Making paperbacks with CreateSpace

I never imagined that my self publishing journey would take me to where it has. OK, I’m not a millionaire, I’m not even earning a living off my books, but back in March I had nothing published – at all. Then, I discovered this world of eBooks, and I was hooked. Later, I heard about CreateSpace; this company that would print actual paperbacks. It souned too hard, too complicated, something I would explore….eventually. Now I have explored, and I’m overjoyed.

One of the reasons that I’ve been put off developing paperbacks in the past is a) my personal confusion and b) the higher costs that readers have to pay. $2.99 is a very good price for a book, in my opinion, and so I have no qualms pricing an eBook of Inside Evil at this level. However, to pull back paperback costs means that Inside Evil has to be at least $10 for me to even make $1 profit on it. Would people pay this for my book? I didn’t know.

Whilst I’m still in the dark as to whether people will actually buy at a paperback by an indie author at that price, my paperback copy of Inside Evil arrived today and I’m OVER THE MOON. It seems far more real to hold an actual book in your hands. See the print, see the cover, turn the pages over with your fingers. And, far from my huge concerns, creating the paperback was VERY easy.




Making Paperbacks with CreateSpace

The formatting issue was my first concern when it came to producing a paperback, and I thought I’d never be able to get the book outline correct. However, CreateSpace makes this very easy to do. Whilst  you can go through all manner of preformatted options and templates, I’ve found that using a current Word .doc of your manuscript is the best way. Here’s what I did:

1. Used the Word .doc of Inside Evil that I use to upload to Smashwords. Don’t worry – CreateSpace will send you an email saying that you’ve got all manner of formatting issues, but this is normal. I chose the 5′ x 8′ template for my book, meaning that my .doc was completely wrong. However, after you’ve uploaded, CreateSpace will offer you the option to download a template. DO THIS. You will find that the template includes your manuscript but with the CreateSpace formatting. You can then make alterations to your document in line with the formatting required.

I’ve found this method to be a lot easier than trying to pre-prepare any document. Remember, if you’re uploading a Smashwords ready file, take out the Smashwords copyright blurb at the front of the book. Also, if you have hyperlinks in your eBook, remember to take them out. As many times as a reader presses that link, it won’t open if it’s on paper. 😉

2. Having made the inside of your book beautiful by using the easy process above, it’s time to do the cover. There are MANY tutorials on the web which show how to make extremely good but complicated covers. If you have some cover art ready made, use the CreateSpace online cover editor.

If you scroll through the template options that they give you, there are a few blank ones that you can use. Simply update your information for the spine, use your cover for the front and utilise Photoshop, or something similar, to make a back cover. You might have to make a few corrections so that no text spills into the gutter lines but CreateSpace makes this very obvious so you know when you’ll need to change something. Your back cover also doesn’t have to be complicated – at all – and all I did was to overlay a black raster layer on top of my front cover, cut through to create a few lines of colour, and add the same text that I use for my sales copy.

*Note* – CreateSpace GIVES you a free ISBN and sorts out the barcode image on the back of your book. Don’t stress, they do it for you! 😀

3. After you’ve done your interior and cover, you’re pretty much done. The team of reviewers will look at your work, after which point you have the option to order a Proof copy or just proof online. I was tempted just to proof online, but ORDER A PROOF COPY. Here’s why:

– Because I’d used my Smashwords .doc, I’d forgotten to put my headers and footers back in. Therefore, Inside Evil had NO page numbers.

– My About Author section still said ‘ebooks’, when it should have said ‘books’.

– You need to check your cover prints correctly. Just because it looks great on your computer screen doesn’t mean it will be perfect on the book.

– Your ebook font size and spacing may need changing. My font is size 12, with spacing set at 1.5 lines. Whilst this is OK, I’m trying another proof with normal spacing. This will reduce the number of pages, therefore making it cheaper for readers to buy. It’ll also look better.

– Holding the first ever printed copy of your book is AMAZING. I have no page numbers, an author error and PROOF written across the last page, but I love it.

Using CreateSpace is really easy to make your paperbacks, and I highly encourage it. Now that I’ve done a first proof of Inside Evil, I’m going to make a few changes and get another proof done. I’ve also spent today getting the The Tower of Souls ready for publication. Will I sell any paperback copies? Who knows. Will I love having MY books on MY real bookshelf? Yes.

4 thoughts on “Making paperbacks with CreateSpace

  1. Wendy Unsworth

    Interesting article, Geoff. I am just about to send for my proof. The inside of the book now has ‘no issues.’ I’ve used single spacing size 11 Arial – based on how you see your own proof – do you think this will work?
    Glad you are pleased with your proof – it must be quite a buzz!

    • geoffwakeling

      I think that will be great! I used Times New Roman 12, 1.5spacing. I’ve readjusted to normal spacing and I think it’ll look much better. It’s fine at the moment, but cutting down the pages makes it more affordable for people to buy.

      Wait for the buzz, Wendy. I didn’t think I’d be too excited, but I REALLY was! Congrats on going through the process :))

  2. Roy Eynhallow

    Thanks a lot for this article – and congratulations. I am very happy for you. It must be a thrill to hold a physical copy of your book in your hands. Your cover looks great, too!

    Thanks for the advice on uploading a normal Word doc without formatting. I spent so much time trying to get my manuscript right… I did go through it several times, though, and now just ordered a few dozen copies without a paperback proof because I’m holding an event soon and I really need the books to come in time for the event.

    Best of luck with your work!

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