It's good to think of covers as marketing tools which change regularly. So there's no need to obsess about a given cover as being the absolute perfect for all time.
That being said, if you do want to tackle the cover yourself, here's how it works.
A cover for a paperback book is a PDF file which is a wraparound single image. It is as if you ripped the entire cover off your book and laid it down flat on a table.
Luckily, you don't have to figure out where all those pieces go on your own. You simply plug in the details into a CreateSpace calculator and it makes that template for you.
So, on the left-hand menu bar for your book, click on "How to make a cover PDF". Ignore all the scary numbers and calculations and so on. Simply click on "Download Cover Templates" near the end of section 2.
This is easy. Just put in the interior type - probably black and white. Trim size. Number of pages. Paper color. That's it. The system will give you a template for you to use.
This shows you where everything goes. They put in the barcode for you - just leave that space open. You don't have to worry about that part.
I have an entire book on how to design covers, but to summarize, for those who know how to use Photoshop, what I do is this. I open this template up in Adobe Photoshop. I make it into a top layer and set it to "Exclusion" so that I can see through the margins to the layers below. Most of the time I keep the template hidden, but it means when I make the template visible I can keep track of where those margins fall on top of the actual text and image.
Then I design my cover with whatever text and such I want. The template lets me make sure I have the spine on the spine area and so on. It's pretty straightforward to plunk the back-cover text on the left side and the front-cover text on the right side. The spine should always be read with your "head tilted right" for US books.
So here is the finished cover -
And here I have the template layer temporarily turned on so I can make sure my cover fits within the margins.
When I am satisfied with my cover, I flatten the layers and save it as a PDF file. I then go back to my book editing page and use the cover section to load in this PDF file. I like glossy covers, so I set the finish to glossy.
Now it's time to tackle the channels and pricing aspects of the book.
CreateSpace Step by Step - main page
CreateSpace Self Publishing
Loading Up the CreateSpace Book
Making a CreateSpace Cover
Channels and Pricing on CreateSpace
Review Process on CreateSpace
Timing of CreateSpace Process
Problems and Issues with CreateSpace
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