How to Publish on Createspace without Stressing

A while ago I blogged about starting the process of getting a print version of The Face Stealer.

Having a print version of an indie title is certainly not a necessary thing and I went down this route knowing the following:

  • I would be unlikely to make any money from the sales of paperbacks.
  • Having a paperback I could give to my daughter to take into school would make me happy.
  • Sticking a paperback on the shelf might be motivating.

In short, this was going to be strictly one of those 20% activities—something to undertake as long as it didn’t clash with my main writing goals.

My tips for making this go smoothly for you:

1 – Understand your motives

Why are you choosing to do paperbacks? How does having a physical edition of your book change things?

I’ve already said that I wanted a copy to give to my daughter, but I do have a handful of friends who’ve asked for a physical book. This was enough for me to have a look at Createspace. I think as an indie author or self-publisher there’s a lot of ‘self’ involved. I wanted to learn about the process but that’s the kind of person I am.

You’d find it helpful to be clear on why you’re doing this.

2 – Be prepared for some more formatting

I choose to use one of Createspace’s Word templates to create a file. This meant I downloaded the template and pasted my existing Word doc into that file. I then had a whole load of formatting to do.

This was fairly straightforward for me but took me a couple of hours nonetheless. (In my other life I’m a technical author and am used to messing with Styles.)

But…there are different templates for the different sized books you might want to produce. I did a couple of hours formatting based on one book size, then eventually changed my mind and did it again with a different template.

The book size I ended up choosing is 5.25” x 8”

You could save yourself some grief by deciding before formatting.

3. Source your book cover

My book designer has been a star. Alexander von Ness at made me a superb book cover for kindle and when I contacted him about the possibility of adapting for a physical edition, he sorted it. I needed to supply some details from my Createspace project. Book size, paper type, and page count. This all goes towards working out how wide your book’s spine needs to be.

Here’s Createspace’s help page on the subject.

Of course, with a wrap around cover, I then needed to make sure I had a book description that suited the size of the back cover I had available, a nice author photo, and any other crucial information like my website details.

4 – Review your file

You may have had your kindle book up for a while and may have gotten used to making occasional changes when you notice typos. It’s an attitude you need to change with the print book. Review your book to death for typos. There’s nothing more annoying than getting a print proof in your hands only to find a typo within seconds. I wonder whether reviewing it in a print medium as opposed to on screen makes a difference.

5 – Order a proof

At this point, you’re going to part with some cash to get a proof copy sent to you. This has been the best part of the process for me. I ordered three proof copies the week before Christmas in the vane hope they might arrive and serve as useful presents for my daughter and sister. As it happens, they only arrived this week. But, what a great feeling…opening the box and seeing your book shining back up at you. I grinned for the next ten minutes. Luckily I was in the house on my own or my family might have been worried.

With that proof, you’re going to have to do some checking before releasing your book into the wild. I did a quick search for some things to check in a proof copy but didn’t find anything useful to me.

What I am doing though is following a simple checklist of things I would check if this was an instruction manual I was sending to the printers at work (I’m chuffed that my technical writing skill set has some benefit to my author career).

  • How does the cover look? Is the spine positioned correctly? Is the image cutting at the edge of the paper correctly?
  • Does the front matter look correct? Justified correctly?
  • Is your copyright date correct?
  • Does the back matter look correct? Did you remember to put your ‘call to arms’ in there?
  • Are the page numbers sequentially ordered?
  • Are the headers displaying the correct information?
  • Are the headers and footers correct on first pages in chapter?
  • Is the text justified nicely on each page with enough margins?
  • If you’ve used any different fonts for emphasis does this text look OK? (I had a newspaper report extract in The Face Stealer using a different typeface to the rest of the text).

If it’s a non-fiction book you’re writing, there may be other things to consider:

  • Is your table of contents present and referring to correct page numbers?
  • Is your index present and referring to correct page numbers?
  • Are your images of suitable quality?
  • If you’ve got tables, are there any weird page breaks going on?

Bonus Tip – Get it linked to your ebook edition

There is an option in Createspace to create a kindle edition once you’ve proofed the paper copy. This is probably something you should look at if you’re going to do a paper version anyway. If like me, you’ve already published your kindle version you’re going to want both your kindle and paperback to show up on one item page.

For me, this hasn’t happened automatically (but it has only been a few hours since I pressed the approve button). The advice I’ve seen suggests that if your author and title both match, the records will get linked automatically although it might take a few days. My author name for the paperback includes the prefix ‘Mr’ which just looks plain wrong. Also, I’ve indicated in the Createspace version that the book is volume one of a series—information I omitted in the kindle version.

I’ve emailed Amazon from my Author Central page so it should be sorted fairly quickly.

And there you have it. A few tips to get you started. If you’ve got questions, the Createspace community forums are very active. Or feel free to drop me a line and I’ll try to help.

Here’s my proof copy. It’s just fantastic. I love it. I’m clearing space on my shelf for it to take pride of place.