Tag: Createspace

It’s here!

Those of you who follow my weekly posts on Mad Genius Club know I tried something new with the print edition of Vengeance from Ashes (special edition with exclusive material). Instead of going with Createspace or one of the other POD platforms available for indie authors, I tried out the new KDP Print option. I did so with a great deal of trepidation. I don’t like change and I really don’t like not having the option of getting a hard copy proof before turning a print edition loose in the wild. Still, I’d heard both good and bad and, well, it wasn’t going to cost me anything to give it a try.

I’ll admit, two things really helped make my mind up. The first was the ease of setting up everything. Basically, all I had to do was have the pdf version of the interior and cover files ready to go. All the information I input for the e-book edition was automatically imported for the print version. No having to go back and forth between pages to make sure everything matched. So that was the first thing going in its favor.

The second and most important factor is price. Doing the print version through the KDP dashboard allowed me to set the price for the book lower than I would have been able to if I went through Createspace or some of the other POD platforms. That means I can price my book more competitively with print books from traditional publishers. That is important.

As for timing, the files were accepted and approved by KDP for the print version in about the same amount of time as I’ve had to wait before with Createspace. However, the time between order and delivery were much quicker. Because I ordered directly from the Amazon product page, and because I have a Prime membership, I received the book 2 days after I ordered it and did not have to pay shipping. That is much quicker than I’d had to wait for a proof to be delivered from Createspace.

Now, this is where the math gets a bit convoluted. Using Createspace, I could order proofs or author copies at a discounted amount. If I remember correctly, the last time I ordered author copies for a book with approximately the same page count as the special edition of Vengeance, it cost $4.99 (give or take a few cents). Then shipping was added on top of that. All totaled, it cost , for a single volume, approximately $9.00 (It was a few cents under that but I don’t remember how much). Because I was ordering author copies at the discounted rate, those copies did not count toward my author ranking, sales ranking nor did I receive any royalties for the sales.

I ordered the book for $10.99. Because I’m a Prime member, I didn’t have any shipping costs added on. I also earned $1.74 in royalties for the purchase. That means my total out-of-pocket for the single copy I ordered was $9.25. That is within the margin I was willing to pay when considering what I had been paying Createspace, especially when the sales actually count for ranking purposes. So far, so good.

A friend of mine who is a very successful indie writer let me know that he has been contacted by Amazon and he does have the option of order proof copies of his print books. My guess is that this is an update to the program they are slowly rolling out. To order a proof, your book must still be in “draft” status and you will pay the printing cost for your book ($4.86 in the case of Vengeance) plus shipping. All Amazon shipping options are available EXCEPT Prime shipping. So, the speed with which you want the proof will impact your overall cost. You can also order up to five copies of your book per proof order.

When that option is available for me, I’ll report on what the final pricing breakdown is.

So, as the title of this post says, I received my copy of Vengeance yesterday. Other than being a bit miffed because the book had not been packed properly — the box we too big and one corner was crimped as a result of it moving around while in transit — it looks good. Here’s a picture.

VfA special edition

For the print edition, click here.

To pre-order the e-book edition (release date next Tuesday), click here.

Formatting for Print

First of all, thanks to everyone who took part in and who supported the Indie Author Beginning of Summer Sale. Second, regular blogging will return tomorrow. Hopefully, by the end of the week, there will be a short story in the Honor & Duty universe ready to go. Finally, today’s post is a reblog of my post at Mad Genius Club.

A couple of weeks ago, I started a series on formatting. You can find the postshere and here. I promised to come back and do a post on how to format your interior file for print versions as well. That’s what today’s post is going to be about. As we start out, I’m going to make a couple of assumptions. The first is that you are working in Word or one of the equivalent programs. Yes, InDesign is a much better program and gives you much better control on kernaling and the like, but it is 1) expensive and 2) had a learning curve many find daunting. So, let’s get started.

The first question, even before you start your formatting, that you have to ask is where you are going to turn for printing and distributing your book. There are all sorts of options out there. To me, the two best — and for different reasons — are Createspace and Ingram Spark. The latter can get you into bookstores but the downside is you have to pay to use them and you aren’t guaranteed shelf space in those stores. The second can be completely free or it can cost you a whopping $10 if you buy an ISBN from them. The downside is that Amazon owns Createspace and that means getting into bookstores is going to be much more difficult.

All that considered, you have one more question to answer. Do you really want to spend the time, effort and money (yes, money. Even if you don’t pay someone to go out and try to sell your books to those bookstores, you will have to do it and every hour away from your keyboard is money out of your pocket.) trying to get into those stores? In other words, will the return on investment be worth the money spent to use Ingram Spark?

For me, since the vast majority of my sales come from e-books, I am more than happy using Createspace. It keeps my initial financial outlay down to a minimum, puts the print books in Books in Print, in the Amazon stores and lets me order copies at a discounted price when I need them for events, cons, etc.

So that is my second assumption for this post. Everything I am about to tell you is based on Createspace. If you decide to use Ingram Spark or one of the other services, you will need to check their formatting requirements.

So, how do you format your book for print?

The first thing you do is decide what size you want your book to be. Remember that the more pages you have, the more it will cost to produce and the higher your price will have to be in order to make money. I choose standard trade paperback size of 9 x 6. Now the fun begins.

Take the final version of your book and save it as a new file. Because I have been known to get confused on an occasion or two, I tend to save the files as NameofNovelPrintVersion. Once I’ve done that, I selection all (if you are using a PC, that ctrl A) and then go into layout and change the page size. Save it again. In fact, you should save often — and back up to other media.

Once you have changed your page size, check your front matter. Compare it to other print books in your genre. You want your books to have the same basic layout as those of traditional publishers. Here is how I set up my last several books:

  • Title Page (title only)
  • Also by (list other works)
  • Second title page (title, series, author, publisher, logo, etc.)
  • Copyright page

You can play with fonts and font size on your title pages. The key is to make it look as much like a traditionally published book as possible. In other words, imitate what you see. Also, remember that the font size limitations you had in your e-book go out the window when you move to the print side of things. For example, I have nothing with a font size of more than 16 in an e-book. For a three line title page (title of the book only), I used Minion Pro SmBld with font size of 36. Line spacing before was set to 100 and line spacing was set at multiple (1.15).

Now, before we go any further, each of the above pages had a page break after the last line of text. That means the “Also by” by was on the back of the initial title page and the copyright page on the back of the second title page. The exception is the copyright page. That page has a section break (odd page) instead of a page break after the last line of text. What this does is insert a blank page where needed so your next bit, your dedication, appears on the right hand page of your novel. To insert the section break (odd page), click your layout tab. Then click on “breaks” and scroll down until you see “section breaks” and “odd page”. Click on odd page. You won’t see the additional page in your word document but it will show up when you save your file to pdf.

So now you have a new “section” and this is for your Dedication. Replace the “page break” from your e-book with “new section, odd page” after the last line of your dedication.

In my books, I make a change here from my e-books. Because e-books use your style headings to build the active table of contents, I don’t use Heading 1 (or any other) on “Dedication” in the digital version. However, with the print version, I want “Dedication” to match my chapter headings, so I highlight the word and then apply Heading 1.

And this is where we start changing the formatting from the digital version of the book.

My Heading 1 is set up as follows (for science fiction):

  • Font:
    • Minion Pro SmBld
    • size 20
    • all caps
  • Paragraph:
    • centered
    • spacing before: 100
    • spacing after 50
    • line spacing: multiple 1.15

This drops the heading down the page and gives spacing between the chapter heading and the first paragraph. Once you make this change to your heading settings, it should apply to all your headings in the document. In Word, you can make this change pretty easily by simply right clicking on the heading, choosing “modify” and then enter what you want.

Your next section will be Chapter 1. Your chapter title/number is Heading 1. If you had added spacing after in your paragraph dialog box for the Heading, you do not need to have more than one line return between the chapter title/number and the first line of your first paragraph.

And this is the next place you can play with your formatting and make it different from your e-book. Again, I suggest you look at books in your genre by traditional publishers and see what they do. You don’t usually see Drop caps in science fiction or fancy fonts, but you might in some fantasy or romance novels. For my SF novels, I small cap the entire first line. Now, when doing this, I sometimes have to play with the spacing in order to make it look right. You can do this in word by highlighting the word or words you need to adjust. Click on the font dialog box and then click on the advanced tab. When that opens, you have the option of changing your spacing and scale. Play with it and see what works best.I usually leave “scale” alone and work only with spacing. (Note: you will need to check this again later, after you have set your margins and gutters. I’m not having you set these yet because your page count is going to change based on how many sections you have and how many blank pages have been included.)

My paragraph settings, which are “Normal” on my style ribbon, are as follows:

  • Justified
  • First line indent 0.3
  • 0 spacing before and after a paragraph
  • line spacing of 1.15 (multiple)

My font is set at Georgia, 11 font size.

For section breaks, you can do pretty much whatever you want. Just remember, if you use an image, you need to embed it in your document and each time you use it, it increases the size of the file and, if you are in the 70% royalty program on Amazon, it will increase the transmission cost per download. Instead of an image, you can use symbols that are part of your font package. Once more, see what the trads in your genre are doing.

Add a section break at the end of the chapter (making sure you removed the page break, if it was already there). Rinse and repeat until you are done with the book.

Now that you have the body of your book formatted, select all and go into your paragraph dialog box. Click on the line and page break tab and make sure you have unclicked widow and orphan control. This is so every page, except for partial pages, end on the same line. Now save your as a PDF. Yes, yes, I know. I haven’t talked about headers and footers. We will in a a moment. Just bear with me. Once you have the PDF file, see how many pages it is. Make a note of the number. Now, go back to your working print file. It is time to set up your margins and gutter.

Createspace at least helps you here.

If your books is 24 – 150 pages:

  • inside margin of 0.375
  • outside margin of 0.25

If your book is 151 -300 pages:

  • inside margin of .5
  • outside margin of 0.25

If your book is 301 – 500 pages:

  • inside margin of 0.625
  • outside margin of 0.25

If your book is 501 – 700 pages:

  • inside margin of 0.75
  • outside margin of 0.25

If your book is 701 – 828 pages

  • inside margin of 0.875
  • outside margin of 0.25

Open your page dialog box. Your first tab should be margins. Choose the appropriate margins from above and fill them in. Choose your orientation (portrait). Where it says “pages”, choose mirror margins. Now click on the “paper” tab. Make sure your page size is appropriately entered. Now click the “layout” tab. Make sure it says a new section starts on the odd page. Under headers and footers, make sure both “different odd and even” and “different first page” are clicked. Press okay and then save your document.

Now, finally, it is time to do your headers and footers and this is where you will see why we switched to section breaks instead of page breaks between chapters. If you look at a traditionally published book, you will see that most do not have headers or footers on the first page of each new chapter. Also look at how they do their headers. Are the author names set out in the same manner as the book title? Some will be and others will not. Some will italicize the author name and cap only the first letter of each word of the author’s name. Now, how do they do the title? Capped? Small caps? Choose which you like best and now we will get to work.

Go to your first chapter. Click insert header. If you are working in one of the later versions of Word, this should take you to the “design” tab. Make sure “different first page”, “different odd & even” and “show document text” are clicked. Now look for “link to previous” and make sure that is not clicked. You do not want headers or footers on your front matter. Once you have that done, scroll to the second page of the chapter. Type in the author name. I have it centered in my manuscript but you can align it however you want. My only reminder is to do what is common in traditional publishing in your genre. Once you have it typed in, highlight it. Make sure it isn’t indented. If so, open the paragraph dialog box and removed first line indent. Also, consider changing the font size slightly to offset your header text from your main text. I drop my font size down to 10 for my headers.

Once you have done that for the author name, scroll down to the third page of the chapter. Type in the title of the book. Repeat the check for indents and font size. Now scroll to the beginning of the document and make sure you haven’t accidentally wound up putting headers in the front matter. If it looks all right, save your document.

Page numbers are next. These can go up in the header or down in the footer. I put them in the footer because that is easier to do. So, go to “insert” select page number, and basically repeat what you did for your headers. Once you have them aligned how you want, make sure there is no first line indent. Match your font size with your header font size. You have one more step. If your page number doesn’t say “2” on the second page of the chapter, click on “page number” and then “format page numbers”. The dialog box that opens up lets you choose what number to start with. Choose 1 — it won’t show since first page is different — and save. Make sure it works. If not, choose 2.

You’re almost done. Skip ahead to your next chapter. If your headers and footers aren’t there, don’t panic. Double click in the header section of your page and that will open up the design ribbon. Now you can click link to previous section. That should import all your settings from the first chapter. If you have done it right, you will have no header or footer on the first page of the chapter but those should be in place after that page, complete with correct page numbers. Check the rest of your document and save.

Now it is time to save as a PDF again. This time, when you save, you want to go back and check your formatting as it imported in. Pay close attention to how your first line of each chapter looks — did your special formatting carry over as you thought it would or do you need to go back and play with it? Does each page look right or do you need to tweak the formatting some. One problem that can happen on occasions is weird full justification of a short sentence. This happens when you accidentally put in a soft return (ie, you accidentally hit “enter” while holding “shift”). All you have to do is go to the end of that paragraph in your Word doc and erase the soft return and then hit “enter”.

Tweak as needed, until you are satisfied with how the document looks.

One more thing. You don’t need all the end matter in a print book that you have in an e-book. You have already listed your other work at the beginning of the novel. So there is no need to list it all again. You can add a “Note from the Author” or “About the Author” if you want, but you don’t have to. I do, simply because I don’t like the book ending with the last page of the novel and there being no chance to thank the reader. Again, and I know I sound like a broken record, check what the trads in your genre are doing.

In other words, copy, copy, copy but make yours look better than the trads.

Save our your final version in both DOC and PDF. You will upload the PDF version to Createspace — or whoever you chose to do your POD versions. Now you wait for them to tell you whether you passed review or not. When you have, download the PDF file they have compiled. Make sure nothing happened to your formatting and your book still looks the way you want it to. If you haven’t been doing this for awhile and aren’t comfortable with it — and even if you are — go ahead and order a hard copy proof of your book as well. See if you like how it looks in print. If not, change it.

In other words, don’t rely on the downloaded proof. I had a book where the downloaded proof looked great but when the printed version got here, my 250 page book was something like 125 pages. The font had screwed up somehow and you needed a magnifying glass to read it. Fortunately, I caught it before it was released into the wild. Believe me, it is better to spend $5 or so plus shipping to avoid that sort of headache.

I know this is a super-long post but there is no easy and quick way to handle this. Now I’m off for coffee and food.

Almost back

Vacation is almost over and soon my son will be leaving. Needless to say, I’m not happy about that. However, I will admit that part of me looks forward to returning to my usual routine. I’ve been grabbing snatches of time here and there over the last week plus to get a few things done but there has been little writing and lots of hair pulling in frustration, especially when it comes to dealing with Createspace.

Usually I have no problem with CS. Oh, I might have to resubmit my cover once after the initial upload. But not this time. Oh no. This time it has been problems over and over and over again — and on multiple projects. Basically, what happened is simple. With LibertyCon fast approaching, I wanted to make sure I had copies of three of my books to take with me. No biggie. I started this a week ago and should have the initial proof process done by now and copies ordered.

But not. Not this time.

Vengeance from Ashes, already out in print, needed a couple of minor text tweaks. I did them and sent in the corrected internal file. The cover file wasn’t touched. Nope. Nada. Zilch. So imagine my surprise when, months after the cover file had been approved, I get an email from CS telling me that the internal file met their requirements but the cover file did not and needed to be redone. Figuring it was just a mistake, I resubmitted it again (I’ve learned over time that sometimes is all you have to do). Next day, same response. So, I sent an email asking for specifics and noting that they had already approved the cover and the book had been on sale.

That’s when the frustration level ratcheted up. The response was a “oops, sorry about that but the cover never should have been accepted. Do it over.” Grumbling and grousing, I made some minor tweaks to comply with what they said and resubmitted. Bounced again for the same frigging thing.

At the same time, I was uploading the files for Duty from Ashes. Same basic story. Interior files are accepted. Cover file not so much. Noooo, it had problems. Fix them. Okay, no surprise. It was the first submission and I am human — and not an artist. So I tweaked the cover and resubmitted.

And, at the same time I get the next “bad cover” message on Vengeance, I get one on Duty. The grumbling has gone to growling. I study the emails where they list the supposed issues that need to be fixed, throw the covers up on the 26-inch monitor and blow them up just to make sure I can see everything. Guides are on and, just to be sure, I have the template up on the secondary monitor.

For Vengeance they say I have active material in the red area. Hmm. All that is there is the background image. I check the instructions on the template. Double hmm. It says to have your background image in the red area. So, another email sent off — I like a paper trail. It comes in handy. — noting that I have done exactly what they say and to have human eyes check it and push it through. Then I turn my attention to Duty’s cover.

For that one, they say I have active elements in the bleed area. So, I look at it on the big monitor with magnification on. Hmm. Only thing in the bleed area is the background image. I check again, looking at the instructions. Yep. That’s all I’m seeing. The layers have been anchored and flattened. I turned off the grids. Hmm. So, an email is sent about it as well, noting that it too follows their instructions and to have a human look at it and push it through.

Now, while all this is going on, I’ve submitted the print and cover files for Sword of Arelion. As with the others, the interior file flies through the review process. More surprising, so does the cover. Wow! Maybe they just hate science fiction covers. But, because I am obsessive about checking my proofs, I use the only proof reviewer to look at the cover.

GAHHHHHH!

Somehow, in the conversion process, the font for the last paragraph of text on the back cover has changed sizes. It is much smaller than it should have. Stomach knotting, I make the needed corrections and send the new cover file off. Then I check my email to see if I have heard back from CS on the other two files — nope. Nothing.

So, fast-forward to this morning. I have two emails waiting for me at 0600. The first is to tell me that the cover file for Sword has passed muster and now the book is waiting for me to approve the proof and order copies. The other is about Duty from Ashes. It says that they “need to do some more research” and so technical services is being contacted and I should hear back in one to two business days.

ARRRGGGHHHH!

And crickets on Vengeance.

I have never had this sort of problem with CS. In fact, I have been an advocate for them because of their ease of use and fast response on questions. This week, I am starting to question all that.

So, it now looks like I might have proof copies, if I’m lucky, if Duty and Vengeance for LibertyCon but I’m not holding my breath. If — and at this point it is a very big IF — Sword passes my inspection, I should have copies to sell/sign there.

Color me frustrated.

In the meantime, here is the cover of the print version of Sword of Arelion.

Arelioinprint2

 

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