Tag Archives: Createspace

Starting out as an indie author: Creating a wraparound cover for your print book

Last week, I provided some tips on how to format the interior of your book for print on demand. This week I will finish the POD publishing lesson by showing you a little on how to make the wraparound cover that you need for a print book.

The first thing you will need is a template in the size you want with the spine the correct width for the length of your book. You can either create this yourself using the instructions on your publishing site (here for CreateSpace), or download the template built by CreateSpace when you enter the details for your book, which you can do here:


Createspace now also has a Cover Creator that you can use as well, but of course it’s more limited than creating your own, and it assumes that you do not yet have an ebook cover already designed. I have not used it, so I can’t say much about it. I only glanced through the designs available and didn’t see any for pre-designed front covers.

The formatted interior of Chameleon in a Mirror came out to 383 pages, and I want to use cream paper rather than white, which to me looks more professional. This is what the template looks like that CS built for the book:
CreateSpace Cover template

Once I have the template, I open it in Photoshop and change the resolution to 300 dpi. I make a copy of the layer, and change one of the two to the background.

Then I drag my ebook cover image into Photoshop, create a layer from it, and drag that onto my paperback cover template, like so:

I make another copy of the layer based on the template. Using the eyedrop tool, I take a color on the edge of my ebook cover and fill this new layer with the chosen color. This is to make sure that I will not end up with any white edges when the paperback book is created — besides having a color on the spine and back that fits with the color scheme of the front cover image. My PSD file now looks like this:

Next I create the text layers for the spine, the title and the author name. Choosing the text layers one at a time, I rotate them and move them to where I want them on the spine. (In my ancient version of Photoshop, this is in the Edit menu under Transform / Rotate 90°.) Of course, if you don’t use different fonts for the author name and title, this would be only a one step process. Here is how my cover looks after this step:

Here you see that after creating the base color layer, I made the template visible again to assist me in placing elements on my cover.

If you have a logo for your book imprint, you could also put that on the bottom of the spine.

The back cover usually has a description of the book, and sometimes an excerpt, some quotes from reviews, or a short bio of the author. You also need to create the necessary white space for the bar code. So going to my solid brown layer, I use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to mark a square the same size as the bar code box. In the edit menu, I choose fill, and fill the box with white.

For the rest of the back cover, I decided on a short version of the book description and a repetition of the mirror motif from the front cover. In order to make the text stand out more, I set the opacity of the mirror image at 30%.

Anyway, here is what the cover looks like now:

Chameleon in a Mirror cover

It also would have been possible to have a simple description above on the back cover, and a bio with a pic of me below, with no further design elements. That is the layout of the cover template that Joel Friedlander sells on his site for $57 — and here I’ve pretty much told you how to do the same thing for free. 🙂 As you can see, if you already have a front cover — as well as some knowledge of a good graphics program like Photoshop or Gimp — it’s not all that hard to create your own wraparound cover for print publication.

And as an added benefit for me, I have finally put together the files for the POD version of Chameleon in a Mirror. According to Create Space, the print version should be available on Amazon in the next 3-5 days. 🙂

If you found this blog post helpful, perhaps you would be interested in the book, Starting Out as an Indie Author! You can learn more here.

Starting out as an indie author: Formatting the interior of your book for print / CreateSpace

Formatting your self-published book for print on demand (POD) is very different than for ebook publication, another level of difficulty entirely. But as with most things, the first book is the hardest, and after that it gets progressively easier. In this installment of my series, I will be referring exclusively to CreateSpace because that is the only POD publisher I have experience with. I suspect most of the these instructions will be similar for other POD publishers, however.

Preparing you book for POD consists of two main steps: formatting the book’s interior, and making the wrap-around cover. This week, I will only go into interior formatting. Next week (hopefully) I will explain what is involved in creating a wrap-around cover for your physical book using the ebook cover you already have.

Formatting the book’s interior

For hard copy publication, Createspace requires a correctly formatted PDF file. There are different ways to get from manuscript to PDF. People with that skill set swear by InDesign, but I am not one of them. In the following, I will be telling you how to format using Word. If you want to use InDesign, Hugh Howey has a video tutorial here.

First, a confession: I have not done all of these steps myself from start to finish, although I do understand the process. But since I wanted the interiors of my hard copy books to look as professional as possible, I splurged and bought a template from Joel Friedlander, which you can see here.

I think it was an excellent investment. Friedlander is a professional book designer, and his templates are gorgeous. But what I have done is mess with the template I bought a bit, so that I can vary it depending on the type of project at hand (no worries, I did buy an unlimited license, so I’m legal.) But in my opinion, the template saved me a lot of time and also gives my books the professional look I want:

Interior of Yseult

And in messing with the template I bought, I have come to understand more about the principles of book formatting, which I will share with you here.

CreateSpace also offers templates for formatting the interior of your book, but they are very bare bones. Still, if you want to go that route, they will save you from many of the steps below. On the other hand, they suggest cutting and pasting your book into the appropriate template chapter by chapter, which is a lot of work. In my experience, it is much easier to work with styles.

For this article, I will walk you through the formatting process for my novel Chameleon in a Mirror — which I have been meaning to format for CreateSpace for some time now and am only getting around to now. 🙂 For the sake of simplicity, however, some screenshots will be from other works of mine for which the print version is already complete.

Steps to formatting the print version of your book

1) Page size and margins

Without a template, the first thing you will have to do for the print version of your manuscript is change the page formatting.

As you can see here, I used 5 1/4 x 8 for Island of Glass, a YA novella. For my monster epic novels, Yseult and Shadow of Stone, however, I chose 6 x 9 — otherwise the page count would have been far beyond anything affordable for a POD book. The thing is, CreateSpace requires that you charge a minimum amount for any book you publish, depending on the number of pages, type of paper, and whether or not the interior is in color or black and white.

Next, the margins for the book must be defined. On the CreateSpace site, you can find margin recommendations based on the length of the book — the longer the book, the wider the inside margins must be. Here the settings I used for Island of Glass:

(BTW, I apologize for my ancient version of Word, but it is not my word processor of choice, and I only use it for tasks like this where I don’t have a choice. As a result, it isn’t worth it for me to buy the most recent version.)

Important for the margins is to chose “Mirror margins” which means that even and odd pages will be different.

CreateSpace requires the following minimum margins:

In my experience, however, these are not enough and will lead to your book being rejected, after which you will have to go back, reformat, and submit the new PDF file again. If you are particularly unlucky, the new page count will also require that you redo the wraparound cover to conform with the new spine width.

If you look again at the image above for the margins of Island of Glass, the inside margin is 0.76″ — even though the book is only a little over 150 pages long. But this seems to be the magic number for inside margins for books between 150 and 500 pages. For Shadow of Stone, for example, which I “formatted down” (font size, margins, etc.) to 510 pages so that the print version would be affordable, I still had to use an inside margin of 1.06″. Which unfortunately means that you cannot take the CreateSpace “minimums” at face value and may be forced to reformat the interior of your book if it is rejected.

2) Headers and page numbering

Most books these days have running headers with the title of the book on one page and the author name on the facing page. I do the same thing for my books. The page numbers I put at the bottom on the page, so I won’t have to mess with suppressing them and that kind of thing. Here is what this looks like in Word for Chameleon in a Mirror:

If you want to have different headers on even and odd pages, it is important to check that option in the headers section. I also choose “different first page” so that my headers will not show up at the beginnings of chapters.

3) Creating styles and formatting text

The great thing about defining styles is that once I have done so, all I have to do is go through the text and apply them to the different sections of my book. I have styles for body text normal, body no indent, chapter numbers, quotes, scene break, and several more that I don’t use as often. In the screen shot below, for example, there are three styles: chapter number, quote, and body (no indent). Instead of reformatting each time, all I have to do is place the cursor at the beginning of the paragraph and choose the style I need.

If you haven’t worked with syles before, it’s not that difficult. In my ancient version of Word, I access it through the “Format” menu. Here you can see the description of my “no indent” style, which I use for the first paragraphs of my chapters:

You can see from the description that it is based on the body indent style, but with the first line 0″. Modifying a style is as easy as formatting a paragraph — you simply change what you want and then save it with an appropriate name so you’ll know where to look for it when you need it.

Once you have formatted the pages and created your styles, you can create a template from the file of your book by renaming it something like “POD template.doc” and deleting most of the text (but not before you’ve saved a copy of your completed book!). Then, the next time you need to format a book for CreateSpace, all you have to do is open the template, copy in the text, and go through the book applying the appropriate styles.

4) Making black and white images for your book

If you have a map or any other images in your book, I highly recommend making black and white copies for the print version. Defining the interior of your book as color rather than black and white makes for a much more expensive book and might just keep potential readers from purchasing. And a map that is in black and white rather than color looks fine in a paperback book:

5) Save you file as PDF and upload!

There are a number of Word to PDF converters out there to choose from. I use DoPDF. Whatever you use, it is important that it embeds the fonts during the conversion.

And that’s it! Well, yes, for me, all of this still takes several hours per book. I have made print copies for 6 of my books so far, so the practice is still lacking a bit. But with Yseult, it took me a couple of days, so I’m definitely improving!

Here are some other resources for formatting text for print. Several of these folks go about formatting differently than I do, so if your brain is wired differently than mine, they might be of more help than I am *g*:




If you found this blog post helpful, perhaps you would be interested in the book, Starting Out as an Indie Author! You can learn more here.

Shadow of Stone now available in paperback

I got the paperback version of Shadow of Stone the other day, and did a hard copy check of the formatting. All looks good, so now I can announce it here! Here’s a photo:

Shadow of Stone

There really is something quite wonderful about physical books. They’re a lot of work, and I don’t sell very many, but they’re a joy to hold in your hands. 🙂 I really need to make more of my works available in hard copy. Maybe with practice, the formatting wouldn’t take me as long.

Formatting Shadow of Stone for CreateSpace, & and an excerpt for #WIPpet Wedneday

The last couple of days, I’ve been spending most of my “writing” time putting together the PDF file of Shadow of Stone for the paperback version. I’ve been meaning to do this for much too long, but now with Christmas coming up, I really need to get it done. And the last couple of days before the craziness of Nano sets in seem to be a perfect opportunity.

The reason I keep putting off getting my books ready for paperback is all the work involved. Although I have to admit, Shadow of Stone ended up being a lot easier than Yseult, requiring maybe 10 hours of work, rather than 20 or 30 (I don’t really remember anymore, I just know it was a lot.) I also had to make a black and white version of the color map I have in the ebook:

Britain in ~500 AD

That was complicated by the fact that my ancient version of Photoshop decided to go on strike the first go ’round, refusing to save my changes and claiming I didn’t have enough RAM. Hmph. It did work on the second try after closing pretty much all my other programs — and my computer is not all that old or that wimpy. My version of Photoshop is a lot older. Moody software.

But for the actual formatting of the interior, I took a shortcut which helped a lot. Instead of starting from scratch with a doc file exported from Scrivener, I started with the version of Yseult already formatted for print and poured the chapters one by one into that file, replacing the text of Yseult. That had the big advantage that the chapter headers etc. were already formatted. It looks pretty good, if I do say so myself:

So since my last post, the only thing I’ve worked on is Shadow of Stone, which is not strictly a WIP. But since I did find a couple of random typos that had slipped past all my beta readers and the editor I hired and the extra editing passes I did myself, AND it happens to be what’s open on my desktop right now, it’s the book you’re going to get an excerpt from, dagnabbit! Here’s how my math works this time around: since we have 10-30-13, I’m splitting it up 103-013 and giving your 13 lines from page 103. In this scene, Arthur and his advisers have just suggested to Cador and Yseult that they wed for political reasons, to strengthen the kingdom of Dumnonia in southern Britain:

“Would you have any objections to such a match, Cador?” Arthur asked.
Only that it is what I have dreamt of since I started dreaming of such things. Only that if Yseult were my wife, she might no longer be my friend. Only that she has a lover who is also my friend. Only that having a dream so close within my reach scares me more than an army of Saxons on the other side of a valley.
“No,” he said. “The thought has crossed my mind that Kustennin would be the best choice as my heir – if it were possible. But I have no interest in pressuring Yseult into a marriage she does not want.”
“Think on it,” Arthur said, rolling up the map. “And now I suspect the two of you may want to discuss the idea alone. Myrddin, Modrun?”
The Queen of Gower turned to Yseult, practically ignoring Cador. “I cannot claim that my instinct is always right in these matters,” Modrun said. “But I suspect the two of you could be happy together.”
“Perhaps even happier than most,” Myrddin said with a smile.
With that, the Dux Bellorum and his advisors departed, leaving Cador and Yseult to their silence and their thoughts. His gaze caught on one of the ceremonial swords decorating the walls of the hall, a mosaic of bright stones in its hilt. As stunning and useless as Arthur’s suggestion. Yseult would never agree to marry him, he knew.

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts. 🙂

Publishing to multiple stores through Draft2Digital: Almost All the Way Home From the Stars

A while back, I promised to blog about the process of formatting a book for all sales channels offered by Draft2Digital, including CreateSpace. Before I published this collection of stories I wrote with Jay Lake, Almost All the Way Home From the Stars, I only used D2D for B&N, Kobo, and the Apple bookstore. For that, I could upload the EPUB file that I compiled with Scrivener. For this collection, however, I also wanted hard copy, and in order to generate the PDF for CreateSpace, D2D requires a DOC file.

So I made a clean doc file of the book, (I talk more about that here), uploaded it to D2D, and waited to see what would happen.

I had a couple of problems with the upload that writers who use the service in the future will not have, at least according to a recent email I received listing some of the improvements they’ve made. I knew, for example, that the generation procedures used by Draft2Digital at the time of my upload stripped away all the scene break symbols, like “#” or “* * *”. On the Kindle Boards, I’d read the recommendation to use a graphic to indicate scene breaks in order to get around that “feature”. So I found a dingbat I thought fit in a science fiction book and replaced all the scene breaks with that.

Unfortunately, the D2D generators didn’t understand it, it defaulted to something else, and I ended up with a random letter between scenes.

Next try, I found a symbol native to Word in the hopes that it would stick, a simple diamond, and replaced all the scene breaks in my DOC file with that. That worked for the ebook venues, and I approved the ebook for publication.

Next step, CreateSpace. I wasn’t completely happy with the PDF that was to be the basis for the print copy, for several reasons. The most important was that it didn’t have a Table of Contents. That’s perfectly fine for a novel, but a short story collection really needs a TOC. So the wonderful Draft2Digital folks decided to use our book to test a new and improved PDF generation.

Now, after a lot of PDFs sent by D2D support and suggestions for improvement made by me, not only does the print version of Almost All the Way Home have a TOC, it also has running headers. You can take a look at how it turned out here.

Once I approved the PDF, I had to make the wraparound cover for the paperback. This is what it looks like:

The disadvantage of publishing to CreateSpace through D2D, I discovered, is that I don’t get a discount as an author, boo hoo. But now that it’s live, I think I’ll manage to buy myself a copy anyway. 🙂 (If you’re interested in other stores carrying the ebook, I listed them here.)

As to writing, rather than formatting and publishing, I finished the new version of Island of Glass last week. It is now 23,000 words, 7,000 words more than the last incarnation. Most of that is through adding Chiara’s step-sister Minerva as foil for the protagonist, as well as more detail where I had skipped it. Right now, I’m going through a printed copy before sending it to my niece, who will be my first reader.

Anyway, never a dull moment. And now, the winter that never wanted to end is finally showing signs of ending, and we have SO much to catch up on in the garden! That has taken a lot of my free time the last few days, I have to admit. 🙂

Wishing everyone a great week and much success with whatever you undertake!

I HAS HARD COPY! *g* Yseult published to CreateSpace

After weeks of work, and ten days waiting for the proof, Yseult arrived in Germany today — and it looks gorgeous! See for yourself:

Ok, that last is a bit dusty, I admit. 🙂

Right now, I’m happy I went ahead and took so much time to get this book right, and that I spent the money on one of Joel Friedlander’s templates for the interior. It was still a heck of a lot of work, but here’s what it looks like:

I’m ridiculously proud of myself. *g* So off I went to CreateSpace to approve the proof. Yseult should be available on Amazon in 5-7 days. (As I mentioned in a previous post, I opted out of Expanded Distribution because it would have put the minimum price of Yseult at over $20!)

Just for fun, I also took a pic of all the traditional publications of Yseult, the translations into German, Dutch and Italian. I really think the do-it-yourself version is quite decent in comparison!

Now that I know all the work paid off, I will post at length about the process, seeing as (as far as I’m concerned) it was a success. But since this is primarily an update post, I’ll leave it at the pretty pictures for now. 🙂

The beginning of this week, I got a really bad cold or really bad allergies (this time of year, I can’t always tell which), and that has slowed my progress on Island of Glass somewhat. I feel more like a person again today, but the creeping crud is still giving me some problems. I’m up to chapter six on the revisions now. Adding a foil for Chiara means a lot more new writing than just a read-through, so it’s taking longer than an editing pass would. But I think this will make the book a lot stronger.

And for those who don’t yet have it, Shadow of Stone is FREE through Friday, May 31. Enjoy!

Almost All the Way Home From the Stars now available on Amazon, iTunes, B&N, & Kobo

I just realized that I never posted the links to Almost All the Way Home From the Stars (the first collection of my stories with Jay Lake) here on my blog, only on Facebook. So without further ado, here are the links to the various ebooks stores where you can buy it:




Barnes and Noble

The CreateSpace version is still in the works. Draft2Digital is a great service, but it’s still in Beta, after all, and the helpful folks there are working on a way to generate a Table of Contents for books that need them. Their default PDF generation didn’t include a TOC. That’s fine for a novel, but a table of contents is necessary for a short story collection. Non-fiction too, for that matter.

Once that procedure is complete, I’ll blog about different ways of getting your book up on Draft2Digital.

If anyone is interested in a review copy of the collection, drop me a line, and I’ll be happy to send you whichever format you need.

The Canadian Who Won’t be Returning From the Stars

Ooof. I finally got the first collection of SF stories I’ve written with Jay Lake up to Draft2Digital tonight, Almost All the Way Home From the Stars. Here’s the blurb:

“Almost All the Way Home From the Stars” contains seven science fiction short stories by award winning writers Jay Lake and Ruth Nestvold. The settings range from distant worlds, to the near future, to an alternate US where slavery was never abolished. Here a sampling:

“Rivers of Eden”: In a world transformed by a virus affecting faith, one lone scientist wants to set loose a cure for fanaticism.

“The Big Ice”: On Hutchinson’s World, Vega and Mox are trying to unravel the mystery of the Big Ice — until the family responsibilities Vega has been trying to escape come back to haunt her.

“The Canadian Who Came Almost All the Way Home From the Stars”: An NSA agent is assigned to look after a Canadian scientist whose husband has left Earth to visit the stars — and the strange dimple in the lake that she is watching, while waiting for his return.

Five of the stories have been previously published elsewhere, in various online and print markets, including Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best Science Fiction. Two stories are new with this collection.

No links as yet, since it takes a while for books to go up on the various markets, but I will pass them along when I have them. I’m going straight D2D this time, since I’m passing all the profits on to Jay (what little there will be, given how notoriously hard short story collections are to sell). But it will make it a lot easier for me to keep track of profits for this book if everything is in one place. AND D2D will also do all the Createspace work for me. I wasn’t completely happy with the PDF that will be the basis for the print copy of the book, but doing all the Createspace formatting on my own for Yseult was a huge amount of work, and I don’t feel like tackling that again this week. I want this done and out of here. 🙂

And Jay needs to concentrate on his bucket list.

Speaking of Yseult, Createspace has finally approved the files I sent for the print version, but I would rather wait until the light of day to ok them for publication. *g*

In other news, my daughter and I created an amazing cover for Chameleon in a Mirror, but it’s late here in Central Europe, and I can’t figure out how to upload the image from the Facebook page, where I first asked for feedback. When I have a new version, I’ll upload it here!

Haven’t gotten very far in the New Words department in the last few days. I’m hoping that with a couple of these bigger projects off my list (see above), I can spend more time on plain old creation again.

Slowly but surely getting there on the paperback version of Yseult

This is what I spent most of the day on today:

I’m not very Photoshop savvy, and my daughter was out and about today, so I decided to tackle it myself. Of course, I had the front cover of Yseult already, designed by the lovely and talented Derek Murphy of Creativindie Covers. I’ve sat beside my daughter many a time while we designed covers together, have tweaked them myself in accordance with feedback. Besides, Britta is moving to the States soon, which will make it a lot harder to work on covers with her. It’s time I learned how to do a bit more on my own. I figured it couldn’t be all that hard, right?


I had to google all kinds of little steps that would have been super easy for someone else. But the thing I spent the most time on was the text on the back. The first time I tried to copy the description in, I had a long line of text with everything superimposed on top of each other. So I kept googling, trying to figure out a way to make Photoshop treat text like text. I finally found an apparent solution — but for the life of me, I couldn’t get it to work with my ancient version of Photoshop. Some little arrow that I was supposed to pull down that I couldn’t get to appear …

By this time, I’ve deleted more layers than I’ve kept, and hours have passed. I finally gave up, created a text box in Paint, saved it as a JPG, and copied it onto my cover as a layer.

If anyone with more design experience than me has any suggestions, please let me know how I could improve the cover!

Thursday was my birthday, so that day was taken up with preparation and celebration:


The next day was taken up with recovery. As a result, I haven’t gotten very far on recreating the revisions I lost on Island of Glass. At least I’m moving forward with a couple of big things. I really do want to get Yseult off to Createspace, and off my to-do list. A number of readers have asked me about when a physical book will be available, but I’ve been so wary of all the work involved, I just kept putting it off. Soon now!

And before I forget, I would like to point out that Elle Casey is hosting a massive Springtime Indie Giveaway. Most of you reading this will probably already have my book Dragon Time, but perhaps there are some other books on the list you might be interested in. 🙂 And if you think it looks good, pass the word along if you’re so inclined!

ETA: My daughter showed me how to make the text box this morning — rather than clicking on the surface of your image, you hold down the left mouse key and pull. Now off to make my cover correctly and then upload!

On losing work (and other frustrations)

I spent several hours on Monday doing revisions of Island of Glass: addressing critique comments, filling holes, researching some things I’d left out. It felt really good to have a nice block of time for serious writing again, after all the writing business I’ve been doing lately, what with the formatting for the hard copy version of Yseult and the short story collection I’m putting together of my stories with Jay.

Then yesterday I opened the file — and none of the revisions I did on Monday were there.

I’m not sure what happened, if it was some kind of a software glitch or something, or if I was just so befuddled that I copied the old version onto the new rather than the other way around (I was working on my little netbook, which tends to keep me from wasting too much time on the Internet).

I was so frustrated, I didn’t bother going back to it yesterday, and only today have I started trying to recreate the edits I lost. Sigh.

It’s been that kind of week. I got the PDF of Yseult made and uploaded to Createspace, and it told me I needed larger inner margins, since the book is over 600 pages. More formatting, new PDF, another upload. The next time, it objected to the map. And so it goes …

At least I got Yseult up to Draft2Digital today. When I recently had an ad on Bookbub, it took Smashwords about a week to update my sales to the Apple store; D2D gives me that info the next day. So once the D2D version of Yseult is up, I’m canceling the Apple distribution on Smashwords. I will slowly be doing that with the rest of my books too.

Well, if the weather plays along, tomorrow there will be grilling in the garden, and maybe a little bubbly too. 🙂