CreateSpace for Print On Demand – How Hard Can It Be?

September 4, 2013 in Articles, Formatting Paperback Books

Createspace Paperback Books

Photo courtesy PhotoXpress.com

I decided to find out how hard it is to prepare a file for upload and then to publish a paperback book using CreateSpace. I thought there cannot be a lot more to it than publishing on KDP (or Smashwords for that matter). Well essentially I was right. The tricky parts are getting a nice uniform look to the pages in the first place, not dissimilar to KDP and Smashwords, and then figuring out how to organise the layout for a printed book.

The latter is primarily about selecting the correct layout options for your book, once you have a consistent standard sorted out for your fonts, paragraph formatting and headings.

The recommended software program for achieving all of this is of course Microsoft Word so that is exactly what I used.

Bearing in mind that your book in this instance is going to be a printed document, rather than being converted to one or several digital formats, the process is a little more forgiving. Anyone that has read and tried to implement the Smashwords Style Guide will know that quite a lot of effort has to go into getting rid of hidden behind the scenes code that comes from Word and messes up the conversion into other digital formats. Not so critical for a printed book, but probably still good practice to ensure no gremlins creep in and upset the apple cart.

How I approached the process was to take a Word file that I had already prepared for uploading to the Smashwords site, in other words it met the requirements of the Smashword styleguide and was a very clean and simple configuration that had very few bells and whistles. I saved it as a different file, so I could always go back to the original if I needed to, and then I started to modify it to meet the requirements of Createspace.

To summarise the main formatting requirements of the Smashword’s style guide, you format paragraphs either:

  • as a first line hanging indent (I use 1 cm) and no spacing between paragraphs – usually for fiction
  • or as a block with no hanging indent but a 6pt spacing after each paragraph – usually for non-fiction
  • use 12pts for the font size for content, 14pts bold for main headings and 12pts bold for sub-headings (headings can be centered or left-aligned according to choice)
  • paragraphs will typically be justified rather than left or right aligned

You can refer to the Smashwords style guide for more details, but the paragraph settings are typically as shown below in the dialogue boxes. The preview box at the bottom shows you how this will look. Createspace Formatting There are masses of help files and guides on Createspace that go into virtually every single issue you might possibly encounter, but what it basically boils down to is this:

  • You need to change the size of the pages to suit a standard print size (the most popular is 5.5″ x 8.5″ (13.97 x 21.59 cm) called ‘Statement’ in Word) Using Word 2013 you can find ‘size under the ‘Page Layout’ tab.
  • Then you want to select mirrored under the ‘Margins’ options, also under the ‘Page Layout’ tab
  • Now you need to switch tabs to ‘Insert’ and add a page number to the bottom of your page, this will increase your number of pages. If you want a heading, now is the time to insert a heading, because this will also increase your page numbers
  • Go back to ‘Page Layout’ and go into ‘Page Setup’ and set all your margins and the ‘gutter’.  This is a bit trickier so I have provided a graphic to show you how to access it below. Incidentally this is also how you access ‘paragraph’ and via the same tab. Note the inside margin is set to ‘0’, this is because the gutter effectively replaces the inside margin and by putting a value for inside margin, you actually increase the gutter.

Createspace formatting Sizing margins and the gutter is really well covered in this tutorial on Createspace for setting up the interior of your book http://www.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1482 but basically the gutter is set dependent on the number of pages in your book.

  • 24 to 150 pages 0.95cm
  • 151 to 400 pages 1.9cm
  • 401 to 600 pages 2.2cm
  • More than 600 pages 25.4cm

Personally I think it is a good idea to put page breaks at the end of each chapter to help the flow of the book and because the book is being printed there is more flexibility about where you position any graphics, what you see should be what you get, especially if you decide to save the file as an Adobe PDF document. You may want to remove page numbering from your title page to make the book look more professional, you can do this by defining a different front page.

That pretty much covers the basics of setting up your interior, but there are one or two more points that need to be made just for completeness.All of these were flagged up as formatting issues for me on the first pass.

  • All graphics need to be a minimum resolution of 300 ppi, this is because you are printing and not viewing the image on a computer screen. You should also, ideally, size the image to fit inside the margins.
  • The title page ‘main title’ and ‘sub-title’ must match exactly the title and sub-title you enter in the descriptive fields when you are adding a book to Createspace, otherwise the book will be thrown out at review stage.
  • Fonts need to be embedded in the file. This is done when saving the file.

To ensure the latter is achieved, you go to File>Options and then select ‘Save’ in the dialogue box.  At the bottom of the dialogue box you will see these check boxes. Just make sure they are configured as shown. Createspace Formatting Font Once you have completed all this and you are happy that everything is configured as you want it, it couldn’t be easier to add a table of contents just after the title page. All I did was put a page break after the contents of the title page and then from the ‘References’ tab I clicked on ‘Table of Contents’ and selected ‘Automatic Table 1’. This then goes off finds all your main and sub-headings and inserts them into a table of contents with the relevant page numbers.

Obviously this only worked for me because I had defined my main headings and sub-headings as such, while I worked through the contents applying my formatting. If you have chosen alternative ways of defining your contents and formatting you may need something more appropriate.

Createspace accepts both Word documents and Adobe PDF’s for upload and sometimes it works better with a PDF, only Createspace will know why.

The process of registering with Createspace was very simple and like KDP you can use your Amazon sign in. I would suggest as you go about creating your first title that you select the guided option to walk you through each step, until you know what you are doing.

You will also need to make decisions about categories, price, tags and distribution channels as you progress, don’t do this too quickly, they are important decisions and need to be carefully considered.

The one thing I haven’t talked about here is the cover design, but there are two options. You can design a cover using the Createspace tools or you can design your own outside of Createspace and upload a finished file.

That I feel needs to be the subject of another article, so see below and subscribe to the RSS feed in the right hand column to make sure you don’t miss any further updates.

In the meantime if you would like to take a look inside one of the paperback books I have published on Amazon via Createspace select from the options below:

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