Tag Archives: print

Tips & Tricks for CreateSpace

The following tips can all be found on Twitter, but I thought people might want to see them all in one place. A few are for Aussie authors only and are shown in green.

PRINTING Tips 4 Absolute Beginners

  1. Print-On-Demand is new tech that allows books to be printed one at a time instead of in hundreds.
  2. Print-On-Demand means authors don’t have to buy 100’s of their own print books.
  3. 3 biggest Print-On-Demand printers are CreateSpace [Amazon], Lulu and IngramSpark.
  4. Print-On-Demand works with standard trim sizes only. For table of trim sizes see : https://www.createspace.com/Special/Pop/book_trimsizes-pagecount.html
  5. Trim size = physical size of book after pages glued inside cover & trimmed.
  6. Page size templates for all trim sizes can be found on CreateSpace forums: https://forums.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1323
  7. Convert Word A4 pages to trim size pages via the Word Page Setup dialog box.
  8. ISBN = 13 digit no. that identifies your book worldwide.
  9. Buy your own ISBN or accept the free one offered by CreateSpace.
  10. In Oz you can buy ISBN from Thorpe-Bowker or accept free one from CreateSpace.
  11. As a rule of thumb, print, ebook & audiobooks all need their own ISBN unless you publish via Amazon.
  12. Books printed via CreateSpace are listed on Amazon automatically.
  13. To publish Kindle ebooks go to: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/
  14. Amazon supplies ebooks with ASIN identifiers so ISBN not strictly necessary.
  15. If you want to ‘go wide’ & sell with other retailers as well as Amazon, your own ISBN is a must.
  16. CreateSpace will not accept Word documents. It accepts only PDF files.
  17. File/Export completed Word doc. to PDF. Then upload that PDF to CreateSpace. 
  18. With CreateSpace, royalty = List Price – Print costs.
  19. With CreateSpace, Print costs= Sales Channel % + Fixed Charges + Per Page Charge.
  20. With CreateSpace, Standard sales channel % = 40% of List Price, Expanded sales channel % = 60%. 
  21. Spine of cover = trim size & no. of pages. See: https://www.createspace.com/Help/Book/Artwork.do 
  22. Total page no. of book = pages AFTER conversion to chosen trim size [not A4 Word pages].
  23. Amazon deducts 30% withholding tax from each sale. Aussies can claim exemption to reduce tax to 5%.
  24. Withholding tax exemption: US TIN = Australian Tax File No.
  25. Aussie authors must deposit 1 copy of each published book with the National Library of Australia: https://www.nla.gov.au/legal-deposit
  26. Aussie authors must also deposit 1 copy of each published book with their state library: https://www.nla.gov.au/legal-deposit/australia-wide
  27. For Legal Deposit FAQ see:https://www.nla.gov.au/legal-deposit-faq

I hope these tips provide some quick help if you’re stuck, or still trying to make sense of all the information out there on printing with CreateSpace.

And now for the obligatory book promotion:

If you want to print a ‘simple’ novel and need step-by-step help, you can buy my book – ‘How to Print Your Novel with CreateSpace’ – on Amazon. The book comes in an expensive, full-colour paperback OR in a very inexpensive, full-colour ebook:

Clicking the image will take you to my Amazon Author Central page as the Look Inside feature isn’t working.

The only Another problem with the ebook version is that it will only work on the Kindle Fire tablets or via the Kindle app [on other tablets and pcs].

After all the feedback I received on the colour screenshots vs the grayscale screenshots, I made the decision to stick with colour. But only the Fires have colour so…Sorry. 😦

Okay, the ‘How to…Novel’ contains literally everything you need to know about:

  • Preparing your novel in Word
  • Converting it to a PDF
  • Uploading that PDF to CreateSpace

That said, I’ve cut all extraneous options out to avoid confusing first-time Indies, but I did include some appendices at the back specifically for Australian authors. This one really is for absolute beginners.

But not everyone wants to print/publish a novel. Some people might want to publish a memoir full of family photos, or maybe a cookbook full of their favourite recipes. Unfortunately, non-fiction is a trickier beast than the ‘simple’ novel.

For non-fiction you will need:

  • A Table of Contents,
  • Captions for the photos/pictures
  • A Table of Figures for the captions,
  • An Index to make finding information easier
  • And possibly Headers for the main sections, to make ‘browsing’ easier.

All these high end functions can to be done in Microsoft Word [if you are using Word] but they’re not exactly easy as I discovered when I first began working on these ‘How-to’s’. So the second book – ‘How to Print Non-Fiction with CreateSpace’ – is full of screenshots and examples [over 150] that walk not-so-expert Word users through all the trickier stuff:

Again, the Look Inside isn’t working so I’ve directed the image to take you to my Author page on Amazon.

As with many things though, just knowing what to do is rarely enough. The step-by-step method used in both ‘How-to’s’ lays out the exact sequence in which tasks are to be done in order to avoid some of pitfalls that can crop up in Word. For example, did you know that the Word Index function automatically inserts a Continuous Section Break at the start of the Index [table]? Well, it does, and this Continuous section break can play merry hell with any manual section breaks you may have applied.

So ‘How to Print Non-Fiction with CreateSpace’ is not for the faint-hearted, however it, too, is available in both print and ebook format on Amazon. The same caveat re the Kindle Fire applies to the ebook version of ‘How to…Non-Fiction’ as well.

Thanks for bearing with me. Normal transmission now resumes with a picture of the forest of tomato plants growing on my deck:

I’m preparing for an orgy of Passata making!





Competition and Giveaway

No, not from me! One of my favourite Indie authors, Laurie Boris, is part of a multi-author, print book promotion that includes:

  • A new Fire HD 10 tablet.
  • A new Kindle Paperwhite.
  • A new 9 watt Fire tablet / Kindle eReader charger (you never have enough).
  • A signed print edition of RP Dahlke’s A Dead Red Cadillac.
  • A signed print edition of Donna Fasono’s Following His Heart.
  • A signed print edition of Laurie Boris’s The Call.
  • A signed print edition of Melinda Clayton’s Return to Crutcher Mountain.
  • A signed print edition of Dianne Greenlay’s Quintspinner.
  • A signed print edition of Julie Frayn’s Mazie Baby.

I’ve read ‘The Call’ and even though I know nothing about baseball, I still loved it. I haven’t read Melinda Clayton’s ‘Return to Crutcher Mountain’ but I have read an earlier book of hers and it was brilliant too.

If those two authors are anything to go by, the rest of the books will be fantastic as well. And then there are those Kindle goodies as well…

You can find all the details here:


Go on…what’re you waiting for? -grin-


For Australian Indie authors – National Library of Australia

I only found out about this five minutes ago, so I suspect I’m not the only one who doesn’t know that all printed books published by Australian authors [whether Indie or Traditional] must be deposited [donated for free] to the National Library of Australia within 1 month of their publication.

This is a legal requirement.

Luckily, digital books – i.e. ebooks – only have to be deposited ‘if requested’. The following infographic was taken from the National Library of Australia website:

I was a little panicked until I looked carefully at that infographic. ‘Offline’ basically means anything physical – like a hardcover or paperback etc. ‘Online’ means anything digital – like an ebook.

This means that when I finished proofing all my books, I’m going to have to send a copy of each one to the library. And that means I have to find a local POD printer as a matter of urgency as the transportation costs from CreateSpace are steep.

Does anyone know of a POD printer in Melbourne? Actually, forget that, anywhere in Australia would be nice.




Innerscape update

In my ‘They. Have. Arrived’ post, I mentioned that I wasn’t completely happy with how the covers had turned out. It’s taken me the whole weekend to fix them, and I’ll have to re-upload all the cover files, but I’m finally happy with the ‘final final‘ versions. Yes, I know, don’t say it. 🙂

One of the things I noticed once I had 3 physical books in my hands was that the spines didn’t completely line up. They were close but not 100% [and I know Dawn likes to line the spines up…]. So while I was fixing the width of the Miira spine, I decided to get all three spines right as well. And here they are:

-grin- They now line up to the hundredth of a millimetre…

Another thing that brought out the anal in me was The Godsend background image. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t completely control the level of transparency of the original background image so…I made my own. Who’d a thunk all that math my Dad made me study would come in handy?

I am proud of the perspective I managed to create by hand, but I have this nagging feeling that Corel must have a function somewhere that would have done the same thing a million times faster. Needless to say, I didn’t find it, but if anyone out there knows an easier way I’d really love to know. Anyway, here it is, and please don’t say it looks just like the old one. 😦

So that’s it. All I have to do now is proof read the interiors, re-upload the cover files, reconvert the Word files to StoryBox, get more ISBNs for the ‘new’ e-versions and…

I’m calling it a night. Time for dinner and some play time.




They. Have. Arrived….

Not ten minutes ago, the doorbell rang, the animals scarpered, and I took possession of a small cardboard box with my name on it. I knew what it must be, but…it was almost a week early!

And there they were, the print proofs of the Innerscape books. Real at last:

Sorry for the poor quality of the pics. I took them with my mobile phone so you can’t see the rich deep colour or the way the light reflects off the gloss covers. What you can see, however, is that the Godsend cover didn’t work. This is a close-up:

The bit inside the red rectangle is the background image that’s meant to represent the Innerscape containment units. Instead of being a subtle hint, the image is as good as invisible. 😦

I know I’m not a professional cover designer, so I have to learn from my mistakes, but I feel as if I should have expected this one. You see in the print preview of the Godsend cover, the image did appear much darker than the image I was working on. But…I assumed it was just something to do with the print preview function. Wrong.

The Godsend cover won’t be hard to fix, but I’ll have to ‘guess’ at the finished product because I won’t be able to request a second proof [not because CreateSpace won’t allow it, but because the postage is so ridiculously expensive].

Another thing I’m going to have to guess at is the width of the Miira spine. For some reason, the actual spine is wider that the dimension I was working with in Corel. But this is both an annoying thing and a very, very good thing because I was worried ‘Miira’ would end up being ridiculously ‘thin’. Instead, it looks and feels like a normal, albeit ‘slim’ book so I’m thrilled by that. I’m also thrilled by the back covers. They look great, they’re very readable and they are beautifully consistent throughout the three books. I’m giving myself a pat on the back for that. 🙂

The Offspring and I are going to celebrate tonight with a tender Rack of Lamb, roast potatoes and a salad of homegrown lettuce, followed by a movie. I hope your weekend starts as well as mine. 🙂




They’re on their way!

Proof copies of Miira, The Godsend and Nabatea are on their way! Expected date of arrival is Wednesday, 23rd of August, 2017. I don’t know how I’m going to wait that long without going nuts.

I know you old hands are probably trying not to smile at my excitement, but there’s a part of me that won’t really believe I’m a fully fledged writer until those physical books finally arrive. I guess they’re not called ‘proofs’ for nothing. 🙂

Of course, the pragmatist in me knows full well that these print books won’t make an ounce of difference in terms of sales – POD books are expensive and I know they won’t sell. But…I’ve taken screenshots of every step of their production – both in Word and in Createspace – and I’m seriously thinking of turning all that information into a proper how-to print book. And then there’s the satisfaction of having something physical to hand out as samples, prizes and gifts.Those kinds of intangibles really are priceless.

-rubs hands with glee –

Plus I’m going to have a lot of fun along the way. 😀



Corel Draw X8 – Miira cover final

I thought that X8 would be X6 with a slightly different interface, but it does actually have some nice features that I wasn’t expecting – like links to some very sophisticated fountain fills and a much improved transparency feature. Those features may have influenced the rather radical changes I’ve made to the cover of the first book:

Unfortunately, the image doesn’t quite show the depth of colour in the cover as the CMYK black has come through as a rather washed out charcoal in RGB [for web display]. Once the cover is printed it will be much sharper and the silvers will ‘pop’ more…I hope. Anyway, I’ll probably fiddle with the balance a bit longer, especially if you guys point out things I’m too blind to see, but this is basically the front and back cover spread that will go to Createspace for the print version.

One of the hardest things to figure out was what to put on the spine. Once I’d worked out the total number of pages for Miira, including copyright, Afterword, etc., I plugged the number into Createspace’s calculator, and it spat out the exact size the spine must be. Unfortunately, as the first book is quite ‘slim’ there’s not that much real-estate to work with.

I experimented with a number of fonts, but none gave me the crisp look I was after. And then, as I looked at the circuit board, I suddenly realised that I had all the components from which to make my own ‘font’, one that would mimic the wiring of the circuit board. Thank goodness, the end result didn’t turn out to be too kitsch. The new look circuit board also gave me the pattern for the back cover blurb. Making the text fit, however, was another exercise in patience.

And finally, a word about the new background photo. I was all set to use the bush sunset photo I’ve shown you before when I found a pic I’d taken ages ago of my own backyard:


I was trying to capture the amazing play of light through the trees and fluked it. The shot is nowhere near perfect, and I haven’t touched it up in any way – I don’t know how – but I instantly knew it would give me the feel I’d been searching for. Pretty happy with the result but annoyed at myself for wasting time and money on the bush sunset pic. Ah well…

I promise to do a how-to post about the Createspace calculator as soon as my eyes uncross. 🙂




“A rose by any other name” could be a tur…nip

In my previous post – Miira, a sneak peek – I proudly displayed the cover I’d created for the first book of the print version of Innerscape. There would be three books in all – a proper trilogy – and the five, original episodes would be split between them:

  • Book 1 = Innerscape, Episodes 1 and 2,
  • Book 2 = Innerscape, Episodes 3 and 4,
  • Book 3 = Innerscape, Episode 5

As Episodes 1 and 2 focused mainly on Miira, I decided to call book one ‘Miira’, with a sub-title along the lines of:

  • book 1 of Innerscape, or
  • episodes 1 and 2 of Innerscape

And because it all seemed perfectly clear to me – how could it not when I’d been thinking about little else for weeks? – I assumed that it would be clear to everyone else as well. Dawn’s comment on the post brought me back to earth with an almighty crash. She asked:

is this going to be a reprint / new imprint / new version of Innerscape….or fresh and new Miira ?!!

That was the moment I realised how ripe for confusion my airy ideas for the print version had become.

A few seconds later, I realised something much, much worse – with brand new covers and a new name for each book, confusion would be the least of my worries. ‘Scam’ and ‘con’ would be more like it. The last thing I want is for anyone to buy Innerscape twice, but if someone who’s read Innerscape and knows me personally – like Dawn – can ask if this was something new, then how could I expect a complete stranger not to ask the same question…and be angry at the answer?

I’ll be honest, I didn’t sleep very well last night. I desperately want to hold a real live book in my hands, and I really like the design concept I came up with for the print version trilogy, but my original decision to publish Innerscape as a serial has finally come back to bite me on the bum. If I upgrade the ebooks to mirror the print version, readers can rightly accuse me of making a greedy grab for more money. Yet, even if I leave the ebooks exactly as they are, having such a different looking print version will still cause confusion.

Then, I had a thought. Amazon allows you to bundle print and ebook versions together! If I did that, maybe it wouldn’t matter…

Ah, but which ebook episode would I bundle? And would Amazon even allow it when the print and ebook versions aren’t exactly the same?

It was around my third cup of coffee this morning that I had a better thought, at least I hope it is. What if I leave the ebook episodes as they are and simply create one, single omnibus edition of the whole story? As an ebook, it won’t matter that Innerscape is huge, and so long as it’s clearly labelled as an ‘omnibus’ edition, there should be no confusion…

Or would an omnibus ebook simply add to the existing confusion?

I seriously don’t know any more. I really, really need some feedback on this one. And please don’t hold back out of kindness. If I get this wrong, complete strangers are going to be much less diplomatic than any of you. 😦





Self-publishing via Word and Createspace – page setup

This is the second post in this series and this time, I’ll be showing you how to setup your Word document to match the Createspace template for your chosen trim size. If you’ve forgotten about templates and trim sizes, you can find the post explaining what they are, why you need them and where to find them…here.

Right. So in this post I will assume that:

  1. you have typed up your manuscript in Word or in a Word compatible format – e.g. Rich Text Format or .rtf for short.
  2. you want to change that manuscript to make it compatible with Createspace so the printing process goes smoothly
  3. you have decided on a trim size
  4. you have downloaded the appropriate template [from Createspace] specifically for that trim size
  5. you have looked at the template but did not change any of the settings

If any of these assumptions are incorrect, please go back to the overview article linked above and make sure you have everything that you need.

How to easily change the font and font size to match the Createspace template [of your choice]

The first step is to open Word. Then, open both your manuscript and the template document. The template document will look something like this:

I chose a trim size of 5.5 x 8.5 so this is the template for that trim size. Garamond is a common font, and 12 is an average font size. Your template may be different. One thing, however, is most most certain to be true – the font in the template will not match the font you used in your manuscript. Assuming you want to change the font in your manuscript, the following is the simplest, easiest way to do it. But…be warned before you begin – this method will change your title and chapter headings as well.

First, we have to select the entire document. There are two ways of doing this.

The first way is to hit the Ctrl key and the ‘a‘ key at the same time. Ctrl-a is a keyboard shortcut and will ‘select all’ on most apps.

The second way is to use the ribbon:

Microsoft Word 10 uses tabs so the ‘Select’ options are on the Home tab, at the top right of the ribbon as shown. Click ‘Select’ and then click ‘Select All’ from the dropdown options.

Your manuscript should now look like this:

WARNING: hitting the ‘Delete’ key or the spacebar when everything is selected can lead to the loss of your entire document. If you make a mistake and everything disappears, DO NOT PANIC. Simply click the ‘Undo’ button to cancel whatever you last did. The ‘Undo’ button can be found here:

You can also undo your last action by hitting Ctrl Z [Ctrl and ‘z’] on your keyboard.

Moving on. With the entire document highlighted as above, click the small arrow next to the font box as shown:

Select the appropriate font for your template. For mine it was ‘Garamond’.

With the document still highlighted in blue [i.e. selected] click the small arrow next to the font size box as shown:

Click on the appropriate font size and then click inside your document to de-select it. The blue highlighting should disappear.

The next change we will make is to adjust the alignment and first-line indent of each paragraph. To do this, click the small button in the Paragraph category on the Home tab of the Ribbon:

You should now be looking at the Paragraph dialog box as shown below. Here, you can specify how all the text in the document is aligned. As most books are justified, that is the option I’ve chosen under ‘General’. I’ve also chosen a first-line indent of 1 cm so that everyone can easily see where a new paragraph begins. This is important, imho, as I’ve also chosen ‘Single’ line spacing.

Finally, I’ve clicked on the option ‘Set as Default’ down at the bottom. Word then wants to know what I mean by default. Choosing ‘All documents…’ would change the Normal style for every Word document I create from here on in. I don’t want to do that so I selected ‘This document only’.


Click on ‘OK’ and you will notice that…nothing has changed!

Don’t panic. In reality, the Normal style has changed, we simply have to tell Word to reflect those changes in the document. To do this, Select All again, and when the whole document is highlighted in blue, click the Normal style as shown:

Ta dah…the first big change is complete. The headings still need to be fixed up but that can wait. The next thing we need to do is change the size of the ‘paper’ so that we can start to see roughly how many pages this document really contains.

Changing the paper size to reflect the trim size of our ‘book’

To find out what is the correct paper size for our book, open the template document. Then open the ‘Page Layout’ tab of the Ribbon. With the Page Layout tab open, click the small button under the Page Setup group of functions:

You should now be looking at the Page Setup dialog box for your template. Under ‘Paper size’ you should have a number in cm for width and height. Write those 2 numbers down. Then click on the Margins tab. Again, you should write the margin numbers down and note whether ‘Mirror margins’ are specified. The following screenshots are from my template:

Now, go back to your own document, open the Page Layout tab and click on the small button to open the Page Setup dialog box. You should be looking at the tab for Paper. Click inside the ‘Paper size’ boxes and type in the dimensions that were shown in the template document. Mine looks like this:

Next, click the Margins tab and again, type in the numbers you found in your template. Mine looks like this:

Congratulations! You’ve changed some of the most important aspects of your manuscript to reflect the Createspace template.

But there is still a great deal to do. The Title and Headings will have to be fixed and to do that we will change the default styles to make the changes quick and easy. The book will also need page numbering, but some parts should not have page numbers – e.g. the Title page – so first we will have to insert section breaks. As well as making sure the page numbering is correct, section breaks are necessary to ensure that the first page of every new chapter always starts on an odd page. Nothing shrieks ‘amateur’ in a print book like wonky formatting.

And finally, there’s the cover. Front page + back page + THE SPINE! Plus ISBNs, pricing, royalty calculations….

I hope you guys are in for the long haul as this could take a while. 🙂




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.


  • 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.


  • 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. 🙂

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:


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.







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