Thursday, May 01, 2014

Adventures in Publishing :: CreateSpace


A Trick of Light will soon be available in paperback and for the Kindle. I'm super excited about the print edition. The quality of the book is really nice. I ordered proof copies, and I think after this next batch, the book will be ready for release.

The proofs turned out pretty good. Certainly not bad for my first time using CreateSpace. Like I said, the quality is lovely. I made one small revision to the cover. The text didn't look centered to me, so I opened my cover in Paint.net  (the free desktop art program I use to do just about everything art/cover/photo/logo related) and realigned the text all more to the left. After that, of course, I uploaded the cover again to CreateSpace for review.

The issue I'm having with creating covers is that the text is centered on my picture, but when you upload the file, CreateSpace shifts the image slightly, and it's affected by the bleed zone, so the text ends up being a few centimeters skewed to the right. Also, because there is a .5 centimeter area of spine space in addition to the cover, the text looks further skewed than what it really is.

To illustrate that .5 centimeter spine space...let's compare covers. Below is a mass market paperback. It doesn't have that spine space. Most mass market books don't. Usually, the cover simply folds back flush with the spine, like this...

Mass market paperback spine. Notice the cover crease is
all the way at the spine's edge. Compare with the spine
crease which doesn't go all the way to the edge
on  the cover for A Trick of Light.

I think that's simply called paperbound in mass market, but I could be wrong about that so don't quote me. I'm just trying to explain the best I can, in case someone else is having the same difficulties when creating their book cover. Because as far as I can tell, there aren't any tutorials on YouTube or anywhere else online for creating CreateSpace book covers using Paint.net.

Notice how the cover doesn't lift away right next to the
binding edge?  That space where the cover is
glued down, that adds roughly .5 centimeters to your
cover image. If your cover image wraps around it shouldn't be a
problem. But if you're uploading a front cover only, that .5 area
can make your text look off center...in my case,
more so than it already is.

Overall, I love the quality of CreateSpace books; however, I'm not impressed at all with the CreateSpace cover designer/builder application. It's entirely too basic, and the result is often a cheap looking cover. Right out the gate, you don't have a lot of template options to start with. A couple of the options would be nice and usable IF the builder allowed you to customize the placement of the cover text, and to remove the transparent and/or opaque text boxes, or heck...if the builder allowed the user to remove the title and title box entirely. But the builder doesn't allow for that on most of the templates.

The CreateSpace Builder offers roughly four or five different options within each theme, which basically just changes the color or the type of font on the book cover. But you still can't position the text where you want it on your cover when you're using the builder. So, if you select a theme with a visible text box because you think that font and color will be nice if only you could shift the box downward a little or even resize it to fit better, you'll be disappointed to find out you can't do that. And if you've uploaded a cover with a design element such as a model's face, chances are if you use a cover theme that has a title text box, that text box is going to go right over your model's face - and there's nothing you can do to remove or shift the text/box.

In addition to that, I ran into an issue with using black for the back cover in two of the themes, because some of the template options don't allow you to adjust the font color on the back cover. So if the text for that theme is black without any other options, and you change the background to black, your text won't be visible and you can't do anything within the template to change that. You have to use the original background color, or switch to another template design. It's little basic things like this that make the cover builder a real nightmare.

I don't understand why CreateSpace won't allow us to add and position cover text within the application. Ridiculous! Especially when you have to diligently watch where your text goes so it doesn't get cropped off because of bleed lines.

I started out with a pre-existing cover image. The image is I had made for my Smashwords release of A Trick of Light. I wanted to stay as close to that cover design as possible for my paperback and Kindle editions, but I wasn't able to simply use the pre-existing image in the CreateSpace builder and come away with the look I wanted. I created my own cover in Paint.net so I could have better control primarily over the text placement. But even then it's difficult to center the text. I had to upload my cover and adjust it several times to make sure the text is clear of the bleed area. Maybe the sixth time is the charm!

I'm still looking for a good template to use in Paint.net. There are no instructions with the current templates available through CreateSpace. On YouTube, most of the tutorials are for Photoshop or GIMP. GIMP won't work on my computer, I've tried it. Nevertheless, I watched a few of their tutorials to try to learn how to use/manipulate the cover template itself. Mainly because, when you download the template, it has a lot white space around it, and I have no idea if I should turn it transparent, cut it off, or leave it alone. At any rate, once I learn more about creating wraparound paperback covers in Paint.net, I'll post it here on my blog.

Like I said before, I would really, really like to simply create the cover image without text and add it within the CreateSpace building application, but for the time being, that's not possible. I hope text, font, and title issues will be addressed by CreateSpace in the future. Maybe they'll add it one day to their features when they update the builder. I feel like the cover creator/builder would be so much better with more text options available to authors.

Moving along...

I should probably mention that A Trick of Light is currently available on Smashwords for 99 cents. It's a collection of four supernatural short stories. Two of the stories are reprints from an anthology that is out of print, and there is one story that is previously unreleased. So, a mix of new and old stories. They all fit a dark, supernatural theme.

Once the paperback is made available on CreateSpace, I'll be giving away the proofs here on the blog. Signed, if you want them that way.

Pretty! The cover is gorgeous. Me loves.
Also, you can see the spine crease in this
picture if you look toward the bottom of the book.

That space is to the left of the crease is
what I'm calling the "spine space".  It
adds an extra half centimeter to your cover  -
at least it does with a 5x8 of about 105 pages. 

That's pretty much it for me today. I have editing and writing to do, so I'll probably be pretty quite on Facebook and Twitter until I get a few things off my plate.

This month, Alison Tyler is hosting a Never Say Never blog tour, and I'm participating! I have a micro snip story in Never Say Never called Bad Kitty, so I'll be blogging about that here on May 19th. I hope you'll drop in and say hello!

Until next time, happy wishes! 

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