Friday, July 27, 2012

The Printed Book and CreateSpace

I recently received a Kindle as a gift from my husband, which was a lovely gesture. But my first thoughts went directly to the two large boxes of books “To Be Read” under my bed. I do like the Kindle for portability and it will be wonderful when I travel. Also, the success of the Kindle and the Nook and all the e-books that are hitting the market right now can’t be ignored.

But I still find myself drawn to my paper books.

I attended the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference this past weekend and went to a CreateSpace Workshop. Tom Kephart gave a presentation on how easy it is to use this program and the benefits that Amazon provides its “indie” authors, including a new application that is supposed to easily convert your book into Kindle format.

I recently did a book layout and helped an editing client publish her memoir about being one of the first women engineers to work on the Alaska Highway, Engineer in High Heels.

I used CreateSpace and I found what people had told me before and what Kephart said in his presentation to be true. It was a relatively easy process (only a few missing hairs while figuring out various aspects) and it is free if you do the layout, the cover design and everything yourself. They do have programs to design the cover and the layout if you choose, for a fee. They also have a support staff to answer your questions when you get to the hair-tearing parts.

So it really is a pretty simple way to see your “baby” born into a real book. My recommendation to anyone wanting to self-publish, though, is to have it professionally edited, and go over the proof with a fine-tooth comb. You want a clean, well written and edited, professional-looking product.

Then you can convert it to Kindle, and have your cake and eat it too!

A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in Northwest Washington. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, is based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, has recently won the national WILLA Award. Heidi has a degree in journalism, a certificate in fiction writing, and is a member of Northwest Independent Editors Guild. She teaches writing and edits, blogs, and is working on the next books in her “Dare to Dream” series.   

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  1. Thank you Heidi. I, too, recently received a Kindle Fire for my birthday. I like it a lot more than I thought I would. The download speed is amazing and the best thing is that now I can read all the novels from bloggers I know that are only available in e-book form. It's in the back of my mind....indi. publishing. And I will go that route if I don't make it in a traditional fashion, because my novels need to be read!

  2. My books are also published through CreateSpace, although with my publisher's own imprint and ISBNs. Being a traditionalist, I bring my books out first in print, then go to Kindle edition. But that is the hard way and can involve all manner of hidden formatting problems creating clean and correct Kindle files because the editors for Kindle (and other e-book systems) are not WYSIWYG and nowhere near as intuitive as working with Word.

    For my next book, I intend to get the e-book edition right first, then go into book design for print.

  3. *Wistful sigh* you make it sound so easy...I am a technophobe...but I'd love to publish. You give me fresh hope, however. Perhaps I will have just one more go. Createspace, you say?

  4. CreateSpace provides a good publishing alternative for indie authors ... but like any good tool, it's real potential lies in the skill of the user. If you don't provide good content you won't get a good product: garbage in equals garbage out.

  5. I find the other direction is more practical for a book you've already got on your computer. Creating the e-book is easier than using Create Space, and I've found most of my sales are from the digital versions anyway. That way, I can have the book out there and look at sales and see if I'm getting requests for a print version, and take my time getting the print copy to look right.

    (For the record, I get far more "Why isn't Rooted in Danger available for my e-reader" than I do, "Why isn't Saving Scott in print?"

    Terry's Place

  6. I have several books available in paper via CreateSpace. Some were done by a small publisher and one I did myself. I am working on getting the paperback version of Open Season ready. Kate, I am also a technophobe, but Amazon does make it easy for folks like us to walk through the process. It does take me longer than it would a tech savvy person, but I can do the whole thing in a few hours.

    And I do second the motion to have the books professionally edited, then buy and preview as many copies as you need to to get all the little mistakes and glitches taken care of. It is worth that investment, which isn't much, to put out a quality product. When I was with a small publisher some years ago who hurried through this last process, I ended up with a book that was a huge embarrassment to me because of the typos, etc.

  7. I'm with Terry about digital book first and then go into print if the sales justify a print option. I think the entire industry is shifting in that direction and we may as well get used to the idea. To anyone with even the slightest fear about formatting your own Kindle books, just do it. If you follow the instructions to the letter, anyone can do it. You type on a computer, right? That and the ability to read are 90% of what you need. I'm trying Smashwords next, and then I'll try CreateSpace. The only thing that is holding me back about printing with CS right now, is there are no eco-options through Amazon. I'm also a bit underwhelmed with the quality of the books. They don't feel particularly nice to me - kind of cheap. But maybe that's just me.

  8. Again, I face the mountain of technology -- which, when not magnified by my illogical fear, is smaller than a molehill. I'm actually going to check out CreateSpace, which is a huge step into that frightening world.

    This is a great post, Heidi -- direct, to the point, and not intimidating to technophobes like me.

  9. Maybe all the Pencils should take a little class together and muddle through... then we can write about it here on the blog? I always feel more courageous with a group!

  10. As soon as the Smashwords class is over, I'll let you know. We'll all muddle through together.

  11. Thanks for all your input. I've not tried formatting for Kindle myself, but probably will try putting my clients book out in e-book form. I know it's never as "easy" and they say it's supposed to be, but once you get past the learning curve...

    I agree, Yvonne, it's so easy to download books--it just amazes me. I just clicked on Helen Ginger's giveaway, Angel Sometime, and zip! It was already on my Kindle. Oh my!

  12. Thanks for the info, Heidi! I haven't worked with this company since they were called BookSurge but people who have used them seem happy with the ease of the process.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice.