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How to create and self publish a print book with a lot of images and pictures
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Cover design: front, back, & spine

This step refers to the layout program Adobe InDesign. You can use another layout program (like QuarkXPress) if you wish. Please review the hardware & software step first to familiarize yourself with the options you have.

You should have 1 InDesign document that now contains every inside page of your book. Before we finalize the inside you must create a front cover, back cover, and spine.

Book Bullseye Illustration by Brett EngleLike it or not, most people do judge a book by its cover.
This is a fun and important task. Your challenge is to create a cover that clearly communicates to the reader what lays inside. Every book is different, so you may want to research other book covers to get a feel for what catches your eye and is relevant to your genre.

It is advisable to include these key elements on your front cover:
• the title of the book
• your (author's) name
• coauthors names

On a back cover there is usually:
• a short description of the book
• the barcode (almost always added by the printer)
• publisher's name and/or logo (if necessary)

On the spine there is usually:
• the book title
• author name
• publisher's name and/or logo (if necessary)

You must create one new InDesign document that contains the front cover, back cover, and spine all in one document. You cannot add your covers to the other Adobe InDesign document with your inside pages. Your cover layout must be a separate file for the printer. The design is ultimately up to you. Once you have thought about what your cover should look like, it is time to set it up.

How to figure out the dimensions of your cover:
Height should be the height of your book.
Width should be the width of your book x 2 + the width of the spine.

Support the author and download this entire guide ad free. Only 99 cents for the PDF. Click here! How to figure out the width of your spine:
Calculate your spine width by taking your total page count x 0.002347. This gives you the width in inches. Books shorter than 100 pages are strongly recommended to have NO text on the spine. If your book is shorter than 100 pages you must still lay out your cover design to account for the spine, but only with imagery and/or color, no text. Many printers are unable to guarantee spine text will fit acceptably on books shorter than 100 pages so it is best to avoid altogether.

In an earlier step, we made an example book that was 7 inches wide x 10 inches tall. To figure out the correct size of the cover, let's say that example book has 40 pages. Using those dimensions and the formula above let's calculate how big the cover InDesign document for the cover will need to be.

First, calculate the spine width: 40 (pages) x 0.002347" = .08"

Next, calculate the full width of the cover: 7" (front) + 7" (back) + .08" (spine) = 14.08"

Now we know the full width and height of the cover:
Width: 14.08"
Height: 10"

Review the cover instructions provided by CreateSpace.

The InDesign document for your cover must also include a bleed.
An extra .125 inches must be added around all 4 sides of the Adobe InDesign document for your cover so the printer can trim the printed material down to the exact size.

Below are the Adobe InDesign specs for my example cover. You can follow the specs below exactly, except for 3 fields: the width, height, and column gutter. The width and height will be dependant on what size you chose for your book, and the formula for calculating the spine above. The column gutter value should be the width of your spine. The rest of your values should exactly match mine below:

New Adobe InDesign Document Window ScreenshotDocument Preset: [Custom]
Intent: Print

Number of Pages: 1
Start Page #: 1
Facing Pages Box: Unchecked/No
Master Text Frame Box: Unchecked/No

Page Size: [Custom]
Width: (use width formula above)
Height: (use your book height)

Columns - Number: 2
Columns - Gutter: (use your spine width)

Margins - Top: .85 inches
Margins - Bottom: .85 inches
Margins - Left: .85 inch
Margins - Right: .85 inches

Bleed - Top: .125 inches
Bleed - Bottom: .125 inches
Bleed - Inside: .125 inches
Bleed - Outside: .125 inches

Slug - Top: 0 inches
Slug - Bottom: 0 inches
Slug - Inside: 0 inches
Slug - Outside: 0 inches

Note: I used Adobe InDesign CS5. If your layout program is older, newer, or different than mine there may be some difference in terminology or how the New Document window looks. If you don't see all of the options above, look for a button that says something like "More Options", click to display more settings.

Verify that your values match my values above (except for width, height, and column gutter; those should be determined by following the instructions in this step) then click "OK".

The two graphics below show my example book's cover.
You are looking at the covers of the book as if the book was open and placed with the inside pages down. The left layout is empty, the right layout has some example graphics and text. The spine is indicated by the two purple lines in the middle of the layout document. Notice how the front cover is actually positioned on the right hand side of the document, and the back cover on the left. You should set up your document with the front cover on the right, the back cover on the left.

Two Cover Examples in Adobe InDesign

If you plan to sell your book, ask your printer if they add the necessary barcode(s).
CreateSpace will place an ISBN barcode in a 2" x 1.2" box in the bottom right corner of your book's back cover, so keep text and important imagery away from the area. (More on what ISBN is in an upcoming step.) Download a template from CreateSpace if you'd like to know exactly where the barcode will appear.

Dress your book for success - that is, success at whatever kind of book it is.
The inside pages are just as important as the cover, but take the time now to make a cover you will be proud to look at for years to come. It may take several rounds of revisions, but it is worth the time.

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