Creating A Cover for Createspace Books

October 13, 2013 in Articles, Formatting Paperback Books

Book CoverThere are two ways in which you can create a book cover for a Createspace book. You can either use the built in templates that Createspace provide or you can design your own using a photo-editing package like Photoshop or a desktop publishing program such as PagePlus.

There are free versions of photo-editing software programs available as well, so if you are serious about publishing lots of books, it might be worth your while learning how to use a program so that you can create your own covers. Bear in mind that if you are thinking of doing that, then you will need to develop a comprehensive understanding of your selected program so that you can produce a professional looking cover. Nothing will turn a potential buyer off more quickly than a poorly designed or lackluster cover, so if you don’t think you can develop the necessary skills, then do yourself a favour and hire a professional designer.

CreateSpace Online Cover Builder

Personally I have looked through the templates provided by Createspace and didn’t find them to be particularly inspiring, you may think otherwise and be perfectly happy to use one of them. They can be highly customised using your own images or selecting images from the Createspace library, plus colours and font can be changed to get a reasonably unique version of your book cover with a good chance that no one else has used the same combination.

If you want to learn how to use the online builder then the best way to find out how is to download and watch this Createspace tutorial.

Designing a Cover Using Your Own Software Program

If you do decide to design your own cover or employ the services of a professional designer, then you can elect from inside Createspace to upload a fully finished PDF file of your cover. To help ensure you have got the PDF properly formatted, Createspace allow you to download a design template for your chosen trim size and the number of pages your book has.  This is what the template looks like in a Photoshop screen.

Createspace Cover Design

It is sort of self explanatory but basically you overlay your design on top of the outline, just make sure that you do not intrude with text on the yellow box area where the bar code space has been allocated.  Other than that you have the front cover on the right, the back cover on the left and the spine area in the middle. You can apply your creative juices to these areas in whatever way you want and now you have an unlimited choice of images, fonts, colours or artistic designs from which to choose or create a really compelling cover image that will grab the attention of potential buyers.

Once the design is completed to your satisfaction, the image is flattened and saved as a PDF file ready to upload to Createspace. Just a couple of tips – make sure the image is a minimum of 300DPI resolution (required for print quality) and leave the white space around the outline intact so the cover can be cropped to the right size during production.

Of course you don’t have to use the template as the base for the design if you don’t want to, if you know what you are doing you can just create the file from scratch. I tend to use the template personally because you then know that with the size you have chosen and the number of pages the book has that everything will work without the need to calculate the book thickness. It just makes things much simpler to do.

Look How Quickly a Cover Design Can be Created

This isn’t strictly relevant to a Createspace book cover, but it is interesting just how quickly and easily a book cover can be created once the images you want to use have been selected.

So if you have an artistic vent and like the idea of designing your own cover, then you can see that just by learning some basic skills, you could easily start to create some really nice unique and original covers. YouTube is a great resource for finding tutorials on almost any program, but I would suggest that you chose one program and then stick to it.  GIMP is one of the better free programs, but my recommendation is Adobe Photoshop Elements 12 (PC/Mac).

Never use someone elses images without full permission however, even if that means you have to go and buy some images or even better take your own photographs.

Where You Can Purchase Images for a Book Cover

If you are promoting your books through blogging, you may be interested in this free resource for blogging images PhotoPin. But always remember to read the terms and conditions for using 3rd party images and make sure you adhere to them.

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photo credit: Jim Barker via photopin cc

Publishing Books That Sell

October 4, 2013 in Articles, Book Marketing, eBook publishing, Writing & Publishing

Why Amazon are offering advice on getting a book Published? 

Amazon Breakthrough NovelsClearly Amazon are more than happy to publish your book as an independent author, but they are also interested in high quality writing that will be taken up by the public and sell in the millions. Selling books after all is one of Amazon’s primary objectives.

Recently I watched a video on Createspace that described the critical factors for ensuring that a novel would be accepted into and potentially win the ‘Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award’. While I was watching the video it became very clear that this was not only great advice for submitting a book to a publisher, but also for anyone wanting to write and publish a book as an independent author or publisher.

What Publishers Want

Publishers will look for different things dependent on the type of imprint they are reading. For example if the book is a fictional ‘literary imprint’, they will be looking at the quality of the writing, the way the paragraphs are structured and the style of the writer.

On the other hand if the book is a ‘mystery imprint’ they will be more concerned with the strength of the plot, whether it stands up to scrutiny and if it reaches a satisfactory conclusion.

Understanding this means that you can focus more on the most important aspects of the type of imprint you are presenting and make sure that you deliver on those aspects. That does make sense actually, because someone reading a mystery will be very disappointed if they guess the outcome too early or feel that there is not a satisfactory conclusion to the story, but may be more forgiving of the odd misspelling or typo provided the book delivers on its main promise i.e. it’s a cracking good mystery. That said getting all aspects right will do no harm 🙂

Writing Fiction Novels with Strength

What does writing with strength mean, basically it means ensuring that your book has considered the 4 main publishing criteria and delivered them to a high standard:

  • Plot Development
  • Character Development
  • Originality
  • Writing style

In addition to considering these 4 main criteria  your writing also needs to be of a high quality with properly constructed paragraphs, correct spelling, good sentence structure and accurate punctuation.

You also need to understand the market you are writing for and where your book fits into that market. This understanding should be illustrated in your synopsis i.e. tell the publisher who the book will appeal to,  why you are qualified to write on the subject and why the book will appeal.

Many successful writers authors have learned their craft through studying the books of the best authors in their genre. Never assume that there is noting to learn from others, especially the best sellers. Look for the strengths to emulate them and look for the weaknesses to avoid them.

The Pitch

The pitch can be several things, it can literally be a pitch you have written for a publisher in the form of a synopsis or it can be a pitch to your intended reader in the form of a description on the product page of your book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Apple etc. This is what your pitch should do:

  • Describe what your book is about and why you are qualified to write on the subject
  • It should be framed and written in a language that the intended market emphasises with and understands
  • It should convey what the book offers, its strengths, why people will want to read it and what it will deliver
  • It should not promote itself as the next best thing in an established franchise i.e. don’t compare the book to Harry Potter or Shades of Grey. It should be standalone, new, original, with its own identity and appeal

Again it is always worth looking at the best in genre and what they have written as a description for their books to see what does and doesn’t work.

The Importance of Starting Strong

You only have to consider that a paying public, when considering if they are going to buy a book, will nearly always take the time to have a little sample read of a potential book before buying. Amazon offers a ‘look inside’ feature and many of the other big distributors have an equivalent feature.  It makes sense then that your first 10 pages (or 5000 words for a publisher) should be where your best writing should sit.

Once you have caught the attention of a potential buyer, to the extent that they actually start to read a sample portion of your book, the last thing you then want to do is lose them. Now is the time to hit them between the eyes, so how do you do that exactly:

  • Provide a strong compelling opening that will make your reader want more. Use a quirky dialogue that intrigues, start with a strong plot or write in a rich engaging way that immerses the reader in your writing so they don’t want to put the book down
  • End chapters with a suggestion that there is even more and better writing to come
  • A little snippet from me:
    •  Get straight to the point, leave your accolades and thank you’s etc. until the end of the book. A reader is less likely to be interested in those than the real story or content and if the people you are thanking are worthy they will understand why and those that are interested will still find them

These are some of the books that have been recommended by Amazon for their strong starts and have been highly rated in the ‘Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award’ as a result.

Why You Need a Biography

What many authors forget is that they are not only trying to sell a book they are also trying to sell themselves. The public will be more inclined to buy a book if they can trust the provider of that book, understand a little about them and what qualifies them to write for a specific genre or market.

A biography is the best way to communicate to a potential audience exactly what you are about, why you are passionate about what you write and how you know what you know.

Writing about the places, things and events you are knowledgeable about and are genuinely interested in will ensure your passion for the subject translates into your words and will be communicated to your reader. Writing for a market or in a niche you have no real interest in will lead to a transparency that allows your audience to see that is exactly the case. And guess what, they won’t buy your books.

Writing and publishing is a tough world, there will be countless rejections and a lack of sales, so patience and determination are the traits that any writer needs in order to succeed. There is help and support out there, you can join writer communities and engage on forums to find answers, share solutions and get general support. So if you are a writer why would you not use these valuable resources?

Always remember that there is something to learn and the right people to learn from are the best in the business. Also if you write well and don’t give up, you will eventually succeed. Especially with so many new resources now available. But at the end of the day if you write a good book and no-one finds it other than you, remember that you still did it and that in itself is a worthy accomplishment.

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photo credit: cindiann via photopin cc

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