Heads Up! - This post is based on using a Mac, however the software mentioned is available for Windows so I'd guess it will work but haven't tested it. Now, I am not yet an expert in either printing, or the use of CMYK colour spaces in general; I am simply describing what worked for me. I'd guess that someone with more technical knowledge will know a better way but I thought that sharing this could be helpful to someone out there.
A big thanks for the steer from Davies Media Design.com, whose video on CMYK colour spaces in GIMP 2.99 (development release) gave me the tool which started me on what I hope is the right road. Their video is on Youtube, here.
So here we go. I had a week of torture trying to produce a working cover for Ingram Spark without paying for an Adobe product! I have nothing against Adobe, just an inbuilt horror of subscription software. I found lots of apparently contradictory advice on the web but gleaned just enough of an idea to develop a plan, which I'm happy to say worked and my book is now on Ingram Spark.
So here's what I know. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (black) and is the standardised colour scheme needed by professional print companies. Ingram Spark (IS) uses this as you'd expect, and as I understand it, the files submitted need to:
- Use their template (the IS website has a template generator which is really easy to use),
- Be an even number of pages with last page blank,
- Have fonts embedded in the pdf, and
- Use a CMYK colour space but not have colour space files embedded in the pdf.
All that remained was to hit Save and then rename the cover and text files per the IS file creation guide. In my case it was ISBN_txt.pdf and ISBN_cov.pdf (obviously replace 'ISBN' with your actual ISBN).
So I uploaded these two files to IS, got an error flag for the 600dpi resolution of my images which I corrected by setting the maximum image resolution (see above). I then re-submitted and the IS website software accepted the files. The following morning I had an email from Lightning Source saying the file was accepted and an e-proof awaited my approval. Once I checked it I approved and then when the book was on their system I ordered a hard copy as a 'real life' proof.
As I say, there may be easier ways and those of you who understand the technicalities might be able to add more detail, but I thought it worthwhile sharing this for other independent authors who may be struggling as I was.
Feel free to comment, and keep on reading!