Friday, December 7, 2012

Publishing on CreateSpace

So, you've finished your NaNo novel and you've got yourself this nifty code for five free copies of your published novel (although you do have to pay postage). So, here is the quick run-down on what you will need to do to create your published novel (and sell it on Amazon too, should you so desire).

What you require:
- One finished novel
- A computer with some form of writing program on it. It does not matter which one, as long as you can:
a, change the size of the pages
b, save or export files as pdf files.
I use OpenOffice's Swriter program.
- A lot of time on your hands.
-  A cover. More details on that to come when you get to that stage.
- Some sort of illustration program is also very useful
- Patience

1. Go to and sign up.
2. Login, you should be taken to your DASHBOARD.
3. Select "Add New Title"
4. Fill in the details - Title and Format (you will want to select "paperback")

5. Now, you have the option between a guided tour or doing it your own way.
If you select "Guided" it will take you through the steps one at a time:
For Title Information: If you enter a subtitle, it will appear on Amazon, so I don't recommend it unless it is necessary. I also do not recommend entering a Prefix in for your name, as this means you will appear on Amazon as "Mrs Angela Oliver" when you may not want to! If you are a Doctor of course, fill it in!
When you have filled in these as much as you wish to, click on "Save and Continue".

6. You now have the choice between a CreateSpace assigned ISBN or using your own. NOTE: once you have an ISBN for your book, your book officially exists, if you go on and publish it, you will be considered a published author even if you don't make it available for the public to buy. This MAY have an effect on your options of publishing through more traditional publishers. Of course, if you become a highly successful independently published author, then you might be head-hunted by a traditional publisher. HOWEVER, you should not use CreateSpace to print up volumes of your fanfiction or otherwise copyrighted material. Your ISBN will be assigned and you can "Save and Continue".

7. Now comes the INTERIOR section. This (and the next) are the two most time-consuming sections and you will likely visit this page frequently, as you make last minute changes. First options are paper type and book size. You can choose black and white or colour. I have yet to explore colour costs, but I imagine that they will be rather higher than black and white! To choose your trim size, you might like to measure a few of the books on your shelf and see which ones you like. I use 5.5 x 8.5 inches for my books. I cannot remember why I chose that size, but I want all of mine to look relatively similar, so I have remained consistent.

8. Now comes the time to Upload your Interior. This is the bit that requires you to engage in quite a bit of formating. I recommend at this point that you save your CreateSpace and leave it for now (it'll store all the info, no worries there) and now open your writing program. You must remember the formatting of the book is entirely your responsibility. CreateSpace do not proofread, nor check-em except to make sure that the images are the right size. So, you must create your PDF file.

Creating a PDF of your story:
- Firstly, adjust the page sizes of your manuscript to match those of the Trim Size you have chosen. Most writing programs should allow you to "custom" your page sizes. It will then reformat your entire work.
- Now, you must add in the front pages. For some ideas here, pick up the nearest book in your house and look at the way the front pages are set out:
(Odd numbered pages are on the right hand side, evens on the left. Therefore, even numbered pages are on the back of the odd numbered pages)
Page 1*: In some books this is merely the title, in others, a page of glowing reviews, others choose to put in a passage from the text that it particularly gripping.
Page 2*: Often blank, or you can list other books you have written here.
Page 3: Title page - shows title of book, author's name etc
Page 4: Copyright details, ISBN, perhaps a dedication (unless you want that on the next page)
Page 5: Dedication or quote
Page 6: Blank, Map or other Illustration
Page 7: The story begins.
 * My earlier self-published books skip these two pages, and start with the title page (meaning the story starts on page 5). There are a few traditionally published books that do this too, but not many. 

> The story should ALWAYS start on a right hand page, even if this means leaving some other pages blank.
> Page Numbers should not be on the pages before the story begins (see my earlier notes for how to format this in OpenOffice).

Other Things to Consider:
Headers: I don't really like Headers, and a random opening of my shelved books shows that not every traditionally published book has them anyway.If you do have Headers, remember to remove them from the pages which say "Chapter One" in them, or whatever. Otherwise they look poorly formatted and ugly.
Footers: Page Numbers are ESSENTIAL. The library needs to put a tag in your book on page 33, after all. You can center your page numbers or set all the left hand pages to the left hand side, and all the right hand to the right side.
Font: I prefer serif fonts for my manuscripts (they're the ones with feet) and all of my novels use Century Schoolbook. You can use Times New Roman, but it's so common, it's kinda blah. Century Schoolbook adds a bit of class. Make sure the font you use is easy to read, also be aware that some fonts are not royalty free, meaning you can't use them in something you're making money from. This may not be too much of a hassle unless you become mega-successful. If you set your font too large, it will look like a book for young kids or the elderly. If you set it too small, it is difficult to read. I use font size 10, Century Schoolbook for my novels. Note that font size (and line spacing) will affect your number of pages, and if you want a really thick book, you need a bigger font! (Which is why I think some traditionally publishsed authors use such big text, either that or it is for their older readers!).
Paragraphs: Note that after a linebreak, the first sentence of a paragraph is not indented, but all the rest are.
Line Spacing: I publish my books with spacing set to 1.5, because these make it easier to track the lines, and I write for children.
Chapter Headings: Make sure your fonts, size and style are consistent. Don't write "Chapter One" then have "Chapter 2", for example. Also note that changing the size of the font here may affect the way the text lines up at the bottom of the page, and it is preferable to have these consistent. For this purpose also, you should Kill all Widow and Orphan Control*. Adjust the font size of the Chapter headings until you can see that they line up in the PDF version. An easy way to do this is to make sure that the line spacing is proportional - ie: I usually set my line spacing to 0.54, which leaves a bit of a gap between lines, and for the headers I set it to 1.08 (2 x 0.54). This seems to work.
Adding Illustrations to Text: There are two sorts of ways you can include illustrations in the story - one is as a full page spread, the other is as little line drawings interspersed with the text. There's no real rule to doing this, just make sure it looks right. Personally, from here-in I intend to draw my images at a size that is proportional to the page size so it will fit without having one or two sentences around it. "Aroha" and "Midsummer Knight" both have them mingled with the text, but for my "Lemur" books, I've got them on full single pages at the end of the relevant chapters. Use lineart or greyscale your colour images first, so that the printer doesn't get confused at the other end. Also, if you're greyscaling colour, you can make adjustments to brightness etc to make it clearer. If intermingling it with the text, use the "padding" option to provide a few millimetres of space around the image so that the text doesn't run into it. Trying to get them to sit right on the page can be endlessly frustrating and I have no advice but perseverence. If you are also writing for ebook format, illustrations will mean the text on the page preceeding may run for half a page or less, as they always show up indvidually. I remove the illustrations from my ebooks (although I might leave them in with Lemurs, since they're at the end of the chapter anyway) as it gives more incentive to actually buy the physical book.

 * Widows and Orphans - when the page reformats itself so that if you have two lines in a paragraph at the base of the page that would be left hanging, they get shifted up to the next page leaving a gap of two lines. They are the bane of my OpenOffice existence, since I want my text to line up at the base of the page, and I don't care if the are only four words on the next page. I keep turning them off on OpenOffice, and they keep coming back to haunt me.

Once you think you're done - export your novel as a pdf file and look through it, to make sure everything looks as it should.
If it does, then you can upload it into CreateSpace and move onto the next step.
Note: You will need to fix all grammar, spelling and continuity errors yourself. Createspace does not edit it in any way.

9. Now it's time to make the Cover. This is the funnest bit of all - if by fun you mean very important. This has to a, look professional and b, grab the readers' attention. I can't promise that mine do the former, but I would like to think they do the latter. CreateSpace offers several ways to do your cover. You can use their templates, upload your own PDF or pay someone to do it for you. Personally, I prefer number 1, because I could not quite work out how to use my programs to save as a PDF. Luckily, there is a way to upload the entire jacket (front, back and spine) without requiring a PDF.
So, firstly, Load Cover Creator:
This brings a pop-up with a wide range of templates, all named after plants. Most offer basic outlines where you can enter your text and upload images if you like. However, there are two that are particularly useful - the Pine and the Palm.
The Palm - this one allows you to upload the front and back images of the cover, but will do the spine for you (please note, if you haven't uploaded an interior, your spine will not show, the program works it out based on thickness of book.) To do this one, you simply need to design two images in your art program of choice and upload them. The cons? The spine is very boring, and you cannot add any images to it, and you're restricted to their selection of ugly fonts. My first two novels were published using The Palm, and their spines stand out on my shelf as looking self-published.
The Pine - for this one, you create the entire cover (front, spine, back) and upload it as a whole. You can download a template to make sure the spine is in the right place etc. This gives you the freedom to make the spine look professional and fancy, should you wish. The cons? it's a more difficult process and if your spine is off by a few millimetres it will definitely show.
Now, I'm no professional at designing covers, although I do a lot of art, and I am learning. My earlier efforts were... not great, to put it lightly. My first proof copy of "Aroha's" looks like the self published novel that it is. Later ones still look self-published, but I think with my latest "Lemurs" series, they will finally start to look more professional (and I will redo Aroha's after I've sold out of my current stock).
But here's some things I've figured out:
- Block colour only looks good if it is black. Some texture behind it looks better. I use photographs that I have altered the brightness and the colouring of to give them a "lightwash"
- If you are going to do an entire page illustration - make sure you draw it bigger than the trim size (about .25 inches larger) and keep all important details at least this distance from the edge - believe me, I've had the worst time using the clone brush to add that extra .25 inches because one of my characters got too close to the edge and I didn't want to cut her head off.
- All images should be at least 300 dpi. If it's a little bit less (like 290 or so), it shouldn't matter, but the smaller it is, the less clear the image will be. You should probably scan stuff at 400 dpi, and draw your interior images at the size you want them print at, if not larger.
- Leave room for the title! There's nothing worse than trying to squeeze too many words into too small a space. I also found that using the smudge tool to blur the sky behind the title made it pop out more than doing it straight over the colouring pencil.
- To decide how your title should look, I recommend studying various books, particularly in the genre that you are using. Remember the whole "royalty free fonts" thing too, and try to use ones that are Royalty Free, just in case.
- You will need to write a blurb for the back of your book. This is always what I find to be one of the more difficult parts - as you want to lure the reader in without giving away too much of the plot. From comparing the blurbs of books I've read to their actual plots, I've found that some authors not so much as lie, but as alter the plot in a manner to make it seem more interesting.

Once your image is up - Congratulations - you have finished the "Set-up" side of your novel. Now it's time to order your first proof copy and see how it all looks!

One thing I noticed with proof copies - because books need to be bound with a certain amount of pages, you may end up with some blank pages at the end. It is always fun to figure out something to fill these with! Suggestions include: a short story, a short comic, information about other books you've published, an "about the author" page.

To make use of your free copy codes, you need to have your book "published" first - but if you don't want to fork out for a proof copy, you can now proof it online and see how it looks there. There's nothing like owning your own copy though - and I recommend buying at least one so you can read through it and edit it for errors - you'll be surprised how many you can pick up when reading a physical book.

Remember, once your book is published you are a published author. This is exciting! However, it does mean you may not be eligible to enter various competitions, like the Storylines Tessa Duder award. Also, traditional publishers may be less likely to look at your manuscript and very few major bookstores will sell independently published titles unless they have very good reason to.

1 comment:

Cindy D. said...

Terrific write up! I'll just tuck this away somewhere for the um, eventual future where I might need it. ;)