Sep
11

How to Make a Wrap Around Book Cover

Book Cover Make Over

Last week, while I was browsing my Facebook feed, a saw an author's post in a forum that included a picture of her latest book.  She had taken the front cover of her book and tried to virtually create an image of what that book would look like if it were printed and actually standing on a table.  Let's just say she hadn't been 100% successful in that endeavor, as the front cover had wrapped around onto the spine, making the title unreadable.  My inner graphic artist was weeping so I reached out to point her in the right direction.  

Since then, I've been itching to learn more about making proper full-wrap covers for use on sites like CreateSpace.com.  I'm specifically interested in covers where the images deliberately wrap around the book and where custom fonts are used on the spine and back to continue the same look and feel on all sides.

All books are judged by their covers until they are read

When I'd read the earlier Siobhan Dunmoore books by Eric Thomson (as featured in my interview with him), I had ordered the print version, which at the time had the basic cover that CreateSpace offers. The image used for the Kindle edition was used as the front cover, but the spine and back had a solid black background and simple fonts. I'd loved the books, so I asked Eric if he'd let me try to create full-wrap covers for them.

Generating a Cover Template

CreateSpace does a great job of making the process as straightforward as they can, at least from a technical perspective.  Here is a page from their site that will create you a template file to use.

Assuming you've already formatted your book for printing using their services, you simply fill out the small form on their page (screen-captured here, above and at left), specifying various layout/configuration choices you made and the resulting number of pages of your book. These variables are used by CreateSpace to determine the overall size of your book, including the width of the spine.

NOTE: In the Interior Type field of the form, you'll notice some of the options use the term "with bleed." This is when images on a page extend slightly beyond the edges of the paper to ensure that they print without unintentional margins appearing if the printer heads are slightly off.

CreateSpace Cover Template

The web form will then provide you with a zip archive file that includes both a PDF and a PNG of the template you should use to create your wrap-around cover.  It doesn't matter which version of the template you use, go with whatever works with the program you intend to use.

Personally, I use Adobe PhotoShop (albeit a very old version of it). At a minimum, you need a program that can overlay images with words and can save the resulting file as a PDF.

In the full-sized version of the templates, you'll see dotted lines around the perimeter (and along the edge of the spine). These are the bleed lines and they relate to where the cover will actually end and/or bend (where the spine is concerned).  You must ensure that the background of your cover extends all the way across the red/orange zone that surrounds these bleed lines or your cover will be rejected. As with the "with bleed" term for interior pages, this ensures that your cover will print properly, with no bare cardstock showing through at the edges.

Type is a beautiful group of letters, not a group of beautiful letters.

You must also make sure that none of your key content (titling, book blurb, etc) falls within the red/orange zones that surround the bleed lines or they will risk being too close to the edge.  But outside of those buffer zone areas, the sky is the limit.

What I'm learning is that your choice of lettering will make or break your cover.  For a list of fantastic "sci-fi" themed fonts, check out this article from thebookdesignblog.com. In terms of how you choose to group your letters, think outside the box.  Think GRAPHICALLY, not legibly. Use different sizes and weights of fonts and massage things to fit beautifully together. As Matthew Carter is quoted as saying, "Type is a beautiful group of letters, not a group of beautiful letters." 

No Honor In Death Original Cover

This was the original cover for the first Siobhan Dunmoore book, No Honor In Death. Eric sent me the file for the background image that he'd used and I pulled it into the CreateSpace template and positioned it where I wanted it to sit on the front side of the cover.

As I was making a full-wrap cover, I started by digitally manipulating the original cover art, extending it toward the back cover so that the image of the spaceship would continue across the spine and provide some continuity to the entire cover. I also adjusted the color of the artwork to remove most of the red tones and add in some greens, yellows and blues.

This degree of photo manipulation is not something that most indy authors would be able to do on their own. I owned a photo editing and graphic arts company for almost a decade before I began to write. But if your cover art isn't already large enough to spill across your entire cover, you may need to seek the help of a professional artist, or leave the background as only a complementary solid color on the back and spine. This is sometimes done even on the traditional publishing side of things. You can still wow people with your font styling choices so the process of creating a wrap cover is still worth your while.

Here is the background artwork for book one after several hours of work.

Extended Cover Art

Here's the same cover with the lettering on it. I used Rationale One for the main lettering, with Jura and saxMono as accent fonts, and a basic Calibri (standard font on Windows) for the blurb on the back. To create the ISBN barcode, I went to bookow.com.

No Honor In Death Full Wrap Cover

Both Eric and I were very happy with the outcome so I dove into the other books in the series so they would all have a common look and feel.

The Path Of Duty

Here is the "BEFORE" image of The Path of Duty, book two in the same series.

As the number of pages in each book varies, I had to go back to CreateSpace to download a new template that would match what was needed for this particular book. Once I had that, I created a new PhotoShop file and copied over all the same font details from book one, using book one's template as a guide to help me align the font in the same relative location on book two's template. I changed the font to the correct content and adjusted some of the sizing and placement of the title elements to maintain the same graphical feel as on the first book.

Then I pulled the cover art for this book in behind the letters and adjusted it until it fell nicely between the lettering. (My goal was to leave the lettering in the same place for all books in the series.)  To do this, I shrank the image down slightly and then digitally extended the background starfield to cover to the edges and across the spine and back cover.

Again, I adjusted the coloring of the image to increase interest. The end result is below.

The Path Of Duty

With two successes under our belts, we targeted book three.  The original cover for Like Stars in Heaven is shown below.

Like Stars In Heaven Original Cover

As with book two, I downloaded a new template based on the correct number of pages, and pulled over all the font files and aligned it to the new template.

With book one and book two, the titles had been very similar in composition (four words with the first and third words being relatively small with the key focus being on the second and fourth words, both with four letters each). But with book three, the title was a bit more uneven in terms of character count. The first and third words were still of lesser importance but the fourth word was substantially longer than the others so I had to adjust the configuration of the words a bit, stretching the lettering and resizing it all to make sure it respected the graphical "feel" of the other books.

Pulling the artwork in behind the font layers, I kept the image sized a bit larger, allowing the rings of the planet to spill across the spine and onto the back cover. Then I digitally extended the starfield across the back and once again adjusted the coloring to remove most of the red and change the overall hue to more of a blue tone.

Overall I'm really pleased with the outcome of all three books. This gives one of my favorites series a blammin new coat of paint that will hopefully encourage new readers to give it a try.  In the future, if we wanted to take these covers to another level higher, we could add in a few testimonials and/or some biographical information and break up the layout a bit on the back.  But this is a great step in the meanwhile.

I plan to also tackle Eric's Decker's War series but the housework is piling up so they'll have to wait for now. :)

Like Stars In Heaven Full Wrap Cover

PREVIOUS BLOG POST: 

NEXT BLOG POST: 

Used tags: , , ,

two Responses to "How to Make a Wrap Around Book Cover"

  1. Eric Thomson
    Eric Thomson on 11-09-’16 18:04

    Many thanks once again for the superb covers. You are truly talented.

  2. A. Lee Ripley
    A. Lee Ripley on 14-12-’16 00:28

    You’re very welcome, Eric! Bring on Dunmoore book #4!

(optional field)
(optional field)
This is a quick question to make sure you're not a spambot. :)
Remember personal info?
Small print: All html tags except <b> and <i> will be removed from your comment. You can make links by just typing the url or mail-address.