Jason Gurley

By day, I'm a user experience designer; by evenings/weekends, I write novels from my home in Scappoose, Ore. My newest is Awake in the World, published February 2019 by Roaring Brook Press; my previous novel, Eleanor, was published by Crown in 2016 and has since been translated into German, Portuguese, and Turkish. I’m currently working on a new project.

DIY book cover design—Part 9: Preparing and exporting your file

Hey there! Thanks very much for checking out my cover design series. This entry will be the last in the series, and should help you tie up some loose ends. Today we're going to look at the final steps for preparing your cover design for publication. As in previous posts, I'll be using CreateSpace as the example here, though you'll find similar requirements with other online publishing platforms. 

Where did we leave off? 

In the last entry, we finished our design by typesetting the complete paperback cover. Now that this is finished, it's simply a matter of exporting our files, then uploading them, to wrap everything up. (Now, that's not entirely true: After designing the paperback cover, you'll want to revisit the design for both your e-book and audio book cover, assuming you're going to be publishing in all three formats. The e-book cover is simple enough, as it echoes the front cover of your paperback design. The audio book cover, however, might necessitate rearranging the cover elements slightly to accommodate the square, rather than portrait-sized, canvas. I believe that with the tools this series has equipped you with, both should be a walk in the park for you. But feel free to ask questions in the comments!)

Export your paperback design to JPG
I always like to start here, because having a flat JPG version of the cover means having an artifact you can share. It's also a shortcut to creating a simple PDF, which we'll do next. For now, let's kick that JPG out. 

In Photoshop, under the File menu, choose Save As. You'll see a dialog box that looks like this:

Now, we want to save a JPG, not a Photoshop file. So in this dialog box, choose "JPEG" and then save the file to whatever location you prefer. (I usually dump everything onto the desktop, then organize it later.) 

A second dialog box will appear, asking you to select the quality of the image. You want the maximum quality at this point, so make sure that the Quality slider is set all the way to the right (to 12). Then click OK. 

Ta-da! Instant JPG! 

Now let's export that PDF
As nice as a JPG looks, most publishing platforms prefer a PDF file, as that's more conducive to printing your physical book. Fortunately, there's an easy way to do this that doesn't require a lot of mucking about with complicated settings. I'll take easy over Adobe Acrobat muckity-muck any day.

Open the JPG you just created in Photoshop. Here's how easy this next part is: Just like the previous step, click File > Save As. This time, choose "Photoshop PDF." Click Save. 

Again, you'll see a second dialog box. In this one, if "Preserve Photoshop editing capabilities" is checked, remove the check from the box. Click Save PDF. 

Voila! Instant PDF. 

And you're done. 

Nope, not kidding. You're really and truly done. 

Now when you visit CreateSpace and begin creating your book project, you'll have a book cover ready to go. Just upload the PDF version of your cover when they ask for it, and you're well on your way to publication. The same will go for Amazon's KDP (Kindle Digital Publishing platform) when you upload your e-book, and for ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange, I think) when you begin creating the audio version of your book. 

Really, no kidding. That's it. You're done. Over the course of this (hopefully quite simple-to-follow) series, if I've been a good host, you've learned how to go from this... this:

Which should lead you to something like this:

Not at all bad for an author creating his or her own book cover, right? Congratulations on a job very well done. And thanks very much for reading. I hope you've enjoyed it and found it educational, and at least a tiny bit entertaining. 

Click here to see all entries in my DIY book cover design series.

Limb from limb from limb

DIY book cover design—Part 8: Choosing and setting your type