It’s my firm belief that ebooks do not get the love they deserve on bookstagram. I have a lot of theories about why this is, but I’m not going to get into all of that today. That’s a topic for another time. 😉 Instead, I’m going to focus on giving you a Photoshop tutorial and some quick tips *I* use to create what I think are some pretty darn good ebook photos for bookstagram.
You don’t have to do complicated or detailed flatlays to make an interesting photo. (Though if that’s your jam, go right on ahead!) Just like with physical books, there are lots of ways to make a nice image that don’t involve a billion props.
My tips for taking eye-catching ebook photos for bookstagram
- Hold your device up against a fun or interesting background — murals, bookshelves if you have print copies, even a fun outfit or shoes.
- Stack your device on top of an open book or a sleeve.
- Have any scarves or blankets? They make for great pops of color in the background.
- Don’t want to be bothered with editing your image to add in the cover? Adjust the brightness on your device so it doesn’t underexpose the rest of your photo. Watch your lighting and reflections.
- Have a Kindle Paperwhite or other device without a color screen? Embrace it. I think their native covers look really cool.
- On a similar note, instead of showing off the book cover, try the title page or treat it like an open book and show off a page.
Try one or more of these to create some awesome ebook photos for bookstagram. Find your own style and work with what you have and what’s around you.
Looking for more tips? Check out my top six bookstagram secrets.
Tips for adding a book cover to a device
- Start with a well-framed, well-lit photo.
- I find it easier to add the cover image to my Kindle Fire when the screen isn’t blank. It’s easier to line up corners and edges.
- If your aesthetic doesn’t greatly change the tones or color of your images, I would suggest editing your photo first. Add the cover image to the edited photo to keep the colors or lighting on the cover from getting too wonky.
While lighting and setup are always important, I believe there are two keys to getting a good final photo when you’re adding the cover onto your device —
- Ensure the cover is positioned well.
- Try to limit reflections on your device.
I’m especially particular about the latter. Yes, it’s hard to take a photo of your device without getting a reflection of light or the camera or one of your props (if you use props). That’s why I insist on adding an additional layer to my images. You’d be shocked at the difference a well-positioned rounded corner black rectangle can make on your images.
But, how about I “show” instead of “tell”?
How I add book covers to my Kindle Fire using Photoshop
There are likely dozens of different ways to go about adding a cover to your device, but I’m going to show you the way I do it. I’m sure you’ll find adjustments that work for you.
I typically take a whole big batch of “blank” Kindle Fire images for “stock” at one time, especially if I’m somewhere with cool backgrounds. Or if I’m in the middle of more complicated setups at home. I want to get as much bang for my buck as possible and I loathe cleaning up after photo sessions. Since I take 98% of my bookstagram photos with my iPhone, my camera roll regularly looks like this:
I just recently got smart and moved a bunch of my “stock” images into an album so they’re easier to find amongst the madness that is my camera roll.
Like I said above, I typically apply any filters I want to use to a photo before I add the cover. My favorite apps for that type of editing are VSCO and Lightroom. I’ve recently become obsessed with Lightroom actions and have purchased a bunch of them from Etsy. I might do a post on those one day, too. Snapseed is my go-to for any tweaks I need to make to the lighting or whatever before I apply a filter. It works wonders with shadows, especially.
Here’s the “before” photo I’m going to work with today.
And after a quick Lightroom filter (from this set on Etsy) and a crop, since I’m all about rectangle images now.
Super awesome reflection, huh? 😂 You’ll note I also broke one of my own rules — not having a photo with a blank screen to start off with — but I’m just going to roll with it.
This tutorial would probably be easier if I would just record a screen capture video, but I’m not feeling that. So you get screenshots instead.
- Open your image up in Photoshop. Select File / Place Embedded and select the cover you’d like to add.
Side note: who’s surprised this is the cover image I went with? 😂
A tip: Use the highest res cover image you can find. It can be hard to find high res images, but an author or publisher’s website is a good place to start.
- Drag your corners to size your image down so it’s closer to the correct size. Go ahead and rotate it so it’s a better fit on the device screen, too. It’ll end up looking a little like this if your image isn’t perfectly flat.
If you look closely, you’ll see it doesn’t quite line up properly on the screen. But never fear, there’s an easy way to fix that.
- Zoom in on your image and then right-click and select Distort.
- Zoom in even more and start using the handles to line up the corners of the cover with the cover area corners on your device. (This is where it’s helpful to have a book cover or something on the screen instead of just a sleeping device. It’s easier to line things up properly.)
- When you’re done, it’ll look like this. Hit enter or the checkmark to place the image.
- So, you can choose to stop here. The cover is lined up and looks great. But you still have the weird reflections that make the image look unnatural IMHO.
This is what I do to cover those. It takes a few steps and some will change based on the image you’re using.
- I choose the Rectangle Tool and draw a rectangle large enough to cover my entire device. Then I change the corners to 40px rounded. Press enter. (I don’t use a traditional black hex #000000, but #0c0904.)
- Like you did when you dropped the cover onto your image, resize the rectangle and rotate it so it’s closer to the size of your device.
- Zoom in, right-click and select Distort.
- Zoom in and drag the handles on the rectangle to line them up with the device’s screen corners. You’ll see I don’t go clear to the edge because the Kindle Fire has a little bit of a lip and edge to the screen and it looks weird if you cover that up. Hit enter to set the rectangle.
- Drag the rectangle layer under the cover image layer.
- Much better, but we gotta do something about that thumb. Ha!
- I reduce the opacity of the rectangle layer to about 20% so I can see what I’m erasing, select the Eraser tool and confirm rasterizing the layer.
- Then I erase the rectangle over my thumb. Now we’re cooking. Just one more thing to do — erase the rectangle where the device’s camera lens is.
- Reduce the opacity on your rectangle layer to 20% or so again. Zoom in and click the Eraser tool again. I like to use a size between 25-30 px, depending on the image, and a brush opacity between 60-70%. Center your round eraser over the circle where the camera is and click once.
- Set the rectangle opacity back to somewhere between 80-100, depending on the photo. Use your judgment. You want to cover any weird reflections on the device screen without making it look totally unnatural.
- And voilà — now you have an awesome and appealing ebook photo for bookstagram.
If you didn’t do your color corrections or any other editing on the image before you dropped the cover on, you can do those now. Add your watermark. Do whatever else you want to do.
I know it seems like a lot of steps, but it’s really not. After a couple of years doing this, I can edit an image in under five minutes and have some darn fine-looking ebook photos for bookstagram when I’m done.
What if I don’t have Photoshop?
I’m fortunate to have access to Photoshop, but I recognize that not everyone has it so I will also share some free or cheap(er) alternatives. While there are a few good Photoshop(esque) programs available for free, not all are created equal. Of the ones I’ve tried on my laptop, Pixlr is my favorite both from an ease of use and functionality standpoint. The interface is very similar to Photoshop, so you’d be able to use the tutorial above to some extent to add your cover in.
If you prefer to edit your photos from start to finish on mobile, the best app I’ve found for adding covers is Photofox. Unlike some of the other apps I tried, this one does allow you to adjust the perspective or distort the book cover layer once you’ve added it. That’s vital for me because I don’t tend to take the typical straight-on flatlay photos. It’s just not my preference. Photofox works great for me for a quick cover add, but the controls when trying to change the perspective and get an image in the correct place aren’t super easy sometimes. (Or maybe it’s just my fat fingers.) I also don’t love that I can’t add my go-to solid color layer to cover up the reflections. But, it’ll do in a pinch and it’s the best of the bunch I’ve found.
So that’s it. That’s how I create (what I think are) some great, eye-catching ebook photos for bookstagram. I’m all about showing ebooks the love they deserve and rarely get. If you have any questions about how or why I do what I do, don’t hesitate to ask me here or on Instagram. (Or Twitter.) If you have any tips or resources you’d like to share, you know what to do in the comments!
Do you take or create ebook photos for bookstagram?
Do you have any other tips or resources to share?
Drop your links while you’re at it!