Using PowerPoint to Create a Casewrap
by Brian Parker
(Harker Heights, TX, USA)
Zombie in the Basement
Author Brian Parker sells a guide called, "Self-Publishing the Hard Way." This article about creating a casewrap (an alternative to the dust jacket) comes from Chapter Three of that guide, "Oh what fun it is to format!"
Print on Demand: IngramSpark for hardcover, Createspace for paperback
Self-Publishing the Hard Way
I've self-published two books, a zombie apocalypse novel called "GNASH" and my children's picture book, Zombie in the Basement. For both books I have them available in eBook, paperback and hardcover.
The picture book was the hardest.
The biggest takeaway that I can tell you in a quick blog post is that when you're creating your PDF of the artwork, ensure that you follow the publishing distributor's instructions exactly.
Figuring out the bleed area and gutter space can be frustrating, but I did it in PowerPoint and created a rectangle to represent the gutter (left side for odd pages, right side for even pages) and then added semi-transparent rectangles that I put on all four sides to ensure the bleed area had part of the picture in it, but not any text or important elements of the image.
(See image #2 above for the positioning of the gutter and bleed areas. Image #3 is the final image once the reference boxes are removed.)
Ok, that was a little tedious, but it worked.
Next, the casewrap cover for the hardcover was probably one of the most difficult things I've had to do on a computer in a long time. Below is an excerpt from my upcoming booklet, "Self-Publishing the Hard Way," about how I formatted the casewrap cover:
Designing the casewrap cover was literally the hardest thing that I've done as an independent author publishing my own products. Everything has to be measured exactly, and you have to account for the bleed areas, spine width and barcode placement.
On the IngramSpark site, when it comes time to create your casewrap cover, you can't simply upload a file and be done with it. (While I researched this section, I discovered that Lulu has the same type of templates for a casewrap cover, so the formatting should be very similar.)
First you will need to have the company generate a casewrap cover template based on number of pages and book dimensions. They will email you the file with some instructions on the exact dimensions of the template.
Here's where the fun begins!
I'm not going to try to tell you that this is the preferred method of doing this, but how I did it worked for me.
Once I received my template, what I did was open a new PowerPoint presentation and changed the presentation dimensions to exactly what was specified in the message that came along with the template. For my 8.5" x 8.5" book, the template dimensions were 23" x 14". Next I opened up the PDF template that had been emailed to me.
(See image #4 above for the template that was mailed to me from IngramSpark.)
Since you can't save a PDF file as an image, I had to create an image by taking a screen capture.
A screen capture will take a "picture" of everything that is on your display at the time you do the capture so make sure your mouse pointer is out of the way. To create a screen capture, you simply hold down the Ctrl and Alt keys, then while they're still depressed, push the Print Screen key.
You now have the image saved on your clipboard.
Go back to the PowerPoint that you set the dimensions for a moment ago and paste the image to the presentation. Crop it down to exactly on the boundary lines on the picture of the template on all four sides and then adjust the size of the cropped image until it fits EXACTLY on the presentation background.
(I inadvertently stretched the template image the first time I did this and went through all the hassle of the next steps only to be told by the cover review person at IngramSpark that my template was screwed up and as a result, the title was in the bleed area and the picture was outside the acceptable margins. But I digress; back to the formatting.)
Ensure the picture of the template you made fits EXACTLY on the presentation background (I know I wrote that twice). Don't worry about your casewrap cover being wrong; if your files are incorrect, the company will let you know about it and require you to fix it before you move forward.
Next, you're free to begin adding the elements you need. In the template image above, the white areas are the wraparound portion of the cover. Those areas will be blank when the cover paper is glued onto the book, so make sure you don't accidentally put any images there. The blue represents the bleed area and the pink is the area where it is safe to have text and the barcode. As you can see in image #4, you are provided a barcode on the template, but since it's unreadable once you put your images over it, you'll need your own barcode image.
You'll have to save your template as a PDF for submission. The best thing to do is to use JPG images of your cover with the title and artist text already on there; remember, this is due to the way PDFs save text boxes. Since you're in PowerPoint with your template laid out in the proper size, go to wherever you've saved your cover JPG and copy/paste it onto the presentation. You'll need to adjust the size of your cover to go all the way from the right edge to the first line indicating the spine crease.
It's important that you have the image stretched from one corner to the other, lined up exactly with the indicator marks on the corners.
Once it's lined up properly, you'll need to ensure you are within the acceptable print area and that no text is in the bleed area. If you click and hold on your picture, you can move it around and the image will become partially transparent, so you can move the image around and ensure you're within the acceptable limits. Unfortunately, my original image that I used for the paperback file had text that was in the bleed area, so I had to resize and reposition the text back on my PowerPoint cover and then save the image as a JPG with a different file name. And I had to do this three or four times until I got it right. In fact, if you compare the paperback book and the hardcover book, the title and author information are in noticeably different positions due to the casewrap formatting requirements.
(I'm going to share another little secret that I've learned from years of using PowerPoint for my military career: when you copy something on one slide, and paste it to another, it goes at exactly the same place on the slide you're pasting it to. This knowledge came in handy for me during this process because I added a second slide to the PowerPoint presentation and simply cut/pasted the cover image from the template onto the second slide. Now I knew that my cover image was exactly where I wanted it to be without it getting in the way of the other things I was doing or getting moved around by accident.)
Next was the text box for the back cover. That was an easy insert right onto the template and adjusting it until all my text was within the pink area. For this book, I wanted a small picture image from one of the inside pages, so I pasted and resized that to within the pink area. After that, I copied the barcode that I'd generated and saved as a PDF earlier onto the template and made sure it was within the pink area too.
I highlighted those three items, cut and pasted them to the second slide. Again, they were out of the way, but exactly where they needed to be.
Finally I inserted a large rectangle shape that I stretched to reach from one corner to the other, exactly lined up with the marks on the template. I changed the fill color to the color that I wanted the background of the cover to be (green) and all that was left was for me to go to the second slide, highlight everything and copy/paste them back onto the first slide.
I deleted the empty second slide and saved the PowerPoint as a presentation (in case I needed to make changes later) and also as a PDF. Upload that file to the publishing service's cover file upload box and wait to get the email saying you need to proof your book. (Article continues below final image.)
As you can see in the first image at top of this article, the final cover ends up looking like a normal image, it just takes a lot of work when you do it yourself.
The picture book was a challenge, and I learned how to do things things on the fly, figuring it out as I went. It was a great experience for a self-published author. I hope that you've gotten some ideas and picked up some Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs as we call them in the military) to help you create your perfect picture book. Check out my guide for more.