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Making My First Book Cover for $15

The past month I’ve been tinkering on and off with an old short story I wrote. It’s sort of children’s story, but it’s a little dark. It’s a bit too long for most magazines doing young adult stuff, and it’s not long enough to make a novella. And it’s not really like anything else I’ve written, so it can’t exactly go in a collection.

Honestly, I’m not sure who it would even appeal to, so I don’t really know what to do with the thing.

I did have a hell of a good time writing it though, and I’d like to do something with it.

I’ve also been looking at Amazon and their Kindle Direct Publishing, so I thought I’d give it a test run to see what’s it all about and throw my ugly little duckling into the mix over there.

The problem with most self publishing though, which I’ve found researching tonight, is that the covers are mostly awful, especially in the ever-popular erotic genre. The last thing I want is to be another example of terrible design in self publishing. But I plan on making approximately $0 on this story, so I don’t exactly want to shell out a few hundred bucks for a site like 99designs to have a handful of graphic designers battle it out for a truly kickass cover either.


So I spent a few hours doing some research and putting my (very) limited design abilities to good use.

A couple hours trying to find a decent stock photo (and mostly failing), another hour or so tinkering around in GIMP, and a half dozen font downloads later (again, most of them not even close), I think I managed to create a cover that isn’t too half-assed. Not the greatest, but it’ll do.

And it only costs me 15 bucks for the photo.


It’s the little things in life, right?


  1. I absolutely love this cover! It’s a book I would definitely pick up to read the flap on. It’s tasteful, classic and engaging. I wish I had your skill. I’m in the process of publishing a book of Haiku and believe it or not, the cover is the most intimidating part. Ha. I wish I had your skill. 🙂

    • Thanks! The pic isn’t 100% what I wanted, but I could not find a man reading a story to kids at bedtime stock photo that worked. That guy I ended up using had a pretty good collection of those silhouette pics to pic from though.

  2. I think it’s nicely designed and I like the fonts. The title sits nicely on the dark space too. I’d have been tempted to change Alejandro’s name though so I could have got Alé the Foolish on the same line though!

    • I thought the same thing but couldn’t figure out how to get it one line and have the text large enough.

      • Alé the Foolish should fit with a slight drop in point size. Or, Alejandro El Tonto?
        Some fiddling with names words should enable you to line up first and last lines too, eg HIS magical pen would take up slightly less space than THE.
        If And was on its own row, I’d prob drop the font size and consider italics.
        Depends what you want, and it’s pretty good as it is. Just throwing ideas around instead of getting on with work

  3. You managed to make an awesome design Jeff. What software did you use for the creation of your design?

  4. Great cover! And you’re right on about the ridiculous amount of bad self-published covers out there. The flip side is that it helps good covers like this one, stand out. Nicely done.

  5. Wow it looks awesome. I love it. I’ve recently had my debut fiction novel published, finding a good cover was the worst part of the entire exercise. Your cover is great. Well done.

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