Book Cover, Try 4

I have to admit, I had a moment last night after my last post where I thought maybe I shouldn’t be blogging about this. Because let’s be honest, my first few attempts at doing a book cover didn’t go so well, and they didn’t prove I should be the one to tell you what to do. But I did try again this afternoon, and with a little patience, I am proud of what I came up with:

blog-book-cover-post

I’m actually going to keep this one around because I do think I’ll end up using it. I love how all the colors blend together. The woman looks like my female MC, the guy is cute (some of those guys in the stock photos are NOT all that cute, LOL), and it looks more like a traditionally published book cover would look. I wish maybe the path would have had some people running on it–that would have tied in the title to the story a little better, but that’s okay. I tried to look for one, had even thought through all my searches that I had found one but didn’t bookmark it. I’ll look for it some more.

Anyway, how I did it was I started with a “base” of a texture that I found off Pixabay. I searched blue dots, and found something I liked:

blue-dots

But I realized the colors were too bright, so in the picture tools, I made them grey and white which meshed with the people better. I still needed text boxes to put the couple, the trees, and then the title and my name. I fiddled around with the placement of all three until I was satisfied. I don’t know if a person can be 100% satisfied. It’s rather like reading your work over and over again and noting all the things that you would change.

I don’t mind posting my struggles on here because I want you to know that 1) I don’t know what I’m doing, but I still don’t have to pay someone to help me, which, maybe it shouldn’t be, but is a huge pride thing for me, and 2) NEVER publish your first attempt. I went from this:

blog-post-1

To this:  blog-book-cover-post

And the difference is incredible. I didn’t ask for any extra help, I didn’t look on any blogs for extra tips (though I strongly encourage you to do whatever you need to do to create a pleasing cover). It was just me, some stubbornness, and some impatience, or patience, however you want to look at it.

I know I said this story takes place in the fall, and it does. It goes from October until February, so using a winter theme for the cover is okay. I could easily go with an autumn theme too, but the cover you end up with can vary greatly with the photos you find and can pay for.

I’ve been doing a little digging around with templates, so now that I’m satisfied, I’ll write about those next. I promise.

Thanks for reading!

Book Cover 3: Another Try

I couldn’t get it out of my head that I had a sucky cover for Running to Love. I can’t let things go, and I wanted to try again. I went through a few combinations of photos, thought more about what the book was about, and realized, again, what I realized with 1700–you can’t put your whole book on the cover.

Running to Love has certain elements: both of the characters run, hence the name. It takes place in the fall. They fall in love. They are outside a lot . . . running. Okay, you get the idea. I tried the “running” aspect of the book and it didn’t go that well, I just couldn’t find pictures that would work, or my level of expertise is such that I couldn’t make them work. So I tried the “in love” part and the “fall/autumn” part, and this is what I came up with:

blog-cover-2

It entirely misses the “running” aspect, but we’ve got the love part in there. I would need to be more careful with the photo since I just realized that woman is a brunette and my main female character is a blonde.

But this is quite an improvement over the others that I posted before. In fact, I looked up contemporary romance covers and found something similar on the covers of Bella Andre’s books, and at wits’ end, copied hers. Which, if you are running out of ideas and are going to pull your hair out at any minute, isn’t a bad idea. Especially since Bella Andre is a best-selling author, she, or her team, obviously know what they are doing. Why not learn from the best?

The only thing I could think of to do at this point, if I didn’t like this well enough, would be to maybe think of a different title. The title of the book, what the book is about, and the cover, all go together. I can’t change what the book is about, that would be silly, but I could do more to make the cover and title mesh.

Another idea I just had was to add something to the back that would depict the story was about running, say a pair of tennis shoes, or a couple running down an autumn trail. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on pictures, and on Can Stock, the photos for this cover would have cost 14 dollars. But you do have options.

Anyway, besides having to scrap the top photo because the coloring of the woman is wrong, I would maybe go with this. Perhaps I would make the bottom photo a bit smaller, make the top photo a bit bigger. Maybe make the title pop more. Play with the fonts because these are standard in Word, and maybe you want something more original.

I’m glad I can calm down now. This was bugging me because I knew I could do better. Now that I have a better feel for what I want, I’ll have better luck tinkering with it.

Okay, I’ll do cover templates another time.

Thanks for reading!

Book Cover part 2 of Infinity (because really, you could do this forever)

Probably I’m not going to go into too much more of the front cover. It’s all personal taste anyway and a lot of trial and and error. I couldn’t resist trying again, and this is what I came up with:

blog-post-1

I used a gradient for the background, I searched Pixabay it and luckily came up with the colors that I needed. I softened the photo again and added the text boxes for the title and my name. I did a separate text box for Running to and Love because the Love was spaced too far below Running for it to look good. I’m not 100% sure I would use this either, in fact, I would maybe look for a different photo. But anyway, the gradient looks nice. Play around with the fonts and sizes. Maybe add a tag line.

The how-to blog post from Joanna Penn that I referenced in my last blog post uses textures as a background filler. I tried to look for something similar here, but I couldn’t come up with anything except the color. But I only used one photo instead of mashing up three or four like she does, so that didn’t help.

Here is a list of websites I use for pictures and textures:

PIxabay

Pexels

CanStockPhoto

Dreamstime

Various

Gratisography

Textures

Textures

You’ll have to double check what the terms and conditions are of the photos and textures on these sites, but I think they are okay. Dreamstime looks like it might be a bit spendy, but even if you publish one book a year, shelling out a little bit of money isn’t too much of a big deal, especially since you’re doing the design yourself.

Maybe I’ll try one more time with a different picture. Remember, if this seems like a crap idea, you can still use the CS Cover Creator. After messing around with a cover for hours and hours it might not seem like a bad idea after a while.

Oh, hey, my next blog post will be about cover templates. I’ll look into it for ya.

 

Until next time!

Front Cover

Creating a book cover can be intimidating, and if I didn’t dish out for my ISBN numbers, I might very well hire this out. Though there is some sort of satisfaction of having done the front cover and back cover and everything in between on your own. But the ultimate goal is selling books, and people WILL judge a book by its cover, no matter what people say. If you can do a great (or even semi-decent) cover on your own, do it! Practice makes perfect, and as you can see from my two covers of 1700, you learn a little something new every day.

In keeping with the theme from previous posts, I’ll make the front cover for Running to Love. This can’t be a Word tutorial, I can only show you what I do with the pictures, so if you really don’t know anything about Word, I suggest you find a different way to make your covers. I don’t know all that Word can do either, and I find a new trick every time I go in and play around.

We’ll need to start with the template: Remember the spine is dependent on the number of pages in your book. If you have added pages or edited some more and taken some away, you’ll need to calculate the spine width again.
end-template

Choosing the photo is the most important and frustrating part. There are so many choices!

I found this one:

blog-running-to-love-photo

I didn’t pay for it, so it still has the watermarks on it. I liked the colors because I can use them for font or background color to tie it all in.

One of the frustrating things is getting it to fit. See, the picture is wider than the template. I had a hard time with figuring this out, and the thing I do is crop it so that it is as wide as the text box. If you don’t, this is what happens: click on the placement menu (the rainbow thing on the right side of the picture) and choose “in front of text” to move it around.

running-to-love-blog

running-to-love-blog-2

But moving it doesn’t help much, and neither does manipulating it to fit because it distorts the image:

running-to-love-blog-3

They are all stretchy, and this is what I did to my first cover couple. Sadness.  My son equated this with trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, and it looks terrible. I use the Snipping Tool to crop it and actually make it the same shape as the template:

running-to-love-4

running-to-love-5

That looks better, but it’s boring. Maybe we don’t have the right picture, and you would have to decide if you like it enough. Liking pictures online and liking what they would look like on the cover of a book are completely different. I’m going to play around and see what happens.

running-to-love-6

I don’t like the title, I don’t think it’s using the space the way it could. But I like the color theme I have going and it could easily keep going on to the spine and the back cover. How I did it was I had to put three text boxes in the template text box. One at the top which I filled with her shirt color then I softened the edges, the middle text box for the picture, and the bottom text box for the color which I filled with his shirt color and I also softened the edges. Choose no outline for the text boxes so the boxes don’t show up.

I did something to the title font, which I do not care for, and I do not think it would print well either. I like the rest, though, so let’s play around with the title.

running-to-love-7

That really isn’t too bad. I like how the colors blend together. If the spine is thick enough, I may split the picture in two and have her on the spine and him on the back cover. You can flip the pictures so they are mirror images of themselves, so they aren’t exactly the same.

In terms of changing the photo, I used the criss-cross etching in the photo effects and I softened the edges. Both of those options show up under Picture Tools when the text box containing the photo is selected. It looks a little cheesy, I’ll give you that, but you’re not going to get the same kind of covers you’re going to find at the bookstore. CreateSpace won’t emboss the title or your name, and you can’t get the cheap cardboard feel. Which is good for quality, bad for making your book stand out as an indie.

I do need to watch out though since I used the soft edges technique for 1700 and I don’t want all my books to look the same. Joanna Penn from @thecreativepenn has some great ideas when it comes to book covers, and I’ll leave you with the link to her blog post here.

I’ll post a little more about front covers soon, and maybe have another go at the front. I wouldn’t publish Running to Love with that cover, but you’ll go through a few covers before you hit the right combination of fonts, effects, and pictures. There’s no shame in trying–it’s the only way you’ll see what you like and what you don’t.

Talk soon!

GIMP

Gimp is a photo manipulation software that is free and can be found here. You don’t need to know how to use all the features for it to be of use to you. I suggest you download it, even if you’ve never heard of it before. There are tutorials online, and they can help you figure out how to change the photos for your book cover, website, and blog posts. I don’t know my way around it very well, but I use it to change dpi/ppi of a photo then do the rest in Word.

Once you have it downloaded, look at what you can do with it. Play around with the filters. I’m more comfortable in Word. Admittedly, GIMP can do more, so if you plan on publishing frequently, it might be worth taking some time to watch the tutorials.

filters

Even if you pay for a photo, chances are someone has used it first or will use it in the future. Incidentally, after I changed my cover for 1700, I found someone on Twitter who used the same picture I had:

glad-i-changed-the-cover

I am really glad I changed the cover! It’s a nice cover, but looks waaaaayyyyy too much like the one I used to have. Anyway, so manipulating the photo as much as you can, and/or using it with other photos, will lessen the chance you’ll have the same cover as someone else.

I use GIMP mainly to change the dpi/ppi, or dots per inch/pixels per inch. Look at this sexy guy–well, he’s sexy behind the menu. His dpi is only 72. You can see that in the X and Y resolution. I got there by clicking on the Image tab in the menu between View and Layer. Change them to 300 and click Scale. CreateSpace wants your images at 300 dpi/ppi. I read somewhere that going higher won’t do anything miraculous, so I haven’t bothered.

gimp-image-menu

300-dpi

Now you need to save it. Go into File and click Export As (about 3/4 down the menu). This will save your photo as the JPG you need to use in your Word document for your front or back cover. (Hi, sexy guy! We can see you now!)

gimp-saving

exporting-images

Click Export and it will save to wherever your computer saves your pictures.

That will save you some issues with photos. Sometimes you can buy them or download them at 300 dpi/ppi from the start, but it’s always a good idea to load the picture into GIMP and check to be sure. As I know, it certainly sucks to go through all that work on your cover only for CS to tell you in an email your photos aren’t up to snuff. How disappointing when you were hoping to order your proof! Publishing is hard enough as it is without making mistakes with things you could avoid. Too bad we don’t know what we don’t know until we need to know it.

Anyway, play around with the filters, have fun making your pictures different. Just for fun, I gave my man a sepia tone with the Colors, then coffee stains with the Decor under the Filters tab in the menu. As always, keep a copy of your picture just in case you do something you regret and you need to start over. 

(Thanks to Pinterest for the picture.)

Next time I’ll get to the cover! Thanks for reading!

sexy-tattoo-guy

 

Book Cover: Bits and Pieces

I’m sorry it’s been so long since my last post. I’ve been busy writing, starting a new novella series at the beginning of August and hoping to finish it this month.

I also have another reason I didn’t want to write this next blog post: I didn’t feel like I knew enough to be coaching anyone on how to make a cover. Let’s face it, the original cover to The Corner of 1700 Hamilton was a mess, and how I was ever proud of it is beyond comprehension. If you don’t remember what it looks like here:

cover example for blog

Is it the worst cover ever? No. But it’s not the best either. I hate where my name is, I dislike the picture. And what is the goofy quote on the back?  No one said that to me. At the time I was going through Pixabay, I was adamant that I didn’t want to spend money on the picture (and going back to my blog on the subject you can probably tell), but when I started thinking I really needed to redo my cover and fix the formatting mistakes inside, I realized that I was going to have to find a picture. A good picture. Maybe a picture that costs a little money. Once I found a picture, things kind of fell into place for me. This is the cover I recently submitted to CreateSpace (that was accepted, squee!)

new-cover-snip

My name is better, the picture more accurately depicts what the book is about, the ghost’s quote is gone. I do have the proof back and I have to say the only little tiny mistake is my name on the spine is not 100% in line with the title. But it’s a small thing, compared to the train wreck above, I’m going to let it slide. Also, the imprint picture on the spine is a little more to the right, but I think that’s not a big deal either. Truthfully, 1700 is thin, and to fit anything on the spine and make it look good enough, is good enough for me.

Does this mean I feel more prepared to give advice, yes and no. I did get two warnings in my congratulations email. One was a warning saying my cover contained a picture that was less than 200 DPI, or dots per inch. CreateSpace wants them all at 300 dpi or there is a chance they will be printed blurry pixelated. I knew the one I purchased for my cover was 300 DPI, but I totally forgot about my imprint picture. It was only 79 DPI (I’ll tell you how to fix that later), but I fixed it so future books will won’t have that issue. (It did print fine, by the way; no harm done.)

The second warning I got from CS was a thing called transparency, that they would have to “flatten” the images and that could cause issues. When you add text boxes or layer pictures on top of each other, they “float”  and in design software programs, there is a way to “flatten” all the floating images to make them one image. Rather like ironing on a decal to a shirt or jeans. Two, (or three or for or five) pictures become one. I had to look this up because I didn’t want to keep getting this error message. But I don’t know how to use any design software, (the whole reason for this blog series, really) and I will never be able to do my covers that way. I should never say never, ecause I might learn a software program or get rich enough to hire a designer, but for now, I will always do my covers in Word, and I honestly do not see a problem with letting CS do the flattening for you. You can do a search on your own for other testimonies, but with the two covers I have done, I haven’t seen an issue with them doing this. Any mistakes made have been the fault of the operator, not the machine.

So yes, I do feel a little more confident that I can tell you how to do an easy cover. I’ll end this post by telling you two things I needed. 1) I bought my picture from Can Stock Photo for $8.00. You do have to be careful when even purchasing a photo to make sure you can use it for commercial use. On this website you can, I looked up their terms of service, but if this book ever made more than $500,000 dollars, I would owe them. Not likely, but it’s always good to know. The second thing I would advise you to do is download GIMP. It is a FREE software program like Photoshop, and while it does have some nice artistic effects you can play around with for a cover photo, I use it to check DPI and to change it if necessary. That IS an issue I can control, and in the next blog post, I’ll tell you how to do it.

That’s all for now, and I hope you like the new cover!

Oh, I got the proof back, here’s how it looks:

Thanks for reading, and I  hope you like the new cover as much as I do!

 

Book Cover: Font

Now, I guess I’m lame because it wasn’t until recently I taught myself how to add a font to my font choices in Word. When I published 1700, I used what was available because it was easier, and publishing for the first time, I had other things on my mind. But if you have been looking at book covers and want a cool font, I’ll tell you how to get it, if you don’t already know. Do you ever feel late to the party, like everyone knows something and you don’t? I felt like that with font, but what the heck? If I didn’t know about it, chances are there may be someone out there who doesn’t know it either.

The first thing is to search and find a site that offers font free for commercial use. It’s what I always tell you when you’re looking for something online to use in, or for, your book. I downloaded a few fonts from this website. You’ll have to make sure if you use this site, you are using the ones free for commercial use because there are some fonts that are only for personal use. But you can look for your own website, too.

After you choose one and download it, it looks like this in my Downloads file.

font-blog-post

I downloaded a font called Coraline’s Cat Regular. I don’t know where I’ll ever use it, but it looks cool. And I made sure it was free for commercial use.

Next, open the OpenType font file:

font-blog-post-2

You’ll get a preview of the font with the Install option:

font-blog-post-3

Click on Install and it will show up in your Word font menu. I had to scroll down and look for it, but it was there:

font-blog-post-4

And that’s it. It’s such a little thing, but one that could make a big difference on your cover.

Have fun!

Your Book Cover: Part 4

Google book covers and unbelievably, this is one topic on which almost EVERYONE agrees: book covers are important. They catch the eye of a potential reader. Unless you are famous already and people are buying your book because of your name and not because the cover caught their eye, people will want to see a pleasing cover that depicts what genre your book is and what it is about. Not only that, but it has to look good small. Thumbnails are what people see online, and if you make your print too small, readers could pass you by.

I think people can get caught up in designing the cover, and that necessarily isn’t a good thing. Some books are long and have many parts. Can you allude to every single scene in your book with the cover picture? No. But that doesn’t mean some haven’t tried. Unfortunately, a lot of readers will equate a bad cover with bad writing. It’s not fair, but I’ve been turned off by covers, and you probably have too. There’s a website dedicated to lousy book covers and you can find it here.

You don’t have to design the cover yourself. If you’re on Twitter all you need to do is tweet, “I need a cover,” and within half an hour I bet you would have a dozen choices in designers you could hire. You can go on Fiverr and find a graphic artist. You can look there for editing, formatting, marketing, or whatever else you think you need help with. (I’ve never used products or services on that site, so this is not a recommendation, only an option.) You could trade services with someone: they design your cover, you edit, or beta read their next novel. Maybe you have a technical school near you that offers a graphic design program. You could reach out to the instructors there and ask if a student would like to earn a little cash on the side. Maybe your neighbor has a high-schooler who knows a little something about Photoshop.

Whatever the case, you might have spent money on your ISBN numbers and maybe paid an editor, so you’re already in the hole with this novel and don’t want to pay out any more. I get that, and that was pretty much my situation by this point too. But I won’t lie, I was pretty proud I did my cover myself and while I could have benefited from being more patient, a mistake I won’t make again, it turned out okay. Granted, I wrote 1700 SPECIFICALLY to get my feet wet in the indie-publishing pool (thanks, Jewel!). It was not a project near and dear to my heart (sorry Ben and Lila), it was not a labor of love. I didn’t spend five years writing it. So if you handle your manuscript like it’s gold,  you plan to market and advertise the hell out of it, and you want a fantastic cover, I would encourage you to get help, at least a little guidance, because I can only tell you what I can tell you, and it isn’t too much.

Anyway, I knew this blog post was coming, so I have been saving simple covers I like, but again, this is not an endorsement. I like the simplicity of them, and I looked for covers I knew I (and you) could replicate in Word.

This one pops up in my Twitter feed a lot and I love the simplicity of it. It’s a Romance, just looking at the cover tells you that. There aren’t a million things going on. The author made the back cover color match the front font. I think the whole thing works well, and it consists of only one picture, some text, and the author name. The COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL, Amazon added, as I took a screen shot of the book on Amazon’s site.

This one doesn’t give you any clue to what it’s about, only probably (hopefully) it takes place in the winter. But I do like how simple it is, and it’s an example that even if you’re working with just one picture, you can break it up with text boxes to make it look different. The back is the same picture, only faded, with the blurb typed over it.

She did it again here, which is a great idea if you are writing a series.

Sherry Lewis is a bigger name, but she still takes advantage of a single photo with some pretty font. I love the cover for A Thirty-Something Girl. I love the title, I love her name at the bottom, not centered. It’s elegant, simple, pretty. I didn’t snag the backs for these, but I hope you’re getting an idea of what you can do by yourself. You ARE NOT limited if you don’t have help. You can make a decent cover. You have options.

Take your time looking for a photo you want to use. Look through lots of sites (though please make sure the pic is available for commercial use, or pay the fee to buy it), or take your own photo. (I would recommend using a camera, not the one on your phone because you want a very clear picture, and CreateSpace will not print something pixilated, and you won’t want to either.)

I think that is is for now. I’ll make a fake cover for Running to Love in the next blog post.

Until next time!

Your Book Cover: Part 3 (Template)

This blog post is archived. I use the measurements to create the canvas size you need for your book’s template in Canva. Canva is a much better way to make book covers than Word, but (crazy enough) I hadn’t heard of Canva yet, and was doing book covers the hard way. Thank you. VMR 

This blog post is only going to consist of the directions on how to make your cover template using Word. I know many of you will drop off after you get it, and that’s cool. You just want the formula for those sweet text boxes, and I understand that completely. So without further ado . . .

Before we go into creating a new Word file, you need to have some numbers handy:

First, your spine width. We already have that figured out, right? (Running to Love’s was .64″.)

Second,  what is the trim size of your book? Did you decide 5×8, 6×9?  We need it to calculate the size for the Page Layout:

(Width of trim size x 2) + spine width = Width of cover trim size
I would choose 5×8, so Running to Love’s Width would be 5×2+.64, so 10+.64= 10.64
(What you are doing is adding the width of the back cover, the width of the spine, the width of the front cover.)

Height of your trim size = Height of cover
Running to Love’s would be 8.

Add .25 to both: (These are the measurements you’ll need for Step One, below.)
Width ( 10.64 + .25 =  10.89 )
and Height ( 8 + .25 = 8.25 )
This is for bleed so that your images are going all the way to the edge of the cover. Make sure your text is not near the edge of the text boxes or it will be in the bleed area and may get cut off during printing.

cover template with bleed

Keep your text out of the red areas. The template you’re making won’t have the red areas, so you’ll have to guess.

Now that you have the dimensions you’ll need I’ll type out the instructions.

Open a new Word Document. (I’m using Office 365.)

Please remember to save often.

1. Set the paper size in the Page Setup Menu in Layout. In Page Setup, choose more Page Sizes at the bottom of the list, and enter the width and height for your cover file. Ignore the error message if you get one.

page set up

error message

2. In the Layout Menu under the Page Setup tab, set Margins (choose custom margins at the bottom of the menu) to 0. I didn’t get an error message, but I’m using Office 365. Just ignore it if you get one.

3. Under the Insert Tab, choose Text Box, and make one text box. Change the dimensions to the cover of your book: 5×8, 6×9, etc. This will be your front cover.

2017-04-06

4. Insert another text box that will be the spine. Use the width you calculated, and the height is the same.

2017-04-06 (1)

5. Insert another text box that will be the back cover:

2017-04-06 (2)

If they don’t fit, move them around. The lines of the right side of the back cover and the left side of the spine will overlap to look like one line. The same with the right side of the spine and the left side of the front cover. If your mouse isn’t accurate, or your hand is shaky, use the arrow keys on your keyboard.

2017-04-06 (3)

It’s very important that you move these boxes, not stretch them so they touch–that changes their size and will distort your cover.

6. Add a barcode box. A quick search says they are: width 2″ and height 1.2″ The template above also has the dimensions in the yellow barcode box. Use a small .25″ x .25″ to place the barcode box, then delete it. Zoom in so you are accurate. You don’t want to have CreateSpace move it because that might mess up what you’ve got going on back there. They may not even move it, they may just tell you to redo it. Let’s not find out.

2017-04-06 (4)

2017-04-06 (5)

So this is the finished product. Keep copies of it everywhere because you’ll be able to use it for other books. You’ll need to change the Page Layout dimensions to change the spine because your books won’t all the be the same length, and the front and back text box dimensions, if you change your trim size. There is a bit of math involved, but please remember to have a finished and formatted manuscript before you do any of that.

I think that’s it.

The next blog post will be about inserting a picture on the front cover. I’ve been on the lookout for a while for covers that simply use a picture with text on top of it for title and Author’s name. Surprisingly, you can make some very pretty covers. 🙂

Your Book Cover: Part 2 of I Don’t Know? 5?

This blog post is archived. While the measurements (and how to calculate them) are still spot on, I no longer do my book covers in Word. You can use the same measurements to figure out the height and width of the canvas you would need to make your cover in Canva.  Thank you! VMR 

Every book cover needs a template. You need to create the template for the back, spine, and front. This is what I am going to give you directions to make:

template picture for blog

Pretty cool, huh? You have the back cover, (left) the little rectangle where the barcode and ISBN number are going to be, the spine, and the front cover. This is a picture of the template I made in Word.

Let’s first figure out the spine. There’s an easy way and a hard way. There’s *whispers* math involved in the hard way. I’ll tell you how to do it first, so if you like doing things the hard way, you don’t have to stop in the middle of the instructions to figure it out.

You need to decide if you’re using white or cream paper. Apparently cream paper is a little thicker? I have no idea. Anyway, use these formulas that I pulled from CreateSpace:

white paper: spine width = number of pages x 0.002252 inches

cream paper: spine width = number of pages x 0.0025 inches.

This is why we waited to do the cover until after your manuscript was formatted into the template. The first time I did my cover I didn’t wait so my spine was off. I used the regular number of manuscript pages. I didn’t have my front matter included, or my about the author page in the back. I didn’t have my gutter figured in there, or margins, or headers and footers, which all takes up space, adds pages and makes your spine thicker.

Take the number of pages of your completed, formatted manuscript and use the formula above. For Running to Love, unformatted, my page count is 258. I would choose cream paper so the formula would be 258 x 0.0025 inches = 0.645.   This is how thick your spine is. So, when you create the text box for the cover, the width of the text box would be 0.645 inches by the height of the paper (8.5 inches) since the spine goes from the top of the page to the bottom.

That’s the hard, sucky way. That’s the way I did it. There’s an easy way. Jewel showed me the easy way after I did mine the hard way.

CreateSpace wants you to have as easy an experience as possible. But if you don’t know where to look for stuff, you may not know it even exists. I didn’t know CreateSpace had a cover template creator until Jewel told me. You can log into your CreateSpace account and search book cover templates. It’s here, and this is what you see:

Cover template creator

Choose the interior type. Again, I’m assuming you don’t need any color pages so use Black and White. It will also ask you if you want to see the template with or without bleed. Choose bleed. Bleeding is when the picture goes past the edge of the paper. It is a margin of error for when your book is cut to trim size. When you create your cover, you don’t want words inside the bleed because they could get cut off. There is a great article about bleed here.

The trim size is the size of your book. Did you choose 5×8? 6×9? Bigger? Again, your choice.

Enter the number pages from your formatted manuscript.

Choose the page color.

Click build template.

These are my choices:

cover template choices

This is what I get:

cover template download

Download the file. Open the zip file and open the PDF. This is what you’ll see:

cover template with bleed

See the small print on the spine? It says my spine width is 0.64 inches. What did we figure when we did it with math? 0.645. Not too shabby. But the template shows you a lot of things: bleed, the size of the other text boxes, the barcode box. Unfortunately, unless you know what to do with the PDF, you can’t do anything with it. It’s a picture. I don’t know how to layer a picture over a picture. Maybe you or someone you know does, and this is all you needed. That’s great, and I’m really happy for you! You’re one step ahead of a lot of people. If you’re like me, you’ll be using the cover template creator as a quick reference for dimensions and then actually making the text boxes that will make your template.

I’ll stop here for now. In the next blog post, I’ll type out the instructions on how to create the text boxes so you can make your own template. The great news is, you only have to do it once. Then you can just adjust the spine when you publish something else.

Until later!