How to Make a Print Cover for Your Book — Post by Mary C. Findley

7 31 2015 chasing print cover

I recently helped an author friend make a print version of an ebook cover at CreateSpace.  He asked me to give some instructions for the next time. This post assumes you have an image manipulation program and know how to use it fairly well. I won’t be explaining details about tools and techniques. I assume you know them, or else, not to be unkind, you can’t do this.

I also post this caution. I am a cover designer and people pay me to do this for them because it is not easy.  Print covers are especially difficult. I am not saying I don’t like to help do-it-yourselfers, but I am giving you fair warning that it is hard.

So here it is, as simple as I can make it. Anyone who has any questions, please feel free to email me This post is only about making a print cover, and from a finished ebook cover, and nothing about the book’s interior. If anyone would like to know my process for that, please let me know at the email address above.

When making a print cover, CreateSpace  gives three options. Most of us choose not to take the professional design services option because of cost. That leaves two more choices: 1. use the cover designer or 2. upload your own print-ready pdf.

The first option is one that many of my author friends have used with success. CreateSpace offers different background designs and layouts. Authors can use their own images if they fit correctly into the spaces. This is where some authors have not been so successful. This was the case with the friend I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

I made his ebook cover so I took a personal interest in trying to help him make it work. He relayed to me the error messages he got as his cover was rejected by the cover designer program. I changed the size of the front cover, created a back cover panel — nothing seemed to work, including re-making the size to their specifications.

I didn’t deal directly with CreateSpace so I’m not sure of everything that happened. I just know my author friend’s  frustration level was rising.  I wanted to help.

  1. I told him I would download a CreateSpace template of my own. This is step one, by the way, of my how-to instructions. Go to this link: Choose your color (black & white is most common. If you have a color interior, chose that. Plug in the trim size (his was 6 x 9) and the page count.  They create a zipped file containing two items: a pdf and a png file. You download that file, open it, and upload the png file into your image program. Photoshop, Corel, or whatever one you use. You will see a blank template marked with some of the instructions needed to create the cover with trim edges and spine marked.
  2. Unfortunately, in my program, PhotoImpact, it doesn’t handle that file as a png. For those with the same problem, this is an extra step if the template doesn’t have that layer with the pink lines separate from the white background. All you need to do is create a blank image the same size as (or slightly larger than) the template, copy and paste the template into it, center it, and use the magic erase tool or whatever it is called in your program to wipe out the white areas inside and around the pink template.
  3. Create a background that complements your ebook cover. That could be a simple solid color, but I like to use at least a textured background, like stone or fabric. You can get free textures at this link: These are tileable, meaning you can fill the background with a smooth, even image. Choose a photo background instead if you wish. Make sure, again, that the background complements and doesn’t distract from your main front cover image.
  4. Lay out your ebook cover centered in the front cover area of the template. Getting an exact fit may require resizing. Don’t expect a perfect fit against the spine. When the book is completed it’s rare that the printers make an exact fold in the same place every time. I soften and fade the edges so that there’s no need to worry about an exact fit. The alternative is to try to exactly match whatever your ebook background is. That’s difficult if you didn’t make it yourself. If you did, that makes it easier.
  5. The hardest part for me is the back cover text. I suggest you lay it out a paragraph at a time. Small amounts of text are easier to manage. Pick an easily-readable contrasting text color and font. If necessary, use a screen behind the text to add contrast, and/or a thin outline, and/or a drop shadow.  Choose whether you will center it, block it, or just make normal paragraphs. This text, by the way, is your book blurb. It can be exactly what you made for your ebook upload page, or different. Up to you. Just make sure it is a comfortable fit. You can also have an author bio and image if you like. Just be aware of the space you must leave open for the barcode CreateSpace will add. It’s part of the template.
  6. The spine text is pretty simple. Type or copy and paste it in — I put the author (last name only) first and then the title and any publisher name if you use it. Then just rotate the  text 90 degrees so the head of the test faces toward the front cover. Make as sure as you can that the text fits within the pink borders. CreateSpace often says this is where you have a problem but often they just fix it and it works out fine. Make sure you delete the template, flatten or merge all parts, and save as a pdf.
  7. Remember, all images are required to be 300 DPI. Everything has to fit well within the pink lines.  Err on the side of caution. CreateSpace may still say the dimensions are off, but in every case I have let them adjust and had good results.
  8. Go through the review process, make adjustments if it doesn’t pass, and just keep at it until it does pass. “Your files are printable” is the message you are looking for.
  9. Please, please, please order a proof. Look for text too close to the spine or edge, readability, and good image quality.  Different printers produce different quality. If you can’t live with what you get, CreateSpace is good about fixing what they can. Contact them, but remember that they have what they call, paraphrasing because I don’t remember the exact wording, “acceptable variations” and there’s only so much you can do.

I wish you all the best. And I’m ready to help anyone who needs it.

Image Credit: Print cover for one of my books, made using the ebook version as described in this post. Design by Mary C. Findley. Texture from Webtreats, Images from

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Filed under cover design, Publishing, Writing

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