Create a Cover Wrap for Print

Create aWRAPfor PrintA cover wrap is a graphic design of the book cover intended for print books. It includes not only the front cover, which is used for all ebook sales, but also a spine and back cover.

The tricky part with wraps is getting the sizing and image quality correct, otherwise it looks awful in print. Even trickier, there is not a standard size for templates for 2 reasons. First, print books come in several sizes. Second, each book will have a different number of pages depending on the lenght of the book, additional front/back matter, formatting, size of the book, etc.

So let’s talk about the basics of creating a cover wrap. For the purposes of this post, we’ll be using CreateSpace as our example Print-On-Demand tool.

Image Size

Get the following information from the final formatted-for-print version of the book:

  • Interior Type — The type of pages it’ll be printed on.
  • Trim Size – The size of the book (Ex. 5″ x 8″)
  • Number of Pages – The # of pages after formatted for print in that size/style of book.
  • Paper Color – The color of the paper you will select for print.

Plug the above information into the below tool.

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

The above tool will generate a template (PDF or PNG) for your book which will show you where the front and back covers, spine, bar code, and bleed areas all go.

 

Image Type

Create a blank image in whichever graphics tool you use that matches the size of the template provided. You want it to be:

  • 300 DPI
  • 16 bit color

 

Wrap-Example

Dealing with Placement & Trim/Bleed

Bring the CreateSpace template into your image. In Photoshop make the template layer opaque so you can layer it over my cover design and make sure all my elements are places properly.

In addition, I like to add a rectangle outline to where the spine goes–matching it to the spine lines on the opaque template, so I know where the spine is at all times.

I turn the template on/off as needed, allowing me to design without it in my way, but still check placement.

Per instructions from CreateSpace:

The artwork should extend to the outside edge of the template’s pink zone to ensure a white border will not exist within the printed work. Do not move the guide layer, as it is properly aligned for printing specifications.

Ensure text and/or images that are intended to be read do not appear in the pink zones of the template.

The barcode area is indicated in yellow on the template. Do not place important images or text intending to be read in the barcode location. CreateSpace suggests filling in this area with your background color or design.

 

Saving & Uploading

Once you have your design exactly as you want it, I suggest you upload it in CreateSpace using the online Cover Creator tool. While the dimensions using the cover creator are slightly different, this will still allow you to couple check your bleed areas.

As soon as the image is finalized…

  1. Hide (or turn off) the opaque template layer as well as the spine rectangle (if you used that tip). You don’t want those elements printing on your cover.
  2. Flatten the layers
  3. Save the file as PDF (In Photoshop, select PDV/X (the most recent year available))

You’ll upload this custom PDF directly to CreateSpace.

 

 

Book Cover Elements

When you are working with a book cover designer, there are many elements you need to think about. Some are obvious–like the title–some are optional and not as obvious–like cover quotes. Do try to have an idea of what you’re looking for in each of these elements. It will be a huge help to your cover designer, and increase the likelihood of you loving the finished product.

Let’s take a look at each element.

 

Front Cover

prophesy-cover-750

Image

The image is one of the two most important elements. You want it to capture your book, communicate the genre (setting reader expectations), and be as eye-catching as possible. People really do judge books by their covers. We could write several blog posts on the cover image and probably will.

Author’s Name

This is an obvious one. You’ll always have this on your books covers. The bigger the author, the more real-estate the name will take up on the cover.

Author’s Title/Credentials

If an author is best-selling or award-winning, they may include the type (international, NY Times, USA Today, etc.) just under or above their name in smaller text. Or they may include a “from best-selling author…”

Book Title

Also an obvious one. The goal is to make this readable when the book cover is in thumbnail size on the Amazon search results. The look of the title can be as important as the images you select. Many authors miss this fact. Go look at book covers that truly capture your interest, and see how the title compliments and is incorporated with the image. Sometimes the title is the MOST important element on the cover. So don’t just slap a title on there.

Subtitle

Include if you have a subtitle. Typically this is smaller text directly below the title.

Series Title

Include if this book is part of a series. Typically this is smaller text directly below the title. Hopefully you don’t have both a subtitle and a series title. It’ll look ridiculous.

Series Logo

A series logo can be an actual logo, or it can be a graphic scroll or some other graphic device to place above/below/around your series title. If you include it on book 1, then include it on all the books for consistency.

Series #

If the series needs to be read in order, then include the number this book is in the series. If the books can be read out of order, it’s up to you if you include this or not.

Tagline

An optional element. A tagline is a pithy, one-liner that helps sum up the book and additionally snag the attention of readers. Only include this if you can come up with a good tagline, otherwise, don’t bother.

Cover Quote

An optional element. A cover quote is from a fell author or possibly from a review from a well-known publication which is typically a pithy, one-line sentence about how fabulous this book or your writing is. The more well-known the name in your genre the better.

Publisher Logo

This element is typically determined by the publisher. Many publishers with multiple imprints will include an imprint element on their cover. For a self-published author, this element is unnecessary.

 

Spine

Book Title

Typically this will be oriented vertically. Sometimes the words may be stacked if the spine is thick enough. Sometimes, if the spine is thick and the title short, the title might even remain horizontal. You want it in the same font as on the front cover.

Author Name

Same situation as the book title on the spine. Whether you put the title on top or the author name on top is up to you. Our preference is title on top. However, for those big-name authors, typically their name will be on top. In addition, big-name authors may only include their last name on the spine.

Series Title

Optional. Only include if it’s short enough to take up little space and still be readable.

Series Logo

If you have a series logo which can fit on the spine, we recommend including. It’s a good branding technique for the series.

Series #

Include if you have put the book number on the front cover. You can have just the number, or you can put the number below the series title, series logo, and/or the word “book.”

Publisher Logo

This logo is usually at the very top or very bottom of the spine. If you are a self-published author, consider creating your own publishing company and including your logo.

 

Cursed-Cover-Wrap-Redo4

 

Back Cover

Image

Often with wraps either the image from the front cover continues around the spine to the back cover, or the back cover sports a complimentary image. Location of that image depends on how well text shows up over it or not.

Blurb

The 2-3 paragraphs which tease the reader with an idea of what your book is about.

Bar Code

Assuming you’re using CreateSpace, you leave a part of your back cover (bottom right corner) for the bar code. You don’t need a white square for it. They’ll add it over whatever image is there.

Author Headshot

If there is space, sometimes an author headshot is included.

Author Bio

If there is space, sometimes a short author bio is included. (Most often below the blurb).

Other Books In Series

If this book is in a series and you have the other book covers, you can include thumbnail images of them (usually below the blurb) to entice readers with the rest of the books.

Publisher Logo

As with the spine, sometimes the publisher logo and/or imprint logo may be included on the back cover as well.

Bleed/Cut-Off Areas

Remember with a wrap that the main elements (particularly text) will need to look a tad off center. Print books cut off the edges, and the cover design needs to account for that.

 

These are the most often seen elements on any given book cover. Remember, you DON’T have to do everything suggested here. We highly recommend you spend time look at covers in your genre and finding ones you really like. Ask yourself what you like about them, and try to incorporate those elements–in your own unique fashion, of course, if/when you can.

 

Shopping for a Book Cover Designer

There are a bazillion articles on good book cover design out there. Funny thing is, much like with editors, book cover designers all have different ideas and opinions about what makes a good cover. You’ll even find contradictory statements in the articles.

blue and gold old floral cover book

That’s because book cover design is an art, which means judgment is opinion-based. Subjective. Granted, the marketing aspect means that sales can also reflect a good or bad cover. However, if there were a perfect formula to generate sales, we’d all have the perfect cover for our books.

Which brings us back to cover design is an art just like writing a book is an art.

So…how do you find a quality cover designer who fits you–your story, your style, and your vision for the book?

Instead of thinking about this in terms of a book cover, think about it in terms of a tattoo. Imagine for a moment you’re getting a tattoo (one with actual thought put into it and not a drunken dare). If you want a tattoo of a flower, you’re not going to go to the guy who specializes in skulls. And if you want fancy lettering, you’re going to search for a tattoo artist who does great lettering.

With that in mind, let’s talk about what to look for when searching for your cover designer.

Research

Of course you can Google cover designers and start sifting through their work. That’s perhaps the fastest route to take. You will probably get lucky and find someone you like that way.

However, we recommend you do more than that. Start looking at covers in your genre. Search on Amazon and click on those which stand out for you. Ask yourself, “What about this cover do I like? What caught my attention?” Those questions become relevant when you start narrowing down your choices of designer.

Then, as you find covers you like, try to track down the cover designer. This can take a bit of digging. Assume that if the book is not self-published, the designer was hired by the publisher. A bigger publisher might mean the designer is in-house (exclusive to them). But many publishers hire freelance designers. Some list the designers who work for them on their website, or even include the cover designer’s name in the copyright info. If the book is self-published, and the author doesn’t thank the cover designer by name in their acknowledgments, go to the author’s website and try to see if they state the designer. Even email the author and ask who their cover designer is.

By taking this approach, you’ve already narrowed down the designers you’re looking at to those who create covers you KNOW you like and are effective (they grabbed your attention after all).

Basics

Now that you’ve got a list of designers time to really look at each closely. First, double-check that the designer hits the “basics”. Based on reviewing over 50 articles online, we’ve narrowed our list down to “all designers agree on these rules” – and it’s not a long list. 🙂

  • Title of the book must be large and easy to read
  • Cover must look good in thumbnail format
  • Limit the # of fonts used & be careful of fonts used
  • Avoid clutter–too much of any element is…too much
  • No clip art or personal photos (unless you’re a professional photographer and the book is about your photography)

Genre

The genre is key. A non-fiction self-help book would not work with a cover meant for a romance novel. Does the cover artist specialize in your genre(s)? Do you like their portfolio in the genre your book falls under? Do their covers in your genre reflect the genre well?

Mood/Feel

You’re probably not going to want a cover in all pink with lots of hearts for a thriller. What mood or feel does the artist tend to portray with their previous designs? Even an artist who specializes in the romance genre can still tend toward a particular mood–darker, lighter, mysterious, sensual, cute. Does the artist’s leanings fit with your book?

Specialty Elements

Does the artist specialize or focus on certain elements? Some artists really love to make the text stand out and are fantastic at it. Some focus more on the images being blended, or on a crisp single image with lots of white space. Does this artist focus on elements which are important to you or which would reflect your book well?

Evolving Designs

Just like in the world of books, the world of cover design is constantly in motion. Is this artist a “one trick pony” with similar designs for all their covers? Or do they truly make something unique for each book? Do their designs evolve as they go along?

Logistics

The following are a few logistical questions to consider:

How Custom Is Custom?

Does the artist use stock images? Do they reuse any images that went into your cover? Are the stock images they use showing up on a ton of other book covers?

Price?

This one is dependent on you and your budget. You are usually paying for both the images and for the artist’s time. So if your design is fairly simple, it might be less. Does the artist charge by the cover or by the hour? Can they estimate hours before they start?

What do you get for the fee? 

Some cover artists include both eBook and Print format in their fee, or charge you separately? Some include a bookmark design or banners for your social media? Are there any “extra” you’d like? How much do those cost? What rights do you have?

Turnaround Time

What is the cover designer’s schedule? How fast can they create your cover? If they are busy, sometimes this can be months. Make sure you’re planning ahead if you want to release at a certain time or do a cover reveal.

# of Proofs

Do they do a few design concepts for you to choose from? Is there an extra fee involved for changes? How long do those changes take?

 

Conclusion

Your cover is often, if not always, the first impression a reader has of your book. This is why almost every “self-publishing tips” article out there stresses that when deciding where to spend your money as a self-published author, the book cover is one of the places to do so.

Hopefully these tips will help you find that perfect cover designer for you. Of course, we hope you’ll consider Authors On A Dime. Check out our portfolio and pricing options. Let us know if you have any questions. And happy cover designer hunting!