When you’re ready to have your book printed with CreateSpace and you’re planning on tackling the cover on your own it can seem rather daunting. It certainly terrified me to begin with and I only very recently updated my covers from the originals I made using the CreateSpace online cover creator. There’s nothing wrong with using that though. It depends on you entirely. Today I’ll show you how to make a PDF cover using their downloadable template. Once you’ve finished the interior of your book and have the final page count, go to the CreateSpace Template Generator and fill in all the required fields.
- Click on screenshots to enlarge.
Click on Build Template and it will download a zipped file containing two templates. One PDF and one PNG. Drag the PNG across to the folder that you’ve allocated for all the elements of your cover design.
For some reason these templates come with a lot of white space around them – I suggest cropping it away to avoid straining your eyeballs overly. Another odd thing I’ve noticed with the templates is that the page counts written on them are generally rounded off. You can fiddle around with the generator until you get the exact count, although I just used the one I got. They know what they’re up to I’m sure.
You’re going to need to open this template with design software. You could use whatever you have such as Photoshop or Gimp – anything with layers. I’ll stick with my favourite for this sort of thing, my good old workhorse, the free Paint.NET. I’ve mentioned Paint.NET lots of times before so I won’t go into the whole thing again – just the steps you’ll need to take for this. If you don’t have any design software yet, go ahead and download this. As well as being free they have loads of plugins and tutorials on their site for you to get up to speed with it.
Before you load the template up – using File > Open on Paint.NET, double check that none of the elements of your cover are sized wider or higher than the template supplied. The original is 5700 x 3900 which becomes smaller after cropping. Also make sure that all images have a quality of 300dpi. You can check this in Paint.NET too by clicking on the Image tab and having a look at what comes up when you select Resize from the box there.The pink outer line (that I believe is referred to as the red line even though it’s all pink to me) is split by a dotted black line. Everything that you place below it is safe. Nothing must be placed above it that you’re going to mind losing in the trim process. Make sure that no typography creeps into any part of the pink as well as anything key to your design. Even though a portion of it may be trimmed away, it must still be filled to the very edge of all the pink. The black dotted lines running through the pink on the spine are your fold lines so make sure that your spine lettering or artwork is kept well away from them.
You can add elements in any order that you want. I just find it easier working from right to left. Click on the Layer tab in Paint.NET and select Import From File, browse for your cover and load it up.
Using the little tabs in the corners, stretch it out to fit or move it around by clicking on the image and moving it to where you want it. The easiest way that I’ve found is to get it lined up exactly in the top right hand corner and then stretching it out to fit.
At any point in this process you can toggle between layers, but I purposely made this cover without doing so for anyone who finds the thought of fiddling with layers too much for now. The nicest and easiest trick to use is to change the opacity so that you can still see your cover, but you can also see through it to the template below. To make the layer you’re working on see-through click on the properties box in the bottom right hand corner of your screen and change it. Normal 100% opacity is set at 255, so try 100 to 150 to see the template too. Don’t forget to change it back to 255 when you’re done or you’re going to end up with the template being an actual part of your cover design.
Next is the spine. Create yours facing the usual way, but rotate it to upright before loading it up.
This way it will remain straight and all you have to do is stretch it out to the fold lines. Double check that there are no gaps left in between. Each time you use Import From File to add another element you are creating a new layer, so whatever you do there will have no effect on the layers below.
Finally add your back cover, making sure that there is nothing important in the barcode area or it will just get covered up, and Save As JPG. Open the JPG in your photo viewer and if you’re happy with it Print it as a PDF file. This will be what you’ll load up to CreateSpace. Job done.
If this seems like something you’re not ready to do, then definitely use the CreateSpace online cover creator. You should still load up your own cover design and back though rather than use theirs so as to not see your cover on other books all over the place. It’s easy to use and the only drawback I found with it was not having a greater selection of colours for the spines of books. Either way you decide to go, you can still end up with a fabulous cover for your book.