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Posts tagged ‘Createspace’

Getting back into the swing of things

I’m going to admit right off the bat that my brain is not fully functional, at least not for much more than caring for Mom. One week ago today, she had reverse shoulder replacement. She’s doing great, especially considering her age. By day two post-op, she’d cut the pain meds down to half. By day four, she cut them out entirely except for at night. The problem is she is right-handed, profoundly right-handed and it was her right shoulder they replaced. So, for the next five weeks or more, that arm is in a sling and she can’t use that hand for much more than holding her cellphone. She hates asking for help. I am trying not to hover too much and I am once again sleeping–or not–like I used to when my son was a toddler.

But that also means I’m out of the loop about what’s going on in the world of publishing. Well, not exactly out of the loop but what I have been privy to isn’t for pubic consumption–yet. Read more

Cover(s) reveal and a bit more

Before we get to the cover reveal, here’s a head’s up. If you were publishing your print books through Createspace, be prepared to move over to the KDP platform or find some other service for your print needs. I’ve used the KDP system when it was still in beta and it’s actually a bit easier to use than the Createspace interface was. The problem now is there’s this little question they ask without giving you any real explanation about what they mean or what the impact of answering “yes” will be. Read more

Createspace is No More

There’s been rumors flying about this for some time, now, but the email I got from Createspace earlier this week cemented the reality – that particular publish-on-demand model is done and gone in just a few weeks. There’s nothing on the Createspace website yet, but I’m not sure that has been updated in months if not years. So where does this leave the newly fledged publish-on-demand marketplace? That remains to be seen. It does not, however, leave Indie Authors like myself high and dry. I have all my print books through them, but the email they sent is reassuring.  Read more

Something new(ish) from Amazon & more

I know I promised the next installment of “Know Your Genre” today but I’ll be honest. I’ve been too busy to write the post I want to. It needs a bit more research than I’ve had time to do. So I will be back later this week with the post. In the meantime, there’s been some news out of Amazon this month that should be of interest to all the indies out there. Also, for those who, like me, prefer tech over old-style but who still find it easier to edit with pen and paper, I may have a new option for you.

Last year, Amazon began offering a beta program which allowed indies the option of creating print books through their KDP program instead of going to Createspace or one of the other POD options currently available. The pros for the new beta program were simple: 1) you could upload your pdf files directly to your KDP dashboard instead of going to another site to do so; 2) your digital and print books linked automatically; and 3) you didn’t have to charge as much in order to get a royalty. All of those were great but there were drawbacks. It was a beta program and we didn’t know how long it would be before Amazon decided if it would stick with it or not. It did limit distribution somewhat. There were no print proofs offered and, the big kicker as far as most of us were concerned, authors could not order at a discount. Read more

A little of this and a little of that.

I have a problem. There are simply too many things to blog about this morning. Between the return of Author Earnings to the creation of Bookstat, from Createspace closing down its editing, marketing and design division to more idiocy at SFWA (and elsewhere), how could I choose just one topic? So away we go. As they say at the amusement park, buckle up and keep your hands inside the car. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Let’s start with the welcome news that Author Earnings has returned. It’s been a long time, almost a year, since their last report. It seems they’ve been busy behind the scenes, trying to improve their system and, from my quick scan of the report, it’s been time well-spent. There’s a great deal of information involved in the report, too much to try to digest it all this morning. But the bottom line is, despite the push-back indies have received from traditional publishers and the gloom and doom predictions for indie publishing, the bottom hasn’t dropped out.  Read more

Formatting for Print

A couple of weeks ago, I started a series on formatting. You can find the posts here and here. I promised to come back and do a post on how to format your interior file for print versions as well. That’s what today’s post is going to be about. As we start out, I’m going to make a couple of assumptions. The first is that you are working in Word or one of the equivalent programs. Yes, InDesign is a much better program and gives you much better control on kernaling and the like, but it is 1) expensive and 2) had a learning curve many find daunting. So, let’s get started.

The first question, even before you start your formatting, that you have to ask is where you are going to turn for printing and distributing your book. There are all sorts of options out there. To me, the two best — and for different reasons — are Createspace and Ingram Spark. The latter can get you into bookstores but the downside is you have to pay to use them and you aren’t guaranteed shelf space in those stores. The second can be completely free or it can cost you a whopping $10 if you buy an ISBN from them. The downside is that Amazon owns Createspace and that means getting into bookstores is going to be much more difficult.

All that considered, you have one more question to answer. Do you really want to spend the time, effort and money (yes, money. Even if you don’t pay someone to go out and try to sell your books to those bookstores, you will have to do it and every hour away from your keyboard is money out of your pocket.) trying to get into those stores? In other words, will the return on investment be worth the money spent to use Ingram Spark?

For me, since the vast majority of my sales come from e-books, I am more than happy using Createspace. It keeps my initial financial outlay down to a minimum, puts the print books in Books in Print, in the Amazon stores and lets me order copies at a discounted price when I need them for events, cons, etc.

So that is my second assumption for this post. Everything I am about to tell you is based on Createspace. If you decide to use Ingram Spark or one of the other services, you will need to check their formatting requirements.

So, how do you format your book for print?

The first thing you do is decide what size you want your book to be. Remember that the more pages you have, the more it will cost to produce and the higher your price will have to be in order to make money. I choose standard trade paperback size of 9 x 6. Now the fun begins.

Take the final version of your book and save it as a new file. Because I have been known to get confused on an occasion or two, I tend to save the files as NameofNovelPrintVersion. Once I’ve done that, I selection all (if you are using a PC, that ctrl A) and then go into layout and change the page size. Save it again. In fact, you should save often — and back up to other media.

Once you have changed your page size, check your front matter. Compare it to other print books in your genre. You want your books to have the same basic layout as those of traditional publishers. Here is how I set up my last several books:

  • Title Page (title only)
  • Also by (list other works)
  • Second title page (title, series, author, publisher, logo, etc.)
  • Copyright page

You can play with fonts and font size on your title pages. The key is to make it look as much like a traditionally published book as possible. In other words, imitate what you see. Also, remember that the font size limitations you had in your e-book go out the window when you move to the print side of things. For example, I have nothing with a font size of more than 16 in an e-book. For a three line title page (title of the book only), I used Minion Pro SmBld with font size of 36. Line spacing before was set to 100 and line spacing was set at multiple (1.15).

Now, before we go any further, each of the above pages had a page break after the last line of text. That means the “Also by” by was on the back of the initial title page and the copyright page on the back of the second title page. The exception is the copyright page. That page has a section break (odd page) instead of a page break after the last line of text. What this does is insert a blank page where needed so your next bit, your dedication, appears on the right hand page of your novel. To insert the section break (odd page), click your layout tab. Then click on “breaks” and scroll down until you see “section breaks” and “odd page”. Click on odd page. You won’t see the additional page in your word document but it will show up when you save your file to pdf.


So now you have a new “section” and this is for your Dedication. Replace the “page break” from your e-book with “new section, odd page” after the last line of your dedication.

In my books, I make a change here from my e-books. Because e-books use your style headings to build the active table of contents, I don’t use Heading 1 (or any other) on “Dedication” in the digital version. However, with the print version, I want “Dedication” to match my chapter headings, so I highlight the word and then apply Heading 1.

And this is where we start changing the formatting from the digital version of the book.

My Heading 1 is set up as follows (for science fiction):

  • Font:
    • Minion Pro SmBld
    • size 20
    • all caps
  • Paragraph:
    • centered
    • spacing before: 100
    • spacing after 50
    • line spacing: multiple 1.15

This drops the heading down the page and gives spacing between the chapter heading and the first paragraph. Once you make this change to your heading settings, it should apply to all your headings in the document. In Word, you can make this change pretty easily by simply right clicking on the heading, choosing “modify” and then enter what you want.

Your next section will be Chapter 1. Your chapter title/number is Heading 1. If you had added spacing after in your paragraph dialog box for the Heading, you do not need to have more than one line return between the chapter title/number and the first line of your first paragraph.

And this is the next place you can play with your formatting and make it different from your e-book. Again, I suggest you look at books in your genre by traditional publishers and see what they do. You don’t usually see Drop caps in science fiction or fancy fonts, but you might in some fantasy or romance novels. For my SF novels, I small cap the entire first line. Now, when doing this, I sometimes have to play with the spacing in order to make it look right. You can do this in word by highlighting the word or words you need to adjust. Click on the font dialog box and then click on the advanced tab. When that opens, you have the option of changing your spacing and scale. Play with it and see what works best.I usually leave “scale” alone and work only with spacing. (Note: you will need to check this again later, after you have set your margins and gutters. I’m not having you set these yet because your page count is going to change based on how many sections you have and how many blank pages have been included.)

My paragraph settings, which are “Normal” on my style ribbon, are as follows:

  • Justified
  • First line indent 0.3
  • 0 spacing before and after a paragraph
  • line spacing of 1.15 (multiple)

My font is set at Georgia, 11 font size.

For section breaks, you can do pretty much whatever you want. Just remember, if you use an image, you need to embed it in your document and each time you use it, it increases the size of the file and, if you are in the 70% royalty program on Amazon, it will increase the transmission cost per download. Instead of an image, you can use symbols that are part of your font package. Once more, see what the trads in your genre are doing.

Add a section break at the end of the chapter (making sure you removed the page break, if it was already there). Rinse and repeat until you are done with the book.

Now that you have the body of your book formatted, select all and go into your paragraph dialog box. Click on the line and page break tab and make sure you have unclicked widow and orphan control. This is so every page, except for partial pages, end on the same line. Now save your as a PDF. Yes, yes, I know. I haven’t talked about headers and footers. We will in a a moment. Just bear with me. Once you have the PDF file, see how many pages it is. Make a note of the number. Now, go back to your working print file. It is time to set up your margins and gutter.

Createspace at least helps you here.

If your books is 24 – 150 pages:

  • inside margin of 0.375
  • outside margin of 0.25

If your book is 151 -300 pages:

  • inside margin of .5
  • outside margin of 0.25

If your book is 301 – 500 pages:

  • inside margin of 0.625
  • outside margin of 0.25

If your book is 501 – 700 pages:

  • inside margin of 0.75
  • outside margin of 0.25

If your book is 701 – 828 pages

  • inside margin of 0.875
  • outside margin of 0.25

Open your page dialog box. Your first tab should be margins. Choose the appropriate margins from above and fill them in. Choose your orientation (portrait). Where it says “pages”, choose mirror margins. Now click on the “paper” tab. Make sure your page size is appropriately entered. Now click the “layout” tab. Make sure it says a new section starts on the odd page. Under headers and footers, make sure both “different odd and even” and “different first page” are clicked. Press okay and then save your document.

Now, finally, it is time to do your headers and footers and this is where you will see why we switched to section breaks instead of page breaks between chapters. If you look at a traditionally published book, you will see that most do not have headers or footers on the first page of each new chapter. Also look at how they do their headers. Are the author names set out in the same manner as the book title? Some will be and others will not. Some will italicize the author name and cap only the first letter of each word of the author’s name. Now, how do they do the title? Capped? Small caps? Choose which you like best and now we will get to work.

Go to your first chapter. Click insert header. If you are working in one of the later versions of Word, this should take you to the “design” tab. Make sure “different first page”, “different odd & even” and “show document text” are clicked. Now look for “link to previous” and make sure that is not clicked. You do not want headers or footers on your front matter. Once you have that done, scroll to the second page of the chapter. Type in the author name. I have it centered in my manuscript but you can align it however you want. My only reminder is to do what is common in traditional publishing in your genre. Once you have it typed in, highlight it. Make sure it isn’t indented. If so, open the paragraph dialog box and removed first line indent. Also, consider changing the font size slightly to offset your header text from your main text. I drop my font size down to 10 for my headers.

Once you have done that for the author name, scroll down to the third page of the chapter. Type in the title of the book. Repeat the check for indents and font size. Now scroll to the beginning of the document and make sure you haven’t accidentally wound up putting headers in the front matter. If it looks all right, save your document.

Page numbers are next. These can go up in the header or down in the footer. I put them in the footer because that is easier to do. So, go to “insert” select page number, and basically repeat what you did for your headers. Once you have them aligned how you want, make sure there is no first line indent. Match your font size with your header font size. You have one more step. If your page number doesn’t say “2” on the second page of the chapter, click on “page number” and then “format page numbers”. The dialog box that opens up lets you choose what number to start with. Choose 1 — it won’t show since first page is different — and save. Make sure it works. If not, choose 2.

You’re almost done. Skip ahead to your next chapter. If your headers and footers aren’t there, don’t panic. Double click in the header section of your page and that will open up the design ribbon. Now you can click link to previous section. That should import all your settings from the first chapter. If you have done it right, you will have no header or footer on the first page of the chapter but those should be in place after that page, complete with correct page numbers. Check the rest of your document and save.

Now it is time to save as a PDF again. This time, when you save, you want to go back and check your formatting as it imported in. Pay close attention to how your first line of each chapter looks — did your special formatting carry over as you thought it would or do you need to go back and play with it? Does each page look right or do you need to tweak the formatting some. One problem that can happen on occasions is weird full justification of a short sentence. This happens when you accidentally put in a soft return (ie, you accidentally hit “enter” while holding “shift”). All you have to do is go to the end of that paragraph in your Word doc and erase the soft return and then hit “enter”.

Tweak as needed, until you are satisfied with how the document looks.

One more thing. You don’t need all the end matter in a print book that you have in an e-book. You have already listed your other work at the beginning of the novel. So there is no need to list it all again. You can add a “Note from the Author” or “About the Author” if you want, but you don’t have to. I do, simply because I don’t like the book ending with the last page of the novel and there being no chance to thank the reader. Again, and I know I sound like a broken record, check what the trads in your genre are doing.

In other words, copy, copy, copy but make yours look better than the trads.

Save our your final version in both DOC and PDF. You will upload the PDF version to Createspace — or whoever you chose to do your POD versions. Now you wait for them to tell you whether you passed review or not. When you have, download the PDF file they have compiled. Make sure nothing happened to your formatting and your book still looks the way you want it to. If you haven’t been doing this for awhile and aren’t comfortable with it — and even if you are — go ahead and order a hard copy proof of your book as well. See if you like how it looks in print. If not, change it.

In other words, don’t rely on the downloaded proof. I had a book where the downloaded proof looked great but when the printed version got here, my 250 page book was something like 125 pages. The font had screwed up somehow and you needed a magnifying glass to read it. Fortunately, I caught it before it was released into the wild. Believe me, it is better to spend $5 or so plus shipping to avoid that sort of headache.

I know this is a super-long post but there is no easy and quick way to handle this. Now I’m off for coffee and food.








Don’t Panic, Keep Writing

All you have to do is go onto Facebook or look at any of the other social media outlets to see that the Chicken Little Syndrome is alive and well in publishing. Unfortunately, I’m not just talking about legacy publishing. There is a sense of panic in the air, much if not most of it fueled by rumor and innuendo and biased reporting in the media. You know the latter is true when Publishers Weekly posts an article about how there is more to the Amazon-Hatchette contract controversy (not conspiracy, as others would have you believe), noting that Amazon isn’t totally bad in what is going on and that it has, in fact, done some good for the industry.

What is getting to me is the panic I’ve been seeing of late among some indie and small press authors as well as readers when it comes to Amazon. From the reader side, I’ve seen Amazon accused of fraud because, gasp, when they initiated the new “Manage your devices” page, there were some glitches. You could still download directly to a device from the device interface. You could buy e-books exactly as you could before. But for a few folks, few being relative when you consider how many customers Amazon has, you could not send an e-book to a device from the Manage Your Devices page. It was a temporary glitch, one I experienced firsthand. But, in my case at least, it was fixed within a matter of hours. I hadn’t even bothered to submit a trouble ticket on it. I realized they’d rolled out a new interface and, having been around too many interface launches in my life, I knew there could be a glitch. So, giving them time, I waited and the very next time I checked, all was well.

But oh the handwringing and name calling against Amazon that ensued, often from those who hadn’t even realized there was a problem until they read it on someone’s wall or on an email forum.

Now there are a few folks upset because Amazon has supposedly stopped discounting their Createspace published hard copy books. I’ve seen several folks talking about it on social media over the last day or so but, funnily enough, when I use my google-fu, find nothing else about it. Not that it helps these folks if there is a mistake on Amazon’s part. However, I’m not sure there has been one. If Amazon, or any other retailer, decides to discount an item — and it is a unilateral decision and not one established by contract with the supplier/creator — there is no obligation for the company to continue discounting it forever. Can you imagine walking into your local grocery store and demanding that the pizza or ice cream or Kobe beef you saw with a discounted price a month ago be sold at that same price today?

Then there are those who still believe Amazon killed the indie bookstores and is now killing Barnes & Noble. As I’ve stared before, it wasn’t Amazon that killed the indies. It was the sudden influx of the big box stores like B&N and Borders with their larger selections — which led to larger buying ability and more influence with publishers and distributors — that did. These big box stores could buy at a discount the indies couldn’t and could sell at lower prices. Remember those free customer loyalty cards when the stores first entered the market? Sign up, give them your email address — if you had one —  and get your discount on best sellers, etc.? It was really cool.

And then there were the coffee shops and comfy chairs. You could spend a day at the store, browsing, reading, drinking coffee. It was wonderful. We were so busy enjoying ourselves, we didn’t notice the mom and pop shop quietly going out of business.

But it was such a good thing for the big box stores that they continued expanding until they over expanded into the market. Big stores turned into bigger stores and then super stores. Where they were once twenty miles apart, they were suddenly across the street from one another. Even the chains had stores often within a mile or two of another of the chain’s stores. So they were suddenly competing with themselves. But the decline in profits was the fault of the economy or the landlords who negotiated contracts that were weighed in their favor and not the store’s.

But it is Amazon that is killing the stores. The same stores that refuse to stock Amazon published books. Hmm….a bookstore refusing to sell a book simply because of what corporation publishes it, no matter what the public demand for that book might be. Sounds like good business practice to me — not.

All of this has been distracting authors, folks who ought to know better. No, I’m not saying Amazon is all wonderful and beneficent. Far from it. It is a business, out to make money for its shareholders. However, Amazon is also the first major outlet that opened up for authors who were already being abandoned by their publishers and for those of us who couldn’t get in with a “real” publisher. It isn’t that we aren’t good enough — some indie authors are, at least in my opinion, better writers than those being published by traditional presses right now. But these same indie authors aren’t conforming to what the bean counters in New York think will be the next big deal. They are committed to writing stories they want to write and, in doing so, are meeting a demand the publishers still deny is out there.

It was Amazon that, approximately five years ago, opened up its Kindle Digital Platform to indies and first allowed us to bring our work out. Yes, there were other outlets before then, mainly Smashwords in the States, but Amazon gave us a wider audience because of the Kindle. Still, even that was seen as an evil attack on publishing.

It’s funny, thinking back on it, to remember that there were no such panic attacks when Barnes & Noble brought out what was then called the Pubit platform for indie authors and small presses. There was even less of a hue and cry when Kobo opened up to indies. In fact, the latter was lauded because it was a strike against Amazon. Boo, Amazon!

The truth of the matter is Amazon is a business but we, as writers, are also businessmen (okay, sue me. I used the masculine there). Whether we like it or not, we need to look at our writing as our business. That means we need to pay attention to what is best for getting our work out into the most hands while, at the same time, making the most money for ourselves. That means we have to look at what our royalty rates are, when we get paid, how we get paid and how much it costs to get our work ready for sale.

We have to look at things that go beyond the time it takes to write a book or short story to the programs we need to do so, the tech we need to be productive, cover art and design, etc. Much of the actual design and conversion of a work into e-book format can be done with programs that are free or cost very little. Even cover art can be found for free or for just a few bucks. Where the real money can come in is in how we distribute our work.

For those who are bitching and moaning that Amazon has taken away the discount on your hard copy books, the first thing you need to do is find out why it did so. Contact Amazon. If you didn’t put the book out yourself, have your publisher find out. But don’t expect Amazon to continue discounting something forever. Not even Walmart does that.

Now, if you still don’t like the fact that Amazon no longer discounts your book, look at how much it would cost to put out the hardcopy of your book through other distributors than Createspace. Some distributors will charge approximately $500 just to set up the book for publication. This isn’t editing. It is setting up the file — even though you have already sent them print ready pdf files for both the interior and exterior of the book. There are other fees involved as well and it is very easy to run up a bill of $500 – $1,000 or more before the book is even printed. Hmmm, there is no setup fee for Createspace and no distribution fees any longer. So, how many books would you have to sell to make up the difference in price?

But even that is something you spend maybe an hour or two every few days or weeks worrying about. It should not be something you spend your every waking moment thinking on. Your job is to write, first and foremost. None of the rest of it matters one little bit if you don’t have something ready to publish. So quit buying into the latest conspiracy theory about Amazon or publishing or whatever. Instead, sit your butt in the chair — or, if you are like me and have an injured hip that makes sitting problematical, stand — and get to work. Write. Write the best damned story you can. Then, when you are ready to publish, decide what is your best marketplace. Where are you going to make the most money? Like them or not, don’t do the proverbial cutting off of nose to spite face and boycott that marketplace. Put your work up there and make money.

Money is good. Money lets us keep writing. It puts food on the table and kibble in the cats’ bowls.

But write. As I said, none of the rest of this will matter if you don’t.