Creating a CreateSpace Cover

The Art of Design

NOTE: For over a decade, Amazon called their self-publishing paperback operation "CreateSpace". In 2018 they decided to stop using that legacy name and simply call their self-publishing section "Amazon". Throughout this section of my pages you may see the process referred to as either Amazon or CreateSpace. Both refer to the self-publishing paperback options provided by Amazon.

I want to caveat right up front that not everybody is comfortable using Paint or Adobe Photoshop or other similar programs. If you're just not interested in graphic design, that's fine. Go onto or any of a number of other websites and pay someone the $10 or $20 to make a cover for you. It's fine to get help! And, besides, many authors update their cover every year or two as the industry moods change. For many of my books I'm on cover four or five already -

Knowing Yourself

It's good to think of covers as marketing tools which change regularly. So there's no need to obsess about a given cover as being the absolute perfect for all time.

That being said, if you do want to tackle the cover yourself, here's how it works.

A cover for a paperback book is a PDF file which is a wraparound single image. It is as if you ripped the entire cover off your book and laid it down flat on a table.

Knowing Yourself

Luckily, you don't have to figure out where all those pieces go on your own. You simply plug in the details into a CreateSpace calculator and it makes that template for you.

So, on the left-hand menu bar for your book, click on "How to make a cover PDF". Ignore all the scary numbers and calculations and so on. Simply click on "Download Cover Templates" near the end of section 2.

Loading Up the CreateSpace Book

This is easy. Just put in the interior type - probably black and white. Trim size. Number of pages. Paper color. That's it. The system will give you a template for you to use.

Loading Up the CreateSpace Book

This shows you where everything goes. They put in the barcode for you - just leave that space open. You don't have to worry about that part.

I have an entire book on how to design covers, but to summarize, for those who know how to use Photoshop, what I do is this. I open this template up in Adobe Photoshop. I make it into a top layer and set it to "Exclusion" so that I can see through the margins to the layers below. Most of the time I keep the template hidden, but it means when I make the template visible I can keep track of where those margins fall on top of the actual text and image.

Then I design my cover with whatever text and such I want. The template lets me make sure I have the spine on the spine area and so on. It's pretty straightforward to plunk the back-cover text on the left side and the front-cover text on the right side. The spine should always be read with your "head tilted right" for US books.

So here is the finished cover -

Loading Up the CreateSpace Book

And here I have the template layer temporarily turned on so I can make sure my cover fits within the margins.

Loading Up the CreateSpace Book

When I am satisfied with my cover, I flatten the layers and save it as a PDF file. I then go back to my book editing page and use the cover section to load in this PDF file. I like glossy covers, so I set the finish to glossy.

Now it's time to tackle the channels and pricing aspects of the book.

Amazon Paperback Self Publishing Step by Step - main page
Amazon Paperback Self Publishing
Loading Up the Amazon Paperback Book
Making a Amazon Paperback Cover
Amazon Paperback Proof Copy vs Author Copy
Channels and Pricing on Amazon Paperback
Review Process on Amazon Paperback
Timing of Amazon Paperback Process
Problems and Issues with Amazon Paperback

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