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A World War 2 Trilogy

By FRED NATH (Novelist and Neurosurgeon)

Fred's Blog


Making a cover for your book.(Episode 3)

Posted on 13 January, 2016 at 4:26

If you’ve read and done the previous two posts you will now be in possession of three files: .pdf; .mobi; .epub. Next you design your cover. What sort of cover you make depends on your individual preference. I like dark/light relatively non-busy covers. On Kindle all you get is a small avatar view of the cover, so why waste time putting a lot of writing in small print that no one can read? That’s up to you though. The final print-ready cover is a bit different though I think the less you put on the cover, the more the picture stands out.

Start by going to a site where you can buy the rights for a picture. I use Adobe because their range of pictures is vast and you can search for the image you want.

Select and download the picture you want. They are cheap (£5.99) so for nine dollars you get a high-definition picture.

I produce covers in Microsoft Word. Why?

·         You can select your canvas size.

·         You can export the finished article as .pdf which the printer wants

·         You can use any font/font size you like

·         You can also make a jpeg from the file.

Open an account at Create Space. Select ‘Add new Title’. Fill in the form. They ask you to select a book size and paper. I use 5” x 8” because my previous publisher used that size. You may want a different size.

Look to see how many pages there are in your .pdf file. Input that info. Download the template they give you. I started by using the template in the document but you don’t have to do that. Look at the dimensions of the template in total. It’s given in both inches and millimetres. Word doesn’t do inches. The width of the spine depends upon the number of pages (Duh!).

The template dimensions are important because once you’re in Word you have to select that size – vide infra as they say.

Next take the template and using Microsoft Paint, trim it so there is no white area and save the trimmed template as a .png.

So, you have a size for your cover and you have the downloaded hi-def picture.

·         Open Word. Select page layout. Go to orientation, select landscape.

·         Open Margins. Set all margins to ‘0’. This because you want the picture to occupy the whole canvas.

·         Select ‘size’. At the bottom of the dialogue is a dialogue ’more paper sizes’. Click on that and input the dimensions from the template you’ve already got in mm.

·         Click on ‘insert’. Click on ‘Insert picture’ then import your original picture. Save.

·         You’ll notice that the picture doesn’t fit. Think about what the front cover should look like. The picture will have a central or side image that you want on the front of your cover. Here’s an example:

The guy is the feature. He’s in the middle. You don’t want his face on the spine. You have to trim it to the size you want. In this case, I thought about that before and because the background was black I closed the app and went into ‘MS Paint’. If you’re running windows it’s free and more powerful than most people think.

I cut up the picture and re-shaped it by changing the borders and using the paint-can to insert black . It now looked like this:

Back to Word and you can import it into the canvas and adjust it so it fills the canvas just so you can see what the image will look like.

You now know roughly where the picture sits.

·         Switch to Paint again. Open your picture. Rotate it so it’s lying on its side with your picture image uppermost. Click on the image and you’ll see the side handles as wee squares on each side. That marks the middle of the image. It’s where your spine is going to be.

·         In the home tab select ‘text box’ marked with a letter ‘A’. Open it and move it so it is full width and centred on the side-handle. You now know the spine text will be in the middle.

·         Looking at the ‘text’ tab you’ll see a number (font size) if you want larger than the maximum figure, click on the number to highlight it and input your size eg ‘99’.

·         Select the text colour so it shoes up nicely in bold and capital letters. Delete any text you’ve put in.

·         Save. Really important – save after every step. I save as .png as Word likes it.

·         Open a new document in Word and type the text. In my case: FREDRIK NATH    AMULET IV – veni vidi vici

·         Play around with it until it’s just the way you want it – font, size etc. Save.

·         Copy the text. Paste it into the text box either by using your mouse or by using ‘control v’.

·         Adjust the size and colour. If you want it bigger or smaller, select it in the text box and adjust the size to fit. When you’ve done and you know the text won’t overlap the size of the spine and doesn’t reach to the edge of the area you’ve selected for the spine (allow for a decent overlap so the text won’t spill over onto the front or back cover) save. Position the box so the text is exactly in the middle. Save. Now back to Word. (Look at your bookshelf. Which book-spine stands out the most? It'll give you an idea of what your book will look like on a shelf. You may wish to consider colour and size for that reason.)

·         Delete the picture you’ve got there. Input the new ‘spine ready’ picture. It will look like this:

 This example has the back blurb on – ignore, because you haven’t put it in yet. If it looks about right then save that document.

Go back to Paint and rotate your picture so it’s hoirzontal again. The spine writing will remain sideways on. Next using Word and the text boxes, and input your name and title and subtitle if you have one.

Create another word document and type your back-cover blurb. What to write is always hard for an author – we know too much! Get advice if you can’t get it right. Just like the other text put it on the area where you want it but keep it short of the lower 2/3 because the published will put in a barcode bottom right of the back cover. You may wish to add text as well like quotes from admiring fans etc. Save as .png.

·         You now have a .png of your cover. Save it and import it into the original Word canvas. Adjust the size. Click the back arrow key on your keyboard. A tiny flashing cursor will appear. Now insert the picture of the template you imported and cropped before. You now have two pages, one directly above the other. You can see where the writing on the spine will be and its width. Supposing it’s not in exactly the right place? You can adjust the dimensions a bit with the side handles in Word, but you may need to go back and start again from where you created the spine writing. Make sure your text doesn’t get near the edge of the picture – allow a good safe margin because the printer may need to trim the edges and you don’t want any text chopping off!

Looking back I think I allowed too much black at the bottom but I suspect it matters not a jot. Notice how the spine text doesn’t extend far enough to be cut off, nor does the title or back-cover blurb.

·         Save again. Then save as ‘webpage’. You’ll notice that Word reopens as HTML. Right click the image of the cover and click ‘save image as’. Save it as a .jpeg. Rename it so you know what it is.

·         Now close the webpage. Save the cover from Word to .pdf. Name it so you know what it is.

·         You now have your original Word document, a .jpeg image and a .pdf.

·         If you’re sensible you may want to go back to the start and begin again, just so you’re certain of every step.

None of the above is what you’ll read elsewhere. Using paint is laughed at by aficionados and experts and I guess they would think Word is too crude an instrument. I don’t care. The covers on my books look good enough though a professional would no doubt baulk at them. Arrogant bugger aren’t I? J.

Next post, we’ll publish the paperback and move to KDP for the Kindle version.

Categories: Writing

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Reply Rob
15:08 on 15 March, 2016 
Hi Fred,
Please keep these posts. I will be making a paperback of my next title (as soon as it's ready).
Nice work.
Reply Ellen Dean
8:50 on 19 May, 2016 
Hi Fred, great post :-)
I've been self-publishing my own work for a few years now and just thought I'd share one or two things I use.

Have you thought about using Lightning Source UK to have your paperbacks printed? They are absolutely brilliant and book stores will carry copies, they are very reluctant to carry books published by Createspace because of the cost of having them transported from the US. Plus, you have the choice of using cream paper. Lightning Source use Ingram and Gardners to distribute once printed.

I use Scrivener (Literature and Latte) as a writing software, it converts to any format easily. I think I paid around £20 for it. It's especially designed for authors, screenwriters and academics. And you can buy for Mac or Windows.

To design my book covers I use Apples Pages which came free with my Mac.
Best Ellen
Reply custom writing service
9:43 on 19 April, 2018 
I will just hire a professional for that. I can't create a cover for my book myself.
Reply Honey and Cinnamon
11:48 on 16 August, 2018 
We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. Great work
Reply Honey and Cinnamon
11:48 on 16 August, 2018 
I don t have the time at the moment to fully read your site but I have bookmarked it and also add your RSS feeds. I will be back in a day or two. thanks for a great site.
Reply darigiac
15:46 on 30 January, 2022 
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