New online graphics service Canva is featuring an easy way to make a cover for your Kindle ebook.
Once you’ve set up a free account at Canva, you’ll get a Start a new design page which offers a series of layouts for social media, presentations, posters, blog graphics and Kindle covers.
As shown in the screen shot below, the Kindle Cover option is on the far right of the screen.
Click on the Kindle Cover option and you’ll be taken to the screen shown below.
On the left, there is a variety of cover layouts which you can use as the basis for your own cover.
At the most basic, you could just select a layout, change the text to your title and by-line and use that as your own book cover.
You can also start with a blank canvas, which is probably the easiest way, as it can get confusing to have several elements already in place on a cover.
Canva layout tools
The Canva tools are very simple. There’s a Search function where you can look for images to use for your cover. There’s the Layout button, a Text tool, a Background tool, and an Upload function which you can use to upload your own pictures.
I generally find online tools to be awkward and clunky to use and my initial impressions of Canva were that it was going to be just that. I do most of my designing using desktop software such as Adobe Illustrator, PhotoShop, InDesign or Quark XPress. All these run smoothly on a desktop machine and are very responsive in use.
But comparing Canva with, for example, Illustrator is an unfair comparison, as Illustrator is a complex program that requires in-depth knowledge for effective use, while Canva is intended for relatively basic work with little knowledge of graphics programs needed.
Canva is excellent in offering a sound base, with reasonable layouts and a wide range of type choices, that authors can use to produce an ebook cover quickly and relatively painlessly.
It also provides a way for anyone who doesn’t have a graphics program on their desktop computer to produce a cover from scratch using a wide range of typefaces and background colors.
I didn’t read any of the tutorials on the Canva site and just dived in.
Use Control/Command key to select items
I picked The Ride layout to adapt it into a cover for a book on Macro Photography. This involved changing the title and by-line, which is a bit more difficult than you might think as each piece of text on a Canva layout seems to be a separate item, which means you have to select and change or delete each item.
Selection of each item can be difficult, but if you use the Control/Command key to select, then you’ll find it much easier.
After changing the title and by-line, I uploaded one of my flower pictures to act as a double background, with one overlaying the original background in a negative-type image and the other overlaying the background image with the type on top.
I didn’t think this was a cover I would use as it is, but it has given me some new ideas which I could use at some future point.
You can download your cover as an image or as a PDF file. I would recommend the PDF as this is a high-resolution file which you can easily convert into a jpeg image to upload to Kindle.
The PDF for the Macro Photography cover was 23Mb and I used Preview on the Mac to view this and export it as a jpeg file of around 2Mb shown here.
Having had some time to consider this cover, I’m actually starting to like it more now.
Premium images integrated
And that also seems to be the same with Canva.
After getting a sense of how things work in Canva, I went back in and started a cover from scratch using the site’s Search function to look for photography images. I found a suitable pic and quickly created the cover shown below.
Although Canva is basically a free service, it does charge if you use its premium images and the picture I’ve used for this cover is one of those, so when I clicked to link and download, the box shown below appeared.
$1 a picture is very reasonable and you can reduce that slightly by paying $10 for 11 images.
Canva is a really good integrated way of producing decent covers quickly and cheaply with the minimum of fuss and I’ll definitely be using it more in the future and I suspect that the more I use it, the more I’ll like it.