The paperback version of my science fiction novel Lesser Gods is now available, with additional artwork not found in the ebook version — and more interesting typefaces and layout. (Yes, eBooks are nice and handy to read, but print still can be a bit more refined if not prettier.)
Many of my clients have been using CreateSpace to print their books, so I thought I’d try this myself. It has been a few years since I last used this POD (Print On Demand) service, and I was very pleasantly surprised to see how it had improved.
CreateSpace is easy to use and — perhaps more importantly for self-publishers — feeds directly into its parent company Amazon.com, so books produced through CreateSpace automatically get listed in the Amazon catalog. To make the process even more tempting, CreateSpace offers a free catalog number so publishers don’t have to buy an ISBN for the book (while also allowing customers to use their own ISBN if they wish). Basically a self publisher can create his own virtual press, putting his logo and address on the back cover.
Cover and inner layout files are best uploaded as print-ready PDFs. The cover and inner text are uploaded separately (and CreateSpace offers detailed instructions on all this). The spine width is about the only tricky part; it’s determined by the number of pages and the type of paper the publisher chooses. By multiplying the number of pages by the thickness figures supplied by CreateSpace, the spine width is arrived at. (Don’t over-think this and divide the page number by two to get the number of sheets; the CreateSpace calculation is made by the number of pages not sheets of paper.)
When the PDFs are uploaded to CreateSpace, they go through an automated “flight check” to be sure there’s nothing seriously wrong with the layouts and dimensions. CreateSpace generated a number of false alerts during this process — but that was because of some odd design tricks I use. I suspect most users will only have actual problems flagged in this process. This system does add an extra layer of proofing and likely catches a lot of disastrous problems before they go to print and create major headaches.
The next step is producing a “proof copy” (or copies). The is the first book that’s printed from the PDFs submitted. Traditionally this is mailed out to the author and/or editor to be examined for errors or changes that may be needed. A proof print costs a very nominal amount and is always wise to use.
CreateSpace now also offers “virtual proofing” which produces an onscreen representation of the book for examination. While this isn’t quite as secure as a physical proof, it comes mighty close and has the advantage of being much quicker and cheaper since there’s no actual print or shipping involved. I suspect this is the wave of the future, and that print proofs will soon become a thing of the past for many book projects.
The virtual proof front cover (shown above) and back cover (below) as well as the spine can also be viewed as a 3D representation. The cover can be rotated on screen in real time for a variety of perspectives and the shadowing (and the cover even has a “reflection” from the virtual surface it’s over) make the cover seem very real.
The inner pages in the virtual proof are also quite realistic as well and pages can be “flipped.” Here’s the screen that appears (with the upper right corner of the page in the process of a new “page turn”). About the only oddity is the dotted line around the space that the text and pictures should fall into; it is useful, but I found myself wishing I could remove it for a more realistic view of the cover (and that’s my ONLY beef about this system).
Want to start self-publishing? CreateSpace makes it pretty easy. If you run into problems, there’s a forum that you can ask questions in (and it’s searchable so you can often discover answers from questions folks have asked earlier). If you run into something that can’t easily be answered, you can also contact the staff at CreateSpace to get help. I found it all a very satisfying experience.
And, of course, I now have a new paperback edition of Lesser Gods available via Amazon.com as well as CreateSpace’s own virtual store. If you’re looking for a great science fiction adventure set in a near singularity yet dystopian future, check out Lesser Gods.
If you’re thinking about self-publishing a print edition of your book manuscript, CreateSpace is a very easy way to do this.