Friday, May 17, 2013

How to Prepare your Manuscript for Paperback Publication through CreateSpace

CreateSpace is’s print-on-demand publishing service.  It’s a great option for indie authors! Click here to check out the books I've published through CreateSpace.

Interested in self-publishing your own paperback book? Here’s how it works:
1.)    Go to and log in or sign up.

2.)    Click on “Add new title.”  CreateSpace will walk you through the necessary steps and prompt you to enter the required information.

3.)    When you come to the “Interior” section, make sure you take note of the “Helpful Tips & Ideas” at the bottom.  It’s important to upload your book as a PDF file in the proper format.

4.)    After you decide what trim size you want your book to be, there are helpful templates available here.  Simply download the one that matches your size; I recommend using the “blank template with sample formatted content”.  Then you can copy and paste each chapter of your book into the preformatted document.

5.)    Click here to access helpful information about additional formatting you may need, including headers and footers.  (Look at some of the printed books on your shelf to get an idea of how some authors do headers.  One option is to have your name on the even numbered pages and the book title on the odd ones after the start of the first chapter.)  Bear in mind that the first part of the article talks about setting the page size and margins, which you won’t need to do if you’ve used a template from step 4.

6.)    Make sure you have page numbers in your book, starting at 1 from the beginning of the first chapter (or prologue), not from the title page, table of contents, etc.  Instructions for paginating correctly can be found here.

7.)    Open the document containing your book.  Uncheck the box in Microsoft Word that says “Widow/Orphan Control” in the “line and page breaks” section of the “paragraph” menu.  You will need to go through your document and check for widows and orphans manually (because the automatic widow/orphan control can cause other formatting problems).  Widows are when a few words at the end of a paragraph appear as a partial line at the top of a page.  Orphans are when a new paragraph begins on the very bottom line of a page.  Both are considered unprofessional; you can try to get rid of them by deleting unnecessary words in a paragraph, rephrasing a sentence to make it a little longer or shorter, etc.  For orphans, you can use the Enter key to move the paragraph onto the next page, thus ending one page a little above where others end.  However, you should then do the same thing to the facing page so the two pages a reader will see at the same time match each other.

If all else fails, you can fiddle with the kerning (making the words and letters in a certain line a little closer together or further apart).  You can do this by first highlighting the line or paragraph of text you want to change, then clicking on the “Font” menu and choosing “Advanced”.  Under “Character Spacing”, change the spacing to either expanded or condensed by 0.1 pt.  If that isn’t enough, increase the amount a little at a time until the text fits the way you want it. 

When everything seems perfect, use the instructions here to turn your Microsoft Word document into a printable PDF, and then upload that to CreateSpace.

8.)    Click “save”.  CreateSpace will take a few minutes to automatically review your file and will then let you know if there are any problems with the formatting.  You should click on “Launch Interior Reviewer” to take a look at what your new book looks like inside. 

In addition to fixing any problems indicated, it’s a good idea to look through every page to make sure everything else looks right.  Check for blank pages, widows and orphans, inconsistent formatting, missing or incorrect page numbers, etc.  Make any necessary changes in your Word document and then resubmit it by clicking on “Upload another file”.

9.)    Prepare your cover according to these guidelines, then click on “Upload a Print-Ready PDF Cover” on CreateSpace in the next step.  Or, click on “Build Your Cover Online” if you need help putting one together. (Here's a useful list of tips about cover creation. It also includes a list of cover artists you can hire.) Then submit.

10.) You’re nearly done!  Click on “Complete Setup”.  Here’s your chance to make any last necessary changes.  If you’re satisfied that everything is as it should be, submit it all and wait.  CreateSpace will email you within 48 hours to let you know if your interior and cover files are ready to print or if you need to make any changes.

11.) Even if CreateSpace says everything is fine, I still strongly recommend ordering an actual paper proof copy of your book to look over.  When you’re holding a physical book in your hands, it’s much easier to notice little details that may not be quite right.

12.) If the proof copy looks good (or if it doesn’t, after you’ve resubmitted your files and received a new proof that does), go back to the CreateSpace website, to the “Distribute” section.  Under “channels”, I recommend selecting all of them.  However, “Expanded Distribution” is probably not necessary (or profitable) unless you have good reason to believe your book is going to sell like crazy and that significant numbers of people will want to buy copies from brick-and-mortar bookstores, not just online.

13.) Set your pricing, description, and other information according to the instructions on the website.  If you wish to publish your book on Kindle (which I highly recommend!), I suggest you follow the instructions in my other blog post, “How to Prepare and Upload Your Manuscript for Sale on Kindle without Hyperventilating”, rather than doing it through CreateSpace’s channel. 

Many thanks to those whose websites, blogs, and good advice I borrowed from to create this list!  I hope their input is as helpful to others as it has been to me. 

If you discover any broken links, outdated information, etc. in the above list, I'd appreciate you letting me know so I can keep this information as current and useful as possible.  Thanks! 

2 comments: said...

Thank you SO MUCH, Annie. I can do all this easily. I needed exactly this guide. You ROCK! Sharing!

Best to you,

Sally Ember, Ed.D.

acflory said...

Bookmarked. Thank you.:)