When your book goes to press, your printer will ask you to provide him or her with a press-quality PDF, and in order to do this you should use a professional DTP package like Adobe InDesign or QuarkXpress. Set up your document and transfer your ideas on to it. You’ll find that you will have to do lots of tweaking and experimenting with typefaces and colours. Professional book cover designers always supply their clients with a choice of designs, and you should do the same. Print them out and do a straw poll of friends who fit your potential clients’ profile. Ask them to be honest, even if it might hurt your feelings.
You will not be able to proceed with the rest of the cover until the book has been typeset and the paper chosen, Your printer should then be able to give you the spine width. Now you will be able to set up the cover in it’s entirety. The file will be very wide – the sum of the widths of the front and back covers, the spine, the flaps if you have them, and the bleed. The depth of the file will be the depth of the cover plus bleed top and bottom (usually 3mm, but can be up to 20mm – your printer will advise you).
The spine should contain the book title and author’s name, and usually has the publisher’s logo at the bottom. Don’t overlook the spine design – it’s often the only part of your book that will be seen in the bookshop, and should stand out. If there’s room I’ll often put a small motif or photo on the spine to help with this. The back cover should contain text (called ‘blurb’ in publisher-speak) which should encourage people to look inside the book. It might also contain a quote, possibly a short biography of the author, and a picture of the author (optional). It must also contain a barcode. You can get your printer to originate the barcode, so long as you give them the ISBN (see page xx) and selling price. The flaps (if you have them) would contain additional information. Again, it’s good to check out the competition to see what others have done.
For more information, take a look at my related blogs (part 1 and part 3).