After finishing and polishing my manuscript, I turned my attention to the internet. There were a few things I knew I wanted to be able to do:
- I want a paperback version
- eBook – But was unsure of which to lean towards
- I wanted my book sold on Amazon.com as well as available to big stores like Barnes & Noble and even the Library System!
- Terms, Agreements, & Small Print I am ok with and allows me to take my work elsewhere when/if the need arises.
- I want to be able to upload my own custom covers and format
So, this gave me a small but effective check list to find a good fit. Granted I was skilled enough to not worry about other aspects most writers may need to consider such as:
- Do they have a cover creator?
- Do they have a formatting creator?
- How user friendly is the interface on the website?
- Do I understand what is being asked? If not, do they explain it well?
Regardless, I will use this time to show you how I create one of my books from start to finish. For this Blog you get to see the inner workings to Tattooed Angels Trilogy: Judgment being set up for Publishing on CreateSpace
. Please know that I chose these two venues for a few reasons:
- I liked the answers I got to the questions and concerns in the two lists above.
- They work together with one another and are affiliated with Amazon.com
- The interface is constantly improving and I can find answers easily to concerns.
- They will link my eBook and Paperback together on Amazon.com
- Being exclusive to KDP has a ton of free marketing and promotional advantages.
Here we are, a polished manuscript in hand of a story you’ve decided to Self-Publish. You’re scared, nervous, and super excited. Panic is taking hold as you look at all the insane advice you are getting when you ask what and how to do this. Well, if you chose CreateSpace and KDP, then I can help you through the process as I handle it. This doesn’t mean I am doing it the best way possible or incorrectly, but I can confirm that the end result is clean and well designed. For the sake of novels, we will focus on Black and White focused format.
Trim Size = Book Size
Doesn’t matter what you call it, you need to decide what size your book will be. It’s a hard decision and I recommend taking a good long look at books in your genre as well as your personal favorite paperbacks to get an idea. Grab a ruler and see what size they are and how many pages you are seeing in them. I would go as far as busting out pen and paper, noting the dimensions you like along with features you favor. These features can be font style (Serif/Times New Roman versus Sans-Serif/Arial), font size (Varies from tiny 8 pt to large print 16 pt), spacing between each line/paragraph, tabs (sizes/usage), page breaks/dividers/bars/symbols, “passing of time” contextual breaks (By chapters, gaps, or symbol), paper type (white versus cream), and anything else visually pleasing.
In this tutorial, I am creating a book with the trim size 6 x 9 inches, a common size for Young Adult books. For The Cedric Series I chose a 5.25″ x 8″ since a large number of Paranormal Romance novels are in this size.
Here’s CreateSpace’s current selection of trim sizes (as of 06/25/2015):
Formatting the Manuscript
CreateSpace does a wonderful job at providing a lot of resources to its writers and authors. If you are using Microsoft Word, or at least software that can edit DOC file types, you will find creating and formatting the interior of your book a little less intimidating. A lot of the information for a successful attempt at formatting can be found at this link (and I will be covering what and where this info goes):
After choosing a trim size, you need to reflect this in your Manuscript. I highly recommend saving your first draft with a different name or renaming this file to “mynovel_myname_TYPESETTING” or something that lets you know this is where you are attempting to format your story. This is just in case in some raging flustered moment you accidently delete half your content or after putting in some settings something explodes. It shouldn’t happen, but this is still a great habit in file management
which is a lifesaver!
The quickest way to get this all taken care of is to DOWNLOAD one of the Word Templates listed on the link above. Be sure you’ve chosen the correct trim size and then start altering it from there as well as COPY – PASTE your story in the appropriate places.
You can also start filling out information on your title in advance with CreateSpace and when you get to the “Physical Properties” section it should provide a downloadable link that applies your options into it.
The Manual Way To Start (How I Do It)
Now that I know you have tucked a copy of your manuscript in a safe place, let’s visit PAGE LAYOUT options. In the PAGE SETUP section you will see a funky box with an arrow. Clicking this will bring up the window you see in the image below. Let’s focus on the first important matter, which is letting Word know the trim size of your book. Type in the WIDTH and HEIGHT of the trim size you are aiming for and double check that this will “Apply to” the WHOLE DOCUMENT.
Under the MARGINS tab you will need to enter information which compliments your page count. Createspace has helped out a lot with taking the guess work out and listed what has proven effective for them. Something I do different here is I set my base margin to 0.5″. The recommendation is 0.25″ to stay well within the page, but with a 0.5″ margin on the outer edges you can leave enough space for readers to place their thumbs without covering font. This is one of those “only Valerie would think of this” moments.
In the LAYOUT tab, this usually changes from section to section. I do recommend setting a HEADER and FOOTER at 0.35″. As for the Vertical Alignment, mine will have this set for CENTER on the Title page and similar spots while the rest of the document is labeled as TOP. I recommend being careful and consistent in this area. Also be very aware of where the cursor is located when playing this section. I usually have both “Different odd and even” and “Different first page” checked due to the HUGE variety of things I do with those sections. This is advance formatting and may take you watching or reading more in-depth tutorials.
The HEADER and FOOTER setting to have “Different Odd and Even” is how I get that nice look of my name on one side of my book and the title on the other. The footer is also the area of placing your Page Number element which can be found in INSERT ~ PAGE NUMBER next to Header and Footer buttons. Using a CENTER alignment is the least headache, but if you are braving the different odd and even page footers/headers then you can set the alignment for Left and Right on the appropriate pages.
Styles, ToC, and Next Page
It would take me all day to cover these, and eventually I will do a more in-depth Word focus post. Be sure to assign TITLE to Title section, Chapter Titles to HEADING 1, the body of the story to NORMAL and so on. This does wonders in saving time and effort in making adjustments to the font style, size, and adjusting paragraph options that include line spacing, first line tabs, and beyond. It is much easier to change the style and let it change the document than vise versa. My only warning is if you are using sections with Italics, be sure to double check these spots after any adjustments since at times mine has undone SOME (not all, oddly enough) of my italicized areas. This would be an excellent thing to inform your proofreaders to watch for when reviewing the final formatted version of your book before submitting to CreateSpace.
ToC or Table of Contents is an option in Word that can be very useful for eBook versions and making your life easier. If you’ve been a good little editor to yourself, your chapter titles were marked in the Header 1 style. In the REFERENCE section of Word you should find a “Table of Contents” button and you can use this to insert an element that will fill in Chapter Titles and their pages for you. This also makes them a clickable item in eBook format for KDP (SUPER HANDY!). My warning here is MAKE SURE you Updated the ToC page numbers before saving and uploading to CreateSpace. I almost made this mistake once!!!
Make use of the PAGE LAYOUT button labeled “Breaks”. It should have a drop down menu of options, but you want to focus on the one labeled “Next Page”. If you Zoom your VIEW out to see the pages 2 side-by-side, this next piece of advice should be easier to visualize. Keep in mind that the pages on the Left Side are really your Right side Printed pages. If there is content, your gutter should make you aware of the insider binding gap but this is where you can add NEXT PAGE breaks to make Blank back pages and push your Chapters to start on the RIGHT side of your book. Just be careful and always double check these!!
At this point, the harder part is done (Minus designing a book cover)! You have a file formatted and pretty and in the trim size you want. This would be where you Sign Up and Register with CreateSpace and eventually you will get to the point where you click on “ADD NEW TITLE”. Now begins the Step-by-Step process!
Step One – Guided versus Expert
Oh man, they now have you staring at these two options and you’ve never been here before! It’s ok! Let me tell you what makes these so different. Guided will give a little piece at a time to fill out along with more info about what they are looking for in each section. I have found I like the Expert version. It gives me EVERYTHING listed on the same page with links to open to remind/inform me of what I should be doing in the different areas. It will definitely fall back on which of these visually click best for you, but for the sake of this guide I will cover the process using the EXPERT version since it will answer the same questions!
|GUIDED – Notice this is all that is on the page and the left menu lists the sections to be expected. Save/Save & Continue mark the bottom of this chunk of needed information.
|EXPERT – Here the page continues on, consolidating all the needed information into one long list of information that will be needed. Even the menu on the left reflects the sections that will need information.
Step Two – Fill in the Blanks
Most of this in the beginning is pretty much self explanatory. I hope you would have a title, know your name or pen name and whether or not this is part of a series or trilogy. Edition number is something you can enter for yourself to track uploads or simply leave it blank. As for the Publication Date, you can change this later until you actually publish the book and make it live in the market. The moment you do this, all this information is locked out and would need the assistance of customer service to change. For instance, adding the Series name and marking the Volume for this book later on. Also note that if this is a Collection or Anthology or a big name provided a foreword,or you want to mark who did the cover art/design/illustrations it can be done under the Add Contributors section.
I always choose “CreateSpace Assigned”. It makes my life simpler and it costs me nothing to do this option. If you “Save Progress” in the left menu, you will get your ISBN information when it finishes. This would be a very good time to open you formatted story and add these into the copyright section!
If you are interested in getting your own ISBN numbers so that you may be listed as your own publisher or your Independent Publishing name, then you need to purchase one from Bowker.com
. I recommend the 10 ISBN package, simply because you need a ISBN for each format. For example, if I wish to do this with JUDGMENT, and I plan on releasing a paperback, kindle, nook, and even a hardcover version, I would need at least 4 ISBNs to achieve this properly.
This is where you tell CreateSpace about the look the inside of your book will have and the trim size. Make sure you selected the correct trim size, paper type, and interior type. This information should reflect the numbers you entered in PAGE SETUP in order to accommodate your decisions that were made in advance for formatting. If you decided to change paper or trim, you now need to backup, reformat and adjust the numbers in PAGE SETUP and PAGE LAYOUT in your document to match!
Here is the moment of truth. If you haven’t done so already, save your file in PDF format. In Word you should be able to SAVE -> SAVE AS -> And here change the DOCX/DOC FILE TYPE to a PDF. I always leave the BLEED option on “before” to make sure nothing gets cut off the page.
This section is one of the more obnoxious obstacles to face. It takes knowing the paper type and number of pages in your book to really make sure you can design this correctly and on point. Fortunately, CreateSpace does a great job of getting you enough information to make this obstacle not so scary. I recommend using these two links to dive into the proper information and to create a template to keep your design spot-on. I recommend using Adobe Photoshop or Elements or InDesign OR the free software called GIMP. Remember that all images you use to create your cover should be at 300 DPI or Higher! And, SAVED as a PDF, PNG, or JPEG at its highest setting and at 300 DPI. This is to keep the actual printed version from pixelating or looking like it got scrambled with square cutouts. Note that Internet or “Computer Screen/Monitor” dpi quality is only 72 dpi on average. For a physical print, this has to be WAY higher!!
This section is a little more challenging the first time you face these. I know I felt intimidated and unsure, so let me help. The description here should be the Back of the Book Blurb or Enticing blurb seen in the online description area. Here is your real first connection with a reader to try and entice them to read your book. Make sure it is catchy, error free, and let the reader know what sort of story and plot they are investing in!
The BISAC Category might make your head spin some. If you wrote a “Paranormal Romance” you will have to travel through FICTION -> Romance -> Paranormal to label it as such. You could default to FICTION -> Occult, but chances are this audience may not enjoy the Romance aspects of your piece. Dig through the drop outs and find the best fit for your novel and genre. Make sure you click “Choose This Category” to finalize your selection!
I highly recommend doing an Author Bio since this adds another dimension to your sales pages on Amazon and elsewhere. It will help you develop a presence online and boost web searches for you and your work.
Search keywords is a chance to add 5 more words that can help place your book in other genres or categories. Tattooed Angels Trilogy is a Teen Urban Fantasy, but the second installment is more of a contemporary feel. In my keywords, I can add teen, young adult and urban labels on top of the Fiction/Fantasy/Contemporary category.
The two check boxes should be self explanatory. For Large print you must use size 16 or larger font to meet the requirement. As for Adult Content, if there is some sexual content or drug abuse scenarios, it is safe to say you should select this. But, everyone has a different interpretation to this option since it simply states they should be 18 or older to read. So, this is completely up to you as a writer.
This is where you tell them who can order and sell your book. Below are my options in this area and if you want to know more about each of there, simply click the “What’s this?” link and a tiny window reveals what this option provides.
Love how these guys have this setup! After filling out all the info above this point and at least uploading the interior file of your book, you can start figuring out a price for your book. Granted, in this screenshot it’s looking at my unfinished interior of barely 70 pages, hence the crazy low price of 5.38. You can enter your US Price, hit “Calculate” and it will reflect that into the other areas. If you did not select a Channel to gain access to any part of this it will let you know which one it belongs to. Very nice to see the Min List Price and be able to have them sort the rest.
At this point, assuming you got that book cover thing taken care of and uploaded, you can Submit for Review. This is CreateSpace checking for any obvious issues. It usually takes 24-48 hours (Business Days) to hear back from this and any concerns they might have. After this, and getting a thumbs up, it will open a new section where you can view the Digital Proof and order a Proof Copy. This is all about slowing down and double checking any concerns you might have. Here’s a list of things that cross my mind when using the Digital Proof to verify all is well:
- Are all the chapters starting on the Right side of the book?
- Does the page numbers on my Table of Contents match what I see?
- Does my content have good spacing from the edges and fold?
- Does the font on the spine look centered?
- Is my cover content (Front and Back) look centered?
- Am I sure about this font?
- Is the image on the cover too dark and not contrast enough?
- Wait is that pixelated… what’s this alert icon on the right?
- Oh! It says my gutters are missing… oh, never mind I did this one in a different way because I’m such a self dependent nerd…
- No, that’s too dark I need to change it AGAIN…
|Mock Cover seen in Digital Proof Viewer. You can spin this 360 degrees to check it thoroughly.
|Actual Book cover – Note how much darker the images come out, but you can counter this easily by increasing the Brightness on the images. Remember that most of this is caused by ink saturating into the materials/paper used!
In short, I have more issues with my cover art than interior problems! Hope this answers some questions or helps make the process smoother! Good luck and happy formatting!
WAIT! What about KDP?
Oh my goodness, this is the best part! Once you launch a book in CreateSpace, they encourage you to add one with KDP. Click a button and here I would select that you want to UPLOAD a version instead of having them convert it.
You take that awesome formatted DOCX/DOC file you busted your ass on, delete out the “Blank Pages” and Save the DOCX labelled “KINDLE” in the title so you know that was the KDP version with NO PAGE BREAKS.
Upload the DOC. Unlike CreateSpace, KDP has the option to upload the DOC or a PDF. You will want to upload the DOC here since all your hardwork sticks MUCH better. I know, I’ve done both!
Same information as CreateSpace will be asked of you, minus all that Print and Paper options stuff. YOU’RE DONE!
Yea, that easy. The most that you might have to do here is if in about 2 week they haven’t linked your Kindle and Paperback versions together, contact Customer support and they usually fix it within days. Below is what it looks like when it’s linked!