Blurb Publishing – Part 3 – Make a PDF from your book’s Cover and Upload the Book.


This is part 3 of a series of posts on publishing a book on Blurb via “PDF to Book” using relatively cheap software on Windows.

The first part describes the trials and tribulations I had with Blurb’s standard software and why I had to use the “PDF to Book” approach.

The second part describes how to prepare your book’s internal pages in a suitable PDF file for uploading.

Work Out the Cover Size

Once you’ve produced the book’s contents as a PDF and you know how many pages it contains, you can produce your Cover PDF. To do this we need to go back to the Blurb web site again and revisit the book specifications pages. Log in and choose “PDF to Book” from the Apps Menu. On that page is a big orange button labelled “Get Specs”. Click it and choose the format size of your book. As I stated in Part 1 I have chosen the “Pocket 8*5 inches” size. Then click on the “Specifications” tab below. Choose your cover type, the paper type and Unit of measure (use inches or centimetres). This time, enter the actual number of pages in your book PDF and Click “Get Measurements”. Record the following values from the lower “Cover Specifications” items:

  1. Final, exported PDF/X3 should measure (w x h)
  2. Gutter/Spine (w x h)

Note that the document we are producing contains the whole of the cover, ie the back, the spine and the front. This will “Wrap around” your books pages. You can consider it as three columns: the back cover on the left, the (relatively thin) spine in the middle and the front cover on the right. Note that the spine size depends on the number of pages, so the exact width of the cover will vary slightly depending on how many pages you have in your book.

Create a Custom Paper Size

Now create a custom paper size on your PC which is exactly the same size as your book cover shown in the “Cover Specifications” list item 1. above.  :

  1. Go into Control Panel/System and Security and open “Administrative Tools”. Choose “Print Management”. This Opens the “Print Management” dialog
  2. Open up “Print Servers” in the left tree and select “Forms”. This lists all the known paper sizes.
  3. In the very right pane, expand “Forms” and choose “More Actions” Below. Select “Manage Forms…” to pop up the “Print Server Properties” dialog
  4. Select the “Create a new Form” checkbox and type the name of your new Page Size. I recommend something like “BlurbPocketCoverXXXPages”, where XXX is the number of pages actually in your book. Eg “BlurbPocketCover172Pages”
  5. Enter the size in the “Form description (measurements)” area below.  Use the units you prefer. Only the width and height need to be entered – all the margins should be zero.
  6. Click the “Save Form” button.

Create the Cover Document in Word

We now need to create the single page document in Word that will be your book cover.

  1. In Word, create a new document
  2. Open the “Print” dialog and choose the “Easy PDF Printer 6” printer. This causes your new custom page size to be loaded into Word.
  3. Go into the “Page Layout” tab in Word, where you will see the button for “Size”
  4. Click the “Size” button and choose “More Paper Sizes…” In the “Paper Size” drop-down, choose your new “BlurbPocketCoverXXXPages” size (or whatever you called it). Click OK
  5. Save this Cover document with a sensible filename.

How you create and format this document is up to you. It is not easy to do the Spine Text in Word. It is much easier to use a Graphics Editing program to create a Graphic of the correct size. It’s easy to do it in Paint. If you have a favourite graphics program use that instead.

Creating an All in One Cover Graphic in Paint

Firstly, to size the image, you need to decide on a resolution eg 600 pixels per inch. If your PC can’t cope with this resolution, try reducing it to 300 pixels per inch. Work out how many pixels the graphic size is, based on value 1 in the “Cover Specifications” list above. For example, if your cover page is 10.681 x 8.25 inches, at 300 pixels per inch, you will need an image size of 600*10.681 by 600*8.25 = 6408 by 4950 pixels. Then work out the size of the spine based on value 2 in the “Cover Specifications” list. For example, if the spine is 0.431 x 8.25 inches, it will be 0.431 * 600 by 8.25 * 600 = 258 by 4950 pixels.

Create the Spine Text Image

First we will create the spine image. Assuming that you want text to read from top to bottom, it is easiest to create this image in landscape format then rotate it. Open Paint and create a new image. Choose File/Properties and set the units to pixels. Set the width to be the bigger of the spine dimensions and the height the smaller. Click OK, and you should get a short, wide image. Use View/Zoom to get a good view. Now click on the text tool and place the required text, using the font and size of your choice. Usually the title will be at the left and the Author’s name will be at the right hand side. When you are happy, choose “Rotate” on the home ribbon and rotate right 90 degrees. Save the file as a JPEG with a sensible filename.

Create the Full Cover Image

Now create the main cover image. Choose File New. In File/Properties,  set the units to pixels and set the width and height to the numbers you calculated above for the size of the whole cover. Click OK. Choose the View tab and zoom out to a sensible size. Remember the back cover is on the left half and the front cover is on the right, with the spine in between. You probably need to paste images into this new image, so go ahead.  Place any required text too.

Insert the Spine Image

Finally, we need to load the spine image back in. The position of the left edge of the spine is:

Half the cover image width - half the spine width

so for my graphic, the left edge goes at pixel position (6408/2) – (258/2) = 3204-129 = 3075, and the top left corner is at position “3075, 0”

In Paint, zoom right into the image so that you can easily move one pixel at a time (look at the  numbers in the status bar). Choose the Pencil Tool, and colour red. We want to place a red dot at the top left position of where the spine goes. For my image, this will be at pixel position 3075, 0. Once you have placed this dot, choose “Paste From” (drop down under the paste button). Select the Spine graphic that you created and saved earlier. Choose OK. This places the spine on the image and selects it. Drag it to the right until you can see the red dot you just placed. Now place the spine image exactly so that the top right pixel exactly covers the red dot you drew. The spine is now in the correct place. Zoom out to check, then save your completed cover. Then choose “Select All” and “Copy” in the Home ribbon.

Insert the Cover Image into your Word Cover Document

Once you have the graphic, either paste the graphic into Word or use “Insert Picture”. To resize the graphic in Word beyond the margins, choose “Text Wrapping” and choose”Behind Text”. You will be able to move and resize the graphic so that it covers the entire page.

Now re-open your cover document in Word. Paste your cover image into it. Right click on the image and choose “Text Wrapping” and select “Behind Text”. You will now be able to resize the image so that it covers the entire page. Only drag the corners to resize so that the aspect ratio is maintained. When the image fits exactly, you have your cover. Save it.

Create the Cover PDF

We can now print out our cover to PDF.

  1. From Word, choose the “Print…” menu item (not the default print button) to pop up the Printer dialog
  2. Choose “Easy PDFPrinter 6” in the drop-down listing the available printers. Click “Properties” to the right to pop up the “Easy PDFPrinter 6 Document Properties” dialog
  3. In the “Layout” tab choose “Landscape” for “Orientation”
  4. In the “Font and Image” tab deselect the “Downsize Image” checkbox
  5. In the “Standards” tab, select “PDF/X-3:2002” in the PDF/X conformance box
  6. Click OK to close the properties dialog and return to the Print dialog. Click OK to begin the print process
  7. The “Save PDF Output Filename” dialog will appear (or may be flashing in the task bar at the bottom of the screen). Enter the filename to save and click OK
  8. Once the PDF has been generated, it will open in your PDF reader. Choose File/Properties to ensure the paper page size is correct.

Upload Your Book

We have now finally got everything we need for Blurb, so we can upload it.

  1. Log into Blurb, and Choose Apps/”PDF to Book”
  2. Choose the “Upload PDFs” button
  3. Choose the correct paper size, number of pages, print type and cover options and click continue
  4. Enter the Title, Subtitle (optional), Author’s name, search tags (optional), category and description (optional). Choose private to start with, then click next
  5. Click the “Start Uploader” button
  6. You may get some Java warnings – I suggest you install anything required and choose “always run on this page”
  7. The file select dialog opens. Select you cover PDF and click OK. It should upload. If you get any size errors here, recheck your document size calculations and redo.
  8. Once the upload completes, click “Upload Pages PDF”
  9. Once this upload completes, Blurb will check your files offline and email you with the results. It will take a while, so reward yourself with a well earned beverage.


Preview Your Book

Hopefully all the preflight checks have now passed.

If so, click on the link back to Blurb in the email that you receive. You should see your book! Click on it to get through to the detail page, then click on the preview tab below. Select “Show all the pages” in “Book Preview Settings” and click “Save Changes”. You can then click on “Preview Book” on your book cover to see how your work will look.

Finalise and Order

You’ll probably go round this path a couple of times before you are happy. When you are, remember to make your book public. You will also probably want to reduce the number of pages in the preview. Then  order some copies!


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