So I was ready to re-create my book cover. I downloaded a template from CreateSpace and prepared to edit it in GIMP.
This is what I got:
What was I supposed to do with this?!
Reading further on the CreateSpace Website, I discovered that this was to be the first layer of my new image. I was to place my book cover elements over it in new layers, turn off this layer, and then export the my elements as a print-ready PDF document with embedded fonts.
I had little to no problem putting my own book cover elements over it. It seemed that GIMP wanted to add a new layer for anything I added by default, so that was no problem. Turning off the original layer? Not that big a deal, either.
I started by adding a solid background the same size as the final book cover. That way I could lay my cover and back cover elements over it and any uncovered areas would be the same color. I just had to mentally remember not to put any elements in the lower right-hand corner of the back cover. I still wanted to be able to see my guidelines, so once I had the background lined up, I turned it off until I was almost finished.
Although CreateSpace told me I wouldn’t need a spine for a book fewer than 100 pages or so, I created one anyway since there was a place for it on the template. At the end of my editing, I eventually exported two versions — one with the spine and one without. I submitted the one with the spine first, and figured if they rejected it, all I had to do was submit the other one.
For the back cover, I cropped my solid background to create an image the same size as my front cover art. I saved this under a different name and used PhotoScape to create text blocks in the same way I added my author and title to the cover. Then I layered the final result onto this image. Then I saved the whole thing as a GIMP project file so I could edit it later if I needed to without having to create all of the layers again.
I was ready to export it as a PDF with embedded fonts. Not as easy as I thought.
First of all, GIMP doesn’t have a function to export as a PDF. I had a PDF printer installed on my computer already (CutePDF). I used this on a regular basis to print online payment receipts and other things to PDF. But I didn’t think it embedded the fonts. (At least, there was no option to do so. If it does, it does it without asking.)
I needed to be sure the fonts were embedded. Once again, I’m cheap. (Do I really need to keep saying that?) Free is best for me.
After a little research, I came up with another option. doPDF. It does everything CutePDF does, but it also offers the option of embedding fonts. And (say it with me now): it’s free!
The only lingering question in my mind was this: is printing to PDF and exporting as a PDF the same thing? Logic tells me “yes”, since you end up with a PDF file either way. But we’re talking about computers here: logic doesn’t necessarily mean what I think it means. All I could do was try. My final book cover looked like this:
The good news? My cover was accepted, somewhat. They recognized the PDF format and the embedded fonts. CreateSpace removed the spine because my book was so short. But my first submission didn’t look right in the digital proof. My cover art was too far to the right and was cut off.
I opened the GIMP project file and moved the cover layer over to the left a bit. I printed a new PDF and uploaded it. This time it was accepted.
The digital proof looked great. I was ready to order a print copy of the proof for final review.
Next: Adventures in Kindle publishing, and a hiccup…