(I’ve been running a series on my MySpace blog called “Adventures in Indie Publishing” where I tell everyone how I made a muck up of it all so that they don’t have to. At the moment I’m exploring “How to Get a Cheap Cover” and, after a suggestion from Ruth, I decided to post it here as a series )
Before you can actually make your cover the best thing to do is get your cover template. If you publish through create space you can get the template really easy by uploading your interior file. Once you do a link will appear that says “download cover template”. The resulting template will be perfectly sized.
If you know your page count you can also get your one piece templates here:
Create Space: https://www.createspace.com/Help/Book/Artwork.do
These are one piece cover templates – think of it as if you pulled all the pages out of a book and then laid the cover flat out. Even if you are doing an ebook it will make your life easier to download one of these.
The best way to use these templates is in a program that allows for layers, such as Paint Shop Pro, GIMP or Photo Shop. You could do it in Paint Brush without layers, but it would make it infinitely more difficult. Remember, if you don’t have any of these programs, GIMP is a free download, and it’s a pretty powerful program, might I add, with a lot of online tutorials to get you going.
You may notice that Create Space says that you must use a program that saves the image as a PDF, but this is not so. Yes, you will need a PDF in the end, but there are ways to convert it, which we will cover later.
Bleed: The Bleed is the area between the “safe zone” and the trim line. Anything that you want to completely fill the space, eg go clear to the very edge of the cover, should extend INTO the bleed for safety sake. This includes background/fill colors.
One Piece Cover: This is a cover that wraps around the whole book. Imagine taking all the pages out of a book and laying the cover face down and open. That’s a one piece cover.
PDF: Portable Document Format; created by Adobe, it’s used for everything from ebooks to manuscript submissions
Safe Zone: the area of the cover where your content is “safe” aka it won’t get trimmed off when they cut it down for the book.
Tagline: The snappy line on the front or back of your book that catches people’s attention.
Trim Size: This is the size the book is “trimmed” to, aka, the size of the final product. Anything drawn outside of the trim lines will be cut off without question.