way is easier for me but there are lots of other ways to do this.

Step One

Get Photoshop. You can get Photoshop CC for as low as $10/month. For me it’s worth the money because I use mock-ups often. However, there is a free trial you can use for seven days if my memory serves correctly. http://www.adobe.com/ (There are also plenty of free ways to create 3D images. I use Photoshop because the quality of the images is top notch.)

Step Two

Once you have Photoshop, find a free mock-up that you like. Be sure the license allows you to use it. Most of them do as long as you don’t try to sell the mock-up as your own. You can find some great ones at http://covervault.com/

Step Three

Download a mock-up you like. I’m going to use this one.

Step Four

Click on the zip file and double click on the Photoshop file to open it.

OK so you can pretty much change anything on here to make it your own. Eliminate the background, upload your own images, change colors, etc. But…

I’m just gonna show you how to change the book covers.

Step Five

Go to the side panel here. Let’s start with the front book cover. Click on the arrow next to Front Book, scroll down to front cover and double click on the space where the front book cover is…right where my arrow is.

It will bring up the mock cover here..

Step Six

File > Open > Find the cover (or image) you’d like to use on your computer and click on it….and

Screenshot (601)Screenshot (602)It will open in Photoshop. When it does, unlock it at the bottom. If you don’t unlock it, you cannot edit it.

Step Seven

Click on your cover and drag it to the mock layer.

Step Eight

This one has lots of special effects I don’t need. If ever you don’t want something in the image you can either delete the layer or hide it. Click on the eye next to the layers to hide them. I want to hide the mock-up text and other things…

If you did it correctly it should leave only your cover and look like this (below)…if you look at the layers next to where my marker is you will see that the eye is closed. This means I am hiding these layers so they don’t show.

Step Nine

As you can see, when you move your cover to the layer (see step seven) it will be too big. On your MAC click command T to highlight it to resize. On PC click ctrl T. Now just resize it to fit the space.

Step Ten

Save your resized cover. File > Save as (save it under a name you will recognize. You will need to remember where you saved it.)

Screenshot (621)Screenshot (627)

Step Eleven

Go back to the panel and right click in the space next to the front cover.

Step Twelve

If you did it correctly, it should bring up the box below…where you see replace contents, click on that.

When the box opens, find your saved image from Step Ten and replace the mock image with your own.

And that’s it!

For the back cover follow the exact same steps:

  • Click on the arrow next to back cover.
  • Double click on back cover
  • File > Open > Choose the image for your back cover
  • If it’s locked, unlock it
  • Click and drag your cover to the mock layer (you can’t move it if it’s locked)
  • Hide any layers you don’t need/want
  • Resize image > Command T (MAC) or Ctrl T (PC)
  • File > Save as to your PC
  • Back to the panel, right click in the space next to the back cover > Replace contents
  • Find saved image > place

The last thing you will do when you have both the front and back cover done is to File > Save as > PNG

You’re done.

Renaissance: The Nora White Story Book One. July 15, 2017. yecheilyahysrayl.com