In the latest episode of Awkward Author, which you can watch here:

or listen to here:

I shared some software and tools that I use for editing images for book covers, book ads, book mockups and more. This roundup of programs that can be used to create and edit graphics for your books and marketing campaigns includes both free and paid options.

Here’s the full list of different tools and software programs that you might find useful in your author business with a brief description of each:

  • Adobe  Adobe makes the popular programs Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Photoshop is designed for editing photos and other raster images, but this robust software can be used to create a variety of graphics including things like book covers and ad images. Illustrator is design software which gives you the ability to work with and create vector graphics and can also be used to design book covers, ad and really any sort of graphic you’re likely to need. These are the “gold standard” of image editing products. These programs are only available as a monthly subscription, and as a result they can get expensive. The good news is that as an author you really do not need to invest in this software as there are a lot of other options out there including plenty of FREE programs.
  • Affinity  Affinity makes a couple of products that are basically clones of Adobes popular programs. Affnity Designer is very similar to Adobe Illustrator while Affinity Photo works a lot like Adobe Photoshop. You do have to pay to download this software, but because it’s a one-time fee it is more affordable than the Adobe products. I do use Affinity Designer on a regular basis, but unless you plan on doing a lot of graphics work there’s really no need to invest in this software as there are lot of free options out there that are perfect for casual use.
  • Gimp  Gimp is a free to download and use program that allows to you to edit photos and image files and is very similar to Photoshop in its functionality. Because this is downloadable software you are able to use it even when an internet connection is not available, something that can be helpful if you foresee needing to be able to do a lot of graphics work offline.
  • Inkscape Another free to download and use program is Inkscape which works more like Adobe Illustrator. This is free vector graphics software that you can use to edit different vector files such as PNG or EPS files which can be useful when you need to isolate or remove certain pieces of a graphic. Of course you can also use it to create your own graphics or digital artwork. Like Gimp since this is a downloaded program, you can use it while offline.
  • Canva So far all the programs I’ve mentioned require you to either have some experience working with graphics or at least a strong willingness to learn. Canva, on the other hand, is a free web-based program that is VERY EASY to use. With a host of free templates available already sized for a variety of purposes such as YouTube Thumbnails or Facebook Covers you really don’t have to do much design work yourself. You can drop in your own graphics, change some text and have a professional looking ready to use graphic in minutes. Canva is completely free to use and has a large selection of free fonts, photos and clip art, though they do also have a large collection of “premium” images available for a fee. Canva’s great for creating images to used on social media, online advertising or websites. Though you can also use Canva to design covers for ebooks, make sure you read the fine print regarding licensing if you before you use any of Canva’s supplied images either free or paid on a product you will be selling.
  • Photopea Photopea is a free online program for editing photos and Photoshop files. Have a .PSD file that you need to be able to open and edit, but don’t feel like subscribing to Adobe Photoshop? You can use Photopea to open up and edit the file. (Because it is web-based and because some PSD files can be ver large you might need to have a little patience when using this software.) I especially like that Photopea allows you to Photoshop’s Smart Objects features when creating images. Something that I have used to create beautiful mockup files such as 3D images of my books. And speaking of mockups . . .
  • Cover Vault If you’re looking to create 3D images of your books, that you can use on your website and marketing materials head on over to Cover Vault where you’ll find a generous selection of mockup files all available for free. This include basic 3D books images and box set images as well as ebook mockups with popular e-readers and attractive mockups that features a rich background for a professional look. All the mockups on Cover Vault are downloaded as PSD files which you can edit for free with Photopea.

Though not included in my Awkward Author episode, I will also add that if you’re a Mac user you do have some built in image editing programs, which may be all that you need especially if all you want to do is resize an image for the web or touch up an image. Preview on Macs allows you to easily resize and crop items and also has some nifty tools like the smart lasso and the magic wand which are great for isolating a small piece of a flat image file such as a JPG or PNG. Then there’s iPhoto which offers some quick photo editing options like cropping, straightening or touching up. You can also play around with the color balance and add filters or text overlays to images.

Hope these tips help you in your author business!

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