Starting out as an indie author: Creating a wraparound cover for your print book

Last week, I provided some tips on how to format the interior of your book for print on demand. This week I will finish the POD publishing lesson by showing you a little on how to make the wraparound cover that you need for a print book.

The first thing you will need is a template in the size you want with the spine the correct width for the length of your book. You can either create this yourself using the instructions on your publishing site (here for CreateSpace), or download the template built by CreateSpace when you enter the details for your book, which you can do here:

https://www.createspace.com/Help/Book/Artwork.do

Createspace now also has a Cover Creator that you can use as well, but of course it’s more limited than creating your own, and it assumes that you do not yet have an ebook cover already designed. I have not used it, so I can’t say much about it. I only glanced through the designs available and didn’t see any for pre-designed front covers.

The formatted interior of Chameleon in a Mirror came out to 383 pages, and I want to use cream paper rather than white, which to me looks more professional. This is what the template looks like that CS built for the book:
CreateSpace Cover template

Once I have the template, I open it in Photoshop and change the resolution to 300 dpi. I make a copy of the layer, and change one of the two to the background.

Then I drag my ebook cover image into Photoshop, create a layer from it, and drag that onto my paperback cover template, like so:

I make another copy of the layer based on the template. Using the eyedrop tool, I take a color on the edge of my ebook cover and fill this new layer with the chosen color. This is to make sure that I will not end up with any white edges when the paperback book is created — besides having a color on the spine and back that fits with the color scheme of the front cover image. My PSD file now looks like this:

Next I create the text layers for the spine, the title and the author name. Choosing the text layers one at a time, I rotate them and move them to where I want them on the spine. (In my ancient version of Photoshop, this is in the Edit menu under Transform / Rotate 90°.) Of course, if you don’t use different fonts for the author name and title, this would be only a one step process. Here is how my cover looks after this step:

Here you see that after creating the base color layer, I made the template visible again to assist me in placing elements on my cover.

If you have a logo for your book imprint, you could also put that on the bottom of the spine.

The back cover usually has a description of the book, and sometimes an excerpt, some quotes from reviews, or a short bio of the author. You also need to create the necessary white space for the bar code. So going to my solid brown layer, I use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to mark a square the same size as the bar code box. In the edit menu, I choose fill, and fill the box with white.

For the rest of the back cover, I decided on a short version of the book description and a repetition of the mirror motif from the front cover. In order to make the text stand out more, I set the opacity of the mirror image at 30%.

Anyway, here is what the cover looks like now:

Chameleon in a Mirror cover

It also would have been possible to have a simple description above on the back cover, and a bio with a pic of me below, with no further design elements. That is the layout of the cover template that Joel Friedlander sells on his site for $57 — and here I’ve pretty much told you how to do the same thing for free. 🙂 As you can see, if you already have a front cover — as well as some knowledge of a good graphics program like Photoshop or Gimp — it’s not all that hard to create your own wraparound cover for print publication.

And as an added benefit for me, I have finally put together the files for the POD version of Chameleon in a Mirror. According to Create Space, the print version should be available on Amazon in the next 3-5 days. 🙂

If you found this blog post helpful, perhaps you would be interested in the book, Starting Out as an Indie Author! You can learn more here.

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