When I first started writing books, I worried only about getting the words into the story. After all, that’s the whole point of the book, right? It can live without all the rest of it, really, so that’s where I put my energy. Then when I came to publishing it, reality whacked me in the face: You need a cover.
Right, fine, covers. Makes sense. So then, after figuring out all the various restrictions and recommendations from different publishers like Smashwords and KDP and all of that, and designing a cover using GIMP, I patted myself on the back and moved on.
Then I ran into the next problem – The cover for an ebook won’t match the cover for a print book. Why? Because print books come in lots of different dimensions, again depending on the publisher and industry standards. Not only that, the pixel count and dpi actually matter. The ratio of the rectangles are most likely not going to be the same.
There comes the next issue – not only do you need a cover for your ebook, you need one for your softback. The softback will need to have a spine and a rear cover to boot. Alignment of the cover is also a concern if you take into account the bleed and margins. Things that were ‘perfectly centre’ can’t be relied upon any more. If you’re doing a hardback there’s another set of rules again since that also contains areas for inside cover and potentially different designs for the jacket if you’re going with one of those. I haven’t done a hard-cover yet, but I might – just might – depending.
Because there’s yet another problem in the form of the Audiobook. Audiobook covers are based off the classic CD covers in that they are square. 3000 x 3000 pixels. Doesn’t matter which way you look at it, it’s not a rectangle. There’s the real pickle. While ebook and print books might have similar ratios, and you can coerce the elements from one to behave properly with the other by moving this up a little and squeezing that over, the audiobook gets a knife and rams it through your plans.
I have seen some audiobooks where the cover is merely the ebook cover copied on to a square, but KDP doesn’t like that kind of thing. It wants the cover to be its own production, not look like someone tried to shove a rectangle into a square hole.
To combat this, I deliberately made the cover up of loosely arranged elements. The background of the sea and stormy sky is wide enough to be expanded for the audiobook, and different enough horizontally for the ebook and paperback. The heads of Iris and Tyrone must be anchored to the edges of the cover, so would naturally reveal more or less of the background as the requirements expanded the cover dimensions.
You can see the result below:
Both the ebook and audiobook, being digital, allow for use of the entire canvas. Anything 1 pixel in will be shown. The title and author and tagline can be pushed to the edges with only a small margin, and alignment is guaranteed.
The audiobook, having the narrator’s name on there, along with the extra words of ‘Official Audiobook’, coupled with the wider dimensions, meant the title and tag naturally rose up to fill the void and make space. Oh, and Barbara LaCroix is not doing the narration. That’s just there as a placeholder.
The paperback has obvious differences – the dimensions of the front page are similar to the ebook, so the positioning is similar, but not the same. The bleed requires that the margins from the outside edge of all faces be removed. While this looks like there’s a lot of free space on the edge, it’s most likely going to be physically trimmed off.
I’m still tweaking the overall designs, ensuring alignments and quality, but at least you can get an idea of how the work never really ends…