Creating a draft on CreateSpace

The moment has come, you’ve written the last word, dotted the line and your first draft is complete. What next?

Well for me it’s a quick read through and then get a printed draft. There are lots of reasons to do this, a printed copy makes the book feel more real, it also looks more real to other people. Perhaps crucially you’ll also feel the pain of every typo and clumsy sentence when it’s indelibly printed on the page. It acts a motivational tool to make you do a thorough edit and reading something on paper changes your modality which makes you look at differently. I was skeptical too when I was told this but I’ve tried it and it worked for me.

So to CreateSpace. There are other options out there but this is the one I’ve used. When I put After The Event through this process in March 2017 I found it a little bit daunting, umpteen revisions later it seems more straightforward but as I was putting The Duty Sergeant through I thought that a step-by-step guide might be useful.

What you’ll need: A manuscript in a single document, I’m assuming that this will be in word, some blurb and a cover image (optional). You’ll also need a CreateSpace account but one of things I found was that CreateSpace always wants you to do the next thing immediately so as soon as you create an account it will encourage you to create a project. We’ll be creating a paperback (obviously).

Use the main title of your project, you can add a subtitle later. We’ll follow the Guided flow this time, let’s ‘Get Started’

It will pre-fill the title box for you and you can now add that subtitle. Make sure that you put your name in carefully. Once you have a fully finished book then CreateSpace will let you export the book to Amazon mostly automatically and this will be used to match your previously published books and your kindle edition if you already uploaded that using KDP, so make sure it’s consistent. It doesn’t pre-fill this section for you, presumably to allow the use of pen names or a middle initial to denote genre Iain Banks style. Series Title is pretty self explanatory.

Edition number is worth exploring a bit further. CreateSpace will allow you to go as many times around the draft-revise loop as you need to and even after you publish you can go back and make revisions. CreateSpace take the traditional view that these are all the same edition and if you need to make a new edition then you create a new project and get a new ISBN for the book.

Language and Publication Date we don’t really need to sorry about until after the draft stage. Save and Continue.

You don’t strictly need an ISBN at this point and you can skip it, but if you’re going to take the free one from CreateSpace then you might as well do it now. Assign Free ISBN and the Continue at the next form.

By default you’ll be offered 6″ x 9″ Black and White. This is the trade paperback size, some people find it a bit big, including my mum who has dainty little hands and since The Duty Sergeant was partly written for her I decided to go for one of the smaller sizes. This won’t save me any money since the smaller the page size you have the more pages the book will need to fit all of the words in. Speaking of words it’s also time to upload that manuscript. After you save your text file will be checked for any problems. This can take a little while so have a quick break.

My manuscript failed the checks but this is no reason to panic, I mean 5 issues doesn’t sound so bad. We need to launch the Interior Viewer to see what the errors are. Again I’m going to guess that you didn’t set up a word template for a paperback when you were writing so you’ll get the size error. My page size was set up as A4 which is the ~ 8 x 11 measure you see in the screenshot. When we close the error we get to see the specific problems the checker has found. The conversion process honours my font choices and line breaks so I now have text that won’t fit on the page. You can go through these individually and fix them if you like but remember this is only the draft, you’re going to find plenty of things you want to change before the final version so don’t get too bogged down in the details.

In this case I decided to quit the Interior Viewer and download the Word file that they’ve autofitted into the book size to see what kind of starting point that is.

It’s done all of those simple edits for me but I decided to change the way that the title page looked. Once I actually have a paper copy in my hand it will be much easier to see what works and what doesn’t. I uploaded the edited version of their auto corrected word document and hey presto it passes. Now all we need it a cover.

We have three options. I don’t fancy paying $399 for a cover, and a print ready cover is a little bit more work than I want to do for a proof so I’ll use Cover Creator. This has a whole set of templates that give you limited scope for customisation but it’s a quick process and with a few tweaks you can get something decent. The initial version you see in the screenshot has one of their images my title and name inserted plus some ipsum on the back cover where the blurb will go. Some templates also have an author picture area on the back cover.

Within each template there are different themes, the layout stays the same but the font and image change.

I’ve bought my own cover image from iStock so I dropped that in, it’s not a great template for my image as it hides the lonely fire walking along the street but this is perhaps the least fussy of the CreateSpace templates so I tend to stick with it during the proof stage. Then I promptly realised that I hadn’t prepared any blurb so I threw together a couple of hundred words and replace the ipsum. At this point I suspect that I’m not going to love the font but I’ll do a custom cover when the book is ready to be published. You can do a draft without any back cover text but the second thing most people do when you hand them a book is look at the back so I think it’s worth doing.

Covers are full colour printed so I added a little grey tint, again mostly to see what it looks like in reality. I approved the cover and we’re onto the final step.

The summary information all looks good so time to Submit Files for Review.

This takes around 24 hours and you’ll get an email when it passes but CreateSpace again want you to rush on to the next thing and you get another pop up:

This leads on to the next part of the publication process where you tell CreateSpace where you want your book sold and for how much, you don’t need to do this now so just close the form, close the web site and wait for your confirmation.

 

I submitted The Duty Sergeant on the afternoon of 30th November and awoke the next morning to an email telling me that proofs were ready to order, off to CreateSpace:

Yah, two books (remember that this is 1st December, hence no sales for After The Event yet, though Christmas is coming and it would make the perfect gift for all of the geeks in your life). Sorry, indie author habits die hard.

I ordered two proofs, CreateSpace will allow you to order up to five. The proof copies are as per a normal copy including a barcode if you assigned an ISBN but the very last internal page has the word “proof” diagonally across it. Each proof cost me $5.48 before shipping. The Duty Sergeant is currently around 88k words, After the Event weighs in at around 140k and in the 6×9 format costs me $6.29 before shipping so there is a saving for the shorter book but it’s not linear by any means.

Then comes the shipping. Getting heavy paper books to the UK is not cheap but I decided to pay the little bit extra to get them here before Christmas as a little present to myself. In total the bill comes to $20.95 or around £15.50 for my two proofs; not bad.

I should add that after you’re happy with your proof you can order wholesale author copies which are identical to the published version (i.e. no ‘proof’ text) and you can order these in larger quantities where volume discounts start to kick in.

I hope that you enjoyed our little guide, creating a proof through CreateSpace is well worth doing and can be quite easy if you use the built-in templates.

About Mark Willoughby

Mark Willoughby is the author of "After the Event" an adventure story set in a future full of superheroes, giant robots and aliens. He is currently working on a spy novel so he has a very dodgy looking search history.

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