Books written by Ray Sullivan

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Formatting for Createspace

If you've been following my ramblings over the last week regarding my exploration of self publishing my books as print books using Createspace and you have one or more books already published as eBooks, then you may have felt the urge to give it a go as well.

Below is some guidance on some of the formatting issues you may come across and help on how to overcome them. I've based all my advice on Microsoft Word 2007 - if you are using an alternative Word Processor then you will need to find out how that product achieves the same results.

I'm still at the start of this journey - for example I haven't received any proof copies from the US yet - so this list may grow as I learn more. I'll update this page whenever I discover a new tweek and will post a link on Twitter.

If you have any advice to share on this page, please drop me a line on the email address alongside or post a comment.


Set the page size
Createspace will print your book in a number of sizes but has a preference for 9” x 6”.  Before you submit your copy, set the page size to this.  In the UK, on my version of Word, 9” x 6” isn’t a standard size so go to Page Layout tab>Size>More Paper Sizes>Custom.  If you want 9” x 6” then choose it – for those of us in the EU that means using Centimetres (22.86 x 15.24).

Page Numbering of the book
Easy to forget if you’re used to formatting for eBooks.  You’ll almost certainly have a preamble, title page, dedication etc before your story starts – just remember that the page numbering doesn’t start until the story does! 

Before you set the numbering, use Section Break (Page Layout Tab>Breaks>Section Breaks>Next Page) to separate the preamble from the story.  This will help you number correctly.
Next, create the footer (Insert Tab>Footer>Edit Footer>Page Number>Bottom of Page>choose preference)
Move to Section 2 (the one with your story in) and double click on the footer. You’ll open a Design Tab which has a ‘Link to Previous’ button – unselect this option.

This will start both Section 1 & Section 2 off at page 1.  Don't worry about section 1 being numbered at this point - we'll address that in the next section below.

Page numbering (or not) of the preamble
Grab a handful of paperbacks off your bookshelf and you’ll find the preamble has one of two formats, in the main.  It will either have no numbering until the story starts or it will be numbered in Roman Numerals (i, ii, iii, iv, etc). 

To set either, navigate to the footer in Section 1, double click on it and either delete the footer (Section 2 footer shouldn’t be affected) to achieve no numbering or select the Roman Numeral option from the Footer menu.

Of course you may prefer to number your pages (but probably not your preamble) at the top of the page - if so, look at the next section and apply it to page numbering as well.

Another thing we tend not to have in our eBooks, but quite normal in print books, is the book title on every page at the top.  Set as a header, centre align it and don’t forget to take it out of Section 1 as we don't normally have the title as a header until the book itself starts.

While you’ve got those paperbacks out, take a look at where the first page starts – that’s correct, on the right hand side.  To ensure that your book starts that way, ensure that you have the correct number of preamble pages in place to make it happen.  The first page of your preamble will be the reverse of the book cover, so the second page of the preamble will be on the right hand side.  So the odd numbered pages in your book should be, oddly enough, even numbered pages as far as Word is concerned!

Chapter Beginnings
One great aspect of eBooks is that we can be as generous as we like with our chapters, font sizes, line spacing etc.  The reality of print media is that the more we spread our book out, the more pages we use, which increases the unit costs of each book.  That may not be an issue if you've a publishing contract and a big publishing house bank-rolling your book, but if you are - why are you reading this blog?

For the rest of us, cost is important, almost as important as the story itself.  Keeping the production costs down either makes the book more affordable for your readers, or gives you a greater margin of profit for each book sold (after all, you set the price once Createspace have set the minimum). 

Reducing the font and line spacing may save you a few pages, but if you have a lot of chapters and a very long book then starting each chapter on a fresh page could cost you a lot of extra pages.  I trimmed 60 pages out of Skin by starting each chapter immediately after the preceding chapter end.  Once I see the proof I'll know if cramming the text onto every page was worth the $2 a book I reckon I saved.

Check back on this blog entry if and when you start to prepare your manuscript for uploading to Createspace, for reference and to check for updates.

I can be followed on Twitter too - @RayASullivan
To find out more about my ancestors visit my sister’s website
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