Congratulations! You’ve finished a book and are ready to publish. You’ve chosen to self-pub your novel through Amazon’s CreateSpace because they have the best author royalty rates around and a great distribution network.
Now comes the hard part of the novel writing business: book formatting.
CreateSpace currently has three options for self-published authors to choose from when deciding to design his or her own book interior: the CreateSpace file conversion software (that takes your Word or .rtf doc and converts it to a print-ready PDF), a blank template custom designed to match your chosen trim size, and a pre-formatted template that instructs you where to copy and paste your content.
We strongly suggest writers new to book formatting use the pre-formatted template – it’ll save you time and sanity in the long run. Since Indie Spirit Press’s first release, Preppy Little Liars, was formatted using this method, we will cover the steps necessary to use the pre-formatted templates.
- Choose your book’s dimensions. CreateSpace offers a wide range of trim sizes to choose from for printing purposes. Carefully read the requirements for each distribution channel you will be using for your novel before picking a trim size. For example, if you decide to pay the additional $25 for the Expanded Distribution program – and we strongly suggest you do – your book must be one of the following trim sizes (with cream paper) to qualify for this service: 5”x8”, 5.25”x8”, 5.5”x8.5”, or 6”x9”.
- Once you choose your book’s dimensions and paper color, click on the pre-formatted template that corresponds to your dimensions. The template will pop up with a title page, a dedication page, an acknowledgments page, a table of contents, ten sample chapters, and a page to place your author bio. Now, most fiction writers don’t use a table of contents in their novels these days so if you’re one of the ones who don’t, then you can get rid of the page by simply hitting your backspace or delete keys until the page is gone. If you prefer to have your acknowledgments section in the back matter of your novel, then copy the contents of the page and paste it before the author bio section (this will move the latter to the next page).
- Copy the text from your manuscript and paste it over the sample text in the template. If your text is longer than the sample text in the template, don’t worry – the template should automatically, and correctly, space the following chapter header and sample text. We recommend copying and pasting chapter by chapter to make sure the formatting stays consistent.
- If you have more than ten chapters in your novel, copy and paste Chapter 10 in the template as many times as you need to reach the number of chapters in your book. You can either do this before copying your manuscript text into the template or you can do it after – it’s up to you. Be sure to change the headings to correspond to the appropriate chapter number or title in your book (you don’t want two Chapter 10’s – that would be embarrassing).
- Check the spacing of all of your subsequent chapter headings using the first ten chapters as a guide. We wound up taking measuring tape to the headings to see how far from the top of the page they were and how much space was between the headings and the chapter text. It’s very tedious, and slightly anal, but you want your finished product to look as professional as possible. Chapter headings that are all over the place look amateurish, which is not a descriptor you want given to your work.
- Upload your pre-formatted template to CreateSpace’s Interior Reviewer file conversion system. Once the reviewer has gone through your manuscript, if you have any errors, you’ll need to make corrections to your template and re-upload the doc for review again. Once the reviewer comes back and tells you that the automated print check hasn’t found any errors in your file, go into the Interior Reviewer, check each page to make sure that the formatting is exactly how you want it, and then hit “Save and Continue.”
- Order your proof copy. Again, it’s strongly suggested that if you’re new to book formatting or cover design (assuming you did the cover yourself or hired a professional designer to create your print-ready PDF cover for you) that you order a physical copy of your proof. Choose the shipping method that best works for you and then go through your novel once more to make sure that no major changes happened to your work in the printing process. Preppy Little Liars had to be proofed twice (once in book form and the second time online) because there were odd spaces at the ends of sentences as the system appears to not like to put hyphens at the ends of words to signify a word is continuing to the next line. If you don’t want big gaps in your book, you might want to manually insert those breaks yourself.
- Approve your proof, do a little dance, and go out and celebrate – your novel is complete!