Creating a Print on Demand Book: Using CreateSpace

October 9, 2013

Duke-bookWhen I wrote my business plan for Someday Lady Publishing, LLC (the company that I started to self-publish my novels), I never considered print on demand books.  My business plan was ridiculously simple, and I knew that when I built it.  I had one objective in mind: publish the stories I had written so that others could enjoy them.

The fastest route to that objective was digital self-publishing through the various online platforms.  However, what I didn’t expect (and I’ve said this a lot now) was for anyone to find my stories and actually read them.  What surprised me even more was when readers began to interact with me through my website and social media.  And what were they saying?  Something even more surprising.

When will your books be available in print?

Refer to my single objective above: publish the stories I had written so that others could enjoy them.

Earl-bookWell, if readers wanted my stories in print, I had to get them in print!  I really never even considered not doing what my readers were asking for.  My entire focus in this endeavor has been giving my stories to readers, and if printed books was another means to fulfill this objective, I would do it.

When I went in search of a print on demand solution, I had two points of importance: the method needed to produce a quality product at zero up front cost.  These were my two points of critique, but you may have more, such as:

  • Distribution channels (i.e. probability/ability to get your printed books in bookstores)
  • ISBNs (Do you need to provide your own?)
  • Professional services offered (Ever design the interior of a book?  Need help?)

I chose CreateSapce for this outlet, but I will point out that there are other sources available.  Lightning Source is a comparable platform and worth researching, or if you’re okay with putting in some upfront costs, Outskirts Press is getting a lot of notice recently as a self-publishing platform.

I was terrified to begin using CreateSpace after I heard some many daunting tales about it, but after putting a book through the process (soon to be two with the release of For Love of the Earl in trade paperback), I realized it’s actually very easy.  I recommend thinking of the process in two steps:

  • Format the interior of the book
  • Format the cover of the book

I realize that sounds ridiculously easy, but both involve a little bit of labor.  Let’s start with the interior of the book.

I cannot recommend enough this blog post found on The Book Designer blog.  The author goes through step by step how to format the interior of your book for CreateSpace.  Here are the highlights:

  • Choose what size you want your book to be
  • Download the template from CreateSpace (Available under the interior tab on the website)
  • Copy and paste your manuscript into the Word doc template
  • Begin formatting as for the quality presentation you wish

I know that sounds too simplified, but it really is that easy.  Downloading the template and copying and pasting into it is the hardest thing you’ll need to do.  Here are some tips on formatting that I use:

  • Highlight the entire document and justify it, so that words are evenly spaced. (You’ll need to go back through the text and center any text that then needs to be centered.)
  • I used Georgia font in size 12 for easy reading.  (I had used Grammond in 11.5 font, but it came out very light and hard to read.)
  • At the beginning of chapters, I used the small caps option in Word to make the first line of text appear in small block letters.   This can be done by selecting the text you wish to modify, go to Font, and then select Small Caps from the menu.
  • Make sure that the options to keep lines together is NOT selected.  This is found under the Paragraph settings.  The option to keep lines together makes abnormal page breaks in your text.  By deselecting this option those page breaks go away.

That is largely all that I do for formatting the interior of my print of demand books.  Page numbers, headers and footers, and margins are all predetermined by the downloaded template.

Now let’s talk about the cover.  Return to the CreateSpace website to download the PDF or PNG template for the cover.  It is important to note that space must be left on the cover for the barcode, so I downloaded the template to make producing the cover easier.

When you get to the template page within CreateSpace, you will be asked a series of questions, because the size of the cover depends on a lot of factors within the interior of the book (e.g. color of the paper, number of pages, etc.).  CreateSpace has built a calculator to factor of these things in.  Simply enter the necessary information (including number of pages), and a template will be created with the correct size cover and spine width.  You will find the number of pages based on the number of pages created in the Word doc for the interior file.  You can download this template as a PDF or PNG for use in Photoshop to create your cover.

booksThe template is then largely plug and play so to speak.  There are outlines on the PDF of PNG file of where all of the image parts go.  There is a box for the cover image, the spine art and the back text along with a predetermined space for the barcode.  You simply drag and drop pieces of the cover onto the template and save as a PDF. (And although I say this is a really easy thing to do, I will admit I make my husband do this part, so don’t feel it’s necessary to do everything yourself.  Always ask for help.)

Once you have your Word doc interior file and PDF cover file ready, you can upload both to CreateSpace for completion of the print on demand book.  These are exactly the steps that I follow to create my print on demand books, and I know it seems simple, but it really is.  Do not be daunted by the task.  Print is just another way to get your stories out there.

4 thoughts on “Creating a Print on Demand Book: Using CreateSpace”

  1. Tim

    How was your experience using the CreateSpace template? Some authors say that it’s confusing. Anyway, it’s good to know that you were able to follow the steps successfully and even published your book for print. All the best! 🙂

    November 27, 2013
  2. Gloria Silk

    Hi Jessie,
    Thank you so much for such a helpful and encouraging blogpost. I’m in the process of learning the whole publishing business for my first novel and have felt overwhelmed. Your site and your determination is awe inspiring. Good luck and I can’t wait to start reading your first book.

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