Tag Archive | Self-publishing

How to Format Paperbacks Without Createspace’s Interior Templates

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.

 

How-to-paperback-layout 3Begin 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.

 

How-to-paperback-layout 1

Finally with the page setup screen still open choose “margins” (also found at layout – margins – custom margins).

How-to-paperback-layout 2

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!

 

 

 

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Authors: this form is not rocket science

Keywords: marketing, self-publishing, blogging

It is three in the morning eastern standard time.  Really truly I thought I would be back in bed like a civilized lass by now.  But I am taking out a few minutes in the middle of the early morning because I am utterly baffled on something when it comes to my sister and fellow authors:  why can so few of you follow kindergarten level instructions?

If you follow this blog you know that on Thursdays I run a character profile column based on the Chris Matthews’ Show column called “tell me something I do not know.”  On his show, Chris Matthews gives political pundits about 15 seconds each to tell viewers something they do not know and should know about current events and politics.  I can be a bit of a political junkie at times; Meet The Press is my favourite program on NBC.  And yes, I confess I love the dedicated journalism of NBC London’s Keir Simmons; he is definitely a role model to look up to as a writer.

Taking a page from this journalism, these character profiles are designed to be SHORT.  Firstly, they are completely free to the authors featured — as opposed to book cover reveals which tend to be PAID ADVERTISEMENTS (and no, I do not find those effective from a marketing standpoint).

Secondly and perhaps most importantly, the purpose of these profiles are to get you CURIOUS.  When you as a reader are curious about something, you take the initiative to learn more about it, to explore it.  The discovery process is satisfying for us as humans; we like to sample and try things ourselves. When authors deny us this process by overselling, our instinct is to move on.

 

The First KingThe requested information on my form is therefore no accident.  It is in fact very straight forward.  I ask for the series name (if there is one), the character name, the book or books the character appears in, the Amazon or Smashwords link (permafree flash fiction like The First King tends to be on Smashwords, not Amazon because Amazon does not allow authors to offer free books there), and of course two or three sentences about the character.  This is not rocket science.  In fact, the instructions for the character profiles are many times simpler than those used by Amazon, Smashwords, and Apple to publish on their platforms.

I assume that someone able to self publish on the above is capable of filling out these fields.

Apparently though I am wrong.  This is discouraging because I genuinely want to profile more character from more secular children’s, middle grade, and young adult books on this blog (if you are an author of these, please email me at peersofbeinan at gmail dot com with your inquiry and proposal).  I love working together to bring great independent and small press books out there to readers like you.  But seriously:  this is a favour to you, a service.  I am not your mother, I am not your editor.  Do not treat me as one unless you want to pay me for the privilege.  Do not get cute or think that the rules here do not apply to you.  Because at this point instead of playing mommy dearest and treating you like a child, I am simply now rejecting submissions.

This form is not hard.  It is not rocket science.  If you can pass 2nd grade, let alone write for the 2nd grade, you can follow my instructions — or at least email me back for clarification on what I mean.

Time to grow up, folks!  Self publishing is not for the feint of heart.  If your aim is to fail at this industry, the best way I know is to disrespect bloggers and other writers doing you favours like this.

 

I for one am done playing mommy.

 

 

 

The Plague of Independent Publishers

The Plague of Independent Publishers.

 

I found this blog post about independent publishing and small presses to be especially insightful and helpful.  Please reblog and keep the chain of information going!

The Great Succession Crisis one year later

Cover art for The Great Succession Crisis, 1st edition paperback as published in September, 2012.  Thanks to constructive criticism from reviewers, this cover art changed for the revised edition.

Cover art for The Great Succession Crisis, 1st edition paperback as published in September, 2012. Thanks to constructive criticism from reviewers, this cover art changed for the revised edition.

Great Succession Crisis paperbackThis week I celebrate a big milestone as an author:  the first anniversary of the launch of my first book.

The week of my initial publication on SmashWords, I wrote a commemorative article for Yahoo Voices.  Here is what I wrote:  http://voices.yahoo.com/first-person-today-published-first-novel-11639434.html?cat=38

What I could not anticipate at the time is the way that “The Great Succession Crisis” would become my personal Montecello.  After the first reviews in 2012 showed me the almost inevitable flaws that come from self-publishing one’s first book, I found myself in a process of editing, revising, and yes, re-writing.  In January, 2013 I re-wrote about 25% of “The Great Succession Crisis,” creating the current “revised editions.”  But it went more than that.  Seeing that some readers did not pick up on the larger story, I added two more chapters, brought back data files I previously deleted after listening to other people regarding supplementary content, and finally added in non-fiction material — all of this becoming “The Great Succession Crisis Extended Edition” which, for me, is much more definitive.  GSC Ex is my “director’s cut” of that book.

Great Succession Crisis Extended paperback

Given my education is in film/stage writing, psychology (pre-counseling), and medieval history, it is pretty much inevitable that I look at stories from a more or less film and stage point of view with the sensibilities of someone who loves to write in script format.

This also means I’ve made some technical errors; novels are not the same as screenplays.  The direction to actors that script writers must insert into the text cannot be conveyed the same way in novels.  So yes, I admit to my share of errors as my brain works to convert internally to novel conventions.

All through this, my sensibilities as a low vision person persist.  I possess the almost inevitable sensitivity to the needs of different physical abilities when it comes to reading.  This is one reason why I do not use a sterile white background on my website, even though the default background from Intuit.com is actually white.  In the summer of 2013, I located new options for my website, allowing me to stand apart from generic book sites with the organic, soothing green leaf background that makes reading the content (all geared towards YOU, the reader) both easier and more pleasant.  Cool colors soothe and invite people to stay.  Our brains and our minds really love blues, greens, and purples, finding these cool colors restful.

With large print editions in hand, I hope to eventually record audio versions of Peers of Beinan books.  But first, I continue to work on a brand new innovation:  QR indexing for paperback and hypertext link indexing for digital copies.

These new innovations make reading The Great Succession Crisis and other Peers of Beinan series books easier and more interactive than ever.  Rather than me playing God, sending out my story to you from on high as if from an ivory tower, my books are a conversation with you. Together, we listen and learn from one another as you read, beginning with your decision on which format you want to read each book in.

Readers can choose between the revised and extended editions of The Great Succession Crisis in digital, paperback, QR Interactive paperback, or large print paperback.  That is EIGHT editions for the SAME NOVEL.

Ghosts of the Past paperback photoIn March, 2013 I was able to release book two, The Ghosts of the Past.  This too I offer in all four formats.

You matter to me.  I’m not some literary goddess — just a storyteller who loves to research and share my research with you in the form of great adventures.

It is my hope you will join me as I explore social issues, history, science, and so much more on planet Beinan.

To the adventure!

Five avoidable errors by Indie authors

Cover art for The Great Succession Crisis, 1st edition paperback as published in September, 2012.  Thanks to constructive criticism from reviewers, this cover art changed for the revised edition.

Cover art for The Great Succession Crisis, 1st edition paperback as published in September, 2012. Thanks to constructive criticism from reviewers, this cover art changed for the revised edition.

Great Succession Crisis paperbackIndependent authors have a mixed reputation.  With big publishing houses no longer serving as gatekeepers, deciding who to publish and what works will be published, the market trend is towards self-published, independent authors.

Publication by a big name doesn’t guarantee quality — as a recent conversation with a friend regarding the infamous “Fifty Shades of Grey” revealed, a book widely regarded in literary circles as filled with unprofessional writing and countless technical errors — not to mention shallow characters and the glorification of what many people consider abusive behavior towards women.

Even so, ask most people if they expect great literature from a big name publisher or an independent author, the perception remains to side with big name publishers.

After interviewing authors for consideration for this blog, certain errors do seem to come up over and over again.  Let’s look at them and how you can avoid them in your own writing:

1.  Grammar/punctuation errors

There is a reason why the advice sites tell authors to hire an editor — or at least have a friend go through manuscripts with a fresh set of eyes before publication.  Editing yourself is HARD.  People miss errors in their own work that others will catch.  Looking at the 1st edition of “The Great Succession Crisis,” my own struggles with this are pretty clear.  That edition was far from perfect.

Fortunately, some very kind souls gave me constructive feedback reviews which I listened to.  The result: in January 2013 I released the revised edition.

Let me be clear:  errors are normal.  The difference between a professional and an amateur (in my humble opinion) in this print-on-demand publishing world is what the author does about errors once located.  Do you let miss-spellings, grammar errors, and/or punctuation issues persist, or do you edit and resubmit once you find mistakes?  

Professionals want their work to be as absolutely error-free as possible and make the edits.

2.  Poor cover art

Not everyone is a graphic artist or has great visual instincts.  But most readers can spot stock book covers (such as those created in cover creator programs) a mile away.

Your book cover is the very first thing a reader uses to determine if your book is worth reading. It’s your critical first impression.  If it looks like you just slabbed some text over a generic image, odds are really good potential readers will not take a second look.

3. Over/under pricing

Pricing is hard; it’s taken me a fair amount of trial and error to figure out how to price my books.  But as a rule, the extremes look bad.  That is to say, if you offer your digital book for free or 99 cents (special, limited promotions not withstanding), people are going to often times assume it’s not worth paying for at all.  Unless your “book” is a very short work, DON’T DO IT!

Likewise, don’t price your book outrageously.  A digital book of less than 600 pages selling for more than $20 (I’m going extreme here) comes off as arrogant and not worth buying.  In fact, the poorest reviews I’ve ever seen on a digital book were for books priced well above and beyond normal expectations.

4. Poor book descriptions

Your book description is the second piece of information potential readers see when looking at your work.  Book descriptions ARE HARD as I’ve discovered from personal experience, especially if your book falls into more than one genre at the same time or involves a particularly complex story.  At the same time, your description needs to be clean and professional.  This is not the time to show off your fluency with colorful colloquial language.  When people see grammar errors, spelling errors, and colloquial language in a book description, the inevitable conclusion is the rest of the book is of the same character.

5. Publishing before your work is ready.

Is your story compelling and interesting TO OTHER PEOPLE?  Have you researched your setting and other details thoroughly? Do your characters make sense?  Are your details accurate and believable.

Writing is not about you; it’s about your readers.  Publish quality work others want to read.

Remember:  you are your brand.

CreateSpace maximum page counts

Ghosts of the Past paperback photo Great Succession Crisis Extended paperback Great Succession Crisis paperback

Self publication can be confusing, especially when it comes to the technical requirements for releasing a paperback or large print paperback book.  Most of the time, even locating your printer’s technical data can feel like a game of hide and seek or, worse, trying to find a needle in a haystack.  Page count limits seems to one of the most elusive pieces of information to locate.  So, after a call to CreateSpace customer service, I was happy they sent me this valuable link:

https://www.createspace.com/Special/Pop/book_trimsizes-pagecount.html

Have a resource to share?  Please post here in the comments section of this post!

–Laurel A. Rockefeller

The Peers of Beinan series

http://www.peersofbeinan.com

http://www.amazon.com/Laurel-A.-Rockefeller/e/B008YVJJFE/