Balboa Press - FAQ Image Formatting

Image Formatting FAQ

How important is the cover of a book?
Can Balboa Press give me any advice about covers?
Can I use an image that is not my picture or illustration?
What are CMYK and RGB colour schemes?
If I design an image for the cover, should I design it in RGB or CMYK colour mode?
What should I know about the difference between CMYK and RGB colour modes?
How thick is the spine going to be?
Can there be text on the spine of the book?
Can I print text or pictures inside the cover?
Can people buy my book in hardcover?
Before I approve my cover, what do I need to review?
What are the causes of colour variation in printing the cover?
What should I consider regarding the colour of my cover proof? 

How important is the cover of a book?

A book cover is extremely important to your book especially when you consider how many books are published each year and the choices readers have. This large selection means it is difficult for new or unknown authors to break into the book market. Even if your book is outstanding, you still need to draw readers in with an outstanding cover or they may never notice your book.

Your cover is important because it must capture the reader’s attention, but it must also convince the reader to part with their money and actually buy your book. The higher the quality of your cover the more likely it will stand out to consumers, therefore the more likely they are to buy it. A professional-looking cover is also necessary in marketing, especially if you plan to promote your book or push to have it reviewed professionally. First impressions and opinions of your book are formed instantly from the cover and impact whether or not a reviewer, reader or consumer invests time or money in your book.

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Can Balboa Press give me any advice about covers?

Yes. Our top-notch designers are happy to work with you to give you the cover of your dreams. Since we use the best desktop publishing and digital printing, the sky is the limit when it comes to designing a cover for you. Depending on your package you may have a standard cover or an enhanced cover. Both will give you design options, but the enhanced cover will give you more options.

The best place to start when it comes to thinking about your book cover is a bookstore or a library. Make note of what catches your eye on other book covers. Think about elements such as colours, themes, fonts and always, what your target audience would be attracted to. While you are at the bookstore or library keep your genre in mind as well. Your cover design should not stray too far from other books in your genre, but you still want it to stand out enough to draw attention to your book. The cover of your book should reflect characters from your storey or themes that unfold throughout the book. Give readers a sneak peek at what they can expect from your book, but don’t give too much away. Don’t try to cram too much onto the cover of the book; it should be balanced and simple, not engaged and distracting.

Colour is also important to remember when designing your cover. Warm colours, such as red, orange and yellow tend to be high-arousal colours that stimulate the senses while cool colours, such as blue, green and purple cause feelings of relaxation and calmness. The intensity of your colours can also convey specific ideas and/or themes.

When designing your front cover don’t forget about your back cover too. The front cover is meant to inspire people to pick up your book while the back cover will tell them what they can expect from the book. Most people spend twice as long reviewing the back cover than they do looking at the front cover, so the back cover is critical for book sales. You shouldn’t tell the whole storey on the back, just give enough details to give the reader an idea of what your book is about.

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Can I use an image that is not my picture or illustration?

The only way you can use an image you did not take or create is if you have written permission from the copyright holder. Images found on the Internet, in other books, magazines and newspapers or taken by a professional photographer are most likely copyright protected and not available for your use without permission. Please see the FAQ selection about copyright laws or visit www.copyright.gov for more information. 

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What are CMYK and RGB colour schemes?

CMYK and RGB are two different colour schemes that describe how colours are created. RGB stands for red, green and blue. RGB uses light to produce colour: the more illuminated light involved, the lighter the image. RGB produces the widest range of colour. RGB colours are typically used on computer monitors, digital cameras and televisions – any device that uses light to produce an image.

CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow and black. This category of colour uses the combination of ink pigments to produce colour. The less ink used, the lighter the image; the more ink used, the darker the image. Printing projects typically use the CMYK colour category.

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If I design an image for the cover, should I design it in RGB or CMYK colour mode?

Use CMYK colour mode, not RGB to create your cover design. We do have the capability to convert a file from RGB to CMYK, but the colours will not look like the original design you created and it will cost you an extra fee. In order to have the best control over the end product of your cover, use CMYK colour mode because it is the mode used by our printer.

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What should I know about the difference between CMYK and RGB colour modes?

The biggest difference between CMYK and RGB is that the “gamut” or range between the two colour subsets does not always overlap. Both CMYK and RGB contain a specific and complete subset of colours within the entire colour spectrum. There are colours that are created on a computer screen in RGB that cannot be reproduced when physically printed out in CMYK. Therefore, colours could be lost in translation from computer screen to print.

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How thick is the spine going to be?

The number of pages in your book determines the width of the spine. We will calculate and adjust the spine width for you.

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Can there be text on the spine of the book?

Yes, there can be text on the spine of your book if your book has more than 100 pages. Typical spine text includes the book title and author name. Any book less than 101 pages will still have a spine, but there will be no text on it. We cannot include spine text on books with 101 pages or less because the spine text can look crooked, off-centre or falling off the front or back cover. These problems look so unprofessional that we are not willing to take the risk to print on thinner spines.

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Can I print text or pictures inside the cover?

No, our printer does not allow any text or pictures printed inside the cover.

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Can people buy my book in hardcover?

No, unfortunately at this time we are only offering softcover publishing packages.

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Before I approve my cover, what do I need to review?

When you approve your cover, you state that the proof copy of your cover is exactly as you wish for it to appear in the published version of your book. Be sure to carefully cheque all aspects of the design such as: front, back and spine text (double cheque everything is spelled correctly including your name – don’t assume that will automatically be correct), font style and size, illustrations, colours, captions, paragraph layout, images and indents.

Because of the differences between CMYK and RGB colour schemes it is possible for some slight colour variation to occur from the version approved online. The colours may also vary slightly from print to print due to the method of printing and the individual print runs.

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What are the causes of colour variation in printing the cover?

We wish we could, but we cannot guarantee a 100 percent colour match on every single printing. Several factors affect how a colour looks from printer to printer and computer monitor to computer monitor.

First, every computer monitor is different. The brand of computer monitor and adjustable colour settings that alter the brightness and contrast of your monitor create an inconsistency of colours between computer screen and printer.

Secondly, colours appear different when they are printed versus how they are displayed on a monitor. This happens because monitors create colour using light, while a printer creates colour using ink. Other factors also play a role, like the difference in a monitor and printer’s mechanics and range of colours it can accommodate. (See the FAQ about the difference between CMYK and RGB colours for more information)

Lastly, individual devices do not speak the same language. A camera, scanner, monitor and printer all “talk” about colour differently, using different ink formulas and values. They do not necessary use the same values or measures to record or describe a colour.

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What should I consider regarding the colour of my cover proof?

One suggestion is to try a variety of printers and screens to see possible variations in printing. Do not completely rely on one source when viewing an image. Since our printer prints in CMYK colour, is it best to view and print your cover images in CMYK, not RGB to get a more precise idea about what your finished cover version will look like. If you use extremely bright reds, yellow or blues, they will appear slightly more subdued because they are not included in the CMYK range.

Additionally, because we use print-on-demand technology and do not print mass quantities of your book at one time, covers and images can vary from book to book, print to print. Factors such as toner levels, variations in the mechanics of the printing press on a given day and variations in paper can create slight differences in each book cover.

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