Formatting is one of those things every independent author must learn to do. For most independent authors this means learning the quirks of publishing with kindle direct publishing, Smashwords, and Createspace.
In the last five years since the initial publication of the first edition of “The Great Succession Crisis” I have published dozens of paperback editions, including an experiment with QR coded paperbacks connected to an elaborate website built around the Complete Data Files.
Across the years I would typically create paperbacks by first creating the kindle edition, then copying/pasting the contents into a pre-formatted template file generated by createspace for my chosen trim size (usually 5.06″ x 7.81″ or 6″ x 9″). No doubt many of you do the same.
But what do you do when that template no longer works and scrambles your book content when you paste it in?
When this happened to me in February 2017 while publishing “Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd: A Play in Five Acts” I went nuclear–as in the nuclear method of formatting where you copy your book into a plain text editor and then back again into MS Word.
On a regular book that uses the same basic format across every paragraph, the nuclear method is more or less a minor annoyance. However on books like stage plays where formatting is rigid and complex, the nuclear method means weeks of tedious work restoring the formatting on a line by line basis. I did this once; I will never do it again.
So what is the alternative? Simple: change the page layout in your original kindle file to match your chosen trim size.
When making this change you want to go into Layout tab of Word. You will be changing two parts of the layout: page size and margins.
Begin by deciding on your trim size. The above graphic from the Createspace website shows your options and the page constraints of each trim size.
Next go into the Layout tab in Word and set the paper size. This needs to match your trim size exactly.
Finally with the page setup screen still open choose “margins” (also found at layout – margins – custom margins).
First set “pages” to “mirror margins” generate the correct margin options of top, bottom, inside, and outside. Set your top and bottom margins to 0.75″, your inside margin to 0.75″, your outside margin to 0.5″, and your gutter to 0.13″ and apply to the entire document.
These margins are the same regardless what trim size you choose which is why setting your paper size first is so important to formatting your paperback.
Once both of these are set your document will change from its default 8.5″ x 11″ with 1″ margins that you are using on your digital book interior to the correct settings for your paperback — no separate template required and no scrambling of your book file. Create your front matter table of contents, copyright, and ISBN front matter as usual, add in whatever headers and footers you prefer, insert page breaks as needed, and viola! You are ready to save your book to pdf and upload for publication.
This method works equally well for both Createspace and Babelcube and should work with other paperback publishing platforms as well.
Formatting your book can seem daunting. But with a little creativity and patience anyone can format a professional-grade paperback book. It’s all in the layout!