If you are selling an eBook, studies show that having an image of the book creates an increase in sales. A 3D cover gives the customer the feeling that they are actually getting SOMETHING for their money, not just a bunch of digital 1s and 0s.
There are several ways of creating an image for you to use. The first is to pay a designer to create one for you. The advantages of this are that you can usually receive an image or collection of images (in various sizes) that really looks nice. However, these custom images can be costly…between $50 and $200. And frequently it takes several iterations before the designer makes a 3D cover that matches exactly what you need.
The second method is to buy Adobe Photoshop and an Action Script. An Action Script is like a macro or mini-program within Photoshop. In the case of creating a 3D book cover, it involves converting the flat image and giving it effects like depth perspective, reflection, shadow, etc. There are existing templates and scripts for Photoshop that produce some really beautiful images. The difficulty is that both Photoshop and the Action Scripts are fairly pricey and have a bit of a learning curve. Photoshop costs $300 and the popular scripts for the 3D covers run about $50 to $100.
The third method is to use GIMP. GIMP is a free graphic software package that is as close to Photoshop you can get. There are some technical differences between GIMP and Photoshop which high-end graphic designers will argue about. But for the purposes of designing your own 3D book cover, GIMP can produce the same quality image as Photoshop.
GIMP is ‘open-source’ software. It is not owned by any one company. It is available freely on the internet.
There are several steps to creating a photo-realistic 3D cover. First, the image actually consists of several smaller images: the face, the spine, and the top edge. Reflections are created for the face and spine layers. Highlights are added to give texture to the book, especially at the bend and top edge. Those ‘layers’ are then wrapped around a box within GIMP.
One of the best things about mastering the GIMP technique is that GIMP can open Photoshop templates. There are free book cover templates available on the internet, but they are all in PSD files, which is Photoshop’s format. Those free files can then be opened by GIMP, and the technique for wrapping can then be applied to those files as well, all without having to pay for Photoshop!
In addition to being fun, designing your own 3D Book covers can be profitable. Many internet marketers are looking for graphics to go with their products. Once you learn how to create those graphics, you then have the ability to sell them! Search Internet Marketing forums for people looking to buy graphics, or sign up with one of the many freelance design websites on the internet.
However you choose to create your 3D book cover, always strive for top quality results. A poor image, such as those created by free websites, can hurt your eBook sales. It is better to have NO image than to have a bad one.