Working with Createspace Cover Images

I find many people that are confused by the process of adding a cover for CreateSpace – but no fear! It’s actually pretty easy once you’ve formatted the manuscript and picked trim size and page type (cream or white pages).  The season you need to have done these items is that you need to know:

  • Trim size (dimensions required for the image
  • number of pages (this impacts the thickness of the book)
  • cream or white pages (different paper equals different thickness)

I’ve said more than once that you should never create your own book cover (like in this article: The 10 Biggest Mistakes That Self Published Authors Make).  Technically, you can use the cover designer to make the entire cover – but I would advise you against this.  Although some authors have been able to create some pretty nice covers, most look like it’s self made.  AVOID THIS.  We want a professional cover!!!

Many designers will create a back cover for $30 to $50 or give you a discount on a full wraparound cover image.  I had my designer create a full wraparound and save as a PDF – so I can choose the easiest option “Upload a cover” – However, your designer will still need to know resolution and book thickness.


One of the biggest difference with graphics (since this is for a PRINTED book) is that the image must be 300 dpi (dots per inch).  Dpi is basically the resolution of the image.  For a web page, images are 72 dpi – but they should be at least 300 dpi for anything that is printed.  This will make sure you cover is not pixelated and looks like a clean, crisp image.  For the book I’m converting, the trim size is 6″ x 9″ – so I need a front and back cover image that is that size and 300 dpi.

Book Thickness

When you think about the way the cover works, you use a graphic for the front cover, the back cover, and the spine.  The front and back cover are easy (in our case, we chose a size of 6″ x 9″ for the Jess Michaels book I’m converting).  The trick is figuring out how big the spine is:

Dimensions of a Book Cover

We know the height is the same (in this case 9″) but we need to know the paper type and number of pages to get the thickness of the book. CreateSpace publishes the following thickness based on paper type:

  • White: .002252″
  • Cream: .0025″
  • Color: .002347″

You take this number and multiply it by the number of pages in your CreateSpace formatted PDF.  In my case, I had 320 pages in my final converted PDF and am using cream colored pages.  So:

320 pages x .0025″ = 0.8″

The width of my book is .8″!  So the spine dimension is 9″ x 0.8″ – So I can tell my book designer this and the can create a wraparound of the full book for me.  If you are provided a PDF, you can just upload it!  if it is a JPG or a couple jpg files, you will need to use the cover designer.

Video walkthrough

Of course I made a video – hope it’s helpful!

What if I just have a front and back cover image?

Many designers will give you a separate front and back cover image.  That’s ok!

CreateSpace has two “template” options in the cover designer:

  • The Palm – This template allows you to insert the front and back images! Using the CreateSpace cover designer, you can choose the option and insert the front and back covers.  it requires you to create your own spine image 🙂 but will automatically size the spine for you.  My advice: Book title and Author name on the spine with a solid color background.   It’ll be easy to create in the book designer and still look professional. Take a look at the way the spine images are for books you have on your book shelf.  Use the cover designer to insert the front and back images, then pick a background color and add your text to the spine!
  • The Pine – If you have a fully designed JPG wraparound (instead of a PDF), you can use this option to see how it will look.

Note: be sure the bar code box lines up correctly on your back cover!



Posted in Self Publishing.

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