Well that would be a neat trick to hold all those Ones and Zeroes without dropping any of them. I’m about to hold almost five times that amount, but they will be print versions.
I am in the process of using Amazon’s CreateSpace (CS) to publish all five of my existing eBooks into print versions. Originally I looked into CS and there was a fee involved. Recently, I asked an author friend, who had published his novel on CS, whether he spent a considerable sum. I was very surprised to hear that he didn’t spend any money. Maybe there are other authors who have existing eBooks who were considering printed versions, but were unaware as to how to accomplish this without incurring major expense. What follows is an overview of the CS publishing process I used.
I’m sure there are other ways to accomplish publication of print versions, but I was very impressed with the tools CS provides. Those tools guided me through the process steps so I knew where things stood all along the way.
I started this process at the beginning of August. Before the end of August I had received all five ‘proof’ copies of my novels. I spent under $40 for all five including shipping charges. (Print proofs are optional – if you elect not to go with them, the print book creation process is free – that’s right – it costs you nothing.)
The two key ingredients needed to accomplish this publication are the cover and manuscript file. CS calls the manuscript the ‘Interior File.’ What I learned is that they can and did use my Word document file. They automatically converted it to a PDF as part of the submission process. As far as the covers go, I had all the covers already with the exception of the back cover descriptions. My cover designer incorporated my novel descriptions onto the back covers and formatted the spine sizes using the number of pages in my final loaded interior files. (The nifty Cover Creator software provided by CreateSpace will help you design your own cover if you don’t have a or can’t afford a cover designer. More on this below.)
Here are the elements involved if you want to check this out further.
You need to establish a free account with Amazon CreateSpace – https://www.createspace.com/.
Once you have an account you can set up what they call a ‘New Project.’ I set up five separate projects using my novel titles as the respective project names. Another step is to select the type of project, which in my case was ‘Paperback.’ Not being familiar with the process I used ‘Guided.’ Here is what the ‘Dashboard’ shows for one of my novels after completion of everything except Proof Approval, Distribution and Pricing –
The next area was the ‘Setup’ area. It asked for title information, which again was each novel title. There were some choices for ISBN assignment, which is required for print versions. I selected the CreateSpace assigned number which was FREE! That means that CreateSpace is the publisher and can’t be changed without assigning another ISBN. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number which identifies the title, edition, publisher and physical properties. CS provided both a ten- and thirteen-digit ISBN. The next step was to indicate the Interior File to load. Before I could load my eBook Word document file I had to do a reformat. Important – To prevent future problems between eBook and print formats I suggest saving your eBook file as a different file name.
What had to be done next was to put the ISBN assigned number onto the Copyright page. I also formatted the file as a special size (6” wide by 9” tall. To do this go to FILE, PAGE SETUP, PAPER, WIDTH 6”, HEIGHT 9” and I also changed all MARGINS to 1”). I also had to create sections to put the novel title on the odd pages and author name on even pages along with page numbers. That was the most difficult step in the process and took me several attempts to do this correctly. If I can do it, you can too. Please refer to Lynne Cantwell’s post, My Journey to the Center of Createspace, which walks you through how to accomplish that step.
I uploaded my reformatted interior file. There was a ‘Browse’ capability to select the proper file on my computer. Once uploaded there is a wait period while it automatically checked for any format issues. You can upload your cover file (i.e., cover, spine, and back cover) while you’re waiting. (You have to upload the interior first so they can gauge the thickness of your book to estimate your cover size.) In my case, the interior files had no formatting issues. CreateSpace gave me the capability to look at the uploaded file, page by page, or with a two-page layout. At this point I got to see everything except the cover. I did spot a few issues and went back and made changes on my computer and then uploaded a revised file. I could have made changes directly on CS, but wanted my source document to have the changes. Once I was satisfied with how the loaded file looked, I selected ‘Submit for Review.’
That review step is done by the CreateSpace staff and can take a day. Once they indicate that the cover and interior files meet their required format they send you an email to announce the file is ready for the ‘Proof’ phase. They also show all alerts and messages on my dashboard.
There are three separate ways to do proofing. You can do it online. In this case you see the cover (front/spine/back) with the addition of the ISBN added to the back cover by their CreateSpace review process. I could see exactly how the novel would look after printing. This is called the Digital Proofer. Here is what one of my novels looks like in this tool.
Another method is to download a PDF version, which looks just like the online version but without some of the bells and whistles and without the cover. The third option was to order a ‘proof’ print copy. I used all three of these options. As I mentioned earlier all five proof copies cost less than $40 including shipping. There was some nice tracking of the shipment(s) as well. One of my deliveries actually came three days earlier than scheduled. I used the standard shipping which was the least expensive form and I was satisfied with it.
Besides the ‘Proof Approval’ stage there are several additional steps required. CS provides three distribution channels for free: Amazon.com, Amazon Europe (UK, DE, FR, IT and ES), and CreateSpace’s eStore. There is an ‘Expanded Distribution’ which provides for Bookstore and Online Retailers, Libraries, and Academic Institutions, and finally CreateSpace Direct which covers certified retailers through their wholesale website. I personally am going to spend the $25 one-time charge for each novel as I want to get the additional exposure provided by the library channel. There is a post by Martin Crosbie that covers why you might want to do this as well.
There is also a tool to help set the print retail price based on the size of the print version. Please pay particular attention to the retail price if you select extended distribution. One of my novels is 440 pages long and to get any royalty on that size book I had to place a retail price of almost $16 on it. Anything less would result in no royalties at all. Again, my objective is to have awareness of my novels, not necessarily to make money.
So, for a month’s elapsed time and a $40 investment I have all five novels in print format waiting for my review and approval of the printed proofs. I’m very happy that I checked this out and would recommend the process if you are considering having print versions of your existing eBook(s). There are also tools there to make covers should you want to use this to publish your book without having an existing eBook cover. However, I have not tried to use those tools. Please check out the IU KnowledgeBase near the top of the IU home page for suggestions on ‘Cover Design.’