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If you print through Createspace I would strongly advise leaving it in RGB, because that is what their printer has been calibrated for.  If it's a different local printer, I would ask them.

If you have a problem with CS covers turning out too dark, I'd tone down the brightness of your screen.
 

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You're sending them a PDF?

I tend to convert to JPG before I convert to PDF. I would definitely leave the original un-flattened, but flatten the image before converting to PDF. In my layout (full colour books) experience, straight conversion from RGB to CMYK tends to up the contrast something ridiculous, so I used to manually adjust after conversion to flatten the contrast curve by about 10% on either side.

Have you contacted CS about your problems?

If anyone has uploaded CMYK covers, how has your experience been? I've uploaded my covers in RGB, and so far, they've come out awesome.
 

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DDark said:
My screen is actually running darker than usual. Something is just not converting properly. I don't know if it has to do with how I'm saving the original file (leaving layers in tact and not flattening), but I've heard a lot of people say CMYK is preferred for printing. I wouldn't mind running a test to see how it comes out in comparison. I made adjustments, but it's frustrating that I can't seem to get this issue resolved with my books. The first book had totally different results where my first two proofs were perfect and subtle and every book since has been overly saturated.
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CMYK is preferred for offset printing where each color is printed in layers. CreateSpace uses a color printer from what I've gathered. Doing a CS product this quarter is on my goal list...
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If you had a good experience and now a bad one - you have the solution between them! Can you bring up your source files from the two efforts and compare? What is the same/different between them? "image info"? That should help.
Color adjusting your monitor might be needed (my big CRT is different color tone than my LCD laptop screen and it can drive one crazy when working with images).
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My issue with RGB vs CMYK is that whatever you use, the printer absolutely needs to know.

I've dealt with numerous large printers (I mean, VERY large, like PHP) and each time the rep told me: we prefer in CMYK, but can also handle RBG, but you absolutely have to tell us in the file spec. RGB is 24-bit, CMYK is 32-bit. It not only increases the file size, but messes majorly with your settings.

CS is a n00b-customer-focused business. They assume most people have no idea what CMYK is, and wouldn't want to have their customers go through the conversion and subsequent ZOMG WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS IMAGE IT LOOKS DREADFUL moment.
 

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You shouldn't notice any loss of quality if you flatten it before making it a pdf, as long as its 300dpi.  I usually flatten before I make I convert to PDF.


Sorry I cant help you on the original issue - not a GIMP user.
 
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Gimp unfortunately does not save or export as PDF.  However, if you insert the image as a JPEG into a Libre Office Draw project, with the borders set to zero and the dimensions exactly the same as your image, you can export that as a PDF and the result is the same.  You've got to be careful to make sure that the image is properly centered, though, otherwise you'll get clipping.
 

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Something I discovered when I was trying to lighten my own cover for Createspace: although the image on the screen doesn't always give a good idea of what the cover will look like on the proof, printing the cover image on your home printer does. It won't look very good (unless you have an amazing printer, I guess), but the general colors/brightness/etc should be about the same - at least that's how it worked in my experience.
 
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