Creating Print On Demand Interiors and Covers Using Scribus Part 10

I have taken a few weeks to document all the steps required to use Scribus to layout the interior and cover for Print on Demand (POD) PDF files and thought about publishing it.

I decided to first publish on this blog, because I will hopefully get good feedback on missed steps or other suggestions from others who are also preparing their stories for POD publication or creating bookmarks or whatever.

If I work on approximately 5 pages each blog, it will take 8 blog posts or more  to get it all up.

If you missed Part 1 read it first, then Part 2Part 3  Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8 and Part 9.

Part 10

Front Cover Text

At the least, you need a Title and Author Text Frame on the Front cover. Study the published books in the genre you write and work out if you need more than you Book  Title and Your Author Name and notice the placement of each text frame on covers you like.

I add Title, Author and other information such as series number.

I click Insert, Insert Text Frame and place it across the top of the Front Cover, making sure to keep the edges of the text frame inside the blue margin on the top and right sides.

I also make sure I keep the left edge the same distance from the right spine guide as the outer edge, .25”. If I am not sure, I add another guide .25” to the right of the right spine guide.

I right click the text frame and select Edit Text to open the Story Editor and enter the title of my novel. Then I make sure I have selected the text, then select the font and size and click Update Text Frame and Exit icon to save the text and settings. I repeat opening the Story Editor until I am happy with the height and width of the title text.

I repeat the above steps to add a Text Frame for my Author Name, and any other information I require on the front of my cover.

That is how easy it is to add the text to the front cover.

Exercise:

  1. Add a guide to the left side of the front cover equal to the width of your page margins.
  2. Add a text frame for the title of your story and arrange on the front cover.
  3. Add the text for the title and adjust the justification, font, size, height and width.
  4. Repeat for your Author Name
  5. Save the file

Spine Text

I place the Title, Author, Publisher Icon and Genre on the spine.

Again, I suggest you check other published books in your genre to see what text they include on the spine.

I add four text frames, and while the text frames are still horizontal, I add the text and adjust the font family, width and height of the text, and select the colour, and save and exit the Story Editor.

Then I change the horizontal fields to vertical for Title and Author Name. I select each text frame in turn, right click, and open the properties window. I select the XYZ tab and change the value for Rotation to 270.0 0

Take note of the cover spine text direction in the genre published books you studied. The published spines I studied all flow the text fields of Author and Title on the spine from top to bottom, not from bottom to top, hence the rotation to 270 degrees. If you need your text to flow from the bottom to the top of the spine, then you would select 90 degrees rotation.

I can see other places where I could use the rotation of 90 degrees, such as the front or rear cover text on a non fiction cover.

The genre and publisher icon or text I keep horizontal and adjust the size of the font until it fits. I found that if I place “Science” and “Fiction” over two lines and adjust the font size until it fits within the guides at the sides of the spine it is still readable by the book store staff, helping them place the title in the correct genre shelves.

I sometimes select Line Spacing under Text, First Line Offset tabs, if the text in the text frame does not line up correctly, but mostly, I move the Text Frame or alter the font size until the text is displayed correctly inside the spine guides.

I move the text frame to the correct position on the spine and repeat for the two other text frames. The publisher icon I leave horizontal. I move it to the correct position on the spine, and adjust until the publisher icon is inside the spine margins.

The spine is done for now.

Exercise:

  1. If you have not already added the guides for your spine, do so now
  2. If your front cover image does not flow across your spine, you need to add an image frame and image to your spine. You may use a single colour instead of an image, but pick a colour that allows the text to be clearly read on a book shelf. Again, study other published books in your chosen genre for comparison
  3. Add your text frames and enter your book title, author name, genre and publisher icon or text
  4. Select the correct font family, size, with width and height adjustments
  5. Change your rotation to flow from the top to bottom of spine.
  6. Move each text frame to the correct position on the spine, keeping within the guides
  7. Make any minor adjustments, to colour, height or width of text
  8. When you are satisfied with the placement of the text frames save your file

Back Cover Text

Again, study the back cover in the genre you write.

I studied a lot of Science Fiction covers, and the main thing I noticed is they all differ in length of blurb, publisher information and the placement of each text frame.

I am not teaching how to write blurbs, only how to use Scribus to create professional covers and interiors. There are many good courses on the internet, from free to small fee, where you can learn how to write good blurbs.

I write my blurb for my eBook, and use the same blurb, with minor changes for the back cover of my POD books.

First, I check the image already added, does cover the bleed areas on the back cover, just like the front and spine. I dealt with that step above under front cover heading.

If you are adding an image that is different to the front cover image, then add your image frame and confirm it covers all the bleed areas on the back cover.

I use a text frame for the Blurb and Publisher Data including the cover image copyright.

I also place an empty text or image frame as per CreateSpace requirements until I am satisfied with the placement of the other frames.

CreateSpace requires a 2” x 1.2” box in the lower right hand corner of the back cover.

Again, you can check the CreateSpace web link, in case they makes changes to the size of their barcode space since this book was published.

I make my barcode text or image frame 2.5” x 1.7” which includes a 1/4” margin around the edge, so I know I can but the bottom corner of the frame against the bottom right corner of the back cover, and it still allows a 1/4” space around the barcode.

Once the barcode frame is placed, I then enlarge the blurb and publisher details frames, making sure neither cross into the barcode area.

I add the text to both text frames and spend a few minutes adjusting the colour and font size until it is readable from a distance.

I sometimes place an image frame behind the blurb and publisher data text frames to lower or dim the cover image enough for the text to be clearly read.

I do this by selecting the blank image frame, right clicking the mouse to select Level from the drop down menu. I send the image frame behind the text frame but in front of the first image frame. Then I select Properties from the drop down list and under Colours I select a pale colour and set the opacity between 50 – 70%,

I study the back cover, making sure the text is clearly read over the second image frame, keeping in mind if a reader picks up my book from a shelf, they only spend seconds reading the back cover. If the font is too small they will return the book to the shelf and select another book.

Once satisfied with the placement and readability of the text, I save the file.

Exercise:

  1. If your front cover image does not carry across your spine and back cover, you need to add an image frame and image to your back cover
  2. Add your image frame for the barcode, making sure it is larger than the area CreateSpace requires
  3. Add your blurb and publisher text frames
  4. Add your text to the text frames in the Story Editor
  5. Adjust the font size, width and height
  6. Confirm that the text in the blurb and publisher data frames can be read
  7. If not, add a second image frame, and select a pale colour.
  8. Move the image frame one level down, so it is behind the text frame
  9. Again, check that the text can be clearly read
  10. When satisfied with the layout, save the file

You have now created a professional cover for your Print on Demand book.

Now you need to save the completed file as a PDF. It is covered next.

Saving your Cover file

The only difference between generating a PDF cover file and a PDF interior file is to make sure that the bleeds are included in the generated PDF file.

File, Export => Save as PDF to open the Preflight Verifier window.

Look for errors.

I always check for Object has Transparency errors. If it relates to the cover image, I know I have a habit of not adjusting it after I complete changes to the text frames, so I need to change it back to 100%.

To do that, I right click on the cover image and select Properties. Under the Colours tab I change the Opacity to 100% and close the Properties window.

I then close the Preflight Verifier and check that all the text is still clearly read. If not, I make adjustments. If I can not make more adjustments, I may decide to drop the Opacity a little lower than 100%, such as 90 or 80%.

Once I am satisfied with the change I again click File, Export => Save as PDF and ignore the error message Object has transparency for the cover image.

I also ignore the error message Object has transparency if it refers to a second image that helps lower the cover image so the text can be read.

If there are still other fields with error messages, either remove the excess fields, or fix the frame so that the error messages disappear when you click the Check Again button.

I click the Ignore Errors button to open the Save as PDF window.

I check the Output to File: path for the pdf file. I leave the file name the same as the Scribus file name, but you may want to give the PDF file a different name.

Finally I click the Ignore Errors button to open the Save as PDF window.

I leave most of the settings as they are, but change Compatibility: to PDF 1.3 (Acrobat 4), if it displays a later version.

Under the Viewer tab I confirm Document Layout has Single Page selected.

Under the Pre-Press tab I confirm there is a check mark in Use Document Bleeds.

That is all the changes needed. I click the Save button to generate the PDF file.

I now have both a profession cover and interior layout file ready to upload to CreateSpace created in Scribus that has no visible differences to creating the same files in InDesign.

Exercise:

  1. Save your file as a PDF by clicking File, Export => Save as PDF to open the Preflight Verifier window
  2. Check for any errors and fix then click the Check Again button to confirm the errors have been fixed or click the Ignore Errors button to open the Save as PDF window
  3. Confirm the correct file path and name in the Save as PDF window
  4. Change the Compatibility field to PDF 1.3 (Acrobat 4)
  5. Change the Document Layout has Single Page is selected in the Viewer tab
  6. Under the Pre-Press tab select Use Document Bleeds.
  7. Click the Save button

Congratulations. You now have profession cover and interior layout files for your fiction novel now ready to upload to CreateSpace that was created in Scribus and has no visible differences to creating the same files in InDesign.

You also have a template that you can use again and again, only changing the image and text fields for each new book.

Also, you now have the knowledge to create different sized templates for different works, such as novels, novellas, and collections of short stories.

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4 comments so far

  1. E.K. Carmel on

    This has been a fantastic series, Diane! When I get ready to publish, I’m going to check back here.

  2. David Olsen on

    Hello! I’m David. Your blog post are really amazing as well as you blog is also great, I cant wait to see your new post. Thanks!!

  3. D. Jay Thompson on

    I just copied all 10 so I could read them and digest this amazing bit of facts on Scribus. I am really close to paying $140 for something that does all this for me, but I would rather keep the cash in my pocket and if this is fairly easy to learn and follow the steps then I can’t thank you enough. Cheers!

    • D J Mills on

      Welcome, D. Jay. 🙂
      Hope you find my instructions on using Scribus helpful.
      Feel free to email me if you have any questions.
      The best part of learning to use Scribus is you can quickly tweak spacing, etc and update your pdf file once you see your printed proof copy, without having to wait and pay someone else to do it for you. And the layout process gets very quick once you set up your templates.


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