For those who don’t know, Createspace (run by Amazon) is an online company made to help you self publish your book. To further define that, self publishing is when the author decides to “be their own agent.” It’s like being, instead of the cashier, the manager. In other words, you are the sole boss of your book and everything about it (this may sound great, but it’s not easy to self publish a book and have it be successful. You have to do everything yourself, which provides major obstacles).
Within the past two or three months, I have finished my book, sent letters out to literary agents, and made a print version of my book on Createspace. This may sound confusing, because my goal is to traditionally publish, not self. My plan was not to sell my book through Createspace, but simply to make and acquire a print version.
Createspace can do a lot of things. It can design the cover, format the interior, distribute your book, and give you your royalties. As a disclaimer, I have not gone into the business side of Createspace and I have not put my book up for sale.
I’ll give you a run down of the steps I took in this process:
First, finish the book. This part is pretty obvious. You have to have a finished manuscript, and it should be typed up online somewhere.
Second, I painted my cover. I did not spend any money to make the book itself. The only money I had to spend was on my finished product (less than four dollars a book, five with shipping). So I took a nice big sheet of watercolor paper, and I painted the cover for my book. I then scanned it into the computer and made some minor edits to it online (the scan weakened the colors and I needed to crop it).
Third, I formatted the cover. Createspace provides you with a downloadable template that I used to size my picture on. My cover is simple – only one image that needed to be sized accordingly to the trim size of my book. The template comes in when positioning the words on the cover. I needed to know where the spine was so I could put words there, I needed to have a centered title and author’s name. I needed to know the bleed line so as to not put words too close to the edge.
You can make a cover on the Createspace website, but these are heavily formatted covers with specific fonts and places you have to put pictures. They don’t allow much in the way of creativity.
I wanted my watercolor picture to be the whole cover, so I went about making the cover myself. If you are doing this, Createspace will provide you with the template, but you have to look elsewhere if you want to make your own print ready cover. I formatted my cover on Microsoft Publisher 2007. And I did do a bit of research on Youtube to get the basics of making a cover on Microsoft Publisher. And just as a note, Createspace only does soft cover books, with the option of matte or glossy (I recommend the matte simply because it is really nice).
Fourth, I needed to format the interior of the book. I hate this step. It has haunted me and given me anxiety. I did do some research on this and watched a few Youtube videos on how to go about such a thing (I formatted my book in Microsoft Word 2007). This is like editing all over again. Createspace again provided a basic template that caters to your trim size and ensures you get all of the pages in your book – this helped immensely.
Fifth, the file review: When you think you’ve finished both the cover and the formatting of your book, you can submit both to Createspace and they will do what’s called a “file review.” Sometime the day after you’ve uploaded your files they will comeback as accepted or not. They may come back as accepted but also with errors. They may be big and necessary to fix (in that case you’d need to re upload for file review), or they may be small and not even an error (I had this when it said my font wasn’t exactly right, but the final print version was fine). For me, it said my cover image was at a very low resolution, but in print it was fine.
You will be asked to review a proof of your book. You can order a physical proof, or view a digital proof. If you are selling your book I think it is a must to order a physical proof, but I was just ordering the books for me and my friends and family, so I went ahead and approved a digital copy of my book.
Sixth, on selling. Createspace will then take you to a page talking about the distribution of your book and royalties and business stuff. If you want to self publish your book, then this is where you would fill all of that information out. Createspace will take a percentage of your royalties as that is how they make money (you will get a larger percent of your royalties than you would if you traditionally published). Again, I do not know a whole lot about this part of Createspace.
Seventh, buying the book. After you’ve proofed you book, you can buy as many copies of it as you want (again, with shipping, each book is about five dollars). I bought five copies of my book just to see. It is on-demand printing, so you can order however many of your books whenever you want.
The five copies of my book came very fast. Less than a week, which was nice. I opened up the box to see a beautiful cover. I opened up the interior to see it looks pretty nice. It was actually very emotional to see my book in book form. This was not my manuscript anymore, this was a book that could sit on a bookshelf.
But there were errors with the interior. I had accidentally duplicated a chapter and some of the paragraph indents were messed up. I did not expect it to be perfect, as I did the whole thing myself, but there was a serious problem with the content – so I had to re upload the files and scrap my five books.
I ordered fifteen books the next time so I could give some to my friends and family. Again, there were errors. Some of my text wasn’t consistent with the rest of my formatting, and my odd page headers were not on the correct side of the page. But the content was there, and the book looked great, so I was happy. It was a great learning experience to create the book and it was satisfying to say I created the whole book myself. While the formatting of the book is not prefect with it’s small errors, my printed book is still something to be proud of.
Createspace is a great company in it’s simplicity. It may be a bit of a learning curve at first, but once you figure it out, Createspace is nice.