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How to Format Your Novel for Createspace Self-Publishing

Updated on May 30, 2016

The Thousand Year Promise - The Eye of Phoenix (promotional video)

About the Novel

The Thousand Year Promise is a fantasy adventure trilogy.
In the first book - The Eye of Phoenix, a disastrous hunting excursion turns Arden Dearborn’s life upside down. Accused of killing his father, the Lord of Londenberg, Arden is forced to flee into the wilderness, while his older brother Devlan takes over the city. A voice guides him to a mysterious castle, where he encounters a beautiful young woman, Sarah. Arden learns that Devlan is plotting another assassination to overthrow their father. With the help of a mystical device, Arden returns home, in time to shield Lord Dearborn from certain doom. An evil enchantress wounds Sarah with a fatal spell. On the brink of death, Sarah is brought back to her homeland – ShangeLilar. Only the Eye of Phoenix can save her life, the crown jewel of her motherland. To seek the woman he loves, Arden ventures into the treacherous wilderness and embarks on a journey of no return.

Author's Website:

The Thousand Year Promise (Book Cover)

The Launching of My New Novel

In this day and age, self-publishing a book is no longer a fairy-tale. With the technology today, we can create, print and promote a book just by sitting in front of a computer, without leaving the comfort of our home. A few years ago, I wouldn’t even dream of self-publishing my novel, and now, it’s a reality that I’m growing fond of. I gain so much freedom and control over the entire process, and the most importantly, the knowledge to turn an idea into a physical product. From interior formatting to book cover design, and finally, have the actual novel in my hands, every step is a challenge, and yet, I’m not at all daunted by the tasks. Quite contrary, the whole experience fascinates me. I hunger for more.

In Mid-January 2016, I published my debut novel, an epic fantasy adventure The Thousand Year Promise - Book I - The Eye of Phoenix. It’s a love story that transcends time and space, a fairy-tale for both young and old.

The Eye of Phoenix

From Idea to Production

It takes me 10 years to construct the tale and a week to put it thru Amazon – CreateSpace. If you ask of me how I contrast the two ordeals, yes, for the thousand times, I prefer the part of writing a story much more than producing a book, but the work needs to be done in order for the public to enjoy the fruit of my labor. That’s really the purpose here, isn’t it? - To generate something tangible for the audience to view and share. Here I am again, skipping the fun part of discussing the exciting storyline and interesting characters. This Hub focuses mainly on how to format a novel for CreateSpace submission. I write it down so that the next time I publish a novel, I won’t forget the important details.

How to Self Publish a Book to Amazon CreateSpace

Free Self-Publishing Site:

Authors can find several free and easy to use tools on to help them self-publish a book.

  • Interior Reviewer: scans your manuscript for any possible printing errors.
  • Cover Creator: allows an author to either upload a self-designed book cover, or create one by using one of the free images the site provides.
  • Preview: gives the author a feel of what the final product may look like, and the opportunity to double-check the work and finally, approve the novel for production.

All sounds simple and straight forward. However, one might run into some unforeseen problems during the process. Formatting errors often take lots of time to fix, and for me personally, I got stuck on the Cover Creator for 2 days due to system errors. It can be frustrating at times, but when it’s all over, I feel like the hero in my tale - with determination and undaunted spirit, I can conquer just about anything.

Fantasy Adventure Novel: The Eye of Phoenix (promotional video)

Is Your Novel Ready?

Before start submitting the manuscript thru CreateSpace, first ask yourself – “Are you ready? Is your novel good enough for publication? Did anyone proofread your work?”

Hiring a professional can be expensive. Depending on the length of your story, and how much editing work needs to be done on your manuscript. For a 70,000-words novel, it could cost you roughly $1100 to $3300 dollars (the numbers are based on the editing services that CreateSpace offers). If you are on a tight budget, a well-educated friend could be an easy way out. The problem is - most of us have a busy family life. Will he/she has the time for you? And when an acquaintance is kind enough to do you a favor, you can’t rush the nice fellow or be picky about their work, so many dilemmas.

I recently discover It’s a website where people offer their skills for as little as 5 dollars. You may find quite few proofreaders there eager to help you out. Some propose 1000 words for the cost, some 2500 words, and the best deal so far is 5000 words for only 5 dollars. Of course, Caveat Emptor – Let the buyer beware. You, the customer, has to decide whose services best suit your desire. If you are not sure, ask questions prior to selecting a seller, or check out the reviews, see what other buyers think of their services. It’s your hard earned money. You have the responsibility to make every dollar count.

How to Format a Book for Paperback with CreateSpace

Formatting Your Novel (Using Office 2010)

Now, if you feel confident enough about your manuscript, let’s move on to Formatting.

Book Size: our regular word document size is 8-1/2 x 11. For a book, it’s way too big. A standard book size (recommended by CreateSpace) is 6 x 9, to change that simply go to “Page Layout” tab, select “Size”, choose “More Paper Sizes”, at Width field enter “6”, Height field enter “9”, Apply to “Whole Document”, and then click “ok”.

Margins: Top/Bottom/Outside Margins should be kept the same. 0.5” is the least one should have. Inside Margin can be kept at 0. Gutter Margin is the area in the spine/binding region of an open book. Both right and left side pages should have a mirroring margin. Therefore, next to “Multiple Pages”, select “Mirror Margins”. Gutter Margin can only be larger, but not smaller than the requirements: for 150 pages book, the Gutter should be at least 0.375”, 150-300 pages book, the minimum Gutter is 0.5”, 301-500 pages book, the minimum Gutter is 0.625”, 501-700 pages book, the minimum Gutter is 0.75”, 701-828 pages, the minimum Gutter should be kept at 0.875”.

Cover Page: is where you put the Title of Your Novel & Author’s Name. It’s usually the first page of your novel. To add a Cover Page: go to “Inset” tab, under “Cover Page” select the one design you like, and personalize it to fit your desire.

Cover Page for The Thousand Year Promise

Page Number: For me, I’d like to put it at the Footer area in the center. Just Double click the Footer Area at the bottom of the page. Then go to Page Number field on the tool bar, select the page number position you like. For how to number a page starting at a specific page, please check out the video below.

Page Numbers Starting at a Specific Page in Word 2010

Headers: For my novel, I’d like each Chapter Title on the Even Pages of my header, and Chapter # on the Odd Pages of my header. To do that, I first highlight each Chapter Title in the body of my manuscript. At the Styles section on the tool bar, select “Heading 2” (or other Heading you prefer). Then I highlight each Chapter #, and make the Styles “Heading 1”. Next, I go to the top of an Odd Page, double click the Header Area (a shortcut to get to the Header). Under the “Design” tab, check “Different Odd & Even Pages” box, then go to Quick Parts, select “Field”. A list of Field Names will appear. Select “StyleRef”, under the “Style Name” choose Heading 1, and then click “ok”. This way, all the Chapter # will appear on the Odd Pages. Then, go to the top of an Even Page, double click the Header Area again, repeat the step above, only on the “Style Name” choose Heading 2. This way, all the Chapter Titles will appear on the Even Pages.


Create “Table of Contents” automatically: go to “References” tab, select “Table of Contents”, under the options, click on “Insert Table of Contents”, select Heading 2 so that all the Chapter Titles will be chosen, and make changes according to your desire (such as adding page# to the end of the line etc.) and then click “OK”.

Word 2010-Table of Contents

Make PDF version of your manuscript

Finally, it is for the best that one makes a PDF file of the word document. It will ensure that all the formatting (special characters in your manuscript) will be saved properly. To do that, simply go to File, select Save As, at “Save as Type” field choose PDF, and then “OK”.

Fantasy Adventure Novel: The Thousand Year Promise Part I The Eye of Phoenix


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    • Dreamlin profile image

      Dreamlin 2 years ago from New Jersey, USA

      Thank you Heidi for your comment. It's my first time self-publishing a novel. I spent a week on formatting my book, and I learn a lot from this experience.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      I, too, have found Createspace to be an amazing tool and platform for my books! Thanks for sharing your experience and tips. Sharing here on HP!