Friday, January 13, 2012

CreateSpace Ins and Outs Explained by Bob Sanchez


Bob Sanchez
 Bob Sanchez is here today to inform us about a hot new trend.

Self-Publishing with CreateSpace by Bob Sanchez

Several people have asked about self-publishing using Amazon’s CreateSpace, so I’d like to share my experiences. At first I’d thought to walk through the entire process, but there’s little point. You can follow their instructions as easily as mine. So this post will provide essential highlights. I’ve used it five times—for one novel, three writers’ group chapbooks, and a friend’s memoir. The process is straightforward, and the physical book is fine. The quality of the formatting and content is up to you, although you can hire CreateSpace (or me) to do anything you prefer not to try.

The website is createspace.com. You’ll need to sign up (it’s free) or sign in. Once you sign in, click on the Books tab and read about Publishing a Trade Paperback. There is plenty of good, clear information. In the Overview, notice in particular the calculators that give you an idea of production and shipping costs. They offer a $39 Pro plan, which reduces the price of the copies you purchase. By all means spend the money if you plan to buy copies for resale, because you’ll quickly recoup the small cost. Then when you’re ready, click on the Create a book tab and follow the instructions. Give your project a name, select Paperback (they don’t do hardcover), and choose the Guided Setup process. You’ll answer a bunch of questions including your book’s description. When you get to the page about ISBNs, you’ll have several options. If all you want to do is publish your book and get on with your life, just take the free one. Free is good.

Your next choice is trim size. The 6 x 9 is very common and is what I’ve used. Notice the link to download a template in Word format, and download the file. It will contain sample content with all the correct margins and other formatting for that size. Chances are, you’ll want a black-and-white interior with white paper, which is an economical option. Cream paper adds to your per-copy cost.

At this point (your editing and proofreading should be complete by now), insert your novel into the template, which is a Microsoft Word document. The margins and other details will be set for you, but you can change any of it. Make sure your fonts and font sizes are consistent, and modify the headers and front matter to suit your needs. CreateSpace has plenty of helpful tips, including a step-by-step formatting guide. Look everything over carefully, but don’t fret too much, because it’s not hard to get back to this point later.

When you’re ready, you can upload the interior file to CreateSpace in Word or PDF format.

Now for the exterior file (cover and spine). You can use one of their preformatted covers, or you can build your own in Photoshop or another graphics application and upload the file in pdf format. This is trickier—not terribly difficult, just fussy. If you don’t want to do it, perhaps you have a friend with graphics skills who can give you a hand. Or ask me (desertwriter1@gmail.com) for help in putting it together after your artwork is ready.

Skipping ahead a bit, CreateSpace sets a base price—your cost—depending on trim size, paper type, interior ink color, and page count. You may set any sales price you want as long as it’s at least that minimum.

Finally, you’ll be asked to purchase a proof copy of your book. Order it and look it over carefully, because this is your last chance to get it right before you buy a bunch of copies.

This post doesn’t cover every detail, but my point is that you can publish through CreateSpace with reasonable effort and patience. The hardest part for many people will be using Microsoft Word and Photoshop, or whatever graphics program you have. So please ask questions, and I will do my best to answer them.

Bob Sanchez

Bob is a retired technical writer who worked in Massachusetts and now lives with his wife in New Mexico. He is the 2012 president of the El Paso Writers' League. His three published novels include When Pigs Fly, Getting Lucky, and Little Mountain, all available through Amazon at tinyurl.com/bobsanchezauthor.

During a recent promotion, his P.I. novel,  Getting Lucky, was downloaded over 1500 times in one day.

Visit Bob Sanchez's blog

Please welcome Bob to The Blood-Red Pencil and throw him some questions here.

37 comments :

  1. Thanks for this overview, Bob. You've convinced me to give CreateSpace a try as it doesn't sound as difficult as I'd earlier presumed.

    Elle
    HearWriteNow & Blood-Red Pencil

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  2. It's not difficult if you have patience, but you do need to pay attention to details.

    I'm in the process of putting Forever Young: Blessing or Curse up through CreateSpace. I chose the formatted template first, but it only allows 10 chapters and I have many.

    With that template, I'd have to copy and paste to get more chapters, and then copy and paste each chapter separately into the template.

    With the plain template, you can dump them all in, but you still need to examine each chapter for formatting and line spacing inconsistencies, which is where I am now.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  3. Great post Bob, I intend to give this a try for my travel book - when I stop playing around with the rewrite.

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  4. Thanks so much for this very helpful overview. I'm doing my first book via Create Space now and did not know that selecting the cream color for interior pages would increase the cost.

    I do have a question. My graphic designer who is doing the cover is having a problem with converting her Photoshop file into a PDF file. There are some lines of text on the back cover that end up having what she called "artifacts" that blurred the letters. She's tried several fixes to no avail. This is the message she sent to Create Space help yesterday, but has not received a reply:
    "I was hoping you could help by providing a “Paper Name” which I can use for a cover design that is 19”wx13”h total. I am using Photoshop CS3, and when I try to print to pdf, I get no appropriate paper size and the design is cropped. When I try to save as pdf, unwanted artifacts appear, but the design is not cropped."

    Do you have a suggestion for her?

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  5. I used Create Space, and thankfully, have a daughter conversant in Photoshop to format the cover.

    Concerns with the "innards" included making sure I got the headers right so my name is on one side and the book's title is on the other. I'm an admitted failure with headers and footers and section breaks, so I put the page numbers on the bottom to avoid figuring out how to deal with getting them where they belonged on top.

    And if I ever do it again, I'll add an additional title page, and maybe a blank page between opening the cover and Chapter 1.

    However, and this might just be my own results -- I'm barely selling any print copies, so I'm not obsessing over those details. My digital copies sell about 100 for every print copy.

    I'm holding back on putting my mystery up in print until I see some kind of demand that will offset the cost, nominal that it is.

    As for page color: I sent my mom, who suffers from macular degeneration, a copy, and she LOVED the white paper. Said it was the easiest on the eyes book she's read in a long time.

    Terry
    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

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  6. Bob: Thanks for this. I'm sure a lot of readers will find it most useful. And the over of Getting Lucky is lovely!

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  7. This is a heap of good information. I really had no idea how it worked, and now that you've simplified it this may be an avenue I will use for certain future works.

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  8. I agree with Terry that e-books sell more than paper for my titles, but I like to have some for signing events. If I do it myself via CreateSpace, I get all the profits. I order 50 copies at a time and have plenty for art festivals, as well as keeping some local stores supplied.

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  9. Morgan, you're right that it does require some patience and an eye for detail.

    Maryann, you can convert a graphic to pdf by going to a site like www.freepdfconvert.com. But don't upload the graphic itself. CreateSpace has a cover template in Word format. Insert the graphic into the template and turn THAT into the uploadable pdf file. Tell your graphic artist to make sure the image is at least 300 dpi (dots per inch).

    I had something come up, and will reply to comments this evening.

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  10. Boy does he make it look super easy. I was fine until he said this could get fussy and my eyes start to glaze over but it's the part about creating the spine. I can create the cover but what the heck do you do with the spine? Do you just download the cover to this and it creates it automatically? Guess not though because the formatting would be way off. I have been been putting off self-publishing through Createspace because it just seemed so confusing but you have made it sound like it's not going to be as hard as I thought it would be. Thanks for the wonderful guest post and I'll be promoting this in my social circles. Thanks so much!

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  11. In regards to Maryann's question about turning the cover into a PDF, it might be too early here this morning but how would you do that? Transfer your image to a word doc, then turn that into a PDF?

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  12. Above the spine for the cover - on some of the cover templates you can pick the option and it will be inserted.

    If you don't have a cover yet, some of the templates actually seem easier than if you have one already and have to figure out how to get it in. It gives the dimension to use for the picture to go in, but you have to make sure the printed matter is within the boundaries for the edges. I had to have my cover guy reduce it to the right size. Every time I tried on Photoshop Elements, when I went to Amazon, the crop made the print go over the edge. It helps if the title and author names are pretty far in to begin with, so you don't have to worry about them.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  13. Maryann, I do book covers freelance for eBooks and paper books. It's very simple to get your Photo Shop cover converted to PDF. Your friend can do it within Photo Shop itself! She can "Save As," and then a drop down menu comes up. That gives you the options of what formats to save the image in. Just select Photo Shop PDF! Viola, you have a PDF! Please let your friend know that all she has to do is "save" your cover as a PDF right in her Photo Shop program. Good luck and much success.

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  14. CreateSpace is so cheap and easy to use that I used it to publish HEADWIND ... if that isn't an endorsement for 'user-friendly', then is no such thing ... as a user-friendly publisher, that is ... not the book ... arrrrrrgh ... well, you get the point.

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  15. I have never used CreateSpace. But I'm am more receptive to it now. I am in the editing process of a collection. This might come in handy. Saved!

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  16. Thanks for sharing this, Bob. There's so much I don't know about self-publishing, but want to learn.

    Wishing you the best,

    Cheryl

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  17. Thanks Bob. I'm making notes and trying to learn. You made it sound doable.

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  18. Excellent! I'm in the process of doing a book for an editing client, and it really is not as hard as one would think.

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  19. There are two ways to create a cover. CreateSpace has. A number of preformatted templates, and that's the easy way. Also you can use a Word template that is for front and back cover and spine, with all dimensions calculated based on trim size (size of the pages) and page count. You create a PDF from that and upload it. Ultimately you upload two PDFs- San interior and an exterior file.

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  20. CreateSpace has scared me. Now I might drum up the courage to give it a try. I do wish someone would offer a class in it where students could tackle a section over the course of a few weeks. Misery loves company and moral support. Who wants to teach it? ;)

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  21. I recently pubbed my second book through CreateSpace, this one being a short nonfiction. I had included the title in the spine, but when the cover went for review, the response came back that they didn't print on the spine for books less than 100 pages.

    Nice summary, Bob!

    Maggie

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  22. Bob,

    This is the most helpful post I've read lately. I may never use CreateSpace but some of my writer friends do and I'm saving this post for possible use. I agree with the poster who said there should be a class for this.

    Thanks for the good information! Now I'm going to Amazon to look up your books.

    Pat Browning
    Author of ABSINTHE OF MALICE

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  23. I'm using the plain template. I don't know if it's my imagination, but when I try to center my book title and chapter titles, they don't seem to be exactly in the middle of the page.

    Is it supposed to be that way for some reason? Or is there something I'm doing wrong and can correct? I usually just click on the button to center.

    Morgan Mandel

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  24. What is the right size for the cover, Morgan? I have one already made but I have to tweak it a bit.

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  25. Hi Dorothy,
    It depends on the template. When you pick one, it should tell you the size. If it's wrong, it'll tell you. But if you have letters near any of the borders, you may run into problems like I did. My cover guy figured it out for me, after I kept trying and going crazy. I think he reduced the fonts so they would fit. I couldn't do it on my end. I think he probably edited that layer of the picture.

    Morgan Mandel

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  26. Morgan, that centering is a Word problem. If you have a paragraph that is indented and then you try to center it, the centering is off. I'll bet that's your problem. If not, let me know and I'll help you further.

    Dani, what's the class you want? I'll do it if I can.

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  27. I published my two YA fantasy novels through createspace after working them up and editing them. I began both in NaNoWriMo. It has been easy to sell copies to local stores and to people at craft fairs and in markets or if I give a talk at a school but online the kindle version sells much better

    Dixie Miller Goode

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  28. Hey, if I can do it anyone can - REALLY. And I did, twice. I was terrified for nothing. Just make sure you start with a clean manuscript.

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  29. Great advice and you made the process seem less stressful. Thank you. I'll check it out

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  30. Great advice and you made the process seem less stressful. I'll check it out. Thank you.

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  31. For realsies, Bob? We can have it at the Blog Book Tours classroom. Let's talk some more over at the BBT Cafe and see what we can figure out.

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  32. The best way I've found to create a cover is to set up my photoshop file with appropriate bleeds, then drop it into an InDesign file (which is what I use to typeset my books) and add the cover copy. It comes out crisp and clean. Here's another little tip--when you add "buy" links to your site, route them directly to the CreateSpace page for your book (they give you a link for it). It can make as much as a couple dollars' difference per book, since Amazon takes a percentage for each sale.

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  33. Great post, Bob. I've never self-published a book, but you make it sound like a good plan. Congratulations on you sales for Getting Lucky! Is that the novel you're changing the name?

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  34. Thanks for all the tips and feedback about my cover. My graphic designer finally got CreateSpace to help her. The problem was not saving as PDF. That works just fine and she has worked with CS3 long enough to know how to do that. Wonky things started happening when she tried to put the PDF file into CreateSpace. Sorry I'm not conversant enough in all the technical terms to explain exactly what was going on, but the good news is she got it finished and I can now order proof copies of that book. Now to fix the interior problems in another one. UGH!!

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  35. Since my original post, CreateSpace has done away with the Pro Plan I mentioned. That simplifies matters a little bit.

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  37. I have not checked in here for a while as I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are good quality so I guess I'll add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it friend :)
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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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