How to Print a Book Cover

Besides a compelling story, the book cover is one of the most important elements of your book. It needs to be crisp, clear, and colorful to attract potential readers' potential. Many graphic designers use Quark or Photoshop to create a book cover file. After it's completed, you save the book cover as either a TIF or PDF file, and then you send it on to the printer. But what if you want to be the printer, and print out your own book cover? This article will teach you how to do just that.

Size your book cover to produce a 5.5 x 8.5 or 6 x 9 inch book when you create the design. This is because most glossy card stock papers that you will find at a copy store will max out at 11 x 17 or 12 x 18 inches in size. The finished, laid out book cover will come out to about 9 x 12 inches (back cover, front, plus spine). You will have to allow space for what is called the "bleed," which is discussed in the next step. Open your finished book cover file in Adobe Photoshop or Acrobat.

Place 1/8 inch bleed (trim) marks around the edges of your cover. The bleed is the part of the book cover that is trimmed off to make sure that that cover does not have a white border around the edges. The process for creating your bleed marks is different depending on your program. In Photoshop, you can set these bleed marks through the "Print Preview" command, and in Adobe Acrobat, you must create a "TrimBox" under "Crop Pages." Keep in mind that you must add 1/8 inch to each side of your document to come up with the finished book size (for example, it's best if you lay out a 5.5 x 8.5 book as 8.75 x 11.75, which includes front cover, back cover, a 1/2 inch spine, and the 1/8 inch bleed on each edge of the cover).

Print the book cover on cover stock paper sized at either 11 x 17 or 12 x 18 inches as described earlier (whichever size will comfortably fit your finished book cover layout). The most common paper used for book covers is 80# white paper (glossy on one side). It is highly recommended that you have your book cover printed at a professional copy shop unless you have high quality, wide format printing equipment (see an example under "Resources"). Be sure that you set the printing settings for a full color output, and that you load the paper into your printer so that the cover will print on the glossy side.

Hire a professional to bind your printed book cover to the rest of your book if you are not familiar with the process. It involves scoring the spine with a paper clip or other dull metal tool so that the spine will fold easily around the printed pages of the book, and then gluing the book on with a special glue (PUR Poly Urethane Reactive glue is most commonly used for books --- see the link under "Resources). If you do it yourself, the book might come out uneven and sloppy.

Measure the thickness of your book text pages to find out the exact size that your book cover spine should be.

Most book printers will gladly print your book covers for you, even if you don't want them to print the text pages of the book. The prices are a little better than what you would get at a local copy shop. Just send the finished file and they will send you a stack of your printed book covers. In some cases they might be able to create the trim marks for you.

Be sure the glossy paper you buy for your book cover is compatible with your printer (InkJet or Laser).

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