How to Make Your Own Book Cover – Lesson 3

Starting with the Template

Now that you’re ready to assemble your book cover, you need a template so you can put all of your design elements in the right places.

Here you can find the instructions for formatting your book cover for CreateSpace. You can also download the cover template.

CreateSpace doesn’t make mass market paperbacks (the smallest-sized books you can buy). I went with the 5.25″ x 8″ size because that is the same size as my other trade paperbacks and seems to be a very common industry standard.

You will also need to format your book’s text to fit the new page size (and see CreateSpace’s rules for margin sizes) so you can get an accurate page count. Once you know this information, you can plug it into CreateSpace and it will give you the correct template, which will look similar to this:

(If you don’t understand what those dotted lines and pink stripes are all about, go back and read the instructions for formatting your book cover.)

First things first, save the template.

Next, you need to make some changes to make it easier to use.

First, rename it. In the Layer menu, you will see it named “Background.” Double-click on that name and then change it to “Template.”

Crop away the extra white space around it (I’m not sure why they have that there anyways). Make the pink bleed lines the edges of your new image (be careful not to cut any of them away, though, because you need to make sure everything goes out to its edge).

Next, erase all of the white parts, including the text. Leave only the pink lines and the yellow barcode box (get rid of the alert box). You should be able to easily do this by selecting the Magic Eraser Tool under the eraser tool. Click on the white areas and watch them disappear. Switch back to the regular eraser tool to clean up the text. Remember to leave the barcode box, and make sure you zoom in and give it a good look-over, because it’s easy to miss some residual marks when you’re zoomed out.

The next thing you need to do is set the guides. I only remembered how to do this after I was done with my project, and let me tell you, life would have been simpler if I done them at the beginning.

If they’re not already on, go to “View” and turn on “Rulers.” Put your cursor on the left-hand ruler, click, and drag the mouse. This will produce a gray line. Drag it over to one of the dotted lines on your template and drop it (it will turn blue when you let it go). If you miss your mark, hover the mouse over it until the cursor changes, then click and drag it again. If you have one you don’t want, drag it back into the ruler.

Drag guides out and place them over each vertical dotted line on your template. Then drag some out of the top ruler and put them on your horizontal dotted lines. You are not limited in the amount of guides you can have, so if you need them later to line up elements on your cover, drag some more out.

If you hide the Template layer (click on the eye beside that layer in the Layer menu), you will see that your blue guidelines are still there, even though the original template is hidden. These are what we will primarily use to build our cover, since the bleed areas and barcode are not important just yet. But if you ever need to check those things, just click where the eye icon was, and it will reappear.

Now, do a “save as” and save the stripped-down template so that you don’t have to do that again for this book. (Remember, this template is specific to the number of pages in your book, give or take only a few. If you do a smaller or larger book in the future, you will have to download a new template and repeat this process.)

Your bare-bones template should look like this:

This is a good place to stop, so I will. In the next lesson, we will get started on the front cover, so if you haven’t finished editing yours yet, go ahead and do that.

Lesson 4

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