CreateSpace is Amazon's print on demand company, the best place in the world to self-publish paperback books. Microsoft Word documents (.doc and .docx) can easily be formatted for CreateSpace because it's the world's most popular writing program.
Most authors pay for this, but it's wise to do it yourself. When you format your own documents:
The course walks you through it from first page to last. Install great fonts, handle front matter, use section breaks, insert page numbers, images, everything a reader expects. Get detailed instruction with an actual MS Word document and upload it to the online previewer at CreateSpace.
Also get 2 FREE TEMPLATES that come with the course as examples, templates you can use for your books.
The course is taught by Jason Matthews, bestselling author and self-publishing expert.
In less than two hours, you'll be able to professionally format your paperbacks and give readers something they truly enjoy.
Get started today so your paperbacks can be for sale on Amazon soon.
It’s time to get to know CreateSpace, Amazon’s print on demand publishing company: https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/.
All of the tabs at the website are smart to look through, especially the ISBN option and their free tools.
Eventually you’ll be uploading an MS Word document or PDF to CreateSpace. The online previewer will be a handy and fun tool to use during that time, where you can look through the document page by page or catalogue style to get a feel for how your book will look. Small changes for outside and inside margins, page numbering and settings for headers and footers will be easier to see from the online previewer.
Our demonstrations will be done with MS Word doc and docx. We’ll be using the version from 2007, but all versions are compatible with this and will have similar functions though some items will have a different look. If you don’t have MS Word, you might consider buying it, and there are inexpensive versions from 2003, 2007 and 2010 at places like eBay. Those older versions work great. You can also use free alternatives from place like Libre Office (http://www.libreoffice.org/) and Open Office (http://www.openoffice.org/) if you want.
Here's a handy place for all the links to websites displayed in the course.
One of the first decisions will be trim size, the width by height in inches of the book. You don’t have to decide now, but by the time you begin the uploading process it will need to be decided as it’s something that cannot be changed later because the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) will be associated with the trim size.
In MS Word this is done through the Page Layout and Page Setup tabs. Many default Setups are 8.5 by 11 inches (letter size). Most books have a different trim size. Common Industry Standards are 5 x 8, 5.25 x 8, 5.5 x 8.5 and 6 x 9 inches, but there are many other possibilities: https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/#content4. Industry Standard sizes have more distribution channels and are wise choices.
It’s smart to visit CreateSpace and read some of the options for both black and white books and full color books. Check out if the trim size you want is among Industry Standards. Once your book has been uploaded to CreateSpace, the trim size and ISBN will be set. The only way to make a change to those aspects will be to start over with a new project.
ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, and it will be the main identifier for your book. Again, you don’t have to make a decision right now on which type of ISBN you want, but as soon as you’ve started the uploading process at CreateSpace it will be a one time decision that cannot be changed without beginning a new project. This is a great link for understanding the 4 current ISBN options: https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/ISBNs.jsp.
The imprint will list the publisher’s name. The free ISBN option at CreateSpace will list CreateSpace as the publisher. All other options will list whoever you want as the publisher, either you or your publishing company. There are both $10 and $99 custom versions where you can purchase an ISBN through CreateSpace and be listed as the publishing imprint. There is a fourth option where you use an ISBN you already purchased at Bowker or another venue.
Different authors have different needs when it comes to ISBNs. Should you go for the free one, buy one from CreateSpace or provide your own from elsewhere? The choice is yours as this decision divides many authors. Books can be successful even with the free, CreateSpace assigned ISBN. The free ISBN actually gives the most Expanded Distribution channels. The other options give almost as many Expanded Distribution channels, just a bit less for the library and academic institution outlets.
However, it is my belief that if you plan to aggressively market your book to bookstores, it will be better to buy your own ISBN whether through CreateSpace, Bowker or another retailer.
It’s really wise to look at some templates for formatting CreateSpace books before designing your book. Even if you don’t use a template, they will be super helpful in giving you ideas for what might work well with your layout.
Think about font types and sizes. The margins for the outside and inside (also known as the gutter), and the settings for the header and footer will be important decisions. You’ll even want to think about the line spacing, imagery and fleurons (little icons that add stylistic elements). All of these are variables that differ with authors and publishing companies. To a large degree, it’s up to you and you can do whatever you want although there are common sense guidelines we’ll discuss.
These decisions will affect the general spacing and reader ease of holding the book and seeing the words. Final page count and price will also be affected, so that might be something to influence a choice.
Both free and paid templates exist. A lot of great templates are 100% free. Even if you don’t use one, it’s a smart place to start when looking for ideas either as a direct copy or something to modify to your style.
Here you can find very basic CreateSpace free templates: https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/InteriorPDF.jsp. I also like the free ones here: http://www.diybookformats.com/, and they’re much more interesting. Plenty of other venues exist too.
There are paid templates from CreateSpace at this location: https://www.createspace.com/Services/SimpleInterior.jsp although at $199, this feels pretty expensive for what you get. Another paid location that’s a lot more affordable is here: http://www.bookdesigntemplates.com/ at around $57.
Some of the things you’ll want to consider include:
MS Word doesn't come with as many fonts preinstalled as many authors would like. Fortunately, there are many places where you can select from hundreds of free and paid fonts to customize your book to any look you want. If you do plan to use a new font that requires installing it, do that before the bulk of the formatting because different fonts have different sizes and will affect the formatting.
Most importantly, make sure you have the legal right to use a new font within your book. Some fonts come from copyrighted files. Check with the source to be sure you can use it. The sources listed in this section are fine for either their free or paid fonts. You also want to ensure that the fonts can be embedded into a pfd, which we'll go over in just a bit.
Here are some great locations for free and paid fonts:
http://www.fontsquirrel.com/ - a favorite source for both free and paid fonts.
http://www.myfonts.com/ - both free and paid.
http://www.dafont.com/ - both free and paid.
http://www.google.com/fonts/ all free, open source.
When you visit one of these places, I recommend trying some of the free fonts first. You can pay for one later when you're a pro at this. FontSquirrel has indicators whether or not a font can be embedded into an ebook or PDF, and it's really smart to choose one that can be embedded. That way you'll be less likely to have any issues when the font is converting later to a paperback at CreateSpace.
When you find a font you want, click the download button and follow the prompts to install it. It's amazingly simple and will now be in your MS Word program. Go ahead and select some text to the font you just installed to see if it works.
To check if the font will embed into a PDF, save the Word .doc or .docx as a PDF file. Then open the PDF and under the File tab click on properties. There is a font tab that should have the font listed along with the word “Embedded.” If you don't see that check a couple of things.
In MS Word, click the Word Options tab and check the Save options, then look to make sure the box is check that says Embed fonts in the file.
These are some of the things you'll want to consider before formatting.
Visiting the library or bookstore with a ruler is a great way to get a feel for margins and layouts. Download the attached MS Word document that shows examples of 6 different chapter designs that can each be used like a template. The chapters will give you ideas for your book, and it you may use parts of it like a template to build from.
It’s time to pick a tirm size. Consider Industry Standards that are 5 x 8, 5.25 x 8, 5.5 x 8.5 and 6 x 9 inches, but there are many other possibilities: https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/#content4. Industry Standard sizes have more distribution channels.
You’ll be making adjustments to top and bottom margins along with inside, outside and gutter margins. MS Word basically combines the inside and gutter margin to be one sum total, so it’s fine if you want to assign the value of zero to either the gutter or inside margin. It’s common to have inside margins that are a little larger than the outside. The larger the book, the larger the inside margin will need to be. Top and bottom margins are typically close in value, and they’ll fluctuate depending on whether they contain page numbers of other book elements.
Remember to select mirror margins so that odd and even pages mirror each other, which sets them up to be left and right pages of a book.
CreateSpace has recommendations and minimum settings: https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/InteriorPDF.jsp.
Paragraphs are usually fully justified, usually with first line indent or block method to identify a new paragraph. Block Method is a bit more common with non-fiction and first line indent a bit more common with fiction, but that’s not a rule you have to follow.
Both of these will affect the size of the book too, with block method adding more pages to the total count.
Line spacing is typically between 1 (single space) to 1.5 (space and a half). Single space is more old-school and probably as tight as you would want, while space and a half is probably as loose as you would want but becoming very common these days. You can also select the trailing space after the line to be an exact amount.
These decisions really affect page count. A good rule of thumb is from 125% to 150% of the font size for line spacing (e.g. font size 11 for text and exactly 15 pt trailing for after space.
Also make sure you have the Widow/Orphan control checked to eliminate single lines that either begin or end a page.
Here's a page count question you'll want to consider before formatting the document.
Most titles are on a right hand page, usually at page 1 or 3. They’re also centered. Often they’re made of text, sometimes with images. These are all choices that are up to you, as well as whether you use paragraph returns,margins or style settings to accomplishing the top margin spacing you desire.
Section breaks help to create new rules for certain sections, especially in the front matter where most pages have different formatting needs.
Section breaks are especially handy when introducing new elements like a different top margin or a new page with a header or footer where the previous one didn’t have that.
Section Breaks allow new rules to exist for a specific section or for that point in the document forward. They are extremely handy but can also cause headaches when getting used to them. That’s why some authors prefer to use them frequently, and some prefer to limit their use as much as possible.
With minimal formatting, sections breaks can be largely eliminated. This will make things easier and save some headaches for authors who prefer that, but it will also severely limit what you can do with things like headers and footers.
I recommend using section breaks, but for authors who want things as simple as possible it is fine to limit them. Probably the fewest section breaks that can exist in a typical book are two. That example would be for book that does have page numbers which don’t begin on the very first page, and that would be the only need for a section break. The rest could be accomplished with paragraphs returns or setting a style, which we’ll discuss soon.
The title and copyright pages are must have elements of front matter. It can be as simple as Copyright © Author Name. All rights reserved. ISBNs and any other legal numbers should go there as well but can be added later if you don’t have the ISBN now. Copyright pages typically follow the title page and are often in a smaller font than the normal text.
Usually there’s some additional stuff for both fiction and non-fiction books. You may use something like these:
This book is a work of fiction. People, places, events and situations are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or historical events, is purely coincidental.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author.
Here are some common elements of front matter that might be in your book and the order they might appear. Remember many of these are optional along with their ordering.
Author bio, Other Books By
Table of Contents
Lists (Figures, Tables, Maps, etc.)
Second Title (for long front matter)
Most books won’t have every possible element of front matter, but this lesson is an example of most of those elements. It’s really just to give you ideas for what might work for yours, as all of my own personal books don’t have nearly as many front matter elements as this example.
Also the fonts and styles have been played with for the same reason, to demonstrate some possibilities. However, your books will probably do better with more consistency in the event that you have many front matter elements.
Any page numbering in the front matter is entirely optional. That includes the foreword, acknowledgments, preface and anywhere before the first chapter begins. It makes the most sense to do this if you have a long section before the first chapter.
If you decide to number some of those pages, you may use regular numbers, Roman numerals or something else. You can also begin it as page 1 or the exact page number it actually is.
Through the Design tab in Word, click on the header or footer where you want the page numbers to begin, and that will need to be a new section too. Make sure to have the boxes checked for Different First Page and Different Odd and Even Pages while un-checking or un-highlighting the button that says Link to Previous. Use the Page Number tab along with Format Page Number and the placement for where you want it to go.
Here are some thoughts on the front matter.
Styles for chapter titles, or chapter headings, will save time, keep consistency and also reduce the need for as many section breaks. It will be a real bonus that I recommend doing.
Lowering the chapter titles on the page can be done without paragraph returns or the top margin. Instead it can be done through styles, and it’s pretty cool. Setting a new style or modifying an existing one allows you to do all kinds of things for font, font size, line spacing, borders and much more, and then you can set the style for one-click changes to the rest of the chapter headings. It’s extremely handy.
Some common ways of introducing first paragraphs include drop capped first letters, raised first letters, or any use of uppercase lettering, whether it’s for a few words or the entire line. Uppercase can also be used after a time sequence break within a chapter.
Note that with first paragraphs at the start of a chapter or after a time sequence, is commonly not indented even when the rest of the text does have first line indent. However, that's your choice as long as it reads well.
Now is a smart time to do a quick check of the document, a brief run-through for fast changes. The you can decide if you need to modify styles to adjust the length of the book. I recommend doing this quick check before setting page numbers.
If the page count isn’t to your liking, adjustments to trim size, margins and line spacing may be quick fixes. Otherwise you can consider changing the font and font size as well, but hopefully that won’t be the case.
Just so you know, setting page numbers can be extremely frustrating. Not to worry if you feel that way at some part of the process. Following the steps in the next few lessons will help dramatically, and you may want to watch these Page Numbering sections once entirely before getting involved with yours. Putting them in the footer is the easiest place to do it, but putting them in the header looks great and saves space if you’re trying to minimize pages and already plan on header information like an author name and book title.
Setting page numbers can be done in several ways even though it’s normally done at the first chapter or the following page. The first numbered page can be page one or it be the actual page number of the document. Another common option is to have the first page be page 2, which we’ll discuss soon.
For page numbering that goes in the footer, follows these steps to get the first chapter to have the page number shown as either page 1 or whatever actual page number the document is:
a) Make sure there’s a section break just before the first chapter, so it can have a unique rule beginning there.
b) Place your cursor in the footer under Chapter One and double click to activate the footer.
c) If Link to Previous is highlighted already, uncheck (un-highlight) that.
d) Have the boxes checked that say Different First Page and Different Odd and Even Pages.
e) In the Design Tab, choose Page Number and then Format Page Numbers. Select Start at 1 or Start at whatever exact page number you happen to be at if that’s what you want. This will not place the number on the page, but will let Word know what number you’ll want when you do the next step.
f) Select Page Number, Bottom of Page and either choose the center or the outside corner, which would be the right side for odd numbered pages (or left side for even numbered pages in case you start at page 2 with numbering).
g) With the Show/Hide feature activated, adjust the placement of the number with paragraph returns (before or after the number). You may also adjust the distance of the Footer from the page Bottom under the Design tab. Note that the Design tab only shows in some versions of Word when you’re working in the header or footer.
h) Click the cursor in the next page’s footer and uncheck the box that says Link to Previous if it is highlighted.
i) Select Page Number and choose Bottom of Page and either the center of opposite corner as before. Don’t worry if the menu shows a 1 before choosing it; it always shows that. The next page number should have been entered in the footer. If you chose a corner placement, remember that even numbered pages are on the reader’s left and the outside corner will be the left corner.
j) Adjust the placement using paragraph returns and the footer settings as in the step before or with the Footer placement in the Design tab (g).
k) Click the cursor in the next footer. Select Page Number and Bottom of page and either the center position or same corner as in the first page. Then fix the placement as before.
l) At this point, you entire document may be correctly paginated. If not, check to see if Link to Previous was still highlighted in those first 3 areas you worked on and uncheck (un-highlight) it. However, if page numbering stops at the start of Chapter 2 or another future chapter, check its footer to see if Link to Previous is unchecked or un-highlighted and change that to being highlighted since by that point you do want the page numbering to continue from the previous section.
Page Numbers in Footers part 2 (starting at page 2 or the exact page # but only showing the number after page 1)
Follow the instructions from the previous lesson to insert page numbers beginning with the first chapter or wherever you want the numbers to begin. It can start at page 1 or the actual page number of the document.
Once that is done properly, place the cursor in the first page footer and delete the number. It should not affect the other numbers in that section if you have unchecked the Link to Previous button and followed the steps from before. If you have lost a page number, like page 3 for example, insert it as you did before and make sure to uncheck (un-highlight) the Link to Previous button.
Do the same thing for following chapter title pages if you do not want a page number to show in those footers. Remember to check the Different First Page box and to uncheck the Link to Previous button. Delete the chapter title page number, and you may have to reinsert the page number on the following page (or second page after) from there.
Follow the exact same descriptions from part 1 and part 2 and replace the footer description with header. In this case, you probably do not want the page number to show on Chapter Title pages, by following part 2 of the previous tutorial. Delete all of the header page numbers and titling that are on those pages, directly above a new chapter title (unless that’s the way you like it). The method will be the same as part 2 of Page Numbers in Footers, but of course using headers instead of footers. It’s a small extra step but will look a lot better.
Page numbers in the headers can also save space and lower page count if you already planned on having your author name or book title in the header. Then you can make the bottom margin smaller since there is nothing in the footer.
Most customizations that can be done to normal text in the page body can also be done in the headers and footers. This includes adjusting the font type and size, coloring or shading, borders, even adding imagery. And of course you can add your author name, the book title or the chapter titles to each section. All of these choices are up to you. You can even save selections as styles to your page numbers in the top of the page.
It will be important to have consistency with your odd and even pages, so you may need to do similar things for each side. Though you also may want the odd and even pages to have different titles in the header, like your author name on one side and the book title on another. Or you could display the book title on one side and the chapter title on another. That needs to be changed at each new section or each new title.
If you haven't pulled your hair out in frustration with page numbers, answer a question or two.
Always use the insert feature to add images. Do not copy and paste. Also remember to disable Word’s feature that automatically reduces the image resolution upon saving.
Unfortunately MS Word is set by default to “compress images,” which reduces their resolution. When this happens an image may lose clarity and go from a resolution of 300 dpi (dots per inch) or 300 ppi (pixels per inch) to a lower number like 200 or even 72.
CreateSpace will point out when you upload if some of your images are less than 300 dpi (or ppi) when it happens, but knowing how to fix that ahead of time is best. You want to disable MS Word’s compress images feature.
For Word 2007, click on the image to and look for Picture Tools. Choose the Compress Pictures tab and click options. Then uncheck “Automatically perform basic compression on save” and click OK. Also uncheck “Apply to selected pictures only” so this is done for all pictures in your document, though if you’ve previously inserted them and saved the document you’ll need to delete those and do it again properly.
For Word 2010 or later, choose File then Options and Advanced then Image Size and Quality. Select “Do not compress images in file.” Again, if you have saved previous images before doing this, they’ll need to be deleted and reinserted properly once the compress feature has been disabled.
It's extremely common for indie authors to have extra spaces in their documents. It looks a bit unprofessional. Fortunately that's really easy to fix with the Find/Replace feature.
The Find/Replace feature is perfect for removing double spaces and spaces before or after paragraph returns. This should be done multiple times until MS Word reports there are no occurrences that need fixing.
Remember that paragraph returns are labeled as ^p in the Find/Replace menu. There are other characters that you can see labeled by clicking the More and Special tabs in Find/Replace.
Also go through the entire document to see how things look. Use the Show/Hide feature, but turn it off occasionally to help see things as the reader would. Making little changes now will help immensely before uploading to CreateSpace.
This is getting exciting! You’re really close to publishing, and it’s time to upload to CreateSpace where you’ll begin filling in the blanks. You can also upload your document to get a better idea of how it will look as a paperback. To do this step, you’ll need either a finished book cover or just a temporary working cover that you can change later.
Once you’ll filled in all the required information and uploaded your PDF file of your book, click the Submit for Review button. CreateSpace will check the request within 24 hours and get back to you by email.
Hopefully you’ll get an email from CreateSpace saying your book is ready to proof. If not, they should explain what the issue is, and you can fix that and upload again. Even if you do get the approval to check the proof of your book, CreateSpace may indicate a few issues you may want to address.
Now you’re checking the interior and it’s pretty much finished, but expect to make some minor corrections. For example, you may still need to add the ISBN to the Copyright page or double-check the page numbering in the Table of Contents. Go through each page, one by one and look for little things that could be better including the margins. Be thorough here, no need to rush. Afterwards, make changes to your original document and resubmit for review to begin the process anew.
Once you’re really happy with the look of everything through the online proof or by downloading the PDF version from CreateSpace, it’s really wise to order a physical copy of your book to inspect it even further. The cheapest mailing option usually arrives within one week to ten days for orders inside the United States.
Jason Matthews is the author of multiple titles, both fiction and nonfiction. His books have been translated into 8 languages and his self-publishing lessons have been viewed by students in 123 countries.
Jason works with writers around the world and teaches many courses on self-publishing topics (listed below).
He lives in San Luis Obispo, California. He's a skier, soccer player, beach lounger and loves a game of chess or scrabble. He can be contacted through his websites and social media links.