Using Createspace to Self-Publish, Step 1: Formatting your manuscript

publish

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 #1: Set up your manuscript according to very precise but not difficult specifications. You can click here and follow these step-by-step instructions on how to make sure Createspace will accept the Microsoft Word or PDF file that you upload. (Note: Word docs and PDFs are the only files Createspace will take.) I read through this article, and it looks simple enough. You just have to set the margins and insert page numbers in a specific way. . .stuff like that.  Definitely helpful information. Too bad I didn’t find it until after I’d already chosen. . .
  • 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Book Cover reveal: ALL THE DIFFERENT WAYS LOVE CAN FEEL

 

This collection of short stories is twelve years in the making. I wrote the first story that appears in ALL THE DIFFERENT WAYS LOVE CAN FEEL in 2005. Father’s Day was rapidly approaching, and I was a broke graduate student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. I had no money, so instead of buying my Dad a necktie or coffee mug on credit I wrote him a short story called “Five O’Clock Lightning.” It was about a fifty-year old high school math teacher who, with the help of his psychologist son, tries out for a local minor league baseball team. Like me, my old man is baseball fan, and he enjoyed the story.  Back in the day, practically all professional baseball games were played during the day (no stadium lights available), and when the 1927 New York Yankees had “Murder’s Row”–Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Miller Huggins among others–the saying went that these sluggers hit so many home runs they could change the score as quickly as lightning strikes. At the time, I thought five o’clock lightning was a fitting metaphor for a middle-aged man’s comeback.  I wrote that story when I was twenty four. Now I’m middle-aged and am looking to make a comeback of sorts.

Between 2005 and 2017, I wrote the rest of the stories in this collection, some while I was a creative writing student at UAB; others I wrote later after I became an English instructor, a husband, and a father.  “The Man Who Wore No Pants,” a lengthy story about a single father who buys a lake house with a dying man still living in it, took me nine drafts (and six months) to complete to my satisfaction. Memory serves, the germ of that story came from an NPR story about a man who had terminal cancer and was selling his house, but with two possible asking prices: a buyer could have the house for a song if the seller was allowed to stay until he died, but if he had to leave, the price was set at market value. It was a fascinating story, and I’m pretty sure I heard it on This American Life. Anyway, “The Man Who Wore No Pants” was picked for Best of the Net for 2010 and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. That story marked the beginning of my dedication to (or perhaps obsession with) third person narration, for that is the point of view I’ve written in almost exclusively ever since. That story is also primarily about a father trying to connect with his son, which is why I chose it to be the first story in ALL THE DIFFERENT WAYS LOVE CAN FEEL.  The last story in the collection, “Just Gus,” also features a father and son. In this story, which I just finished in March of 2017, Gus Lockhart, an eighteen-year old about to leave for college, steals his father’s prized record collection, and the father attempts to better understand why it happened. I’m not one for boasting, but this is a very good story–it’s funny, it’s heartfelt, it’s honest. . .

As are the rest of the stories in ALL THE DIFFERENT WAYS LOVE CAN FEEL. Or, at least, I think they are. I hope they are. Either way, I wanted to share the book cover I created. I’m planning on writing more about the process of self-publishing on Createspace, so, if you’re so inclined, be on the lookout for my thoughts on that. In the meantime, voila. . .the book cover for ALL THE DIFFERENT WAYS LOVE CAN FEEL.

Kindle book cover for ALL THE DIFFERENT WAYS LOVE CAN FEEL
Kindle book cover for ALL THE DIFFERENT WAYS LOVE CAN FEEL

 

 

All the Different Ways Love Can Feel

wilde

From 2010 to 2014, I wrote private detective mysteries. I wrote them for a lot of reasons, but the main one was simple: I love reading mysteries.  Like everyone else, I loved Chandler, Crumley, and Hammett, and I wanted to do–or try to do–what those guys did so well.  So I wrote one.  And then another.  And another.  And another.  Honestly, I’m proud of the Eli Sharpe series and Alphabet Land, my stand-alone noir thriller.  And I’m grateful to the publishers–Camel Press and 280 Steps respectively–who took a chance on me, just as I’m grateful to any and all who read those books.  My four novels haven’t made me rich, but they were challenging to write, and that made me a better writer. My goal has always been to get better.

Which is why I took a long hiatus from publishing: I wanted to work on my craft.  Plus, I was burnt out and needed to figure out what I really wanted to do next.  So now I’m jumping back into the pool. . .only this time, I’m going a different route: self-publishing a collection of short stories.  Using Createspace, which is surprisingly user-friendly, I’m currently in the process of formatting a book of eleven stories tentatively titled All the Different Ways Love Can Feel. My goal is to have this book available in paperback (print-on-demand) and Kindle some time later this summer. If you’re interested, I plan on revealing the book cover soon as well as writing more about the stories in the collection.

writing image