Modern Self-Publishing, a CreateSpace example

It’s easy! Anyone can do it! That’s when I usually fire up my skepticism. Self-publishing is easy, or at least Modern Self-Publishing far easier than traditional self-publishing. It is all relative. Here’s my most recent real world example.
Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland
At the end of February I self-published Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland as a paperback via CreateSpace. It is the same book that I self-published as an ebook on kindle at the end of November. Sales and entreaties encouraged me to take this next step. It’s simple, right? Here are the steps within that step.

By the way, there were plenty of steps before this. Step one: write the book. Like I said, there are steps within steps; and some steps are very large. I describe many of those other steps in Madrona’s workshops. (Besides, show up for Deborah‘s advice on writing and editing, and Wynn‘s advice on marketing. There’s a lot to learn; but hey, anyone can do it!

Pardon the departure from literary narrative, but hopefully a straightforward chronology will help others as they step up and empower themselves.

Find the word and image files that defined the text, the cover, the graphics, and the marketing text. I already did that for the kindle edition back in November, so I just made copies.

Fix the Table of Contents (TOC) by adding Epilogue. Oops. No book is perfect, and I missed one chapter title in the kindle version. That small embarrassment (that no one noticed) was why I started here. I could’ve started in any of many different places.
Improve the graphics. The kindle version acted as a prototype. Even after ten self-published books, I continue to learn.
Open all photos to reformat as 300 dpi.
Choose 3 inch max for my 5 x 8 book.
resize vertical files
resize horizontal files
check correct files
create b&w versions in case the possibility of color printing falls through for some reason
notice which photos lose quality, none lose too much

Lunch, gotta have it.

Resize internal maps of my route.
Insert new graphics into Word

Break = a necessary step

Format covers, front and back; and wonder about CreateSpace’s cover format requirements that I can’t find.

Be real. It’s Friday night. Set it all aside and celebrate. If all went well, this would complete the book because I’ve worked the text, the images, and the cover. But it would be too easy to spend an evening if something went amiss.
Reality: I had other work to do instead and ended up working that evening, anyway. So it goes.

Build a one-piece cover. I had a front and a back, but I suspected CreateSpace would want one image that included a back on the left, a spine, and a front on the right, surrounded by a “bleed” border (in case the print shifts a bit).
Guess at a spine width based on another of my books of a similar word count (Dream. Invest. Live.)
Created something that looks like the cover (with a guess at a 0.6 inch spine)
Scotland 2010 - two page cover

Double check format in MS Word for 5 x 8. (Note: I wrote the book in TextEdit and only went to MS Word when I was required to for formatting.)
Simplistic version complete
Sign on to CreateSpace for details because I lost track of the formatting guidelines. Time to quit estimating.
Ah ha! Begin officially building the cover with detailed instructions.
color interior 0.002347 x 302 pages = 0.70879 inch spine (their formula for my choice of paper)
total cover width including bleed = 0.125 + 5 + 0.709 + 5 + 0.125 = 10.25 + 0.709 = 10.959
Saved! Step away from the computer and celebrate that step.
Oops. Get back to work because I remembered that I have to leave room on the back cover for the ISBN and UPC.
3:00 (That felt like it took longer than that.)


Begin working the inside by downloading CreateSpace’s MS Word template.
Play with header and footer and page numbers
Remember chapter headings must be “Style” Header 1, which is a pain because I only use Styles once a year or so because I have to for Table of Contents.
The book in the new template has shrunk from 302 pages. Now it’s only 263 pages! I may have to redo the cover.
TOC OK, if I accept a section flaw.

Enough for now.

Recalculate the cover dimensions, rounding up because I will add some blank pages front and back.
color interior 0.002347 x 270 pages = 0.63369 inch spine
New cover = 0.125 + 5 + 0.709 + 5 + 0.125 = 10.25 + 0.634 = 10.884
therefore leave as is because 10.959 > 10.884 & the difference is less than 0.10 inches
Added two blank pages to the front and two blank pages to the back
Log onto CreateSpace for cover and interior reviewer software.
Can’t find them now, enter title et al in the long page of options that define the book for CreateSpace’s database.
ISBN for free! Excellent! I didn’t expect that.
Oops. The 5 x 8 format is not available for interior color. I either have to reformat the entire book and the cover, or go with the black & white photos inside. Real life deadlines that have nothing to do with writing, publishing, or marketing take precedence. (I wanted to get a copy to my dad before a self-imposed deadline.)
I was sure CreateSpace said they’d take .doc when I was researching them (one of those long steps that preceded this process), but I can only find a .pdf option now that it’s time to to upload.
{Sarcasm On} Cute. {Sarcasm off} One of the dialog boxes where I must make choices is taller than the screen, which wouldn’t be a problem, but it doesn’t respond to navigation options and there are no scroll bars. Exit and start over and hope I didn’t lose my work.
Whew. It worked the second time.
Upload color interior and see what happens. If the proof looks bad, pick another format from the more restrictive list for color, and reformat cover.
Okay folks, I’ve entered a lot of information. Why hasn’t the upload begun?
Ah, I have to choose (Sales?) Channels.
Uploading begins
Add $25 for Ingram and Baker & Taylor Yes. I want that worldwide distribution.
Choose maximum distribution
Choose $16.95 because it is more than the $10.15 cost and looks right beside my other paperbacks.
Submit for preview
Couldn’t find the interior and cover reviewers after I signed in. Would that have made the process easier? I’m not convinced.

From 10am through the rest of the day, check the status every hour to see if the proof is ready. I picked the pdf proof instead of the print proof to speed the process.
Go to bed wondering if I missed a step.

Download pdf proof!
Looks the way expected, mostly. No color on the inside. One or two imperfections that could either take 5 minutes or 5 weeks to correct.
Double check by checking the online digital proof, partly because it seems to be the only way to check the cover.
B&W interior OK
Approve the proof!
Rummage around for the CreateSpace page so I can spread the word as quickly as possible. Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland (Amazon’s page takes a few extra days.)

Notice, I took a few days to publish. I made sure I took breaks. I also am familiar with my personal standards, criteria, and requirements. I don’t seek perfection, but I do expect an industry-standard product. And I make sure the process fits within my life. Sometimes it is more important to get a book into someone’s hands than to worry over 0.06 inches of cover design.

If you think the marketing begins at this point, you’ve missed a step. All along, even before the kindle version was available, I was getting the word out via social media, a blog, and giving talks.
If you think the writing and editing are done, you’ve missed my next step. Each book teaches me how to improve my writing. Maybe there will be other versions. There are always more books to write.

And look what showed up this afternoon while I typed. Delivery
Okay, I get one. Brian wants one. Who else was asking for signed copies?


About Tom Trimbath

consultant / entrepreneur / writer / photographer / speaker / aerospace engineer / semi-semi-retired More info at: and at my amazon author page:
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1 Response to Modern Self-Publishing, a CreateSpace example

  1. Miss Molly says:

    Whew. I’m exhausted!

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