Self-Publishing with CreateSpace

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Self-Publishing with CreateSpace

Post by Guest on Wed May 04, 2016 3:01 am

I wanted to make a topic about my recent experiences with self-publishing a series of books on CreateSpace. I am by no means an expert but when I started, I knew nothing about how to even begin to attempt something like this, and now know more than I did then. I wanted to make a thread to share the knowledge that I’ve amassed from my experiences going through this process so that those who were like me and had no idea who to even ask and what questions to ask, can at least start somewhere. If you’ve been through this process before as well, please, feel free to chime in. I could certainly use some tips and pointers on easier ways of doing things, neat tricks, and resources and guides. Self-publishing is easier than ever before and now those of us with dreams of having our names on the words we wrote is within reach.

First, a little about how my own project started, for some context. Into the Night Land Book One: The Journey

Spoiler:
Crystal and I met on an rp forum and wrote the books of the Into the Night Land trilogy as a role-play, starting on October 14th , 2014 and ending April 1st, 2015. At the time, I had no ambitions for publishing and she was the one who brought up that it was something she was willing to do. I was very skeptical and since I’d never finished an rp before, let alone a novel on my own, I told her “We’ll see.” Only when we got closer to the end, about midway through the stuff that is now Book Three, did I actually start to consider it a possibility. Still, I waited until we wrote “The End” before I reread the rp for the first time.

Editing took a year and my research began with a blog entry detailing the cost and quality of using different printing methods for editing your draft proofs(see link below). Through that research, CreateSpace seemed the most logical avenue to take, especially with its access to the Amazon marketplace. At that time, I was thinking really small potatoes, like my friends and family would be the ones to read it and I wanted to be able to send them to a site that they would already probably be familiar with, unlike SmashWords or something.

Shopping around, I found this blogger’s dissection of using different businesses and sites for printing book quality draft proofs. Like here, I decided to go with CreateSpace.

Book 1(425 pages, 6"x9" formatting, was $5.96/copy)
Book 2(344 pages, 6"x9" formatting, was $4.97/copy)
Book 3(435 pages, 6"x9" formatting, was $6.08/copy)

(me a year ago; so frigging happy to see our book looking like an actual book for the very first time!)

I chose the taller book because it is the standard trade paperback size. I also bought MS Word for this, not only because it made uploading it to CS so much easier but also because I want to stab Google and its stupid free document program. Seriously, fuck Google. (rant follows)
Spoiler:
It got to the point where I'd be in the middle of editing a document about 25 pages long and it would kick me off of their server. That means, if you've ever used GoogleDocs, that at the top where it would normally save automatically and tell you when the last edit was saved, it instead said "Trouble connecting to our servers; if you'd like to edit offline, then synch up blah blah". A couple of times, it'd make the effort to reconnect and would say "Saving..." for a second or two, but then revert back to the regular "trouble" message and then fucking stay there for literally hours. I searched for a solution. Know what I found? Several different forums, including Google Community, with threads and people asking why this exact thing keeps happening. And nobody helping them or having a clue how to fix it. So, fuck Google, the free ****.

Sooooo… MS Word. Much happier with the quality and although it was walking through the pits of hell figuring out how to use it as a newb, it is so pretty and so many options for everything under the sun you'd want to do. I searched for several different tutorials and since I'm an auditory and visual learner I looked for Youtube videos. A couple messed me up, at one point while formatting, I tried to put page numbers in the footers and all 425 pages of Book 1 were numbered 3 and 4... all the way through, turn to any page and it'd either be 3 or 4, depending on it being on the odd or even side.

Killer Book Marketing on Youtube is super helpful, he's got a nice playlist of videos that when watched in order basically holds your hand through the process of using MS Word to format the document up to CS standards and then eventually uploading the document to CS itself(although, honestly, CS has its own guided upload option that makes sure you get everything done that needs to be done). However, he's also the guy that accidentally made me number my pages wrong, so, I also watched this video by India Drummond and it was super helpful. Also, this video by the True Generalist was helpful in figuring out how to make chapter headers, with the list function.

For some reason, the CS cover creator didn't want to work for me because I didn't have the right plugin. So, instead, I went a different route, using GIMP to create and upload my own cover. I used this tutorial by Elisabeth Niederhut to do that. Excellent step by step and she does everything as if she were explaining it to an infant(which, is what you want when it's your first time ever doing it).

The first book, this process took me 12 hours straight, searching for tutorials that actually helped, searching for specific tutorials because for a little bit, I got frustrated by what the fuck a page break is, and trying to deal with that page numbering issue. For Books 2 and 3, it took me half an hour for each to go through the process of formatting and uploading to CS, including looking for and grabbing a quick pic to use for the temporary covers. CS has an automatic print reviewer to make sure that stuff doesn't slide off the edge of your pages or disappear into the crease of the book when it prints. That takes about 24 hours to be approved. Also, their priority shipping can have the books arriving in 3 days, not 4. Every single time, I anticipated the books being there on the day they said they would and they arrived the day before that.

I would recommend, if this is your first time, when you are sent a draft proof and the member dashboard gives you the “attention required” alert regarding approval of the draft proof, if you don’t want to publish yet, leaving this alone. Alternatively, you can go ahead and approve the draft and it’ll allow you to order more copies of the book for the same price using the CreateSpace printer, but just leave the royalties and channels section blank, in that case. When we were going through the final step, for the print ready copy of Into the Night Land Book One: The Journey I went through and filled out everything, including the royalty calculator, and left the “approve draft” waiting. Once we were ready to publish the book, I went ahead and approved the draft proof and it put the book up on the Amazon Marketplace. It still takes 3-5 days for it to be processed and for all the features to appear on the product page, so, keep that in mind when you have a date that you want to release it on.

One resource that was absolutely invaluable was Self-Publishing Masterclass: How to Publish Your Paperback with CreateSpace, by Rick Smith. He’s also got a book for Kindle publishing but honestly, I found the same info offered by free YouTube videos. Smith walks you through the process, giving you tips and need to know facts about the site, covering everything from the best way to format your book to keywords to help your book show up in more searches for your intended audience.

One of the hardest things I had to do was find our audience. I’m not sure about you guys but when I write an rp, it is usually with only myself and my partner in mind. This makes it difficult to determine who else might want to read this when you came at the writing with “I did this to entertain Crystal and I thought it would be funny to see how her character would react” for a lot of the different parts. On the one hand, you know someone out there would enjoy reading it because it’s good, but on the other you just don’t know who they are. Maybe you’ll have an easier time, especially if you pick a specific genre with common/popular elements in it. But for me the research was a little tough and I mostly went by what our competition was doing(lol, who knew that sexual plotlines with exploitative relationships set in a post-apocalyptic world, with not only love triangles but threesomes, already had a following? Call me surprised). That was how I determined price and it’s how I’ve been trying to steer myself through the marketing.

Because that’s the thing with self-publishing: you’re in control but you’re on your own. The book will only do as well as the work you put into it. Currently, I’m reading Social Media for Writers, by Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine and it has a lot of helpful tips that are still fairly current.

For publishing to Kindle, I used this video by Brad Gerlach, to format the manuscript. It’s really simple, just basically saving the file to the web format. I found that Kindle Direct was really good about transferring all of the info I already filled in for my first book over to the Kindle form. A few things: Kindle doesn’t support very much formatting for your text except page breaks and the bare bones things like italics and bold. Also, it really doesn’t matter all that much what size print or font you use, since Kindle enabled devices allow readers to adjust the font however they wish. The Kindle approval is a lot quicker than that for the paperback, so, expect it to show up on the product page within a day or two of submitting it.

Another thing you should know if you plan on turning your rp into a book is: CreateSpace does not split royalties between authors. That's the publisher's job and whoever submits and uploads the document to CreateSpace is the publisher. This process is cutting out the middle man and you and your partner will have to figure out between yourselves how you want to split the royalties. I would recommend that as soon as you decide that you want to publish, to go ahead and make a co-author agreement contract. This is the one Crystal and I used while also filling in the blanks and adding a few numbers when it came to answering some of the more indepth questions: Good Fences: When and Why Co-Writers Should Have Collaboration Agreements Most of the links are broken on that page but the questions raised are really good ones to add to the other contract form. Nobody expects things to go badly but if they do, you want to make sure you get out of there with your rights intact.

So, that's what I've got! If you have any questions, feel free to ask, I'm sure there's something about this that I've missed or forgot to mention. If you have any knowledge of CreateSpace of your own, feel free to post it here! This is to help everyone so that those who want to do this can have a place to at least start looking for answers. Besides that, all the firsts are as delightful as they say they are: holding your first book and opening it to see your words inside, seeing your product page just like all the other books you've binge bought over the years, having your first sale show up in the tracker table, getting your first review, etc. You can do it too! cheers

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