Best Design Tools for Self-Publishing

Best Design Tools for Self-Publishing and Indie Authors

When you are a self-published or indie author, you most likely are a do-it-yourself type of human being. You are also probably a life-long learner. These habits don’t just stop at discovering how to upload your words onto Amazon or Smashwords, however.

There’s a website to design, book covers to create, and possibly even a logo to invent. In this post, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite design tools that I’ve used to create book covers, graphics, and more.


Canva is, by far, my go-to resource for all things design. The interface is simple and the number of tools, templates, and graphics they provide give you a creative boost when you are trying to work out an abstract idea into a real book cover. There is also a feature called “Design Stream” that allows you to browse thousands of created designs by other Canva users. I use it for when I need inspiration from what other people can do with this powerful design tool. There are plenty of free or low-cost graphics and design templates to keep your design expenses low.

canva design templates

The process is as simple as starting with a blank canvas (see what they did there?) or choosing one of the free or paid templates they provide and then customizing to your desire. They utilize a simple drag-and-drop system and provide a guideline system that easily assists you with lining up your design elements just how you want them. And if you prefer to use some of your own images or photos to include in your design, you can upload them to the system as well. Two thumbs up for Canva.


Snagit is a screen capture tool that has far more power than just snapping things on your screen. Snagit has a robust editor included in the tool that allows you to alter image colors, remove unwanted backgrounds, insert graphics and text onto images, or even blur out content that you don’t want others to see. It might not be as helpful for creating book covers, but it is a huge aid when you are making step-by-step or instructional blog posts. It even has screen recording capabilities if you want to explore that route.

snagit editor

Snagit isn’t free like my other two suggestions, but they do have a free trial available on their site. If you are looking just for a software tool to just do screenshots, there are many available for free. Most computers have this function built-in or you can use something like collabshot.’s tagline is “Beautiful free stock photos.” That’s right, you can get high quality, legit, and free from copyright restrictions photos from a generous community of photographers for your website and book covers. In fact, I used images I found on this site for the covers of my books Crunch Time Cam and Coaching Youth Basketball: Offensive Strategies. search

The website features a search feature where you can find the types of images you are looking for by entering a simple keyword like “basketball” or “business.” Then, will deliver the corresponding results for you to browse and choose. Hundreds of high-resolution images are added weekly, so don’t forget to check back often if they don’t have exactly what you are looking for yet.

Your Turn

I hope you now have some useful new tools to work with for your next design needs. I used a combination of these tools for all of the graphics on this blog post just to give you an idea of how valuable they can be. Do you use other design tools for self-publishing or writing? I’d love to hear about your favorites in the comment section.



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