Although the KDP Cover Creator has a few quirks that don’t make it ideal for absolute beginners, some of the advantages – such as free images and a cover automatically sized to the correct dimensions of the book – make the learning curve worthwhile.
The following table provides a brief overview of the advantages and disadvantages associated with using Cover Creator:
|The app. is free||The app. is not supported on: KDP.amazon.co.jp|
|KDP provides a helpful video that covers the basics. You can find the video on the KDP website under ‘Create a Book Cover’.||The video and the written instructions are not geared towards absolute beginners|
|The app. uses templates that can be customised using either pre-set themes and styles or manual options||The app. only provides 10 templates and they do not allow for a great deal of customisation|
|The Title and Author Name are automatically inserted into the template||The Title and Author Name will display exactly as you typed them during Title setup. To change how they look, you will have to return to the Title Details tab and make the changes there|
|The manual options provide a fair degree of customisation||The manual options are not always intuitive. For example: – the ‘Start Over’ button only takes you back to the template selection screen. – the Preview button only works after the sample text is all replaced.|
|The app. offers a large selection of free images||There is no ‘obvious’ way to select a different cover image once you have selected the first one.|
|The app. automatically creates a cover to the exact dimensions required for your book.|
The following sections will detail how to create two covers:
- One will be created using the pre-set images provided by Cover Creator.
- The second will be created using your own background image.
To begin, click the yellow, ‘Launch Cover Creator’ button as shown:
The next screen is simply an overview of the Cover Creator process. Click the Continue button.
Cover Creator now displays three ways to select a background image for your cover. The three options are:
- from the KDP free images gallery,
- from your computer,
- and ‘Skip This Step’.
Note: ‘Skip This Step’ places a generic image into each template. You will have to choose a permanent image before finalising the cover.
Click the option for From Image Gallery:
You should now be looking at the KDP Image Gallery:
The images in the gallery are organised into categories and sub-categories. When you select one of the main categories listed on the left hand side of the window, the sub-categories will display on the right hand side.
Note: you can also type a keyword into the Search box at the top of the window to narrow down your search.
Click one of the sub-categories to display the images in that category.
In the example shown below, the main category is ‘Backgrounds’. This category contains three sub-categories – Abstract, Nature and Patterns & Textures. Clicking the Abstract sub-category displays a gallery of images. The image used in most of this section is circled in orange:
Click an image to see more information about it:
And finally, click the Use this image button to select the image for your cover.
After selecting an image, Cover Creator automatically inserts it, as well as the Title and Author Name, into all of the pre-formatted templates available. These templates are displayed in a gallery:
Use the left and right arrows to view all the templates.
Click a template to select it.
You should now be looking at the Cover Creator working screen with your chosen image and template displayed:
The cover template is displayed with red and white dotted lines:
- the vertical white dotted lines in the middle mark the fold lines of the spine.
- the red dotted line around the outside is the safety perimeter. All text has to be within this line.
- the white dotted line around the outside of the cover is where the printed pages will be cut, so any text that extends past this line will be truncated. The cover image, however, must extend past this line.
If you are using one of the free images, it will be the right size automatically.
Note: if you are using one of your own images, make sure it is big enough to extend past the white line.
The orange triangles are alerts that provide context sensitive help about possible issues and explain how to fill in the missing elements of the cover template, such as the blurb and Author bio etc.
Below the cover image are three buttons which offer pre-sets ‘styles’ :
From left to right, the buttons allow you to select a pre-set colour scheme, a pre-set layout and a pre-set font style for the Title and Author Name.
Selecting a colour scheme for the template
Click the button for Colors. You should now be looking at a list of colour schemes for the entire template:
These colour schemes work best for cover templates that include blocks of colour, such as the example below:
You can also select all three colour elements individually via the ‘Custom Colors’ pane on the left:
‘Primary Color’ is the block of colour that contains the Title.
‘Secondary color’ is the background colour.
‘All Text Color’ sets the colour for all the text – front cover, back cover and spine.
To change the colour of the text, click the appropriate option and select a colour from the popup palette.
Note: make sure the colour of the text does not blend into the background as this will make it hard to see at thumbnail size.
To change the position and appearance of the various layout elements of your book cover, click the Layout button as shown:
The current layout is shown with a pale blue highlight and a tick. Use the Left and Right direction arrows to see all the available layouts.
Click a layout to select it.
Selecting a Font
The third button – ‘Choose Fonts’ – displays yet more pre-set styles that determine the font and font size of the text on the front cover only.
Use the left and right direction arrows to see all the font combinations. Click a combination to select it for the text on the front cover.
Apart from the Title, Sub-Title [if applicable] and Author Name, all the other text on the template is ‘dummy’ text. It’s only purpose is to illustrate where text appears on the template you have chosen.
Clicking an alert, or an area of dummy text, will display a white dotted line. This dotted line denotes a text box.
To replace the dummy text, simply click inside the relevant text box and begin typing.
The first few letters you type will be huge, but as you continue typing, the text will become progressively smaller.
In the example shown below, the text box is for the author’s bio, and you can see how large the font is:
The automatic re-sizing of the text occurs because the ‘Auto Fit’ option is selected by default [circled in orange above].
The ‘Auto Fit’ option is located on the Edit Bar which appears whenever you begin editing the text boxes.
Note: you can also copy/paste text from an external source using the keyboard shortcut of CTRL V.
To change the size of the text manually, click the small down arrow [as shown below] and then click a font size from the drop down menu:
The font will now remain at the size you set, no matter how much text you enter.
The Edit Bar also contains the standard editing options for Bold, Italic, alignment, and text colour. There is also a Reset Style option that acts as an ‘undo’ button for the current text box.
To change the colour of individual text elements – e.g. the Author Bio – click inside the text box to be changed.
With the Edit Bar displayed, open the font colour palette by clicking the small down arrow as shown below:
Click the colour of your choice and the text in the text box will automatically change to that colour.
KDP advises against changing the wording of the Title, Author Name or Sub-title, but you can change the formatting – for example the colour.
To begin, click the text you wish to change. In the example shown below, the Author Name text box has been activated:
To change the font size, alignment or colour of the Author Name, simply select the relevant option from the Edit Bar.
To dismiss the Edit Bar, simply click outside the relevant text box.
Adding the Author Photo
The back page of the template includes a picture placeholder for the Author Photo.
To insert an Author Photo, click the placeholder image.
KDP will display the following popup:
Select the option for ‘From My Computer’.
KDP opens My Computer [or Windows Explorer] so you can find the photo you wish to use.
Select your Author Photo. Cover Creator will re-size the image automatically, but if the original photo is too small, making it big enough to fit will lower the resolution and cause the program to display an error message:
The author photo in the example above is only 116 x 150. For best results, the Author Photo should be 500 x 500 or above.
To check the size of your author photo [in Windows], open My Computer [or File Explorer] and navigate to the location where the photo is saved.
Hover the mouse over the photo until a small, floating popup appears:
Inside you will see information about the photo, including its dimensions. The one shown in the example is 527 x 532 and just the right size.
To choose a different photo in Cover Creator, simply click inside the image. The display will change to show the Edit Cover Image popup:
Note: the name of the popup is misleading. The options provided by the popup will work on any image that is selected – i.e. the author photo or the cover image itself.
To select a different author photo, click the option to ‘Choose a new cover image’.
Cover Creator will display the ‘Get Images for your Cover’ popup. Click the option for ‘From My Computer’. Find the new image and select it. Cover Creator will upload the image and substitute it automatically.
If you’re like me, you will want to see how your Author Photo looks, but if you press the Preview button whilst there are still unfinished areas on your cover [such as dummy text], Cover Creator will display this error message:
Click the ‘Go back to fix it’ button and continue adding text to the back cover. Once all the dummy text has been replaced, the ‘Preview’ button will become active and you can see what your cover looks like without all the guidelines.
To view your cover, click the Preview button located just below the cover template:
After a short delay, KDP will display a digital representation of what your cover will look like.
If you are satisfied with your cover, click the Save & Submit button located directly below your cover. KDP will save the cover and return you to the Paperback Content tab.
But what if the Preview reveals unexpected errors? Or what if you don’t like the cover at all?
If you don’t like what you see in the Preview, there are four main options available to you:
- Keep the whole cover but make a few minor tweaks to it.
- Keep all the existing information [text, author photo etc], together with the design elements [font size, colour etc] but change the template.
- Keep all the existing information [text, author photo etc] and design elements [font size, colour etc] but change the background image.
- Keep all the existing information [text, author photo etc] but get rid of the design elements and change the template.
To make a few minor tweaks to the existing cover, click the ‘2 Style & Edit’ tab to exit the Preview screen and return to the template workspace:
Everything remains the same, but you can now edit the cover again.
To change the template itself, click the ‘1 Choose Design’ tab:
Again, all your work remains, but you can change the way it’s displayed by selecting a different template from the gallery of available templates.
New cover image
To change the cover image – i.e. the background image – first click the ‘2 Style & Edit’ tab to take you back to the working screen.
Next, click on any blank space on the background image – i.e. on a space not occupied by a text box. This will cause a ‘frame’ to appear around the background image. It will also cause the ‘Edit Cover Image’ popup to be displayed on the right hand side of the cover:
On the popup, click the option to ‘Choose a new cover image’.
Cover Creator asks where you want to get the image from.
Using your own image
This time, choose the option for ‘From My Computer’:
Navigate to your image and select it.
Warning! Cover Creator will attempt to ‘fit’ any image into the template, but the greater the difference in size between the image and the template, the less successful the result will be. For best results, the cover image should be tailored to the exact dimensions of the cover template.
Note: for instructions on calculating a cover template for the exact dimensions of your book cover, see PART 1, Using the Cover Template Builder.
Once you have selected the background image for the cover, you may find that the existing design elements – layout, text colours and font – no longer fit the new image.
In the example shown below, the Title and Author Name cover up too much of the cover image and the back cover needs to be re-worked:
This is where the ‘Start Over’ button can be very useful.
The Start Over button, located on the bottom left of the screen, deletes all the design elements – fonts, font colours, layout etc – while leaving the text, cover image and Author Photo intact. This is quite handy if you need to start the design process from scratch.
After clicking the Start Over button, Cover Creator displays a confirmation popup:
To continue, click the OK button.
You should now be looking at the template selection screen again:
This time we are going to select a special template that does not provide the Title and Author Name on the front cover. This template is particularly handy for those who have already published the book as an ebook and hence already have a front cover, or those who want to create something a little more unique for the front cover.
Template: Use with front cover image’
Click the template for ‘Use with front cover image’ [circled in orange above].
You should now be in the template workspace with the new template displaying the old cover image. To change the cover image, click the image and then select Choose a new cover image from the Edit Cover Image popup:
Once again, KDP displays the image selection screen with the three options of: ‘From Image Gallery’, ‘From My Computer’, and ‘Skip This Step’.
This time, choose the option for ‘From My Computer’. Navigate to the front cover image you wish to use and select it.
In the example below, a special font was used for the title and another image was added to it. The size and positioning of all the text was also designed to allow the cover image to ‘tell a story’.
Unfortunately, the orange triangle above the front cover image indicates that Cover Creator found a problem. Hovering the mouse over the triangle displays the error message below:
Cover image error
To ensure a good quality cover, KDP recommends that the cover image be 300 DPI – i.e. 300 Dots Per Inch, but the cover image is only 293 DPI.
As the image is very close to being good enough, we could ignore the message, or choose a better one. But we won’t. Instead, we’re going to scale the image down.
Scaling an image down means making it a little smaller. This has the effect of pushing the dots per inch closer together, thereby increasing the DPI.
Note: when you make an image larger, you decrease the resolution because you’re expanding the area covered by the same number of dots per inch.
Scaling the cover image
To scale the image down, start by clicking anywhere inside the image. This causes a ‘frame’ to be displayed around it:
Click-hold-and-drag one of the corners towards the middle of the image as shown above. As you drag the corner the image will become blurry. As soon as you release the corner, the image will snap back into focus.
If you scale the image down too far, press the ‘Click to reset image position’ option on the Edit Cover Image popup. This will undo everything and return the image to its original size and location.
As soon as the orange triangle disappears, you can stop scaling the image.
As before, click the Preview button below the image to see the cover without the guidelines.
When you’re happy with the appearance of the cover, click the ‘Save and Submit’ button on the Preview screen:
KDP will display a confirmation that the cover uploaded successfully.
In the next section we will look at reviewing and approving your book.