Createspace, one of Amazon’s limbs in the self-publishing business is a free and convenient way to getting your novel published in print copy. Not to be confused with Kindle, which is Amazon’s ebook store, for reading novels on a reader, such as the Kindle. Createspace is free to self-published authors for its Print on Demand services (POD), which means the book is only printed when it is purchased.
Self-Publishing Your Novel for Free
Publishing on Createspace is a different experience to publishing on Kindle (or KDP Amazon – Kindle Direct Publishing). You will basically need 3 things: a typo-free, perfectly crafted novel, a synopsis (blurb or sales pitch for the novel) and a book cover.
Firstly the novel. Take care the desired font is used. Times New Roman, Aerial or Bookman Old Style are most often used. I favour font sized point 10 for my novels but 11 or 12 might be more suitable for children’s fiction. Take a look at other novels to see how they are formatted and copy a style you like regarding chapter headings, page numbers or graphics. I try to keep these elements simple.
Formatting your Novel
You will need to consider the dimensions of your book. Createspace has a range of sizes to choose from, 8x5in (which I used for my novels) to 8.5x11in. You can alter the size of your pages on Word by selecting ‘page layout’ on the Word toolbar and then selecting ‘size’. By selecting ‘more page sizes,’ you can tailor the size of your novel to accord with any Amazon’s Createspace offer. Whatever margins you use, ensure they are ‘mirrored.’ (I allow 1in approx on the outer edges, top and bottom and a little wider for the inside or ‘gutter’ of the page). Note, that odd page numbers are always the facing page, and therefore chapter one will be placed on an odd page number, (say page 3 or 5). Set indentations for new paragraphs to 0.3.
Your Novel as a PDF File
Once the look of your novel is how you want, you need to save it as a PDF. To do this, open your word document, hover over the office graphic button on the upper left of your screen, click on ‘save as’ and then select PDF. You will then find 2 options, either minimum size (for online publishing such as on Kindle) or standard (for printing). Select the latter and click ‘publish.’ A separate PDF file will open. This is the file you will need to upload onto Createspace. Note: PDF is a read only document. If you notice a typo, you will have to delete the PDF file, correct the typo on the word document and save as a separate PDF.
Publishing on Createspace
Create an account with Createspace by following the online instructions. Next, you will need to input the title information (the title of your book) followed by the synopsis for your novel. Writing a synopsis for the novel can be found as a separate article on this blog. Next, the ISBN. You can have a free Createspace assigned ISBN or use one you have purchased from a separate agency. I will put the ISBN in the copyright page of my book and keep a separate copy of it for reference.
Uploading Your Book onto Createspace
Before uploading your PDF file onto Createspace, select the page colour, which is white, cream or a ‘colour’ option if you have colour illustrations within your book. Note, publishing in black and white is much cheaper than a colour book, so unless it is a children’s picture book, avoid using a one-off colour graphic, which will make the whole book much more costly to produce. For my novels, I use ‘cream’ rather than white, but it is up to you. Now you simply need to select ‘with bleed’ or ‘without.’ A bleed is required if illustrations or text run off to the edge of the page, and Amazon needs to trim off the edge. Most novels require no bleed, so select this button and then upload your PDF file onto Createspace. This will take a few moments.
Book Cover Design
You will obviously need a book cover design for your novel. This is a lengthy process which I have covered in a separate article. Briefly you have the choice of either designing your own from scratch, using one of Amazon’s templates and a myriad of copyright-free images from their database, or you can use one of their cover designers for $299. It is up to you.
Pricing Your Novel
Now you just need to “complete setup.” This involves pricing your novel and deciding on which channels to sell it on. A price checker can be used to help you decide how much to price your book as. All you need to do is input the size and page numbers. Your book will automatically be available on Amazon as well as your own CreateSpace Estore, which you can design yourself and provide links to. You also have the option of Standard Distribution, or Expanded Distribution Channel. (The old system involving Pro Plan has now been changed).
What is Expanded Distribution Channel?
It is up to you, but for a fee of $25 per book, you can upgrade to Expanded Distribution Channel (EDC). EDCopens distribution channels of your book onto other sales channels such as bookstores, libraries and overseas retailers. I like to see how my books perform on Kindle before committing to EDC, as you will also have to price your books a little higher to make royalties than if you remained with the standard channel.
Once you have completed all required fields, you can submit your book for review, which will take around three days or so, after which, the print copy of your book will be available on Amazon.com.
At this point, I will order a copy of my book as a keepsake. Note however, that if you live outside the US, you will have to pay overseas postage costs which I have found can often exceed the production cost of the book itself, and which a lengthy wait is likely.
Free POD Publishing
Having said that, I think Createspace is the best POD (print on demand) option for the self-published author, as the book is created at no cost to you other than the purchase of your own book and the option of EDC. So long as you have taken special care over the novel itself, the formatting of your book and the cover design, the quality of the book compares with those of mainstream publishers.
Links to other articles on writing novels
Questionnaire for developing your characters
How to develop narrative style
How to format your novel for print on demand
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