Should I be writing a new chapter of literally any of my stories? Yes.
Am I doing that? Obviously not right now.
If you ever wrote anything on an app, you know that a cover is everything. It's the first thing potential readers see when confronted with your story. So, it's got to at least have some appeal. Because, even though many will deny it, we all know when it comes to choosing a book to read on Inkitt, we usually judge the cover at least a little bit as to whether we'd read it or if it would even be good.
When I first started out, my very first story online, like you guys know, was a fanfiction. And I didn't know you needed some fancy cover until I really started to write it. The first cover I had was an image off of google that (thankfully) worked. So glad the person had a tattoo of a rose, because it worked so well and matched perfectly. A great stand in until I was able to actually get a cover making app. (And don't get me started on all my cover making phases. Because there were some cringy as fuck ones, not going to deny it.)
This one book I had to read on here didn't have the most aesthetically pleasing cover, and I wasn't sure if it would be the best, but it ended up being one of my favorite books on the app. Something I've noticed is that sometimes the books with the best covers aren't the best written while sometimes the books with not the most professional covers are some of your best ones. While this isn't always the case, it is something I've run into not only on Inkitt but Wattpad as well.
When I read this one fanfiction on Wattpad back when I was really young, it only had this colorful texture style fabric as the cover with no words but my images weren't loading so I read the book and really enjoyed it. Didn't find out what the cover looked like until much later. And I didn't care.
So, you want to know how to make a cover. There really isn't a concrete way to make one but there are some tips you should follow most of the time.
- title and author's name/username should be visible and legible. (The two best colors to use for a title is white and black, but depending on your image depends on whether you use one color or another. Don't try and use some crazy ass font either.)
- the image should be high quality and eye catching (don't use some blurry ass photo where you can't even tell what it is. Most of the time it'll deter any potential readers.)
- it needs to relate back to your story (I can't tell you how many stories I've come across where the story's cover doesn't match up. It is technically a form of clickbait. So, if you're about to do that, think of those YouTubers or news outlets that you despise that do that before you decide to dabble in it.)
- Don't make it too small or too big (this can be difficult at times but try to keep the ratio as big as a Wattpad cover. They're about the same.)
Since we got these formalities out of the way, now here are some tips I try to live by when it comes to covers.
- add a drop shadow behind your title and your author's name/username
- try and use copyright free images from unsplash and other sites
- Don't make a cover look like something you wouldn't read if you were to have saw it on another book on the site
- try to stick to a white or black for the color of the title
- Don't put your title over the main image (like fully covering the person/creature/animal so it's hard to decipher) with the except being over the eyes because that can look badass or some stylistic choice that really works.
- Don't use too many images - like in a collage or overlay/morph tactic
You be questioning how I can advise someone on the right color to use or all this other stuff, but I have some background with all this. I've been working on covers for books since I was thirteen. Took a photography class and also was in a film/television program for almost two years. There you learn about adding text and the appropriate way to format it even if it isn't actually making a cover.
The drop shadow helps it stand out more, especially if your cover is of similar shades/colors. The white and the black are the most commonly used and also are the easiest to read. A red font typically indicates some sort of horror or action theme, but also bleeds whether it be in film fonts or on a cover far away. Also, try and use fonts people can read for that very reason. Readers won't click on a story nine times out of ten if they can't read the title. Another thing is cursive is usually indicative of romance while more distressed fonts relate more to action of some sort whether it be fantasy, action, adventure, horror or mystery/suspense/thriller.
So, at this point, you may be wondering how to make your covers. Well, even if you're not, I'll give you the lowdown.
If you search for a cover maker on the app store, which ever one you have, tons will pop up. Some are more reputable and easier to navigate than others. My two favorite ones I've used for years are both essentially off the market. Photofox is way different than it was when I first started using it to make covers, and not in a good way. The other one had Wattpad ratios available and had every font known to mankind. It was a little difficult to navigate at times when I first downloaded it, but it worked so well and I made some of my favorite covers with that app even though I can't find them anymore because my old iPod deleted them. The only cover I have from the font and Wattpad ratio app is the cover for Fanfictionalized's sequel, Canceled, and also Paradise Island.
Nowadays, I have different apps I use. I use Picsart for the vast majority of my covers now. They have a free version and a paid membership, but the free is great to use. It has a lot of options and works great. My only complaint is you can save WIPs. You have to try to do it all in one sitting or save what you have done so far and finish it later. The cover for this book and three books on Wattpad: You're On!, Drunk Messages, and my awards Rising Phoenix Awards 2020 were all made on there.
Another app I sometimes use and my sister @BriWitDaTree uses is Canva. One story draft I have that might see the light of day in 2021 has a cover made with Canva. To me, Canva has gotten a lot better in their controls, though they can be overly sensitive at times. There aren't very many templates to choose from for those who are looking for a predone design. For those who don't care about that, there's a blank slate with the appropriate ratios done up for your cover and there's endless opportunities when designing and they allow WIP so you can continue to go back to it and tweak it if need be.
I love Canva and made my recent cover set for Fanfictionalized, Perfect Illusion, Never Ending Bootycall, Holiday Frenzy, and How to Love with it plus the cover for my short story collection, Time of our Lives. Canva is associated and works with Inkitt. If on the app, it gives you an option to either use one from your camera roll or import it from Canva.
Another app - one that does have the ratios done - is Designer (Could be spelled weird, I don't remember) but it's affiliated with Wattpad and has a lot of predone covers with the appropriate ratios sorted so you don't have to worry about clipping. They have many genres. The original cover for Perfect Illusion when it was still The Artist and the Biker was made there. It can be difficult at times to use and I think they might have a paid program - I don't remember because I only used it once - but they had some options for romance.
When it comes to a cover maker, it's all in what you want. Do you want premade? More freedom? Easy to use?
If none of that is something you like, there's also your Photoshop on computer you need to pay for that many use and you can also contact a graphic artist to make you a cover. Though many don't work on stories unless they're already published. Some do, but also some don't as an assurance their work will get used.
So, if you didn't see on my wall, my teams all made the playoffs. One reason why I stayed up a little later to fix this chapter for you guys. Also, that means I'm trying to update at least one of my other stories soon as a thank you and also gift for such a reason. It gave me motivation haha and also energy. Anyways, any comments or continuation of this topic can be done down below. Also, any suggestions or questions you want answered can be asked down below as well and even turned into a future chapter. I hope this helps any - I know I wish I had this when I started out cuz for the longest time my first story's cover was an image off of google with no title or anything - and I also hope you enjoyed it!