From the tabs that run along the top of the page, select My Account -> Create a Title. If you’re not already logged in, you’ll be prompted to do so.
Enter your book title, select Paperback and choose between Guided and Expert setup. The two are actually identical, except Guided splits the process into lots of different stages with the need to press Save at the end of each one. Expert, on the other hand, sets everything out clearly, on one page, so I’m going to use that.
On clicking Get Started, you’ll be presented with the following setup form:
It has several sections which I’ll go through, one at a time. If, at any point, you want to take a break, scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save Progress. You can now safely shut down your computer. To return to title setup, select My Account -> Member Dashboard. Under My Projects, you’ll see a list of all your books. Click on the title you want. Then, on the summary page, select Complete Setup:
Completing Title Setup
Title: Your book title. Double, triple and even quadruple check this for spelling and grammar.
Subtitle: Most books don’t have a subtitle so don’t feel you need to type something just to fill up the space. Only fields marked with a red asterisk are compulsory.
Primary Author: That’s you. Again, don’t feel pressure to complete every box. Simply enter your name as it appears on your book cover. For Joe Blogs, type Joe under First Name and Blogs under Last Name. Don’t complete the Middle Name box, just because you have one and definitely steer clear of the Prefix field. The world doesn’t need to know you’re Mr Joe Egbert Blogs, unless this is the name that appears on your book jacket.
The only time your middle name might become important is if you choose to publish under your initials. In this case, Joe Egbert Blogs would enter J under First Name, E under Middle Name and Blogs for Last Name.
However you choose to present your name, ensure it’s consistent everywhere you publish and market your book. This is your brand and it must be recognisable.
Add Contributors: Ignore this unless, for instance, you’ve been working in collaboration with an illustrator to produce a children’s book.
Book Series: If your book is part of a series, tick the box indicating this. The Series Title/Volume fields will change from blue to cream, allowing you to enter data into them. Enter the overall series title and the position the book you’re listing holds within that series. For example, New Moon is the second book of Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling Twilight series. In this case, New Moon would be the Title written at the very top of the page, Twilight would be the Series Title and you’d select 2 from Volume‘s drop-down menu. The title and series title are occasionally the same, particularly for the first book in a series. This is the case, for example, with The Hunger Games and Twilight.
Edition number: In all likelihood, your Edition number will be 1. If, at a later date, you significantly rewrite your book, it will constitute a new edition. Some books, particularly nonfiction, are regularly updated. One of the many advantages of a print on demand service, like CreateSpace, is the ability update your book without worrying about unsold stock.
Publication Date: Leave this blank, unless your book’s already available. If it is, add the original publication date. It’s impossible to set a date in the future, so, for most people, publishing a book for the first time, this is a pointless question.
ISBN: CreateSpace provides free ISBNs so it isn’t necessary to buy one of your own, unless you’re distributing elsewhere. However, if you’ve already purchased an ISBN from Nielsen, use it here. This might be the case if your book is also listed with Ingram Spark or you’re selling through other outlets, such as local bookshops. Accepting a CreateSpace ISBN in these circumstances will lead to the creation of duplicate listings for the same book and confusion for both you and potential customers.
Interior Type: For most books, select a Black & White interior. You can still include images within your book (at no extra cost), they’ll just be black and white rather than colour ones. Full Color is prohibitively expensive for all but short books. Remember, this refers to the interior pages, not the cover, which will, of course, be colour.
Paper Color: Go to your local bookshop or library and check other books in your genre. For novels and most other text-only books, the paper is usually cream or a browny off-white. There are occasional exceptions, such as art or text books but generally, I’d recommend the cream option.
Trim Size: This refers to your book size i.e. the size the paper will be trimmed to after printing. For help choosing book size, see my post on Typesetting.
My favourite size for a novel distributing in the UK, is B Format (12.9cm x 19.8cm). CreateSpace provides a virtually identical size (5.06” x 7.81”). However, if you select this with cream paper, the following warning flashes up:
Basically, if you pick B Format with cream paper, your book won’t be eligible for Expanded Distribution. CreateSpace will still list it on Amazon. However, it won’t be available through bookshops, such as Barnes & Noble. There are reasons why you might not want to enable Expanded Distribution (more on this later). However, if you do want to take advantage of it, I’d suggest making your book 5” x 8” (12.7cm x 20.38cm). This is the closest size to B Format which still allows you to enable Expended Distribution with cream paper.
For nonfiction, I’d recommend American Royal at 6” x 9” (152cm x 229cm) as a convenient, frequently used size which will make your book available for Expanded Distribution, whichever page colour you decide upon.
The above are suggestions only. There’s a huge variety of factors to consider when it comes to trim size, including genre, book length and price. Bigger trim sizes mean fewer pages and marginally reduced printing costs. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t take this into consideration as the book’s look and feel are far more important than a few pence saved on printing.
However, there is slight leeway. For instance, if you’ve written a very long novel, you may choose a slightly bigger (6” x 9”) format. Many novels are printed in this size, anyway, regardless of length so it wouldn’t look odd but would reduce your page count, just a little. Conversely, for a short, nonfiction book, it might be worth considering 5” x 8” in order to marginally bump up the page count. Just use your common sense. As long as you don’t end up printing a novel in A4 format, you should be OK.
Whichever method you choose, you need to ensure the following:
- The paper size matches your selected trim size.
- You’ve complied with CreateSpace’s minimum margin requirements.
- You have a title page containing the book’s title and author. These must be identical to the information you entered during setup.
- If you have a copyright page (and I suggest you do in order to look professional), ensure your ISBN is written correctly. To obtain your CreateSpace ISBN, scroll down to the bottom of the page and select Save Progress. Scroll back up and under ISBN, you’ll see two strings of numbers. Back in 2004 the book industry transitioned from a ten to a thirteen digit system, hence you have two ISBNs. CreateSpace only uses the thirteen digit number on its book covers so I suggest you do the same on your copyright page.
- The file is in PDF format with embedded fonts (full instructions here).
- Your file size is no more than 400mb. This is only, potentially, a problem if you have an awful lot of images. If you have a text or mainly text-based book, you’ll be doing well if you reach 100mb, let alone 400.
Once you’re satisfied all this is correct, select Browse button, locate your pdf file and upload it.
Bleed: Printers can’t guarantee exactly where the edge of the page will fall because of paper movement during trimming. Therefore, if you have a book with images that you want to extend right to edge of the page, you’ll need to run them slightly over the allotted page size in order to avoid any white outlines. If this is the case, select Ends after the edge of the page.
This is really only relevant for glossy art books and unlikely to affect the type of book I’d recommend using CreateSpace for. For most books, even those with images, it isn’t necessary for the content to run right to the edge of the page. Therefore, in all likelihood, you’ll select Ends before the edge of the page.
Ignore We offer an array of design and formatting services for your interior. Learn more.
You have three options: design the cover yourself, hire a designer or use Cover Creator.
Cover Creator is CreateSpace’s free design programme. When launched, it presents you with 30 or so templates to choose between. You have the option to personalise these with a limited range of colours and fonts.
I have no eye for design but even I can see these templates look pretty unattractive. They remind me a of 80s TV graphics and not in a cool, retro way: they’re clunky, unsophisticated and just plain ugly. Having such an unsightly cover will be extremely detrimental to your marketing efforts. Before deciding on this step, please read through my post on Cover Design to try to find another option.
Whichever method of cover creation you choose, you’ll need an image to put on the front of your book. You can find thousands of pictures to choose between on stock photo websites.
For more information on designing your own cover or hiring a designer, again, see my post on Cover Design. Unless you’re talented in design, you should really hire a professional. It isn’t as scary or expensive as you’d think. You can get a very decent cover from around £150.
Your designer will need a template to show them such things as spine width and where CreateSpace intends to place the barcode. These are provided free of charge. To access them, save your progress in title setup and from the tabs running along the top of the page, select Books -> Publish a Trade Paperback -> Cover (tab) -> submission requirements:
Scroll about half way down the page detailing submission requirements, until you find a link to Download Cover Templates:
Under Configure your Template, enter the required information: trim size, number of pages, type of paper etc. Then, click Build Template. You’ll be taken to fresh page with a Click here to begin Download link. Once you’ve done this, check your computer’s Downloads folder. You should see a zip file labelled something like BookCover5x8_Cream_300. Email this over to your designer and they’ll take it from there.
The cover submission requirements are quite simple: the file shouldn’t be more than 40MB and your title and name as author must exactly match those you entered during setup. It’s also important to keep the bottom right hand corner of the back cover free so CreateSpace can put a barcode there. This is clearly marked on the template, though and will be easy for your designer to avoid.
You should receive the completed design as a PDF file. Once you have this, select PDF Cover File from the title setup form and upload it to CreateSpace.
Cover Finish: If you’re publishing a novel or text-based nonfiction, choose Matte. Gloss is shiny and in my opinion, just plain tacky. It makes your book look self-published. The only exception to this is if all the other books in your genre have shiny covers, such as some puzzle or text books.
Description: Copy and paste your book blurb, just as it appears on the back of your book.
BISAC Category: BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications) categories group books into recognisable genres. This aids booksellers to organise them and more importantly, helps buyers find them. Think carefully about your category choice. Obviously accuracy is paramount but try to be specific. There’s no point selecting Fiction -> General because if you choose any category under Fiction (such as Action & Adventure), your book will also appear in the general fiction search results.
Language/Country of Publication: Fairly self-explanatory. If you’re reading this, the book language is probably English. I’m not entirely sure why CreateSpace requires this information twice as you already told them the language at the start of the form. Your country of publication is where you reside. It has nothing to do with where the book will be distributed; it merely states its country of origin.
Search Keywords: You can enter up to five. This represents a real opportunity to lead readers to your book. Put yourself in the buyers’ shoes and think about the sort of terms they might be searching. For instance, if I were publishing this blog, as a book, I might choose Print on Demand and Self Publishing as two of my terms. You can enter either single words or phrases. Separate each one with a comma.
Contains Adult Content: This means porn, not your average novel with a bit of sex in.
Large Print: This refers to books for the visually impaired. To qualify your book must follow specific guidelines, such as font size and type. By all means, produce a large print version of your book, if you think it will sell but don’t tick this box just because you think your font’s easy to read.
If this section doesn’t appear on your setup form, scroll to the bottom of the page and select Save Progress. Assuming you’ve correctly completed all sections of the form up to this point, Distribution and Pricing should, now, appear.
The available channels are Amazon.com, Amazon Europe (Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.it, and Amazon.es), CreateSpace’s own estore and Expanded Distribution.
It would normally be my instinct to enable all possible sales channels. There is, however, a very good reason why you may choose not to enable Expanded Distribution and that concerns minimum list price.
The royalties for expanded distribution are much lower than for other channels: the author receives only 40% of the cover price (minus a per page and standalone fee) as opposed to 60% for Amazon sales. A lower royalty shouldn’t put you off on its own. Extending reach always trumps a few pennies in the piggy bank.
However, the higher costs associated with expanded distribution mean that you may have to increase the price of your book higher than desired in order to break even. You can only set one price per currency. All expanded distribution sales are calculated in dollars. This means your price for expanded distribution has to be the same as your Amazon.com one. As a self-publisher, you’re far more likely to make a sale on Amazon.com than through bookshops so a high price here could be extremely detrimental to your book’s success.
Let’s take the example of a 300-page book. You may wish to keep your list price below $10. As CreateSpace won’t let you make a loss, it sets a minimum list price. Without expanded distribution enabled, this is a modest $7.42, which would allow you to set your price at $9.99. However, selecting expanded distribution sends the minimum price shooting up to $11.13. If you’re planning to charge $12.99, this doesn’t matter but if you feel you would sell far more books on Amazon.com at a lower price, then you may choose not to enable expanded distribution.
Of course, the above example refers to a 300-page book. Shorter books will have lower minimum list prices and longer books, higher ones. This issue is one that needs considering on a book-by-book basis, depending not only on book length but also average cover prices in the genre you’re writing in.
I’ve already discussed pricing and assuming you’ve written a novel, £6.99 or £7.99 is a reasonable price to ask on Amzon.co.uk. Pricing in US dollars can be a bit more daunting for a UK author. You could just use your UK price as a guide. Currently the exchange rate isn’t in the pound’s favour so £7.99 comes out at around $10. You could go a bit higher, particularly for a longer book. A brief tour of Amazon.com reveals prices up to $16.99 for recently released novels, although personally, I’d keep the price down at the $12.99 mark. Looking at the fiction bestsellers at Barnes & Noble (the biggest US book retailer), this doesn’t seem too off the mark.
Nonfiction is a different matter and you’ll need to investigate your genre carefully to determine a reasonable market price.
By default, CreateSpace insists you set the US price first and then calculates the UK and Euro ones based on this. To avoid automatic conversion, untick the box which reads: Yes, suggest a GBP price based on U.S. price and you’ll be able to set the two prices independently of each other.
It may be worth keeping this box ticked for Amazon Europe, just to get an idea of what the price would be based on US dollars. Once you’ve established this, you can round up or down to the nearest half Euro for neatness.
Press Calculate to see your projected royalties. £1 upwards is good for a novel so don’t have unrealistic expectations. If you’ve entered a price below the minimum list price, you’ll receive an error message and be asked to re-enter the information.
Remember, if Amazon, or any other retailer, discounts your book, it has no effect on the money you receive.
Check everything on your setup page and when you’re satisfied it’s correct, scroll to the bottom and select Submit for Review. This doesn’t usually take long. I submit my books before going to bed and when I wake up, I’ve got an email saying they’re ready for the next stage. This ‘review’ doesn’t mean an actual person has looked at your book. It’s a computer-based check of the broadest possible kind to confirm your set up information is correct and your interior and cover files meet technical specifications for printing. You are solely responsible for edting, layout and formatting. That’s why the next stage (proofing) is so very important.
Once you’ve received an email from CreateSpace to say your book is ready for proofing, navigate to your dashboard (My Account -> Member Dashboard). Click on your book title and from the Project Homepage, select Proof Your Book. You’ll be presented with two options: View a Digital Proof and Order a Printed Proof.
You’ll almost certainly want to order a printed proof but I find the digital version a usefully first step to check for obvious errors before spending any money. It’s a rather nice, if often slow, tool that shows you your book, page by page:
The dotted lines won’t be visible on the final product. They’re just there to demonstrate the area of the page which is easily legible to the reader. Your text should fall somewhere within this space.
The digital proofer highlights formatting errors, such as your text expanding beyond the dotted lines. If you get an error message, navigate to the highlighted page and investigate. Unfortunately, despite its advantages, the digital proofer can be rather glitchy, at times. For instance, if you have italicised text too close to the dotted line, it incorrectly marks this as an error. If you’ve looked and looked for half an hour and can’t see what’s wrong, it’s fine to ignore the error message and simply tick that the page is OK.
As well as checking highlighted errors, go through your book, page-by-page, not necessarily reading but seeing that all the text is placed exactly where you want it, that there are no random blank pages and that each chapter or section starts in the correct position.
If you spot an error, you’ll need to follow the steps below:
- Go back to your original Word file and correct the mistake there
- Convert to PDF, making sure you give your file a name that distinguishes it from the old version
- Return to your title setup page
- Click the big, blue Change button under Interior
- Upload the updated interior
- Scroll to the bottom of the page and select Submit for Review
- Once CreateSpace has completed the review, return to the digital proofer and see if you’re happy with the correction
It’s a bit of a cumbersome process but it’s worth it to get your book looking just right. One of the best things about CreateSpace is the ability to correct mistakes and check them via digital proofing, as many times as you need, without it costing you a penny.
CreateSpace also offers the option to download a PDF proof to view offline. This seems a singularly pointless exercise. You’re simply downloading the same file that you only just uploaded. I would skip this stage and move straight onto ordering a physical proof.
The proof, itself, is inexpensive, at just $4.45 for a 300-page book. However, shipping outside the US is pricey. It costs between $4.88 and $14.38 to the UK, depending on shipping speed. To receive your proof in eight business days, with current exchange rates, you’re looking at a cost of about £10 for the book and postage. As this is your only expense with CreateSpace, it doesn’t seem too hefty a price to pay. Don’t be tempted to skip this stage, however much digital proofing you do.
The proof copy you receive will be identical, in every way, to the book your customers will order, except that it says proof on the back page. Study every chapter, read it again for errors and correct them, if necessary. Only when you’re completely satisfied, navigate back to your Member Dashboard and select Approve by the title in question.
How long before my book appears on Amazon?
It’ll take anywhere between a few hours and two weeks for your book to appear on all available sales channels. The first sign of your listing will be the ability to locate it by ISBN on Amazon.com. At this stage, it might not have a cover image or description, as these take longer to process. Listings on Amazon European sites, including Amazon.co.uk, usually appear several days after the Amazon.com one.
Basically, be patient and don’t fire off emails to CreateSpace if your book hasn’t appeared within two hours of you approving the proof. In the unlikely event that, after two weeks, you still don’t see your book or the cover image/description is missing, just let CreateSpace know through the Contact Us link at the bottom of every page on the site. They should get back to you promptly with an explanation.
Where to go for more advice
Catherine Ryan Howard’s Self Printed is an invaluable guide to CreateSpace and Kindle. It’s both conversational and extremely well written, making it enjoyable to read, rather rare for a self-publishing instructional.