Because I am so desperate to have people read my latest book, I am giving it away for free on Kindle. That’s right, the cost to you is zilch, squat, nada, nothing. All the Different Ways Love Can Feel is completely gratas through September 12. So if you read the book and like it, be so kind as to write a review on Amazon and spread the word on social media (or conch shell, if you prefer). If you don’t like the book, you’re wrong, and I feel sorry for you.
Message to Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Jose: kindly piss off into the ocean where you belong, and leave us land lubbers alone.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go spend another fourteen years writing made up stories, so, when I’m fifty-two, I can give those away for free.
Have a nice day.
Max, Author of Free Books (if I was a completely different person, here is where I would drop a killer emoji. Alas, I am a grumpy old man, the kind who uses the word alas a bit too frequently.)
On Createspace, you’ll find a tool called Cover Creator (guess what it does?), and within this tool, you’ll discover three basic options for creating your book cover. In this post, I’m going to go over those three options and briefly discuss the pros and cons of each one. Then, I’m going to explain the less-than-efficient way that I created the cover for my book, ALL THE DIFFERENT WAYS LOVE CAN FEEL.
Option #1: Use one of the free templates provided. First off, let me say Cover Creator is pretty great–it’s totally easy to use and even fun, and I’m not a tech guy. Now: the free templates. There are, as best I could tell, about 35 different templates to choose from, and within each template, you can customize the text, font, size, color, layout, and a bunch of other things, too. The templates themselves are quite generic, and I wouldn’t recommend choosing one without really customizing it. (Note: regardless of whatever template you choose, you can upload images–JPEG files–and have them be a part of the cover. They just need to be 300 DPI (dots per image) or higher. And, of course, make sure whatever image you use, you have secured the proper rights to it.)
One of the templates allows for you to, essentially, upload a completed front cover and a completed back cover. That is what I did. Well, sort of. More on that shortly.
Pros: this option is free; user-friendly; fast.
Cons: templates are generic; formatting can be tricky, especially when it comes to uploading a 300 DPI photo.
Option #2: Upload a completed book cover to Createspace. This option allows a user to make a one-sheet book cover (front, spine, back), save it as a PDF, and upload it to Cover Creator. In the beginning of my book cover creation process, I chose this option. But, despite much effort, I could never get the cover to come out exactly the way I wanted it, so I circled back to the templates and found the one where you can upload whatever front and back cover you wanted.
Pros: allows for a completely customized book cover; you control every aspect of design.
Cons: formatting is very tricky; compared to using the free templates, this option is really difficult to use (to me, at least).
Option #3: Pay Createspace for a book cover. For a customized book cover, it’ll run you $399, which, after a bit of research, I learned is pretty standard. (Note: when 280 Steps went out of business, I asked them how much they wanted for the rights to use the ALPHABET LAND book cover, which I really loved. Memory serves, they quoted me a price of $325.) I read a bit about how this option works, and, as I understand it, Createspace sends you a detailed worksheet filled with questions about your book and your preferences regarding art, font, text, etc for the book cover. They then take that information, create a cover, and you approve it (or ask for more changes/tweaks). When you’re satisfied, you do a final approval, and your cover is ready. Not sure about the timeline for the process, but, per their website, Createspace employs lots and lots of book cover designers, and they’re the experienced professionals. Honestly, it sounded all right. . .if you got the money. Me, I didn’t want to pay. Plus, I wanted to figure it out myself.
Pros: you don’t have to make your own cover; you work with experienced book designers.
Let me preface this by saying up front that I am terrible at following instructions. And taking advice. And recognizing, once I’ve already started down an untenable path, that I should start over or change lanes.
I said all that to say this: how I created my book cover is definitely not the most efficient way to do things. Consider yourself warned.
So, with my disclaimer complete, let me begin. The first thing I did was create a free account with Canva, which bills itself as “amazingly simple graphic design software.” On Canva, I created a front cover for ALL THE DIFFERENT WAYS LOVE CAN FEEL. Using one of the free templates, I found a public domain image, cropped and edited it to suit my taste, and pasted it directly onto Canva. Next, I created a back cover on Canva, this time using a different template, but one that, I felt, fit the overall ascetic I was going for. All that was easy. Took me very little time. . .
Then came the fun part. On Canva, you can share your book cover on social media and email, no problem. But if you want to save your book cover, it must be saved as a PNG (portable network graphics). Createspace will not accept PNG files, so I had to convert the PNG file to a JPEG, and in order to do that, I had to find a free converter online (click here to see the one I used.) Once that was done, I chose the free template on Cover Creator that allows you to upload a front and back cover image; I uploaded the JPEGs I’d created on Canva, and voila. Except it took several tries (I’d guess around eleven, maybe fifteen) before I got the margins and formatting approved by Createspace.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on self-publishing a collection of my stories on Createspace, and I wanted to write a bit about the process. But first, a little context.
Overview of Createspace
Createspace is a publishing platform for books, CDs, and videos. Owned by Amazon, Createspace is a fairly user-friendly platform where you can create an entire book (paperback and/or Kindle) for free, and then sell that book on Amazon for a price of your choosing with Createspace taking a percentage of the sales. Two quick notes here. One, there is an option on Createspace called Expanded Distribution, and that service will allow you to widen your book’s distribution, but the service is not free. Two, Createspace does take a percentage of every book you sell; however, I’ve had two different small publishers for my previous books, and the royalty rate on Createspace is much better than either of those publishers. Plus, with Createspace, you have the added benefit of setting the price. There is a royalty calculator you use when determining what you want to sell your book for. Click here for a better explanation on royalty calculations.
Formatting your Manuscript
The first step in the process is writing a great book. I just wanted to lead with that, even though it makes the title of this post false. So, to correct myself, formatting your manuscript is actually step two in the process. And, like most things on Createspace, it’s pretty easy. Basically, you have two options:
Option #2: Just upload your manuscript as is, and let Createspace reject it. When they do, they give you a numbered list of corrections to make, you download the new file, make the corrections, and then resubmit. Only problem with this option: you will need to make the corrections and visually inspect every page of the manuscript. Tedious, but again, not difficult. All told, it took me about thirty minutes to make the necessary corrections.
After your manuscript is formatted, you just need to submit a file for official review. Createspace will then review it, approve it, and then you move on to the next step in the publishing process, which, for me anyway, was creating a book cover. More on that later. . .
Tips for Formatting your Manuscript
If your manuscript is double-spaced (2 on the spacing tab), change it to 1.5. I submitted a double-spaced manuscript, and this ran the page count up to 310. When I changed it to 1.5, the page count dropped to 237. Why does this matter? I think (don’t quote me on this), but I think the more pages your book has the more you have to sell it for to make more royalties. Me, I just didn’t like how few words were on each page in the double-spaced format. Looked like a Large Print book.
Make sure each chapter starts on a new page. Not only does it look cleaner and help readers distinguish between one section of the book from another, it also helps avoid formatting issues, which can be a nightmare.
Next time, I’ll write about creating a book cover. Spoiler alert: it’s not as difficult as you might think.