Before you start
1-In order to design you final cover you need the final, formatted PDF of the interior of the book. I once made the mistake of preparing my cover before proofing. The PDF ended up one page short and, believe it or not, I had to adjust the cover (after receiving a messed up proof).
2-Don’t make the mistake of selecting a very small type for your interior! I know that the thinner the book the cheaper the cost; but no one will buy a slim-looking book with illegible type. I recommend at least size 12 of a simple, standard type. I personally use a type 14.
3-Decide the size of your book. Don’t choose lightly, go to a bookstore or a library and check books in your genre. Which size is more common? What size do you like best?
For my books I chose 8.5” (hight) and 5.5” (wide). This is the size of the front (or back) cover. The width of the spine will depend on the number of pages, your printer of choice, and the type of paper you select.
Preparing a paperback cover for Create Space:
1-Calculate the spine width of your book:
For cream paper (this is what I use and recommend. If you are a reader you know that it can be quite tiring to stare at white paper!) with a black and white interior multiply the total number of pages in your PDF by 0.0025 to obtain the spine width in inches. For white paper with a black and white interior multiply page number by 0.002252. For color interior books multiply page count by 0.002347
To find the total page number of your PDF: open the PDF and look at the total as indicated in the figure below.
2-Calculate the overall size of your cover.
The cover will need to be designed as front cover, spine, and back cover, all in one file as below. To do this you have to add the width of the front cover, the width of the spine, the width of the back cover and 0.125” of bleeding space for each cover (back and front).
Add to the height of your book 0.25” of bleeding space (0.125” at the top and 0.125” at the bottom). Ex. For the book above (5.5” tall) height: 0.125”+ 5.5” +0.125”= 5.75”
3-Create a file in whichever program you use with the correct width and height. Choose a resolution of 300 pixels/inch and CYMK color (not RGB! CYMK is recommended for printing). I use Adobe Photoshop and this is what the dialogue window looks like:
Example: in the cover below I used:
- Guides 0.125” from each border (bleed space, no writing or important drawing should be past these guides; this space cut be cut in print)
-Guides to mark the spine
-Guides inside the spine to mark a 0.125 allowance. No text should be in these spaces (it’s like a bleed space for the spine)
-Guides to indicate the center of the front cover, spine, and back cover
-Horizontal guides to make sure elements like the soccer ball or the volume number are aligned with other books within the series
Preparing a paperback cover for IngramSpark:
IngramSpark makes it easy for you to make a cover by providing a template.
1-Upload your interior PDF file
2-While logged into IngramSpark click the help tab at the top right of the page, and then choose tools on the left menu. Click on the cover template generator (or click the link to go there directly) and provide the information required. Select PDF as an option (unless you are working with inDesign). IngramSpark will e-mail you a perfect template PDF.
3-Open the perfect template PDF in photoshop and check what’s the spine width:
5-Make a copy of your photoshop cover file that you prepared for create space and change the size (it will be a minimal change) or, if you did not prepare a file for Create Space, create a new file of the desired size
6-Once you have finished creating your cover, drag the perfect template on the top of your cover, and make sure your guides are where they should be. Make the layer invisible or delete it once you are finished. Save as described above ^_^
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Who am I to give you advice?
I am an indie writer with big dreams and I want you to avoid doing all the mistakes I had to go through to get to where I finally am ;) I am the author of the Italian Saga (#TIS): an irreverent indie series taking place in Italy and speaking of love, pain, and happiness with a healthy dose of humor <3