After reviewing the Amazon KDP print-on-demand process, and finding it wanting, I thought I’d better provide a guide to the Cover Creator do’s and don’ts.
If you have already published an ebook with KDP:
- Log in to KDP
- Go to your Bookshelf
- Find the ebook for which you want to create a paperback version and click ‘+ Create Paperback’
If you have not published with KDP before but have an ordinary Amazon account, go to the website:
And sign in with your Amazon ID and Password. If you don’t have an Amazon account, click the big, yellow ‘Sign Up’ button and follow the registration instructions.
Once you’ve logged in to KDP, click the ‘+ Paperback’ button as shown below:
You should now be looking at the first page of the paperback setup screen. New authors will need to fill in the required details before they click ‘Save and Continue’ at the bottom of the screen. Existing authors will find the details already filled in using the details from the ebook.
Page 2 of the setup contains more questions, and down near the bottom half of the page you’ll find the Cover Creator option:
Click the yellow, ‘Launch Cover Creator’ button if you want to use the app to create a cover for your book.
[Note: if you already have a cover, you can upload it by clicking the ‘Upload a cover you already have…’ radio button instead. Covers must be in PDF format and they must be the appropriate size for whichever trim size you have chosen – i.e. for the physical dimensions of your book, including the spine]
You should now be looking at the ‘How to Use Cover Creator’ window:
This is essentially just an overview of the process. Click the ‘Continue’ button.
Next, you will be asked to choose a background picture for your cover. You have three options – use a free, KDP image, use your own image or skip this step:
Point at the options to see a description of that option. If you want to use your own image, click ‘From My Computer’ and select the appropriate file to use in the templates. If you’re not ready to select an image yet, click ‘Skip This Step’. You will be prompted later to select an image for the cover. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll be using the free images from the KDP gallery.
From Image Gallery…
The images in the KDP gallery are organised in categories. When you select one of the main categories listed on the left hand side of the window, the sub-categories will display on the right hand side. In the example shown below, the main category selected is ‘Backgrounds’:
Clicking one of the sub-categories will take you to the actual images. In the example shown below, I clicked on one of the images from the ‘Abstract’ sub-category:
Alternatively, I could have typed a keyword into the search box to narrow down my search.
Once you find the image you want, click the orange ‘Use this Image’ button.
Cover Creator inserts the chosen image into all of the available templates and displays them for you to choose the one you like the best:
Click the left and right direction arrows to see all the available templates . When you find one you like, click it.
You should now be looking at the ‘Quick Tutorial’:
This is just a simple overlay that explains the purpose of the buttons, icons and guidelines. Click the ‘Dismiss’ button to get rid of the overlay.
While the overlay is helpful, it completely ignores the most basic elements of the screen – i.e. how to enter your own blurb on the back cover!
When you dismiss the tutorial overlay, this is what you will see:
The triangular orange alerts are there to tell you how to replace the nonsense text with real text. Point to an alert to see a description of what it’s about. Generally, to replace the nonsense text, simply click in the relevant paragraph. This will clear all text and allow you to type, or copy/paste, the correct text onto the cover.
Easy, right? Not quite. For reasons I can’t fathom, the default font size for the paragraphs is not the same as the text shown. For example, the font for the author bio is huge, so before you type in the blurb, you have to set the font style and size via the editing bar as shown below:
Click the small down arrow to display the list of available fonts. Click a font to select it.
Next, click the small down arrow next to ‘Auto Fit’ and select a font size because…auto fit doesn’t work and the font is still huge. As far as I could tell, selecting the size of the font is a case of trial and error. The alignment options seem to work, as do the font colour and drop shadow options, but no matter what I tried, the Bold and Italic options remained greyed out.
Once you have all the back cover text entered properly, click on the ‘Author Photo’ icon. You will see two options – ‘From My Computer’ and ‘Skip This Step’:
Down the very bottom, in tiny blue letters, you should also see a link to the ‘KDP image guidelines’. -grinds teeth- Clearly this screen has been re-used without adjusting for context. Clicking this link does provide some very important information about cover images – i.e. if you choose to use your own image – but it provides absolutely nothing about the Author Photo. Luckily, Cover Creator resizes the Author Photo to fit automatically.
But… All photos are not equal. First I tried a photo of 527 x 532 pixels, and it worked perfectly. Then I tried a much smaller one – 157 x 202 pixels. Cover Creator inserted it into the available space but came back with a problem. It thought the photo was less than 300 DPI. Actually, both photos were 300 DPI so the size had clearly triggered some glitch.
For your information, the following photo size seems to work well:
500 x 500 pixels or
1.667 x 1.667 inches or
42.33 x 42.33 millimeters
With the blurb and Author Photo taken care of, it’s time to edit the rest of the template. First up are the template colours. Click the paintbrush tab beneath your cover:
This will display an editing bar:
The options on the left allow you to select each colour individually from a pallet of colours. The options on the right are colour sets that work well together. If you are choosing your colours individually, be very careful that the background and font colour are a good contrast to each other. If they are too similar, the text will be very hard to read.
The next tab is the layout tab:
Clicking this tab displays a selection of preset layouts:
And finally, there’s the font tab:
This option is for Title, Sub-title [if you want one] and Author Name. It provides a series of font ‘sets’:
Click the left and right arrows to see all the sets, and try them out. Click one to select it.
[Note: I’m not sure if the fonts were all very similar or I’m just going blind, but they all looked the same the me. Of course, this might be a display glitch…]
If you want to insert a sub-title, you have to click around the cover until the sub-title text box suddenly appears. Kind of lame. Type in your sub-title.
Although finding the sub-title is not intuitive at all, one nice feature is that you can select any piece of text – e.g. Title, Sub-title, Blurb, Spine etc – and change its colour using the Text Colour option on the editing bar:
You can also change the font and font size, which makes me wonder why you’d bother with a Text tab in the first place. -shrug-
When you’ve finished tweaking the cover, click the ‘Preview’ button and sit back while the system puts the finished preview together. Depending on how big the cover files are, this can take a while.
If you’re satisfied with the appearance of the cover, click the ‘Save and Submit’ button at the bottom of the preview screen:
The cover file will be saved automatically, and you can continue with the rest of the setup for your print book.
I hope this helps,