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Self-publishing via Word and Createspace – overview

This is the first in a series of how-to posts that will help you publish a print version of your book…without making all the mistakes I made with Innerscape. The posts will focus on Word 10 and Amazon’s Createspace. The information is accurate as at April, 2017.

Right, first and foremost – what is Createspace?

Createspace is the print book arm of Amazon’s self-publishing toolset. Createspace allows you to publish a trade paperback version of your manuscript which will be produced on a ‘Print On Demand’ basis [POD]. POD is a fast way of printing small to very small print runs of books.

How small? Try just one.

Essentially, when a customer buys a POD book, they are placing an order for a book that does not yet exist in physical form. Once the order is placed, the book takes 1-3 days to produce, and then it’s posted out to the customer just the same as a book printed in the ordinary way.

PROS

  • Amazon will place your book for sale just like any other book – i.e. it will have the same visibility, or lack thereof, as any other book.
  • Self-publishers can have the pleasure of holding a physical copy of their own work.
  • Readers who do not like ebooks can find and buy your work in a physical format.
  • POD costs nothing up front, and printing charges* are subtracted from the sale price of the book – no sale, no charge.
  • POD books do not have to be warehoused.

CONS

  • Because POD books lack efficiencies of scale, they are not cheap*.
  • Because POD books come from Indies [and may or may not be returnable], bookshops generally do not accept them.
  • Most Indies sell far more ebooks than POD versions, but that may simply be a function of price [see above]
  • Preparing your manuscript for printing via Createspace requires a fair bit of work, or at least I found it to be so.

This is a cutesy video that walks you through the sales and royalties side of the process:

*Before you can calculate your royalties, however, you have to set a price that will not only cover your print charges, but will also bring in a small profit…to you. Working out the print charges, however, is a little bit like finding the end of a tangle of string.

  1. Print charges depend on the total page number, BUT >>
  2. the page number will change depending on the trim size of your book – i.e. how big or small it is, BUT >>
  3. Word documents are in A4, not in standard trim sizes, so a 200 page Word document could be up to 400 pages, depending on the trim size.

Trim size

I admit, I struggled with this. Trim size refers to the actual physical dimensions of the book you end up with after the printing process is finished. But what are these sizes? And how do they relate to my Word document?

After much floundering I found this table of trim sizes:

This information is from the Createspace website and the sizes shown in bold are the standard ones. Without going into too much detail, ordinary printers can print any sized book you can imagine, but POD printers like Createspace can only print the standard sizes. So, go standard. đŸ™‚

After much messing around with measuring tapes and various sized books, I settled on the 5.5″ x 8.5″ trim size. Imho, not too big and not too small. But I was still no closer to knowing how many pages I’d end up with. Enter the Createspace templates.

Createspace templates

Before I say anything else, I have to say that trying to pour my manuscript into one of the templates was an exercise in frustration. For example, I could not get the page numbering to work. At all. I really wouldn’t recommend actually using the templates but…they do provide invaluable information such as:

  • Standard fonts
  • margins
  • layout etc

The information on the margins is absolutely vital. So next step is to find a template for the trim size you have chosen. You will find the most up-to-date information on the Kindle Direct Publishing website. If you have already published an ebook with KDP, login as normal. If not, got to this link:

https://kdp.amazon.com/

and login with your normal Amazon ID and password. Once you have logged in, select the ‘Help’ option from the top of the page. From the first Help screen select ‘Paperback Manuscript Formation’ as show below :

 

From the next screen, select ‘Paperback Manuscript Templates {Beta} as shown:

From the next screen, select ‘Templates with Sample Content’ to display the list of templates available for each trim size:

The ‘sample’ part helps you to see how the bits fit.

Select the appropriate template and save it to your computer. Open it and look at it, but do NOT change anything. This template works for Createspace, so you need to keep it with its original settings so you know what to change in your own Word document.

In the next post, I’ll show you how to:

  • change the font and font size of your manuscript to match the template,
  • change the margins and page setup to match the template
  • change the alignment and line spacing to match the template.

In future posts, I’ll walk you through how to:

  • change the styles to make formatting easier,
  • how and why to insert section breaks and
  • how to insert different page numbers in different areas of your book
  • how to calculate costs and royalties based on the number of pages you end up with in your formatted manuscript
  • how to calculate the price you need to charge for your book in order to make a profit, or at least break even.

This may seem like a very back to front way of doing things, but you can’t make any of the important calculations until you know exactly what size book you want to create and how many pages it will have.

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 

 

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