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.

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



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.



Does Size Matter?

doessizematterFor self-publication purposes, it’s important to know a few technical aspects of what you’ll require from your book cover designer in order to be able to upload the cover to the eBook retailer and distributor sites and/or Print-On-Demand (POD) sites you choose to publish through.

Every retailer/distributor/POD is a little different. They will post their requirements or recommendations on line. For the 3 that we focus on in this post, here’s what you need to know:

Amazon (retailer):

Amazon suggests a ratio which is skinnier than most eBooks, which then makes your book cover look odd when in a line up with other covers. Their suggestion is not a requirement. As long as it’s 2500 pixels or more long, you’re good. We suggest the following:

  • Type: JPG
  • Color: RGB (most images are in this)
  • Size: 3000 (high) x 2000 (wide) pixels

If it’s a white background, a 1-pixel, dark border needs to be added to the edges so that you can tell where the book cover starts/stops when shown on a white background (like Amazon web pages).

Smashwords (distributor):

Smashwords cover image requirement is that the image be over 1400 pixels on the short side (width). Their recommendation is 1600 px wide. In addition it has to be under 20MB, and they also prefer JPG.

The 3000×2000 image made for Amazon also works for Smashwords.

Create Space (POD):

Because POD is print, we now have to worry about the spine and the back of the cover as well. eBooks, we only care about the front of the cover.

You have two options with this.

Option 1

A cover designer can do a design for print that is a full wrap (includes front, spine, an back of the cover).  This option typically means more $. In addition, your cover designer will need details such as the size of the book and the number of pages to help determine the size of the spine.

Option 2

The easier/cheaper option is to use the front cover design only! Yup. You heard me right.

Create Space has an awesome cover designer tool which comes with several options. Select the SPRUCE design, which allows for a single image on the front cover. You then enter the text for the spine and back cover, and select a solid color for the spine and back cover and text.

Social Media:

You’ll also want a few different sizes for social media and to give reviewers.

You’ll want a JPG in the following sizes:

  • 750 x 500 pixels
  • 300 x 200 pixels

You could also do a 150 pixel size, but honestly, most social media resizes to the smaller dimensions easily for you.