You really need photoshop or some sort of photo editing software! I love photoshop elements, costs about $120, so it doesn't break the bank! You're probably asking, "Why do we need a photo editing software, Tracy!? After all, aren't we talking about self-publishing a novel!?
It's all about the cover! With my photo editing software I was able to design my cover by finding commercially free images on Pixabuy and blending and editing how I desired. You can pick layers of colors and blend as you wish. Also, the text! This was my most painful selection! As noted in another blog...so I won't belabor it here!
Amazon KDP is who I chose to upload my manuscript to. It was super easy once I completed the necessary information about my novel. I spent most time with the front cover, back cover and spine. Amazon provides a downloadable template (depending on your book size and paperback or hardcover - yes there are different measurements!
Photoshop was key in allowing me to adjust the opacity on the template so that the margins were visible as I placed my pdf files on top. I spent hours one night determined to get the cover uploaded. I was learning as I went so hopefully next time won't take as long. It was a sequence of create in photoshop, save as both a psd file and jpeg file, convert to pdf and load into Amazon KDP.
There are companies that offer book design services and can help you with this! I was determined to do it myself!