A little of this, a little of CreateSpace

Getting a manuscript ready for publishing is hard work. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not (unless, of course, you pay someone else to do it for you – not a bad idea now that I think about it). But what it really takes is patience (a lot), a large bottle of Advil, and the ability to do a little of this and a little of that. Maybe you’re a techie type who speaks in HTMLs and code so you have no problem, but for the rest of us, it’s a process. Since A Guilty Mind was recently published with CreateSpace Independent Publishing (and as an e-book – more on that in another post), I wanted to pass on a few tips that might help another writer who is embarking on this process.

Before even starting, be sure the manuscript you have in hand is error-free and exactly as you think you want it to be. Yes, that means you’ve had it professionally edited and you’ve taken the time to work through the edits. For A Guilty Mind, I used Anne Victory at Victory Editing. She was a great fit for me as I had already received strong feedback from an agent, worked through several drafts, and had readers checking for story arc, character development, and plot points. My assessment of the state of my manuscript BEFORE it went to a professional editor was not mine alone. This is important! As an FYI – Anne Victory offers an “OOPS service” that many might find appealing. When choosing your editor (having one is NOT an option), consider their schedule availability, what type of editing you need, and whether or not they offer a free sample edit. Anne was easy to work with and found things I had missed – and that’s what an editor is for – to make your work better! Although I cannot offer specific recommendations, you can see a list of professional editors by clicking Here.

So now you have a really good manuscript, error free because you made the corrections, and you’re ready to try CreateSpace. Save your file and name it “Paperback”. Save another one for your future e-book and name it “E-book”. (I know – I’m so creative!).

Now, let’s get started:

  • In your manuscript (the one labelled “Paperback”), eliminate all tabs. You need to use First Line Indent throughout the whole document (I used .3).
  • Set all line spacing to single space.
  • Justify all your text.
  • Go to CreateSpace and get an ISBN number (it’s free!).
  • Enter your information (title, author, etc.)
  • Then, choose your trim size. My book is 5.25×8. The type is black & white and the paper is cream (standard for novels). To make my selection, I looked at several other mass market books that were roughly the same number of pages. This is obviously subjective but no matter what you choose, it should look professional.
  • Go back to your manuscript. You will need to choose fonts. For the body of my manuscript, I chose Garamond 12 pt. The Title page and some front matter are Georgia. Again, this is subjective but DON’T be fancy unless that is the type of book you have written. Note: I did not originally choose 12 pt. but when my first proof arrived, the type looked too small to me.
  • Insert your front matter (see below). I used section breaks here and throughout the novel.
  • Insert Headers/Footers/Page Numbers beginning with the first chapter.
  • Add an Excerpt of an Upcoming Novel (if you have one). Be sure it’s been edited and you don’t plan to revise!!
  • Add an Author Note if it’s relevant to the book.
  • Add your Acknowledgements. Some writers recommend thanking as many folks as possible, the theory being that if a person’s name is in the book, they might be more inclined to buy it. I, however, believe the acknowledgements should be primarily professional. Yes – thank your family but don’t list every friend (even though you love them dearly).
  • Finally, insert your “About the Author” page.

Sounds easy, right? Ha! It would be if nothing went wrong but I am a Murphy after all…

Front Matter really consists of your title page, copyright page, dedication page, and any other pertinent page that comes before your first chapter (such as a foreboding poem, music lyric, etc.) The copyright page will follow the title page and might look something like this:

The copyright page will be followed by a blank page, dedication page, blank page, and your first chapter. Again, use section breaks and do NOT include headers, footers, or page numbers.

You will also need to be careful or margins. There is a great deal of advice out there and I can’t say what is right or  not right. I know I started with the CreateSpace recommendations and it did not work for my manuscript. You will need to play around with these when you upload to CreateSpace and see your sample book on the viewer. Be patient! My margins are shown here.

When you have completed work on your manuscript, you will need to create a PDF to upload to CreateSpace. I did run into problems here as I work on a Mac. I addressed my issue in a previous post, “Oh I Have a Headache Now”. Okay, now you’ve uploaded and you’d like to review your interior. Do it! I printed a few pages out and compared them to other books. How did they look? Be prepared here and just assume you will need to make adjustments. Maybe your title page doesn’t look centered or your page numbers are wacky. Margins need to be tweaked. Whatever – just take some advil and do it.

After you’ve played around with it and uploaded something you think you’re happy with, upload the cover you had professionally prepared. Although this was a new project for him, my cover was created by an artist in town who is well-known for both his graphic arts and paintings, Guy Crittenden at crittendenstudio.com. I love it!

Upload your jpg file. Don’t worry, CreateSpace will tell you if anything is wrong with it.

Now you are ready to proof. Do NOT skip this step. Believe me, you need to see a proof copy, hold it in your hands, and read EVERY page before you send your book off into the world. While you will obviously inspect the cover, the centering and headings on each page, you should proofread it again. Don’t be surprised if you find something. And remember – we justified the text (like all books) – and what that means is the spacing between words can sometimes look odd. Go through every page and make sure there are no huge glaring spacings. Don’t approve a book that shows 15 words on one line and only 8 on the one below because word number 9 is long and doesn’t fit. If you run into this (and I did), you will need to go back to your Word file, make the changes, create another PDF, upload again, and order another proof. Repeat the process.

Remember, I told you that patience and Advil were essential. For me, it took 3!!! proofs before I was happy with the result. I moved margins, enlarged the font, and eliminated/added a few words to make the justified text work (do this in your “E-book” file, too. You want them to match, don’t you?).

No matter how you look at it, you will lose your mind sometime during the process but when you finally hold your printed copy in your hands, it will all be worth it. And while it was a headache (several really), I learned enough that I think I could do it all again. I really hope these tips will help another writer in their publishing journey!

Okay – ready, set go!!

Published by K.L. Murphy

Author of Her Sister's Death and The Detective Cancini Mysteries

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