Writers- Check out Amazon's Create Space for self-publishing
I decided to move my books to Amazon after being rather dissatisfied with lousy print jobs on other publishers. These docs were PDFs, and I was horrified to hear that there were problems with margins, paper quality and font size (6 point font? Since when?) from a reader. A lot of my books have footnotes, so they weren’t too crash hot either. Obviously, I needed a better format. This travesty of print was a personal insult to my work.
So, with some misgivings after various lousy and disappointing experiences over many years, but absolutely furious, I decided to try Create Space. At least, I thought, the distribution will be OK. People actually make decent money self-publishing on Create Space. I was being a bit superficial. As it turned out, I was in for a valuable education in how to do things properly.
The books I was uploading were my older books from the Threat-Hamster series. These are big books, they’re complex. They need to be clearly laid out, but I wasn’t thinking about that at the time.
Create Space has a guided setup for its books. It’s very simple, but you need to get familiar with it. I wasn’t, obviously, but it’s not exactly the first time I’ve uploaded my books, either, so I was sure there’d be no problems.
Getting the books set up was the first thing to do, obviously, so I got my first file, The Threat-Hamster Papers, chose the standard 6” x9” format and uploaded. This was where my education started. The Threat-Hamster Papers is 414 pages with 139,942 words. Like most writers, I tend to trust Word layout without thinking about it. I assumed that everything will upload as per the text. (Create Space does support different doc formats, if you’re more comfortable with something else.)
I could have guessed what happened next. Create Space needed to reformat my A4 doc to the new size. Create Space sent be a reformatted doc as the basic file. That, obviously, changes the layout considerably. Margins and pages move around, and like most people, I didn’t put page breaks on the end of chapters. The headings of other chapters, naturally, appeared right on the same page. That meant the format of the file was scrambled.
I wound up reformatting the doc 4 times before getting it right. I missed some format issues while checking the original doc and Create Space’s Digital Proofer found them for me. Cursing myself, I redid the doc each time and eventually got it right. I also didn’t download the PDF proof, which I probably should have done. Certainly would have saved at least one or two revisions to this monster file.
Note- I don’t want to go into too much detail about the rest of the setup process. It’s better to do it yourself than to get second hand information which may leave out bits of the process or mislead people about what’s involved.
The next stage in setup is pricing, liner notes, cover design, and all the basics of publishing. Very simple, very easy to do. Pay attention to the details, get the steps right and you’ll breeze through it.
The next stage after uploading and setup is a review process. If the book is OK to publish, you get a notification that it’s now available online, or you’ll get information about any issues. Very straightforward, runs on rails, and an easy process to manage, however busy you may be.
You can then publish on Kindle. Create Space provides you with a Kindle-ready version of your book, and the process of setting up Kindle books is very similar. (Note: Your Kindle account isn't part of Create Space. You'll need to set up a Kindle Direct Publishing account.)
Create Space for self-publishers- Top value option for independent writers
Create Space is particularly valuable to writers, apart from any commercial rewards. You will get:
1. A good look at the realities of publishing requirements for your work. This isn’t a pedantic process, it’s a practical exercise, and you’ll find you understand the issues a lot better, even if you have prior print publishing experience. (I did create a few print copies myself, and it was a truly lousy stroll through a process I have no desire ever to repeat.)
2. A good PDF version of your file, quite invaluable as an easily accessible doc when you need one. This is basic stuff, portability of your published work. (Another thing I should have thought of with The Threat-Hamster Papers.)
3. A good chance to look at and think about the published forms of your work. This is a very different experience. Every writer knows what it’s like to go rummaging around in their own text, but this is an overview, and it’s a very different perspective.
4. Create Space is quite flexible, and you can upload practically anything printable and make it work. Just be sure to pay attention to the reactions from the Create Space software.
5. Create Space will also do some useful quality controls for things like pictures and similar print-related issues. If you’ve ever seen a lousy resolution picture in a book, you’ll know how useful that is.
6. You can do your own previews of the books. I chose a chapter from The Threat-Hamster Papers called The Café of Meaningful Looks. Had some fun, too. You can ask previewers a question with this preview setup. I asked them, “Do you feel better now you’ve read this preview? If so, better than what?”
7. Very important- Create Space support is very fast and very effective. I had some issues with a file under review, and they were extremely helpful, sorted out the problems, and got things moving ASAP for me. Very much appreciated.
Create Space is very strongly recommended for all independent writers. This is a good option for both quality and commercial exposure.
Critically important- You will be putting out a top quality product, not some shoddy piece of crap that insults both your readers and yourself. That alone justifies using Create Space. It’s the professional best practice option.