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Using Adobe InDesign to Make a CreateSpace Book Cover with a Spine - xobba.com | xobba.com

Using Adobe InDesign to Make a CreateSpace Book Cover with a Spine

At this point, I am an experienced publisher on CreateSpace, having written, typeset and created the covers for two books: In Case There’s a Fox and When Sword Met Bow. I have used Gimp to design a CreateSpace cover. I have used Word and OpenOffice to design a CreateSpace cover. I have done all of these things for free, without paying for extra software or for typesetting or design services.

My third CreateSpace book is called Ping & the Snirkelly People. It is a chapter book on the third grade reading level, and it has an interior of 163 pages all told, including the title page, the copyright page, the dedication, “other books by Aya Katz”, the table of contents and “about the author”. The actual text of the book runs around 154 pages. Since I had already designed two book covers and had them accepted by CreateSpace, I thought the cover of Ping & the Snirkelly People was going to be a snap. I was much more concerned about the interior. But when I was satisfied with both the cover and the interior and submitted them to CreateSpace, the interior was accepted without reservation, but the cover was rejected as not being within specs.

What was the problem? My other two books were 24 pages and 30 pages respectively. They were more like booklets, and less like books. But Ping & the Snirkelly People is so thick, that it’s actually going to have a spine! I neglected to calculate the width of the spine into the dimensions of the cover.

The Two Books I have Already Published with CreateSpace (And the third one, whose cover design is described here.)

Ping & the Snirkelly People Ping & the Snirkelly People 

Amazon Price: $9.93
List Price: $9.99
In Case There's A Fox In Case There’s A Fox  

Amazon Price: $12.75
When Sword Met Bow When Sword Met Bow  

Amazon Price: $10.60
List Price: $10.99

How to Calculate the Width of Your CreateSpace Book

The width of your CreateSpace spine depends entirely on two things: the number of pages in the interior and the color of paper you select. The part about the number of pages is perhaps not unexpected. The fact that the color of paper can have ramifications for the width of the book is kind of astonishing at first. We have two colors to choose from: white and cream. I chose cream for Ping & the Snirkelly People, because of the Papyrus font in the cover design, and as the name suggests, cream is thicker! They probably should have called them “milk” and “cream”, and then I would have realized immediately that this was going to be about texture and viscosity and not just color. For a color interior, there is even a third width. Is it the color that gets smeared on the white paper that makes color interiors almost .0001″ thicker than white? Or is there a different absorbency in the paper, so it is thicker even in the parts that don’t get colored? I’m not sure. Either way, paper thicknesses at CreateSpace are as follows:

 

  • White: .002252″
  • Cream: .0025″
  • Color: .002347″

If you multiply the number of pages in the interior of your book by the thickness of the paper you have chosen, then this will give you the width of your spine.

On my previous books, I just assumed that my spine had no width, and even though this couldn’t possibly have been true in an absolute sense, it was close enough!

 

  • White: .002252″
  • Cream: .0025″
  • Color: .002347″

If you multiply the number of pages in the interior of your book by the thickness of the paper you have chosen, then this will give you the width of your spine.

On my previous books, I just assumed that my spine had no width, and even though this couldn’t possibly have been true in an absolute sense, it was close enough!

The Thirty Day Free Trial Use of InDesign

To Download InDesign and use it for free for thirty days, go to http://www.adobe.com and explore their free download options 

 

To Download InDesign and use it for free for thirty days, go to http://www.adobe.com and explore their free download options 

Source: Copyright 2011 Aya Katz

How to Determine the Exact dimensions of your cover

According to CreateSpace here is how to determine the overall dimensions of our cover:

Minimum Cover Width: Bleed + Back Cover Trim Size + Spine Width + Front Cover Trim Size + Bleed
Minimum Cover Height: Bleed + Book Height Trim Size + Bleed

What is bleed? That is a part of the area where we print that is at the outer edges of the cover and is very likely to be trimmed off once the book is bound. At CreateSpace, the standard bleed, on all the edges of the cover, is .125″.

The trim size of Ping & the Snirkelly People is 5.5.x 8.5. A cover with no spine for such a book is 11 x 8.5, because the width is doubled to represent the front and back of the cover, which will be folded. A cover for this trim size with a spine (minus the bleed) is (11 + spine width) x 8.5.

In the case of Ping & the Snirkelly People, the spine would be 163 x .0025″, since the paper is “cream” colored. That would be about .4075″ for the spine. So the width is 11.4075. The dimensions of the entire cover are 11.4075 x 8.5 plus an extra .125″ at the top, bottom, left and right edges. That would be a quarter of an inch added to both the height and the width, so the dimensions all told are 11.6575 x 8.75.

Now, I could input these dimensions in many different ways, in Gimp, in Word, or in OpenOffice, but I happened to have found some really easy directions of how to do this using Adobe’s InDesign.

While I don’t own InDesign, I found out by browsing that you can download it for free from the Adobe website for a thirty day free trial. So this is what I did.

Every day you use it, there is this ominous calendar that records how many more days you have left before it won’t work anymore. I have seven books to publish this year, and I think I can probably get all seven covers done within the thirty day period, before I am doomed to using some other method for the rest of my life. There is no way I am paying $700.00 for this software, no matter how good it is!

However, if your financial circumstances are very different from mine, then please consider buying Adobe InDesign from me, so I can get the Amazon commission!

Adobe InDesign

Adobe InDesign CS5[OLD VERSION] Adobe InDesign CS5[OLD VERSION]  

Amazon Price: $609.95
List Price: $699.00
Adobe InDesign CS5 Classroom in a Book Adobe InDesign CS5 Classroom in a Book  

Amazon Price: $27.89
List Price: $54.99
Adobe InDesign CS5 Classroom in a Book Adobe InDesign CS5 Classroom in a Book 

Amazon Price: $43.99

The dimensions of the Cover

When I told it the trim size (5.5 x 8.5), it made the sheet 11 x 8.5. When I told it the bleed, it made another rectangle with 1/8 inch bleed in all directions. But it didn't use the gutter information to create a spine area, so I had to try again.
When I told it the trim size (5.5 x 8.5), it made the sheet 11 x 8.5. When I told it the bleed, it made another rectangle with 1/8 inch bleed in all directions. But it didn’t use the gutter information to create a spine area, so I had to try again.

Spine Area Shows

This is how the document looks once you have set the proper parameters  -- the spine area shows
This is how the document looks once you have set the proper parameters — the spine area shows

The Steps to Designing the Cover in InDesign

Once I had downloaded the thirty-day trial version of InDesign, the first step was to open a new document:

Select File > New > Document.

The next step was to input the dimensions of the imaginary sheet of paper that my document would consist of. Now, you would think that this imaginary sheet of paper would be the size of the cover, but that’s not exactly required. CreateSpace doesn’t care what size sheet your document is, as long as it is big enough to accommodate the trim size plus the spine plus the one eighth inch bleed on all sides that they require. Other, than that, it doesn’t matter what size the sheet is.

It’s one of those ideas that boggle my mind. It’s like somebody telling you: “Send me an imaginary sheet of paper. The size of it doesn’t matter as long as it is not less than x by y inches.” Does this mean you can send a sheet with non-finite dimensions? CS doesn’t say, but I don’t think so. I think the dimensions have to be finite, but can be as large as you like. (I also think there must be some sort of upper bound on the size of the file, which is defined in a way that is independent of the dimensions of the imaginary sheet, but must in fact limit those dimensions, considering that they want everything to be at least 300 dpi.)

The exemplar that I am following made the dimensions one and a half of the width x one and a third of the height of the cover size minus spine and bleed, and I was thinking I would do that, too, until I noticed something: the version of InDesign that I downloaded actually allows me to tell it my trim size and my bleed directly, so I decided to try that. When I did, though, the gutter measurements were ignored, and so I had no representation of the spine in the picture that formed. So I went back and chose a custom page size and gave it my actual cover dimensions, with spine and bleed added in, rounded off to the next whole number. I figure this way the sheet will be big enough to contain the cover and then some, but the file will not be too big to upload.

  1. I made all margins 0
  2. I enter the number “2″ in the columns field, so that each side of the cover is a column
  3. I entered a Custom Page of 12 x 9 (my actual cover size rounded off to the nearest whole number of inches)
  4. In the Gutter Margin section, I entered my spine width calculation (0.4075)
  5. In the Bleed and Margins, I entered 0.00 on top, bottom, inside and out.
  6. I pressed “Ok”

Setting Your Document Parameters

Picking my settings
Picking my settings 

Source: Copyright 2011 Aya Katz

How to Overcome the Default Parameter Settings for InDesign

The above sounds easy enough, but, in fact, it took me a couple of days to do, because every time I tried to input the parameters of my book in inches, the InDesign program insisted that everything had to be in pixels or pica: it turned every number I gave it in inches into that same number in “p”. Whatever “p” was, it was obviously much smaller than an inch, because in order to view my document in a normal size on the screen, it had to be magnified by 698%.

How did I overcome this setback? I asked around. I opened a discussion at CreateSpace, and my good friend Lighthouse let me in on this little secret, that I will share with you. In order to change the default setting to inches in InDesign, you must select:

Edit > Preferences > Units & Increments > Decimal Inches > okay.

You have to select “Decimal Inches” for both the vertical and the horizontal dimensions. After you okay what you selected, the directions in the previous section will actually work. If you don’t, they will never work.

How to Design A CreateSpace Cover in InDesign

Assigning a rectangle for each side of the CreateSpace cover

The directions I am giving you here are actually just slightly modified from the directions in the article for which I have embedded a link above, which is where I learned how to do it. The article is by “Kelsea, CreateSpace Design Specialist” and it describes in great detail how to make a CreateSpace cover of the following dimensions: 6 x 9″, white paper type and a page count of 300.

If your book happens to be closer to those dimensions, I recommend simply following the directions in the article linked above.

The next step I took in my design process was to create a rectangle to represent each side of my cover as follows:

I used the Rectangle Tool to create a box on my artboard. (The Rectangle Tool is found in the Tools palette which is on the left vertical edge of your work space. The Rectangle Tool looks like a rectangle, but if you are still not sure it’s the right one, right click on it, and the name of the tool will appear.)

With the Rectangle Tool selected, I clicked once on my artboard. A dimensions box appeared, and I filled it with the dimensions of my trim size, 5.5 x 8.5.

I then used the Black Arrow to move the rectangle flush with the left outermost edge of the spine, and I made another copy of the rectangle and moved it flush with the right outermost edge of the spine. (You have to use the Black Arrow to rigidly move things without changing their dimensions or angles. If you just try to drag an object to where you want it, it gets deformed by the process. Believe me, I tried!)

At this point my artboard contained an outline of a spine, and on either side of the spine, the front and back cover spaces in outline.

Guides or No Guides: Your Choice in InDesign

At this point, the article by Kelsea recommends setting up some “guides” around the outer edges of your cover space, to help make sure that you don’t place anything important where it might get cropped off.

Why would it get cropped off? After your book is printed and bound, a machine will come along and lop off the outer edges of the cover and the interior pages so that they form a single flat surface. Some of the cover that got printed will be sheared, and the exact amount of shear varies, so that is why you want to print color all the way to the edge, but you don’t want to put any information toward the edge where it might get cut off. If you print cover past the edge, it’s okay. But if you leave an uncolored bit of paper before the edge, CreateSpace will disqualify your cover for not having proper “bleed”.

I’m a terribly impatient person, I have only thirty days to edit seven covers, and I already have some idea where not to put important things, so I dispensed with the guides. If you are a very meticulous person who has to have everything just so, then follow the directions for the guides in the article by Kelsea.

The Foreground Color Square — looks kind of like this

The foreground color square looks kind of like this.
The foreground color square looks kind of like this. 

Source: Gary M Gordon Website: http://garymgordon.com

Selecting a Background Color for Your CreateSpace Cover

To select a background color:

I double-clicked on the foreground color square and browsed for a color.

The foreground color square is in the tools palette, and it shows what color is selected at any given moment for a background color. (I don’t know why they use the word “foreground” rather than “background”. That’s somewhat confusing, since the things we place on top of the background color are going to be in the foreground.) If you right click on the foreground color square, it won’t say “foreground color square”. Instead, it will say things like “swap fill and stroke (shift X)” so I’m including a picture that is very similar to what the foreground color square looks like. It looks like two squares, one superimposed on the other. Its appearance changes depending on whether you have selected a color or not, and sometimes it has a line dissecting the top superimposed square into two triangles. You can use the eye-dropper tool that appears about two tools above the foreground color square to sample a color from something that you have already placed on your art board.

Originally, I had chosen a shade of turquoise for my Ping cover, when I was designing the cover in OpenOffice. But with InDesign, I didn’t have to limit myself to one of a certain number of premixed colors. I got to mix my own. I ended up choosing a sort of muted violet/greyish color that I mixed myself, which I think goes well with the Papyrus title font, the cream colored interior paper and the pastel cover illustration.

Designing the Title Text for Your CreateSpace Cover

Using the Type Tool, I drew a rectangle and then typed my book’s title, Ping & the Snirkelly People into the rectangle. The Type Tool is in the tools palette and looks like a big capital letter T.

To select the font, you can just use the horizontal toolbar that appears at the top of the artboard when you are using the the Type Tool. (I chose Papyrus). I didn’t change the black color that came pre-selected, but if you do want to choose a different color for the lettering, you can just select the character palette like this:

Window > Type and Tables > Character.

Next, using the Black Arrow Tool, I positioned the text box on the front cover where I wanted it. (For me, it’s counterintuitive that you need an imaginary black arrow to help you move things, but once you get into the habit it works pretty well.) The same steps worked for all other cover text, author and back cover blurb.

In the case of the spine text, I first made a text box the width of the spine, but not nearly as long, and I filled it with the title and author information. After it was done, I turned it 90 degrees, and then used the Black Arrow Tool to place it where it belonged in the center of the spine area.

To turn the spine text vertical rather than horizontal, follow these steps:

Transform > Rotate 90 degrees CW

Free Transform tool

The Free Transform Tool can look like a square with tiny squares attached to the sides of it or it can be more like  a rectangle whose sides are made of tiny squares
The Free Transform Tool can look like a square with tiny squares attached to the sides of it or it can be more like a rectangle whose sides are made of tiny squares 

Source: http://maclab.guhsd.net

Placing an Image on the Cover

I had a picture of Ping that was commissioned several years ago from local artist Lanie Frick. At the time when I asked her to make this illustration for me, I thought somebody else would design the cover, because I had hopes of publishing the book in Taiwan, under an established press. In any event, I had no idea at the time what the dimensions of the cover would be, so I just told her what I wanted in the drawing, and she left lots of blank spaces, because she thought maybe the entire illustration would form the backdrop for the title texts.

Now, in order to place an image on your cover in InDesign, you select:

File > Place > yourimage.jpg (from wherever you saved it.)

You just click on the art board after you’ve selected it, and the image appears out of nowhere. To position it on the cover, without changing anything about it, use the rigid motion of the Black Arrow Tool.

But what if the image — like the illustration of Ping I used — is way too big or way too small or not the right dimensions to fit where you want it?

You click on the Free Transform Tool in the tools palette, and it will allow you to resize, crop and even reshape your image.

I found that I preferred to keep only the most important details of the full cover illustration, as doing this brought the character of Ping and her language learning dilemma into sharper focus for prospective readers.

“Ping & the Snirkelly People” Cover with spine and bleed

The cover for "Ping & The Snirkelly People" that I made with the free trial version of InDesign Illustration by Lanie Frick.
The cover for “Ping & The Snirkelly People” that I made with the free trial version of InDesign Illustration by Lanie Frick. 

Source: Copyright 2011 Aya Katz

The Important Take-Away Lesson

The important thing that I learned from this project is that spine and bleed parameters that can be ignored with a picture book or smaller children’s book must be adhered to when editing a chapter book, a novel or a textbook. It is best for the virtual cover surface that we submit to be greater than required. The surface of the imaginary sheet that we send to CreateSpace must be big enough to accomodate double the trim size plus the spine and bleed. If the imaginary sheet is too big, the excess can be lopped off, but if it is too small, it will be rejected. Better safe than sorry means that we round off the exact dimensions of our cover to a higher, not a lower number. How high is too high? Who knows? All I can say is: if the file is not too big to upload, then the imaginary sheet is not too big to send.

 

Copyright 2011 Aya Katz

 

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  • Article by Aya Katz

    avatar I run a small press called Inverted-A. I am also a linguist, primatologist and writer. If you think writing well constructed sentences is difficult, try doing it with a chimpanzee looking over your shoulder!
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