How to Design the Interior of your CreateSpace Book

Book layout and design used to involve a lot of cut and paste. Now it is all done electronically. There are still professionals who make their living designing the layout of a book's interior. But if you are like me, you would never pay a professional to do something that you could do yourself. The whole point of print on demand is to get your book out to the public with a minimal investment. That way, if even one book sells, you have already made a profit!

Others will tell you that investing in a professional designer for your book cover and a professional typesetter for your interiors will be well worth it in the long run. That may very well be true in the case of a book that has a large potential built-in audience and that just needs that extra push. But I am not assuming any such thing about my book. I'm assuming quite the opposite: that it's essentially unmarketable, and that no one else would gamble any money on it, because they know that the odds of re-couping their investment are very slim.

If I know this about my book, then why bother to publish? First of all, because this is a learning experience, and I need to practice on something that doesn't matter that much. And secondly, because I like this book, and I want a nice hardcopy of the text I have in memory, without buying a new printer. Third, somewhere out there there may be someone who likes this book, too!

If you look at it this way, whatever happens, you are not going to be disappointed.

My Cover: 8.5 by 5.5
My Cover: 8.5 by 5.5

Why OpenOffice?

I am editing the interior of my book using OpenOffice, which is free piece of software that allows you to create documents compatible with the MS .doc standard, as well as exporting to pdf.

Microsoft Word documents were not always my standard of choice. I used to use Brief with some additions that my father wrote to it to edit all my texts. But then I had a manuscript accepted for publication in a linguistics journal, and I had to learn how to use Word, because they would accept the manuscript in no other form. However, MS Word changes all the time, and a Word document from 1997 is not compatible with anything available today, when foreign and specialized fonts are involved. The whole business of having a commercial product become an academic and government standard is very distasteful, and it can lead to all sorts of problems.

I have bought and paid for Microsoft Office half a dozen times over. But every time I get a new laptop, they seem to want me to pay for it all over again, and I'm getting tired of it. Thankfully, OpenOffice is free, and it seems to be able to do about the same thing.

Q: Should we arrange pages consecutively in Landscape sheets? A: NO!

This is how adjoining two page sheets look in "page preview" in Open Office -- but is that right? Answer: No. It's not right.
This is how adjoining two page sheets look in "page preview" in Open Office -- but is that right? Answer: No. It's not right.

Your Trim Size and How to Arrange Pages on a Sheet

My book's trim size is 8.5x5.5 inches. But what I need to know before I can figure out how to prepare the interior is this: How big is each page, and which pages appear on which sheet of paper? At least, that's what we used to have to know before we could arrange a book for publication at Inverted-A. Usually, the sheets were arranged so that pages that weren't even adjoining by page number appeared on the same sheet. Am I responsible for doing this kind of thing with CreateSpace, too?

When I prepared the CreateSpace cover, it consisted of a single one-sided sheet, but the sheet was going to be folded. The front cover was on the right hand half of the sheet. The back cover was on the left hand side. That was fairly simple.

But how do the 24 interior pages of my book get divided, and how many sheets of paper will this involve? Which page will appear on which half of which side of which sheet? Do I need to figure this out for myself or can the word processing program I use figure it out for me?

CreateSpace wants us to submit print ready copy in pdf format. They assure us that what we upload is what they will print. But how do we upload the instructions to the printer about which sheet is on the back of which other sheet? After all, this is two sided printing.

The CreateSpace Community as Valuable Resource

When we don't know something, it is a good idea to ask someone else who does. On Hubpages, the place to go is the Forums. At CreateSpace, there is the CS community and its discussions. Here is the question I posted there yesterday.

As you can see if you follow the discussion, I got a lot of very helpful answers. To summarize: I am not responsible for sheet layout, only page layout. The pages should each conform to my trim size plus bleed. I should look at my pages as single pages in portrait, and I should submit a pdf copy consisting of a single file. 

I submitted my interior this morning. Since my manuscript ended up filling only twenty-three pages, I used the twenty-fourth page to write about myself and supply a webpage where readers can learn more about my books.


The last page of my interior

My "about the author" page -- page 24
My "about the author" page -- page 24

Save Trees and Print Only What There is A Demand For

The old way of doing business in the publishing industry involved a lot of waste. If publishers did not think there would be a great demand for a book, they rejected it. If they were willing to gamble on a book, they printed more copies than they needed, and most of those were destroyed when it turned out that it wasn't a big seller after all.

Now we can print only the number of copies that people order. A book can be  published that has only a few potential readers. Each author can hold out for his perfect reader, and each reader can search for the perfect author. We don't have to please everybody. We need only please ourselves.

It's a change for the better! And even though I don't expect this book to be a best seller, I am feeling optimistic. There's a reader for every book, and if we wait long enough, the right reader will appear.


Copyright 2010 Aya Katz

POD is a way to reduce your risks and save trees

Comments 4 comments

Stacie L profile image

Stacie L 6 years ago

I use openoffice and think it is great.

Good information here!


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Thanks, Stacie. So far, OpenOffice has served me well throughout the editing process. I'm very happy with it.


celticmelody 5 years ago

While I don't think that a professional typesetter is necessary, I DO think it is a good idea to look at other books to see how they are designed inside. This is especially important if you have a nonfiction book such as a business or computer related title. Also, for Kindle books, its a good idea to read through some of the review comments regarding Kindle formatting and, if possible, to read a few books on a Kindle so you can see how differently an ebook LOOKS on an ereader. Charts don't show up well, for example. And, a sanserif font is better for ereaders versus a serif font for a printed book. Using Gimp or pagemaker, for example, makes my brain hurt! LOL

I like the idea of simplifying the formatting process.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

CelticMelody, you're absolutely right. It does help to look at other book covers and try to understand what was done to make them look that way. "In Case There's a Fox" was my first CreateSpace book. And Gimp is not the easiest thing to use. For later books I used other methods. For instance, "Ping & the Snirkelly People", my first CreateSpace book with a spine, had its cover designed on AdobeInDesign. I had a hub about that but it was unpublished because of a pixelated image after the Google algorithm change made Hubpages frantic. You can find my article about designing a CreateSpace book with a spine on Xobba now.

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