How To Design A Book Cover

This is a tutorial from my upcoming eBook
“Self Publishing When You’re Broke”

How to Design Your Book Cover

Basic Jacket Template

Designing your book cover can become a challenging task, especially if you do not know where to begin, a place where I was just over a few years ago. When beginning your book cover questions rush in. Where do I begin? What program is the better one? Where can I get a template? These questions without the right tools can take a very long time to answer, which is why I feel as a self-published author that this tutorial needed to be included on my blog.

Before we start you must know that your cover is number two on the list of very important things for your book, it is often  that people buy your book because of the cover. Presentation, images, even scene, can mean everything when it comes to sales, so you must put a lot of thought into this aspect of your self-published book. Since it is a very important part of your book why should you have to spend so much time researching where to find all the things you need, just to design it in the first place.

I choose Adobe Photoshop; it has so many options for editing the perfect cover. If you can not afford Photoshop there is a download link for a freeware app in my sidebar. Be aware that it is not a complete program, so help desk will not work, nor will plugins for the program, however you can use it effectively, and save your cover to your liking.

The next thing is where to get your template, has a few templates that you can download and, if savvy with word templates you can use the guidelines to make a good base to begin your cover, for spine width most self-publishing websites have a spine calculator that will help you decide the measurement of your spine. The spine is based on the number of pages you have in your book and divided by the PPI (Pages per inch). There are many other resources out there to decide your PPI and book spine, so if you choose to google search it as I did, here are my results. Book Spine Calculator.

If creating a cover from scratch, I suggest checking out the Templates that you can easily download from  This way is my favorite,the margins are all set for you all you have to do is adjust them to your measurements and begin copy and pasting your ideas within the document, once complete, save it as a PDF or JPG, and upload it to where ever you choose to publish your book.

There are other ways of designing your book cover, if you do not have access to using the Photoshop program. Word , PowerPoint, and some other programs can be used as well, once you are finished it needs be converted to PDF or JPG for uploading to POD Publish on demand sites. which in Word, Publisher and Photoshop you can save as and convert the document to a PDF file.

Images are the next question where do I get images? and what can I do without stealing someone’s copy written image?

First thing is if you plan to use someone else’s image make sure you get their permission, written permission is the best way to go. If you plan on using your own pictures, you can do that as well which is even better if it is your stuff, you do not have to get anyone’s permission to use it, however there are some websites out there that have free royalty images, you just have to do a little research, a good suggestion to me was There are also many websites that allow you to download royalty free images, you may have to join and pay a monthly fee to be part of the sites, but the images are free to use as long as you notate or acknowledge  the person who took the image in your book.

If you find that this is just not what you had in mind, Lulu and Createspace allow you to use their cover designer platforms, just remember that the artwork on the cover does not belong to you, if you use their cover designers, you only own the content inside the book and actual pictures that you used if they belong to you or a friend etc. The rest of your cover belongs to Lulu or Createspace.

Another more advanced way to create a cover is Adobe InDesign, something that I have yet to try, but the directions below, are what I found when I Googled how to use InDesign for a book cover.

1. Create a new file
2. Make the width of the document size =trim size(back) + spine size + trim size(front).
3. Set columns to 2.
4. Column size should equal spine thickness (here, .5″)
5. Set margins. I like to use .25″ for the bottom elements (logos, barcode, etc.)
6. Left and right margins should be one-half the trim size (e.g. a 5.5″ trim width, set margins to 2.75″)
7. Set bleed.

File should now have guides for spine, and the center marks for both front and back covers.

A great place to further the set up using InDesign is to visit, where there are many tutorials on how to set up the template for a book cover.

Once again your book cover is one of the most important tasks when publishing a book, so be creative, and use your imagination, anything is possible if you try, however you want to also make sure it’s not to over the top or to glamorous as readers buy online they do judge a book by its cover. If you have any thoughts on this post please add them, any extra info is helpful. I am also reachable by phone if you want to pick my brain.

Ritchie White

The Cisco Kid – The Loss of My Best Friend

I stumbled onto this story this morning, and found it fitting to blog, coming from Candace Michele, and Michael Paxton, I share Mike’s story. It is a terrible thing, an officer of the law to take action like this, with no justice, no apology, and no remorse, in my opinion, he should be accountable for these actions, would he have done the same if it were mike’s son in the driveway, who’s to say but an officer such as this, certainly is not protecting and serving.This officer should remember the oath he swore, was to protect and serve, and not take matters in to his own hands.

I am usually not one to get into the politics of people’s opinions of law enforcement. I know there are good and bad people in every walk of life, but I always try to give the benefit of the doubt to those that are in a position to “protect and serve”. But yesterday, a harsh reality was “served” when I received a phone call from a very near and dear person to me. The words I heard coming through my phone were nothing I would have expected in a million years—a very distraught voice saying, “The cops just shot and killed Cisco! They killed my best friend!” In shock, I asked what had happened. At the time, I only got a very brief description, as Michael Paxton was in shock and traumatized over the horrific loss of his dog. I immediately drove to his place (which is about 30 minutes away). When I arrived, I found him clutching Cisco’s body, crying and trying to understand what had just transpired.

Apparently, unbeknown to Mike, there was a domestic disturbance between a male and a female in his neighborhood, and the Austin Police Dept was called in. Unfortunately (seems like such an understatement), Mike found out quickly about the call when he walked into his driveway from his back yard where he and Cisco, his Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Healer), had been playing frisbee. Police officer T. Griffin, Badge #6778, was standing behind Mike’s vehicle, in his driveway. Before Mike even realized Officer Griffin was there, the officer had pulled his gun on Mike, yelling at him to freeze and put his hands up. In a panic, Mike stated to the officer that he lives there, and asked what and why this was happening.

Cisco will be missed by many.

Hearing the commotion, Cisco came from the back yard and into the driveway, barking at the officer, as any dog would do. Mike’s hands in the air, a gun pointed at him, he was afraid for his life, and therefore could not move or attempt to quiet or restrain Cisco. He told the officer that Cisco would not bite him, to please not shoot his dog. Almost immediately, a bullet was put into Cisco’s chest, killing him instantly. Mike still leaned against his truck, unable to move, was not allowed to even hold his best friend as he took the last breath of his abruptly-shortened life.

As was realized after this horrific event had transpired, THE COP WAS AT THE WRONG ADDRESS!!! An innocent man was traumatized by not only having a gun pulled on him by someone that is supposed to be there “to protect and to serve”, but his best friend of seven-and-a-half years was wrongly shot and killed. FOR WHAT?! Because Officer Griffin did not confirm where he was supposed to be before these events transpired!

Nothing will likely happen to Officer Griffin for any of this, as his supervisor arrived after everything took place, and she defended his actions. Mike was given the officers’ information, as well as a phone number to call, if desired. No apologies, no sympathy. Nothing. The officer even told Mike that Cisco should have been on a leash! IN HIS OWN YARD?! ARE YOU SERIOUS?!

We ended up taking Cisco’s body to be buried at a friend’s house, out in the country. Four of us spent two hours digging and breaking through limestone-filled ground, to make a hole large enough to lay to rest this man’s best friend and companion.
There are so many things wrong with this situation, that I just can’t even express it in words. My heart aches for you Mike. I know how much you love Cisco, and how much Cisco loved you. Although I am not sure what justice can or will be served in this case, your story will not go unheard. Along with many of your friends, in an effort to gain some sort of justice for you and Cisco, I am tagging all of our local news media here to get the word out.

This type of excessive force has GOT to be stopped. There needs to be consequences for behaviors such as this. There needs to be a system of “checks and balances” used, to be certain this type of thing doesn’t happen anymore—none of this would have occurred, had the officer just VERIFIED THE CORRECT ADDRESS before pulling a gun on Mike and his dog. I urge anyone and everyone that reads this, to please share this story, and let it be known that these happenings aren’t just things we read about going on in some “other city”, but right here, seriously affecting people we know and love.

If you want further information, please feel free to contact Mike directly. He is looking for any help he can get in seeking justice for his dog’s unwarranted killing.

The Cisco Kid

If you feel that Cisco’s death was bad judgement, and just wrong, please share, and keep sharing, this officer should be held accountable. If it were the other way around and a civilian killed a K-9 it is considered killing an officer in the line of duty, and you are tried for 25 years to life , why then is this officer not responsible for his actions?

My prayers are with Cisco that his death gets justice. Good luck to you Mike as you search for justice, For more information visit Justice for Cisco, or contact Michael Paxton directly.

Thinking about Grandpa…How do you explain death to a child?

This is not my normal post, however it is the first thing that happened to me this morning, and it just seemed right to share.

My daughter brought me to tears this morning, it all began when we drove Rozie to work this morning, and we happened to see a white quad cab dual wheel Ford truck. “Look it’s Papa Rocks truck, Where is Papa Rock, Daddy?”
I explained it to her the best way I knew how , “Papa Rock is in Heaven Baby, you know that” and she replied “Is my Papa an Angel?” and I said “well of course he is.” At this point the tears were already rolling off of my face and she said the sweetest thing I have ever heard her say. “Papa Rock needs to come home to my Grandma Christine , because I really, really miss him.” So if your listening up there Rocky, were thinking about you today, and we all miss and love you.

The first time Rocky held his baby grand.

How do you explain death to your child? What are the right words to say? especially when you don’t understand death itself, it has been nearly 13 years since I lost my grandpa, and I still miss him, and still cry about him being gone, only wishing that I could call him up or go and visit to tell him all about my books, and what I am doing.

My grandparents at their 38th Anniversary

About the old thing I can think of is;

“If heaven wasn’t so far away
I’d pack up the kids and go for the day
Introduce them to their grandpa
Watch ’em laugh at the way he talks
Then tell him we’d be back in a couple of days
In the rear view mirror we’d all watch ’em wave
Yeah, and losing them wouldn’t be so hard to take
If heaven wasn’t so far away”

                                                                  —Justin Moore

So what have you said, when little hearts ask these questions, so not to break their spirits, or their heart at the same time? Because I am at a loss of words.

15 Key Links When You want to Self-Publish Your Book

This week I decided to add the links that I used to self-publish my work, create my covers, ebook  publish, and so much more.I have done so much research as a writer/author, and can tell you first hand that I need to learn more. I hope that you will find these links helpful in your journey to becoming an author too.

The first few websites are writing community websites, and are great for meeting other authors, and writers that share your interests,and genres:

My favorite writers community

This is an online writing community

This is a online creative writing community

A writing community for all skill levels and genres

The next and some of the most important links in my list are bloggers that blog about writing, publishing, etc. These websites will help in some of the greatest ways possible, and most of them offer free ebooks in guiding you through some of the key elements in creating your masterpiece.

Literary agent,and blogger

Wordplay is a blog by K.M. Weiland helping writers become authors

Author tech tips to help grow your platform

Joanna Penn’s blog helping you write, publish and market your book.

Do it yourself degree in creative writing.

The last few websites are of the Tools and resources category , places to go for templates, etc. Also below are the most common Publish-on-demand websites available, and will get you up and published in a short time.

A great place for book cover templates

Simply the best fonts

some great fonts for instant free download

publish-on-demand, and self-publishing website

Independent publishing website for publish on demand, etc.

Kindle Publishing direct

Wonderful Ebook Publisher carries all ereader formats.

I hope that all of these websites help you out, as they have me in publishing my books, one of the few things that I recommend is getting your author platform built, and draw in an audience, you may be excited about getting your first book in print as I was, however if you don’t have an audience it will not sell that well. get a marketing plan, and gain a following, use social media to your advantage, share, share and share, if you find links like this above, and think it relevant add it to comments,and groups that you belong to, it will not only help your platform, but help out many of your peers as well.

Thank you for helping me write.

I have not blogged in a while, heck I haven’t even been writing, and it has driven me crazy. Life caught me up in a drag for a while, and everything that has gone on with family stuff has just been overwhelming. Good news, I went on vacation to clear my mind and it worked, I have a few days of house work to do, and some stuff coming in to take care of for my wife’s new business venture, but I think in a few days when things are in order I may just get to sit down with my novel, read and rewrite, and some more writing, there is a lot to do, however, I have to read what I have, because I sort of forgot where I left off. I know as a writer, you should write something everyday, so today is my starting point of the next step of my writing career, I plan to write something everyday, even if it is just thoughts, or scenarios, anything that might stimulate my novel, and anything else that I am working on. I have a how to book that I have ached to finish which explains the road I have taken to self-publishing my first two books, with no money at hand at all. They are not a complete success,  but a great experience all the same, it has surely gotten my feet wet in how the writers world works. I want to say With gods amazing grace self-publishing introduced me to some wonderful people, and they deserve to be mentioned.

  Honorable mentions are Dan Blank, a great teacher in learning how to build an author platform, I have learned a lot from him, and have not yet taken his course, mostly because I am financially embarrassed, at the moment and don’t have the cash to take it, but still have learned a lot just the same, if interested in his course you can join by visiting, I hope you can learn something from one of the leaders in the industry. Another honorable mention, and my very first tutor in writing in K.M. Weiland, an awesome teacher, and her blog, and videos, just happen to be in my price range, Free, although free, Ms. Weiland is great with teaching, and sharing how to build your characters in your story, and I definitely have learned a lot from her, my favorite blog among them all that I follow. The Creative Penn is another great place to learn, and refresh writing, skill, and vocabulary, etc, Joanna covers it all from writing, publishing, even selling your books, to subscribe to these wonderful blogs, visit K.M Weilands blog, and her wordplay wordplay-,, which helps the writer become an author. Visit Joanna Penn’s blog for some awesome interaction, with writing,blogging, publishing, etc.

Now I must not forget a dear friend that I have met via the writers digest community, that lives in the same town as me, memoir writer Kathleen Pooler, with some of her advice, and points in the right direction, I may not have found the above people. she has helped me in my journey of becoming an author, and deserves some great credit, so please if you enjoy a good blog, visit, through faith, hope, love, and adversity Kathleen is in the middle of telling her story, and directly from her blog  How does a woman from a stable Christian home go off on so many self-defeating detours and how does she come back home again? 

From some of the stories that are in her book, I feel that you will ask these questions while reading the whole book, and those questions will hook you to the very end, I can assure you from a western genre reader, and writer, Kathleen’s memoir, is a must read even for me.

Well to the wonderful people I mentioned above, I want to personally thank you for all the lessons, and learning that I have picked up from you, and I want to also personally thank all the people who I have not mentioned, you know exactly who you are, from writers digest, twitter, blogging, and facebook. you are wonderful, and I thought it was about time that I thanked you all. Jackie Gordon, Steven Law, James Wright, Larry Payne, J.R. Sanders, and everyone in my group Western genre Fiction/nonfiction. Thanks to all of you for the support, comments, blogs, and webinars, I appreciate it.

Legend Series (The legend of Fort Dodge Silver)

Fort Dodge Silver lost treasure

In the year 1853, a freighting train of 82 wagons full of silver left Mexico up the Santé Fe Trail. An old Mexican freighter named Jesus M. Martinez, who was well known by many of the plainsmen of that day for his honesty and bravery was in charge, unfortunately, The Santé Fe Trail was well known to the Indians, also. Martinez was wise to the Indians ways though and corralled the wagons every night and posted guards to give the alarm should danger approach in the way of Indians, bandits, or prairie fires.                                                                                     

Sante Fe Trail

  One day, as they began making camp, Martinez decided to be especially alert throughout the night. All that day, Indians observed in the distance, which could mean trouble. As the sun set, the dogs began to make a fuss, which aroused the suspicion of Martinez, Indians lurked nearby. He called a meeting to decide what would be the best course of action to pursue, and it was decided to prepare for the worst. The men dug trenches and piled dirt, and wood around the holes for protection. When  finished, they laid in the ditches, as they waited with weapons cocked. The Indians made a dash for the camp. Prepared the Mexican’s had the greater advantage and shot so much lead into the attacker’s direction; the Indians were forced to fall back. When morning came, the first wave of Indians hit the Mexicans position with little to no effect. All throughout the night, the Indians continued and attempted to find a weak spot in the Mexicans fortifications. For five days the siege continued with few Mexicans being killed, but not nearly as many Indians who had sustained a huge loss of warriors. The Indians were crazed for blood and vengeance was sought for the brothers and chiefs who had been killed and would fight to the last warrior. The Mexicans had been in a comfortable position for the first few days but  were low on ammunition,  and the Indians were not about to stop attacking. On the sixth night, the Indians made a desperate attack  through the Mexicans lines, but were driven back.The rifles ceased fire for lack of ammunition. Once the guns were still, the band of bloodthirsty Indians swept over the camp, engulfing the brave Mexicans. During the ensuing struggle, only one man is known to have escaped the fight. Old Jesus Martinez somehow slipped away and hid himself while his men were  slaughtered. He remained in his hiding place until morning.

when he was sure the Indians were miles away,  he crept back to what was left of the camp. All around him lay the signs of battle. Dead men were scattered everywhere, wagons overturned and burned, their food and clothing covered the ground and all the animals had been run off.  After searching through the wagons remains, he finally found the silver they were carrying. untouched by the Indians, since it was of no value to them, compared with a good horse and rifle. Martinez carried twenty-one bars of silver, valued at $1000 each, to a spot a little ways from camp, and buried them so they would be safe until he could return with help to recover them. Satisfied that he had hidden the money as well as he could under the circumstances, he started out on foot for his home in Mexico. Shortly after arriving home in Mexico, he died, but not before telling his son of the massacre, and the whereabouts of the hidden silver. Several years passed before his son was able to travel to the site of the battle, which was about four miles west of Dodge City, Kansas. From the directions his father had given him, he located the area where the silver was buried and began shoving a wire into the ground hoping to hit the treasure. He spent several weeks searching, but became disgusted and quit when he couldn’t find anything of value. Young Martinez next traveled to Fort Dodge, where one night while drinking heavily, he told two men what he had been looking for. The word of a hidden treasure nearby spread like wildfire and soon half of Fort Dodge was looking for the silver. Old Martinez evidently hid the bags better than he thought, or his son confused the directions to the site, because no one has ever found as much as one coin.

Thanks to Legends of America, and for detailed and quoted info.

Breaking News! Louis L’Amour Was Not the Last Western Writer

I snagged the title for this blog from a great site for all things about western writers.

The reason I did, is because I keep hearing that same ole thing, just like many other western writers do, “Too bad Louis L’Amour’s gone. Nobody writes Westerns any more.”

However, we are writing westerns, many of us in fact. a small list of authors like W.R. Benton, Steven Law, Peter Brandvold, and Howard Hopkins come to mind, even myself.

The idea for this blog post came to me in a comment made on my Facebook wall, and I say this with all respect, and I quote “Unless you change it to Louis L’Amour no one will know who the new one is anyway.” which was in reference to a question, I asked about using a pen name for my western novels. This statement got me thinking, yes we all know Louis L’Amour, and at this point in my life not many have heard of me as an Author at this point,under my birth name or any pen name, but wasn’t there a time in 1951 that the public had not yet heard of Louis L’Amour and “Westward The Tide?” So it would stand to reason why people haven’t heard of me or will not know who I am when Laramie’s Thunder is first published either, I actually expect that at first, however with the several stories I have laid out to follow my first western, hopefully I will draw in some good readers, and prove that I am a western writer of the old frontier. I already know, I am not Louis, and I am certainly not Zane Grey either, but if you mix the two together, well in a simple kind of way you will be able to say that I can write among them as a western writer and author.

You see it started for me long ago, the first time I felt a that wild west wind blow through me, I was just 15 and was beginning a chapter in my life that later I would pursue as my adventures across the country. Rodeo season had begun, and a friend asked if I wanted to try to ride a bull, it sounded great so I had to give it a try, what I didn’t realize was that after I got up off the ground, tasting the arena dirt for the first time, and dusting off my wrangler jeans I looked out into the crowd, and I saw the great unknown, the desert sands under pounding hooves chasing after a band of outlaws, with a six-shooter and a horse as fast as you could see. At first I knew it was only my imagination running wild, but as time went on, I learned many things about myself, not only was I a modern-day cowboy, but something else entirely. The love of the old west always left me to wonder what could have been, why wasn’t I born a hundred years ago, and where do these visions keep coming from. It was simple I needed to tell these stories, write them down, and explore across the great divide, see as a writer, I live the story as my readers are reading it, and with each description, I show what I have dreamed about for the last decade, and show you from the beginning what I saw that one summer night as I looked out into the cheering audience.

So I hope that no matter what name I choose, you will see the west as I do, and see that western writing is here to stay. It is a part of our history whether it is fiction, or non-fiction, the western genre tells the story of what it was like, to live in a time where there were few rules, an open range and a six-shooter was judge and jury.

A woman without her man is nothing

I am looking at The Power of  Punctuation, and in doing so I have studied The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, as well as Roy Peter Clark’s book Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, and I have found many things to dwell upon here, being this.

My writing has always had issues with punctuation, where do I put that irritating comma anyway? Sometimes I wish we didn’t need one, however in the sentence “A woman without her man is nothing.” punctuation says it all, so in this sentence myself as a man would naturally think that there is nothing really wrong with the sentence, however several women would probably change it to “A woman: without her, man is nothing.”  because the use of the comma and punctuation now dignifies the sentence, and makes it richer, more powerful, and more believable.

In Roy Peter Clark’s book  Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, he makes this a clearer picture by referring to a road. First punctuation comes from the Latin word Punctus meaning pointer. All of the points, dots, lines, and squiggles help writers to point the way for their readers. We punctuate for two reasons, one reason is to point the way, and set the pace for the reader. The second reason is to divide words, phrases, and ideas into convenient groupings.

when considering punctuation, you will surely realize the power, and purpose of pace and space. A sentence with no punctuation is like a straight road, with only one stop sign, no room for breath or space to soak in what the reader has just read. However, a  windy road with lots of stop signs is another analogy that describes a paragraph with lots of punctuation, which is an effect that will slow the pace of the story, the writer sets the pace for strategic reasons to convey emotion, achieve clarity, and to create suspense.

If the stop sign is a period then what are the other symbols of punctuation. A comma is a speed bump,  a semi-colon is a rolling stop, a parenthetical expression is a detour, a colon is a  flashing yellow light that announces something important up ahead, and the dash is a tree branch in the middle of the road.

So you see with punctuation you begin a flow,  like driving down a long windy road, slowing for speed bumps, taking pauses, making detours, adding a blinking light, and throwing in a tree branch every now in then creates a pace for your reader to relate to, and to settle into the story.

Use this rule, but also realize you have more options than you think, and enjoy as you set the pace for your readers, I know I sure will.

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