Trick Question – How can you hold an eBook in your hand without a device?

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.’

Author: Dick C. Waters

Dick C Waters is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and author of the Scott Tucker mystery novels; Branded for Murder, Serial Separation, Scent of Gardenia and Fragrance of Revenge (soon to be published). For more information please see his Author Central Page

32 thoughts on “Trick Question – How can you hold an eBook in your hand without a device?”

  1. I’ve been using Create Space for several years,and I love it. You can have your book available as a paperback and a Kindle edition through the same setup process.

    1. I also used the CS files to republish Kindle versions. I did that because of the edits made to the final print versions. I’m hoping there are some authors unaware they can have print versions without a major expense.

  2. Hi Dick, I use CS as well, and found it to be painless. I like that I can use a word document; it makes it easy. I have had only one issue with the cover process and that was an easy fix. So far my print copies have held up well. I was afraid CS might be inferior in that area, but so far, so good. The best part is POD, there isn’t a vast layout of hard to come by money. I would suggest CS to anyone considering print copies.

    Thank you for your informative post, I’m sure it will help many an author.

  3. I’ve used Createspace from the beginning, as well, and have always been satisfied with the final product. The only expense (and problem) I incurred was having a professional cover done through them, as I’m not much good with Photoshop. My suggestion in that regard would be to shop around. There are definitely cheaper ways of getting you cover produced. Additionally, I had to have the chosen cover corrected three times, and it took almost three months for them to get it right. Other than that, I’ve been very happy with Createspace.

    1. Create Space now offers free cover templates where you can enter your text (title, author, etc.) and graphics, and they even offer free images that you can use on your cover.

      1. Thanks, Busby…I’ve used a couple of their free images…as to the templates…I’m not so good at all the computer stuff…like bleeds and setting up the spine…so I hired it out to them…which I won’t do again. But other than that, as I said…I’m very happy with Createspace.

        1. Bleeds are easy — just place your cover text so that it’s 1/4″ from all the edges and you’ll be fine. And the templates set up the spine for you — all you do is type in the title and your name. 🙂

          The only really complicated thing about print-book covers is that all the artwork must be 300 dpi (dots per inch). Ebook covers are usually 72 dpi, which ends up pixelated in print. I’ve started buying 300-dpi stock photos so that I can build my covers to print specifications from the get-go.

          1. And if you design/create your cover in MS Publisher, you can “save as” a 300 dpi JPG (although saving it as a TIFF gives you MUCH better resolution). One thing I recently discovered is that if you don’t convert it to CMYK, you can get some fuzz around the lettering.

  4. Yes, I managed, with the help of my talented daughter to upload both my books to Createspace with no glitches. And if I can succeed anyone can. 🙂 I was very happy with the results. One word of caution, though. Word has a LOT of hidden formatting. For this to work well your word file MUST be perfectly clean.

        1. Yes, I personally like the control too and with your own pdf document, you can see exactly how it is going to look and if there are any errors in formatting, you can quickly change it, even if it is one page. Saves you money if you find an error in the print proof and have to do it all over again. I love CS for print books. And don’t forget if you live anywhere there is a Hasting’s Book store, you can sell your print books (get your book on their shelves) on consignment. Here’s my post I wrote on that: https://www.indiesunlimited.com/2012/10/29/hastings-and-your-print-books/

  5. I’ve now published something like 15 books on CS and absolutely love it. The products are quality, the process is fairly painless once you’ve worked thru it once, and as you say, it’s extremely affordable. Beside my own novels, I’ve published a children’s book and art books by my father and all have come out beautiful. Can’t recommend them enough.

  6. Love, love, love CreateSpace. They even provide templates for both interior and exterior files. Why reinvent the wheel, right? Great post, Dick.

  7. I can give you some much simpler instructions for making a Createspace book. There are only two. I had no idea how to do it but by doing these two steps I created a print book FREE. I’ve sold hundreds since, all over the world, and sold translation rights in Europe. I got a call from the local bookshop yesterday warning me she’d run out and needed more.
    Here goes:

    1. Go to Amazon
    2. Follow the instructions.

    I used an Amazon template to keep my book design tidy, since I did not want to pay for a book designer. I might have re-thought that if I’d known that print edition was to end up on show representing my country at the Frankfurt Book Fair, but at the time I honestly believed it was only my immediate family who would have any interest in the print book. WRONG!

    1. Tui,
      I am a relatively new author with just two years of publishing experience, and still learning.
      I expect there are others even less experienced. You might want to do a post on the details of your suggested method. I’m sure someone will benefit.
      My hope was to encourage those who for one reason or the other failed to generate a print version. I held off because my original contact with CreateSpace involved money. When I learned there was little to no expense involved, I explored the process further.

      1. Dick, I think you’ve clearly inspired people here with your post. I think the reason for that may be that some people simply don’t believe me when I tell them that all they need to do is go to Ammie and follow the instructions. You’ve unpacked it just enough to make it seem more believable.
        I’ve had a few speaking engagements here in NZ about this recently. I just feel there’s little point for me in unpacking too much since Amazon does it way better right there where the author needs it.
        So in my speaking gigs, I focus more on all the stuff surrounding it that beginners need to know and think about, really before they begin the whole journey.

    2. Dick, my teaching experience teaches me there are two kinds of people in the world when it comes to detail. There are the ones like me, who it you tell us too much detail our brains tune out and we think about something else to clear our heads.
      The other kind of people feel insecure and incredulous if you don’t give them a reasonable amount of solid well-researched detail to flesh it out and make it all seem genuine.
      Between the two of us we should have everyone covered. 🙂

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