1 Jan 2016: How to create a book cover for CreateSpace

YEAH! I finally got my book cover accepted by CreateSpace.  It only took FIVE attempts! So with this in mind, I thought I’d supplement CreateSpace’s rather sketchy instructions with my own journey.

So to start, you go on CreateSpace and download the template which will be the exact size for your book size, the number of pages in your book and book type.  In my case this was 5.5 by 8.5, 454 pages and black and white interior on white pages. The finished product you upload onto CreateSpace has to be a PDF but you can download the template as a PDF and I think a TIFF. This was mine:

BookCover5_5x8_5_BW_460

Before you start, you’ll need to have a barcode that’s hooked up to your book’s ISBN number.  If you just take the FREE ISBN number that CreateSpace offers, I’m not sure how that works.  Since I’m a writer who wants to keep control of my book, I chose to buy my own ISBN from Bowker and purchased my barcode from them as well.  On Bowker’s website, you tie the barcode to the ISBN for you book.  You’ll need the barcode you then download off their site to insert onto the back cover. Why did I buy one instead of take the free one? Becuase if Amazon isn’t the big deal anymore and I want to move my book to the new and better online book retailer, you can’t take that free ISBN with you.  GOTCHA! Yep, that’s how they hook you and keep you on their site.

If you’re already designed the cover for the Ebook as I had, you’ll then need to start by creating the back cover and a spine.  To do the back cover, I took the book blurb I had on Amazon for the ebook and jazzed it up a bit to be appealing to someone picking up the paperback.  I also designed it to match well with the cover art. As with my covers, I used a combination of programs to create my back cover and spine.  I used my Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 and the online program of http://www.picmonkey.com. As instructed on the template, I placed my barcode in the area indicated.

Back cover for blog

Back Cover of my book

Book Spine Image

Book Spine Image

For the front cover, the image was pretty close to the dimensions the template indicated so I just stretched it out to fill the required area.  Thankfully, it didn’t mess with the image itself in an undesirable way. Here’s what I then saved as a PDF and uploaded to CreateSpace along with my book interior:

Attempt #1

Attempt #1

I was then notified that though my book interior had been accepted (YAHOO!!!) by book cover had been rejected.  Not understanding the goblygook techno speak of the email, I had CreateSpace call me from the help page.  The gal who I talked to said the back and spine were fine, but the cover image needed to extend into the pink area so they’d have some trim to play with. I specifically asked about the pink trim area.  Were you supposed to see it in the image I uploaded?  In reply, she SPECIFCALLY said YES. (This is important later on) This sounded odd to me, but seemed an easy fix.  I then redid the cover to allow for some area on the top, bottom and right side for them to trim off if need be without ruining the artistic integrity of the cover image. Here’s what I then uploaded to replace Attempt #1:

Attempt #2

Attempt #2

A day later I got the email saying that this image had been accepted.  I then ordered a hard copy proof which arrived a few days later in the mail.

P1050452

Spine ImageI thought the cover looked fine, but the title on the spine seemed a little high when it got trimmed.  Wasn’t sure why it was trimmed when the cover wasn’t?!?!?! But whatever.  I tweaked the spine and uploaded the new and improved cover to CreateSpace.

Attempt #3

Attempt #3

There was no reason this one should be rejected, right?  WRONG! Even though I really hadn’t changed anything, it was indeed rejected.  Come on, REALLY! So again I spoke to CreateSpace. This time they told me that all the edges had to be even, that the front over was bigger than the spine and back.  I politely told the lady that the other gal I’d spoken to told me to do it this way and that it had been approved and printed before like this.  After a brief hold she told me that it had mistakenly been approved before, that it should have been rejected. WTF! So doing as she said, I trimmed the cover image and uploaded Attempt #4:

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00048]

Attempt #4

And the next morning I got the email saying it was rejected.  At this point I was pretty pissed to say the least.  So again I had CreateSpace call me, and believe it or not, I got the same lady I’d spoken to the day before! She then proceeded to tell me it was rejected because you’re not supposed to have any of the pink trim area showing!  Yeah, refer to my first conversation with them above where they specifically said I was supposed to leave the pink in.  Honestly, I’d have had this done with attempt #2 if the CreateSpace help folks knew anything.  I hate to say they don’t have a clue … but …

Anyway, she said I needed to cover all the pink trim area with the image and that they’d “possibly” trim that off in the printing process.  So again, I went back to the drawing board.  The spine was fine, but I wasn’t sure the back could take the trim without it looking odd.  So I expanded the black on the sides so the text wasn’t so close to possible trim areas.  The front had to be redone as well.  I was afraid the work PURITY was too close to the edge and a trim on the side would put it right on the edge.  I also lowered my name at the top and raised up Vol I from the bottom.  Basically I learned that you have to add areas around the edges that can be cut from the image and you won’t cry about. Yes, this sucks, but it seems to be the way it is.

My other problem at this point was that the way I was saving it as a PDF wasn’t going to work anymore.  Per a friend’s suggestion, I’d downloaded a program called CutePDF that allowed me to hit print on an image and it would save it as a PDF for me.  This was fine, except that the PDF needed to be formatted to a page size as if it were really being printed. For example, see the white bars at the top and bottom? With them added, the doc is standard Letter Size for printing. Can’t have those bars this time.

Margins Example

So I broke down and bought a subscription to Adobe Acrobat so I could create a PDF without those white bars. And so I uploaded attempt #5:

Attempt #5

Attempt #5

Attempt #5 was accepted!! But with all this going on I thought it prudent to order another proof.  So this came in the mail. The left cover is the new one.  You can see where I moved the text for my name down and Purity to the left . It looks fine.  The one thing I wasn’t expecting was for the hair to look so different since I hadn’t changed that at all.  When it was printed the second time, it’s redder and little fuzzy.  It’s not horrible, but I much prefer the first printing.  The spine looked much better on the second proof.

Second Book

2nd Proof on Left — 1st Proof on Right. It’s hard to tell but the coloring is different. Left one is redder than Right.

 

Second Book Spine

First Proof on Top — Second Proof on Bottom with adjusted text.

And so I approved the proof yesterday and according to CreateSpace it should be up for sale on Amazon in 3-5 days. YEAH.

In conclusion, I hope this helps someone who is looking to do a print version of their book with CreateSpace.  I certainly had to learn the hard way and hope that my experiences will help someone else’s experience go better than mine did.

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of The Purity of Blood novel series and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

I’d love to hear from you! So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind.

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