Publishing a Hardback Book with a Dust Jacket

Hardback Book

Bettie Macintyre - The Veranda
Recently, Bettie Macintyre asked me to proofread, format, and publish her book The Veranda, a delightful glimpse into the history of her parents, something of her life, and poems written by her mother.

Bettie wanted The Veranda published on:

–     Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing
–     IngramSpark
–     Smashwords
–     Draft2Digital

I have done work for Bettie before, and saw no problem with her request — until she said, in addition to an ebook and normal paperback version, she wanted the book in hardback with a dust jacket.

Fine, I thought. I would turn to Laura Shinn who designed covers for my books and Bettie’s two other works, and we’d be on our way. Shortly afterward, that’s when I started to get more gray hairs. Laura is a top cover designer, but she had not done a hardback cover, nor a dust jacket, which is only available from IngramSpark (IS). One day, KDP might catch up and offer to publish books with a dust jacket.

Laura and I looked at the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) cover template generator for a hardback book, filled in the required details, which were simple enough to do, and Laura got her template. One thing that caught me unawares, my fault really, KDP offers hardback editions in a minimum 5.5” x 8.5” trim size. The kicker? I formatted the paperback version of The Veranda in 5” x 8” trim size, as the book is only around 150 pages. Nothing to do but reformat the thing in the larger hardback size. IngramSpark, on the other hand, has a more flexible trim sizes list and is happy to print anything in the 5” x 8” minimum size and greater. I guess KDP just wants to make life more difficult for authors.

KDP and IS offer several options for a hardback cover, which includes pasting a normal print cover artwork to the front at time of printing, which makes designing the hardback cover pretty much the same as for an ordinary paperback. However, I have never seen a hardback book with a fancy front cover design. All of them have a plain dark front/spine/back background that basically contains the book title and author name, which makes designing a hardback cover very simple. And that is what Laura did for Bettie’s The Veranda KDP and IngramSpark versions. On our way!

I don’t know how other designers go about creating KDP and IS covers, but Laura likes to use KDP’s template generator, because it is very simple to use compared to IS’s complicated version. The only catch when printing with KDP and IS, the cover designer must note that the calculated spine width for a KDP book cannot be automatically applied to the IS cover. IS uses a thinner paper than KDP, which means for the same number of printed pages, the spine width will be different.

That’s not a problem. After using IS’s spine width calculator to get the spine width dimension, instead of creating an IS template for the cover, the KDP template generator can be used instead. The cover designer must vary the printed pages number until the desired IS spine width is obtained, then generate the template intended for the IS version of the book.

Now for the hard part — the dust jacket. Lots of cover designers offer their services to make a dust jacket — at a hefty price. The author will simply have to choose which one to employ. Being the only publisher that offers printing a hardback book with a dust jacket, a cover designer has no choice but to use the IS cover template generator for the dust jacket. That’s where I hit a wall. The IS template generator demands inputting an ISBN number into the generator! Many authors don’t buy their own ISBNs, preferring Amazon and IS, and other outlets, to give them a free one. There are advantages and disadvantages not having a personal ISBN, but that is another discussion.

Bettie Macintyre did not have an ISBN for The Veranda, which meant Laura and I were stuck how to proceed. Buying an ISBN in the United States is very expensive, something I don’t understand, but never mind. To get over that wall, Laura Shinn made an insightful suggestion. During the publication of a paperback or hardback book, IngramSpark gives the author a choice of inputting their own ISBN, or getting a complementary free one. Eureka! Laura said I should start the publication process for The Veranda and allow IS to give me a free ISBN, which I did. Laura wanted to create the dust jacket for me, but her work schedule did not permit that in the timeframe Bettie wanted her book released. I had no choice but to seek another cover designer. The free ISBN was used as input into the IS hardback template generator to produce the dust jacket template. From there, apart from several ups and downs, it eventually all worked out and Bettie has her IS hardback with a dust jacket.

Reading this tale may give an impression of minor setbacks and a process of discovery. A process of discovery it certainly was, but the setbacks I encountered getting a cover designer for the dust jacket, false starts, some grinding of teeth, is a tale best not told or reflected on. I can only hope this article will inform authors of pitfalls awaiting them when publishing with KDP and IS, and how to get a dust jacket for their book.

A huge thanks to Laura Shinn for her insight regarding the ISBN stumbling block, without which getting the dust jacket done would have been more problematical.

The Veranda is available on Amazon.

Happy writing!

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