Monday, 20 February 2023

For Indy authors struggling with CMYK book covers for Ingram Spark!


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, 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.
So before we go on, a brief note about the book's text pdf. I use Atticus to format my manuscript and output the pdf which will be uploaded to KDP and/or IS (or others I suppose, depending how wide you publish). Atticus b/w text for a novel was compatible with IS submission guidelines out of the box, I just added a blank page to meet IS requirements for an even number of pages and last page blank. The trim sizes accepted by Amazon and IS are colour coded within the Atticus software and the rest is just automatic. A big thanks to Dave Chesson and his team! More info here.

Get on with it man! I hear you say! Fair enough. The first step was to go to here and select 'download' from the menu bar. Scroll down and find the link to their development downloads page (mine was 2.99.14 revision 1)

I was then able to open the Photoshop file supplied by my cover designer (Andrew Rainnie: he's on Fiverr and I recommend him). Once open, I turned off all the layers so I was looking at the background transparency, then turned the lowest one (the cover image I think) back on. 

The next step was to go to the Adobe website here and download some ICC colour profiles to my Mac. Again Davies Media was useful, here. In GIMP 2.99 I selected image> colour management> softproof profile and 'select colour profile from disk' in the 'new colour profile' dialogue dropdown. I was then able to apply 'US web uncoated v2'. 

Finally, I exported a png to retain transparency, and stored it in my IS folder. I repeated this for every layer so that I had all the elements of my book cover as images.

Stay with me guys, we're on the last leg! 

I installed and opened Scribus (here) and loaded in the pdf emailed from the IS template generator, then created layers above it for image, front, spine, back, and ISBN. It was simple to drop the images of each part I'd exported from GIMP into the relevant layer. I made sure the cover image was fitted to the template bleed limits (outer edge of the pink box). 

Next step was to turn off the 'image' layer containing the cover image so I could see the template beneath and make sure all the other elements were within the safe areas (inside the pink boxes). Selecting the original template layer, I clicked the white ISBN box and right clicked, >send to layer> 'ISBN' (i.e. moving it from the template to my ISBN layer which overlays the cover image layer). Be careful to leave the ISBN in the same position as the template. I repeated this last step for the ISBN barcode image and turned the cover image layer back on. All looked good!

I hit > file > export > save to pdf and in the dialogue I set compatibility to PDF/X-1a, resolution for eps graphics as 300dpi, and maximum image resolution to 300dpi because IS flagged up an error for the original 600ppi setting when I submitted. 

I had an issue with blurry txt on my back cover so I re-created the blurb in a Scribus text frame. Because it was text I had to ensure I selected 'Embed or Subset' in the fonts tab of the output dialogue (IS requirement). As I recall, Scribus then automatically selected the fonts present.

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!


Saturday, 21 January 2023

Published - and relieved!


Hi all, and thanks for supporting this blog!

The book is doing well with paperback sales, but really has awesome uptake as a Kindle eBook on Amazon. It is available to read for no extra cost if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber. Incidentally, if like me, you are a fan of Apple's ecosystem then try the Kindle app on iPad or iPhone. It's every bit as good as Apple Books and retains the page turn animation, the loss of which is causing such anger among users of Apple's eReader!

If you've read the book, in whatever form, then please do leave a review on Amazon (here). The reviews are really important for authors because a book's ranking within its Amazon categories relies not just on sales, but on the number of reviews. Please don't feel you need to give five stars if you think there are areas I can improve, but do let me know by commenting on this blog or using the feedback form on our website here. Just click on contact us. Those details also apply if you'd rather review without using Amazon.

In other news, I'm working on Book 2 in The Skipper series, 'The Skipper Goes West' as well as sorting out an AI (artificial intelligence) narrated audiobook which I plan to publish on Audible. Exciting (and busy) times!

If any of you are working on writing a book, I can recommend some resources which have been fundamental in getting my own work to market:

Reedsy. So much excellent information and advice!

Kindlepreneur. Dave Chessons out put is phenomenal, and so useful!

and last, but emphatically not least, Joanna Penn's website and podcast. It's a one stop shot for information on craft and marketing as well as the best source for publishing industry news.

I'll take no more of your time, but keep on reading and check back for more posts. Oh, and give me a comment so I know I'm not talking to myself! 😂


Thursday, 12 January 2023

More Publications!

Hi long-suffering readers!

Well, The Skipper Goes to War is out in eBook and Paperback and I'm very happy with initial sales. I'm incredibly grateful to those who bought it and if any of you are reading this then thank you!

I'm also pleased to say that I've enrolled the book in Kindle Unlimited so, if you're a subscriber, you can read it at no extra cost.

I'm slowly (very slowly) getting the hang of marketing and particularly Amazon ads. A couple of great books by Ricardo Fayet, at Reedsy, have been incredibly useful.

Marketing doesn't sit easily for myself, or many other authors, but the idea that I'm introducing people to my work rather than taking their money helps a lot.

I've also started research and plotting for the second book in The Skipper Series, 'The Skipper Goes West' and looking forward to the creative part of being an independent author.

Speaking of Indy Authors, I'm incredibly pleased I decided to go that way, especially in light of revelations from the court case around Penguin Random House acquiring Simon & Schuster, which indicates how little marketing effort the Big Five put into serving mid-list authors. However this case ends, I suspect the Big Five will soon be The Big Four.

It's more that that though. Getting my book to publication has been rewarding and exhausting in equal measure but I now feel stronger and better informed than at any stage in my writing journey so far. This gives me great hope that I can streamline my work-flows for the next novel - and certainly shorten them!

So again, thank you if you bought the book, and thanks for loooking at this blog - if you'd like to get my monthly newsletter, then please click this link: You'll receive a novella about the Skipper's experiences in World War One absoluteley FREE if you subscribe, the book sells as a paperback on Amazon but the free eBook is exclusive to subscribers.

That's all for now, keep on reading and I'll be back soon!

All the best,


Tuesday, 20 December 2022

It's on Amazon!

Yep, you read it right! The Skipper Goes to War is finally on Amazon for pre-order as an ebook. Any pre-orders will be despatched to your Kindle or Kindle app (computers, tablets and phones) on the 11th of January. The  paperback will be available shortly after I approve the proof copy (a few days after the 11th I imagine).

You can pre-order HERE and you'll receive your copy on publication day.

As if that weren't enough, you can subscribe to my mailing list HERE and receive a free novella (around 80 pages in paperback format). This tale shines a light on the Skipper's formative years during World War One.

I hope you enjoy, and Keep On Reading!


Sunday, 13 November 2022


Wow! The Skipper Goes to War is finally seeing the light of day!

The Beta Readers are doing their stuff, I am formatting for Amazon, looking at my author page, and getting some bugs out of the book format itself. 

As if that's not enough, I'm starting in on marketing! Now marketing was anathema to me, I'm here to create, right? But listening to Joanna Penn's podcast (here) and Dave Chesson's products and podcast, I came to realise that marketing is not about 'give me your money' - it's about sharing my output with those who may, or already do, like it. That makes it feel a whole lot more palatable, at least to me! All that said, if I possible can, I shall be contracting that work out to a virtual assistant from the SVA - it is sooo time consuming!

Taking workload aside however, this is a great time. All the blood, sweat and word-processing will be worth it if I get just one reader, though I sort of hope for a few more! 

For anyone interested in reading my monthly newsletter, you can subscribe here. You'll receive a free short story featuring The Skipper as a bonus, at least you will when I publish it in the next few days!

Until we (virtually) meet again, keep on reading and have a great time as we near the holiday period!


Wednesday, 2 November 2022

Update the umpteenth!

Well, it's getting close. The webpage is developing, my Facebook page is up and a short story about The Skipper's experiences in World War One is almost done. The book should be published early to mid December if all goes to plan.

The new Facebook page is here (maybe I ought to have said 'should be here'!).

So, keep on reading and I'll be back soon.


Saturday, 1 October 2022

I'm Back!

I’d love to say I’ve been walking in the Highlands, sunning myself in Portugal or enjoying the craic in Ireland, but no, I’ve been somewhere much more intimidating and difficult. I’ve been immersed in the world of editing!

Who knew the editing journey would take so long? Well, apparently, everybody who has published independently, traditionally, or listened to sound advice knew exactly how long it takes. Unfortunately, I allowed optimism to stifle the voices of reason and experience: so here we are, some months down the line and still not published! 

On the plus side, I have learned an awful lot about engaging the editor brain and the process of turning a first draft into something less cringeworthy. Ernest Hemingway nailed it really: he said, “The first draft of anything is sh*t.” So I’ve wrestled with story structure, character arcs, and the minutiae of line editing. My darlings have been cut down like ripe corn and the manuscript is all the better for it. Better, but not, in my opinion, perfect.

So there it is. The P word. I am now wrestling with the intractable foe, perfectionism. In all honesty, I’m trying to decide whether my current desire for perfection is rooted in simple procrastination, imposter syndrome, fear of failure and all the one-hundred and one other demons stalking those unwise enough to write. Tiffany Yates-Martin recently made a great blog post about inner demons (link here). I would never (knowingly) pass substandard material to my readers, but trying to make it perfect in every respect means it’s unlikely to be published. 

So I made a deal with myself. One more read-through, because I owe it to my readers, and that’s it. I go with what I have and learn from feedback. Nearly four months of editing is enough. I’m passing the book out to some trusted compatriots, all with sharp eyes, keen brains, and strong stomachs. This advance guard will subject themselves to the full horror of my work and give me their opinions. Then I shall implement changes as required and publish (at last). 

But what of the cover? I hear you ask. Thanks to the talented and infinitely patient Andrew Rainnie on Fiverr (link here) I now have covers for all formats of my book. You are the first to see them outside of Andrew and myself...

The front and back covers of a paperback book.
Paperback as it will arrive from Amazon

A picture of the eBook version of a book.

eBook as it will appear on a Kindle app

With that I shall bid you goodbye for this post. Keep on reading, and I shall post when the read-through is done.


For Indy authors struggling with CMYK book covers for Ingram Spark!

  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 h...