Preparing Your Book Cover for Paperback Publishing

Here’s a Draft on the Way to Completion

So you have a fancy, whiz-bang front cover for your book, and you’re wanting to upload it so you can get your paperback out there, available for ordering on Amazon. You already have your front cover art, so great! We will be using that to prepare your paperback cover. (For tips on preparing your cover art, see my previous posts, here, and here.) The difference between the two is that while the ebook consists of only the front cover of your book, the paperback version requires the front cover plus a back cover, plus a spine (the part of the book you see when it’s on the library shelf).

Here’s what I did. I opened a new (blank) Word document, then I changed the page layout to “landscape” rather than “portrait.” Since the book size I had chosen for my finished paperback was 6″ by 9″, I set the page height to 9″. For the width, I needed the sum of front cover + back cover + spine. I read somewhere online that the average spine is about 1-1/4″, so that was my first guess. So adding those together, I made the page width 13-1/4″.

I imported my front cover art, stretched it to cover as much of the front cover area as possible, and aligned it to the right edge of the page. (As you can see in the pic above, it doesn’t quite cover the full height; that’s ok, some ends up getting trimmed off in the print process anyway.) Then I created two text boxes, one for the back cover, and one for the spine. I then typed in the text for my author description and story description into the back cover box, and typed in my book title and author into the spine text box (and rotated the text 90 degrees, to make it readable sideways).

The next step was filling in the back cover box and spine box with a color, and changing the font color to white. (I’m not spelling out all the steps and clicks to accomplish all these things in Word; most of them are pretty intuitive. If you have trouble with any, use the “help” feature in Word, which is the little blue circle with the question mark near the upper right.) In the pic above, I chose blue for the background, but I ended up changing it to black later–it looked better that way.

Saving my work, I then went to KDP, which I had open in another window. (I had kept it on the “upload cover” step.) Then you wait a few minutes for KDP to upload your cover, and it then prompts you to open the cover previewer. The first time you preview, be prepared to see lots of “red ink” warnings. Do not be alarmed. Close the previewer and start tweaking your cover in Word, saving it and re-uploading to KDP until you get a good result with most of the red ink gone. I had to make the whole document bigger, so that the height was about 6.13″, which then allowed for the extra that you have to provide so that the whole thing can be trimmed in the print process. I also had to adjust the spine size several times, and tweak other details too. Each time you upload, the red marks will give you clues as to what you need to adjust. After a reasonable amount of time and work I got the result I wanted; it really was not as bad as it sounds here. You can see my final result at my book’s ordering page on Amazon:

Here it is: No Form Nor Comeliness

Front Cover Only; See the Rest at

(By the way, at some point I thought I had to change my book cover’s format to a PDF file. I don’t remember where I got that idea. That didn’t go well, and it turns out I didn’t need to do that anyway. Take my advice–skip that step. It added much more wasted time and needless headache. Just upload your cover as a Word document. Done.)

Remember, you can do this! And all without hiring an expensive graphic artist, using a program you already have.



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