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Monday, May 27, 2013

Using Amazon KDP's New Cover Creator

If you're a Kindle author, did you know that you can now create a cover image for your e-book on the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) website?

Their new Cover Creator is still in Beta, but I understand that most KDP members (with the exception of those in Japan) are now able to access it.

I've been experimenting with it using my illustrated sci-fi novella The Festival on Lyris Five, so in this post I thought I'd set out my findings.

To use the new Cover Creator, you first have to log in to Kindle Direct Publishing. Of course, this is where you can upload new Kindle e-books, but you can also try out the Cover Creator by editing an existing title (which is what I did).

If you're doing likewise, from your "Bookshelf" on KDP select the title you want to edit and scroll down to item 4 "Upload or Create a Cover". Select "I want to edit my cover design using the Cover Creator (beta)", as shown in the screen capture below...

The Cover Creator will now load. I found this quite straightforward to use. The software has just three tabs: "Choose Design", "Style and Edit" and "Preview".

In "Choose Design" you can select from a range of photographs on which to base your cover design (you also have the option of uploading your own photo, as long as you have the necessary reproduction rights).

There isn't a huge range of photos - I'd say about 100 - but presumably more will be added in time. They are organized into categories, so you can browse a selection of images that are deemed relevant to travel, business, science, and so on.

Once you've clicked on a photo to choose it, the Cover Creator will show you a variety of ways it can be integrated with your book's title, strapline, author name, and so on. The software will also generate some quite attractive non-photo-based covers for your consideration. You can pick the design you like best, and then click through to the "Style and Edit" tab (see below) to fine tune it as you wish.


As ever, you can see a larger version of the image above by clicking on it.

On the Style and Edit page you can try a range of different fonts (as you can see I went for something suitably futuristic for my story). You can also see the effect of various pre-styled color schemes, or go entirely off-piste and apply your own.

Once you're happy with what you've come up with, clicking through to the Preview tab will let you see how your cover will look in the Kindle Store and - if you're happy with this - accept the changes and publish. Of course, you can always change your mind and switch back to your previous cover if you wish.

Overall, I was impressed with the capabilities of the Cover Creator, which compares well with some standalone cover-design software I've tried in the past. Obviously, the results won't be as good as you might get from a professional designer, but it should still be possible to generate something quite passable.

I particularly like the way the Cover Creator shows you lots of options and variations based on your initial image selection, and has its own pre-set color schemes and page configurations you can select from if you don't want to start completely from scratch.

As far me, I'm keeping my new cover for a while, although I may well switch back to the original, quirkier design (see below) by my talented illustrator Louise Tolentino at some point. Still, as a non-designer myself, I'm quite pleased with the one I made using the Cover Creator!


If you have any comments or questions about the KDP Cover Creator, please feel free to post them below.

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14 Comments:

Anonymous Rohi Shetty said...

Hi Nick,
Thanks a lot. This is incredibly helpful. I'll definitely try it for my first e-book on Kindle.

I like the cover you created better than the first one.

Thanks again.

6:57 PM  
OpenID sallyjenkins said...

Thanks for this, Nick.
Do you know if a cover designed using this KDP tool, can be uploaded to other sales platforms (e.g. Smashwords) or whether it can only be used to sell the book on Amazon?

7:26 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Thanks, Rohi. I appreciate your feedback.

10:28 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Thanks for your comment, Sally. That's a very good question. Having researched it a bit, I'd say that you probably can't use it on other platforms. I've copied the relevant section from Amazon's T&Cs below:

"6 Ownership and Control of Amazon Properties/ Feedback. Subject to the authorizations you grant to us under this Agreement, as between us and you, you retain all ownership rights in and to the copyrights and all other rights and interest in and to your Digital Books. We retain all ownership rights in and to the copyrights and all other rights and interests in and to the Program, the Amazon Properties, and any materials we use or provide to you for use relating to your Digital Book (such as a generic cover image used for your Digital Book if you do not provide one)..."

So if you're planning on publishing to other platforms such as Smashwords, this is an important point to bear in mind. I can't imagine it would be a problem with CreateSpace, as that is also owned by Amazon, and they already allow writers to use covers created on CreateSpace on their Kindle versions as well. Presumably, then, the opposite will also apply.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Though having said that, their example refers to a "generic cover image...if you do not provide one", which is not what we're talking about here. To be honest, I have to say it's not clear to me what Amazon's view would be on this.

10:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Nick.
What a helpful article; especially for beginners. I will be keeping it in a special folder for future reference. I have yet to put my work on Kindle so have been regarding the job with trepidation. Many thanks.

7:51 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

Thank you for the kind comment. The new Cover Creator certainly has the potential to make this aspect of the job easier, and I found it quick and intuitive to use.

Don't forget that over on my forum at www.mywriterscircle.com we're holding KindleFever in June. This is a (free) challenge to publish a Kindle e-book by the end of June, and participants will all be helping one another as required.

8:54 AM  
Blogger ChangeYour Life said...

Great article. I love that Amazon have added this and so nice to see that it looks so easy to use.

2:30 PM  
OpenID sallyjenkins said...

I just checked with Amazon about using the covers elsewhere and the response was, "Cover Creator and the covers created for your books can't be downloaded for use outside the KDP website."
So if you plan to sell your books on other platforms then you will need to obtain/create another cover outside of Cover Creator.

8:46 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Thanks, Sally. I meant to ask them myself, but you actually did it, so kudos to you!

Ah well, at least we know now. I'm surprised they didn't even mention CreateSpace in their reply, though.

I guess this restriction won't matter if you're only publishing on Kindle, but if you plan to publish across a range of platforms it could be an obstacle. Nothing to stop you using different covers for different platforms, of course, but then your branding might suffer a little.

Anyway, at least we know now, so thanks again!

Nick

12:11 PM  
Blogger Molly Taggart said...

I've used it I think with good results. I wish there were more image options. I got lucky that this one happened to fit my novel well:

http://www.amazon.com/Off-Target-Molly-Taggart/dp/1492988685

4:33 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Thanks, Molly. Yes, I do agree that Amazon need to add more images. I'm starting to recognize some of the more popular ones now, as more and more authors use them.

Your cover looks good, though. Hope you sell plenty of books!

5:17 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Thanks, Molly. Yes, I do agree that Amazon need to add more images. I'm starting to recognize some of the more popular ones now, as more and more authors use them.

Your cover looks good, though. Hope you sell plenty of books!

5:17 PM  
Blogger alex revell said...

Hello all,
Can anyone tell me how to add text to a photo in order to create a cover. I use Picasa and Word 2010.
Many thanks
Alex

5:08 PM  

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