Ok, so you’ve determined that you want to publish a book for all the right reasons and self-publishing is the way you’re going to release your masterpiece and you’re going to use Createspace to do it. Good for you, huzzah! Now get ready to work.
First you’re going to need to say goodbye to your family and friends and get ready to spend a crap-ton of time at Starbucks. A bottle of aspirin, some wine, a couple of fancy red pens, a binder for your manuscript, and the phone number of a sympathetic writing pal are also highly encouraged, if not necessary.
Then you’re going to need to set up an account at Createspace.com. (I’m gonna just assume you know how to do at least that or we’ll be here all day.) Start a project on your member dashboard and give it a working title (you can change it later. Fun fact: for a while, Candy Pizza was going to be called Muckin’ About: An Anthology for People Who Don’t Like Poetry.)
Createspace is pretty good about taking you by the hand and guiding you through the process, since for whatever reason, they want your genius to help make them money (go figure.) Here’s a basic breakdown of the stuff you’ll have to take care of- keep in mind you don’t have to do it in order as long as it’s all done by the time you’re ready to proof.
1.) Setup – This is basically where you put the book together. You’re in charge of typing up the manuscript, formatting it, putting in text features such as the table of contents, author bio, etc. and designing the cover. Createspace will lead you through the following steps:
Title Information/ISBN: You enter in the title and they give you a unique ISBN. Simple, really. You can’t change the ISBN once it’s assigned, so you kindof have to be sure you actually want to publish or else that ISBN will be left forever floating in darkness. You’ll also choose what size book you want to produce. I went with the 6×9 which is pretty standard, but if you’re doing a chapbook you may want to go smaller; for textbooks, go bigger.
Interior: This is the inside of the book. You can start from scratch and format your own Word document but for the love of Christmas don’t do that. Just download one of the handy pre-formatted templates they provide and slip-slide your text right in there; copy, paste, boom. Now don’t get too excited because there are still plenty of things that can go wrong in this scenario, but I can’t even imagine how much worse it must be if you’re crazy enough to try to format it yourself.
It’s important to note that just because the template gives you a space for an Acknowledgments page, it doesn’t mean you have to have one. You can play around with it however you want, make it a Dedication page or a picture of your cat or get rid of it. Think about how YOU want YOUR book to look and function, not about how closely it conforms to the format they give you.
Cover: Yeah, you have to make your own cover -_- That’s probably the worst part unless you’re a graphic artist or something. I happen to be nothing close to that but I didn’t want to shell out $300 for a cover designer. Plus I’m a control freak and I wouldn’t feel like the book was actually mine unless I worked on every part of it. I’m also too cheap for Photoshop. So that lovely cover of Candy Pizza that’s so stunningly breathtaking? That is literally a photograph I took of an actual candy pizza that I made, which I then slapped into a cover template after teaching myself to use GIMP in about 20 minutes. (I bet you could never tell, right? lololol) But hey, sometimes simplicity is best, especially when you have a budget of $0 and very little skill. The best advice I can give about covers, though, is to google other people’s covers and don’t do what they’re doing. No waterfalls, no dead leaves, no flowers, no rocky path leading into a forest. Don’t be lame.
2.) Review – Once you’ve finished your interior and cover files, you’ll need to upload them for review. Createspace looks over your files for potential issues with printing only. They’re not going to correct your typos for you or make your cover look less blurry. That’s all on you. But they’ll make sure everything fits within the printing area. When they give you the ok, you’ll order a proof copy. A proof is like a dress rehearsal for the real thing. You need to check that thing over like a billion times to make sure it’s really what you want to release to the world. I only had to go through 2 proofs, and that’s mostly because I had the itch to add a few extra poems at the last minute. But you may need to dink around with it for a while until you’re satisfied. Since it takes a few days to ship the proof to you each time, you’ll want to be studious and try to catch as many errors as you can or else this process will drag on until long after you’ve gotten sick of looking at your own book.
3.) Distribute – When you’re finally satisfied that it’s done and ready to rock, you’ll click a little button that says “Approve Proof” and then Createspace will take a few days to make sure all the ducks are in a row before it’s available for purchase. In the meantime, you’ll need to set up your distribution channels. This is a whole new world of exciting (not) stuff for you to fiddle around with: pricing, royalties, cover finish, setting up with Amazon & Kindle, creating your e-store, all that good stuff. Frankly I didn’t kill myself with these details: I chose all the distribution channels that were offered because I don’t care who or where it’s sold; everywhere is preferable. I chose the 70% royalty option because I really don’t care if Maizy’s Ebay store sells my book without asking for my permission. Some big authors do care about that because they have a brand name to protect, but I’m just glad that the book gets into somebody’s actual hands. But all this stuff will be specific to you, so you’re just gonna have to figure that out for yourself.
4.) Sales & Marketing – As far as Createspace is concerned, they’re the ones keeping track of your sales and paying you your royalties. They have some handy tools and resources to help you analyze sales trends, but a lot of your marketing will have to be done elsewhere (your blog, Goodreads, facebook, etc.) Hopefully the quality of your book will speak for itself, but you definitely have to help it along the best you can. Plaster it everywhere. Tell everyone. Be obnoxious. Then be more obnoxious.
So that’s it then, after that you kindof just get to soak up the delicious knowledge that you’re an author and that everyone you know now believes you secretly think you’re smarter than them. And you won’t mind so much because you’ll be too busy dealing with this intense hunger that started to take over the minute you released your first book: the hunger for the next one. Because writing a book is kindof like eating hot dogs- nobody gets to be a champion by finishing only one. (*rolls eyes* I’ll see myself out now.)
Blessings and happy reading,