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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Review: E-book Cover Maker Pro

As a working freelance writer, I confess I've never really got to grips with PhotoShop or other image-editing programs such as The Gimp.

If, however, you publish e-books for Kindle or write for the web, you have to develop some graphics skills or potentially end up paying out a lot of money to designers.

I'm therefore always interested to hear about new software tools that promise to make this type of work quicker and easier for non-experts such as myself.

So I was delighted to be offered a review copy of E-Book Cover Maker Pro, a new downloadable program just released by Lee Mellott and her developer Jim Coutu. E-Book Cover Maker Pro is currently available via a low-price launch offer on The Warrior Forum.

Of course, I've reviewed e-book cover design programs on this blog before. E-Book Cover Maker Pro differs from these products in various important ways, however.

First of all, it's a downloadable application you install to your PC rather than being web-based (such as Kindle Renegade, which I reviewed recently).

Also, rather than starting from a template which you then adapt, with E-Book Cover Maker Pro you essentially create your new cover from scratch. This actually gives the software more power and flexibility, but does mean you need to start out with some idea of what you are trying to achieve. Once you've looked at a few other e-book covers, however, it's quite straightforward (and, indeed, good fun) to develop an e-book cover that will work perfectly well for a standard non-fiction book at least.

Of course, the best way to understand any software is to see it in action, so I've embedded a demonstration video below. In the video, Jim Coutu (I assume) takes you through designing an e-book cover from scratch. He goes through the process quite quickly, so don't worry if you don't catch every detail. The main thing is that it will give you a feel for what the software looks like and how it works...

As ever, if you are receiving this post by email or RSS, you may need to visit my blog to see the video.

I enjoyed trying out the software, and actually found it quite intuitive. Jim Coutu also developed Banner Maker Pro, another software product I happen to use, and the tabbed interface is similar to that program. This no doubt helped me get up to speed with E-Book Cover Maker Pro. But I still think most people would find it easy to learn and - after just a bit of experimenting - soon be cranking out some quite attractive covers.

I've copied below a cover for an e-book I've yet to write (and probably won't). I did this as a test to find out what the software was capable of.

I know it's a bit cheesy, but I was genuinely impressed that as a non-designer I was able to produce a respectable-looking cover such as this in under an hour.

The photo used in this cover is one of my own, incidentally, but there are plenty of free and low-cost sites you can source photos from online (MorgueFile, for example).

One of the (many) nice features of the software is that there are various pre-set sizes you can use, including the approved ones for Kindle and Smashwords. You can also set any custom size you like, which means the software could easily be used for creating banners, blog headers and logos as well. And, as you'll see, you can insert shapes such as stars, arrows, diamonds, and so on too.

Any criticisms? Well, the software does have a few little quirks. For example, you can add extra bits of text at any time by clicking on the Add Text button. When you do this, however, the software duplicates whatever was the last item of text you entered, and you then have to edit this to what you require. This way of working seemed a bit odd to me at first, but you soon get used to it.

On the positive side, I like the fact that you can save projects in the software and return to them at any time (this wasn't the case with Kindle Renegade when I tested it, although that feature may have been added now). It's also a big plus that you can save in various formats, including JPG, PNG and TIFF.

Overall, E-Book Cover Maker Pro gets a big thumbs up from me. It's likely to be my first choice for routine e-book cover design jobs from now on, and I expect to use it for other graphics tasks as well. It's a powerful, versatile and easy-to-use tool that's well worth snapping up at the current special offer price. If you have any questions or comments about it, feel free to post them below.

Disclosure: Some links in this review include my affiliate code, so if you click through and make a purchase, a proportion of the fee will go to me. This hasn't influenced my review, but you should of course complete your own due diligence and read the sales page (and this review) carefully to determine whether this product will be relevant to your needs.

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Blogger Allan said...

Nice post. Are all of them customizable? I wanted to buy zipper sleeves and I loved the cases you have described about. Can you post some pictures?

12:18 PM  
Blogger J.L. Campbell said...

Hi, Nick,
I know the name implies e-book only, but can it do sizes for print books?

2:29 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

I'm sorry I don't understand these requests. However, I confirm that you can customize the covers as much as you want. On the sales page you can see a range of covers (much better than my own effort) that have been created using the software, so you might want to take a look there. If you have any queries for Lee, you can post them on the Warrior Forum as long as you're a member. Joining is free and only takes a few moments.

Hope that helps!

2:34 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

You could also use this software to offer an inexpensive e-book cover design service to other authors. It would be an easy sell via a platform such as Fiverr. Just a thought!

2:40 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Hi J.L.

Thanks for your comment, which I've only just seen. Yes, you can set it to any size you like, so in principle it could be used for print book covers too. The only possible drawback is that it outputs images at 72 DPI, which is fine for web use and ebooks but may look a bit grainy in print.

3:56 PM  
Blogger J.L. Campbell said...


11:02 PM  
Anonymous Patent box attorney said...

Hm, yes, that combination of power and ease-of-use sounds perfect.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Thanks for your comment, PBA. Yes, it works for me!

5:41 PM  
Anonymous Buchgestaltung said...

I personally use generator software to design the cover pages and it is great. You can do all sorts of cover from CD to reports and everything in between.

4:29 AM  

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