YAY, the print version of Lives Interrupted arrived earlier this week. Much as I love my Kindle and use it a lot, there is nothing like holding a print copy of your own book. I'm thrilled with it, and the print version is now on Amazon as well as the Kindle version.
I found the process for creating the e-books much easier than the print version, but I think having the print option is totally worth it, even if you do end up selling more electronic copies.
I thought about using a local printer, but decided against it because of the upfront costs of a print run, storage, and the hassle of trying to persuade bookshops to take some copies of my book. Using a Print On Demand (POD) service doesn't solve the last point, but knowing it is being sold through Amazon makes that job feel slightly less nightmarish than it otherwise would.
I did a little research and decided to use CreateSpace. As with Smashwords and Kindle I'd advise setting up your account before you get frazzled with formatting your manuscript and creating the cover. However, if like me you don't, it doesn't really make a lot of difference other than adding time. While it is quite involved process there is a 'Save Progress' button at the bottom of the screens so if it all gets too much, or you need to do something else to keep your sanity, you don't lose the parts you've already completed.
Before you do anything else make a backup copy of your manuscript. I may have mentioned this once or twice in previous posts!!
If you used tabs to indent your first lines delete them and use first line indents, as apparently tabs don't always work that well through the process. I'd recommend using a Word Style for your indented paragraphs. Styles make life a lot easier if you want to make wholesale changes to your manuscript. Much as I dislike serif fonts, at this point I changed the font in my manuscript to a serif as I wanted to make my book look as much like a 'proper' book as possible. I also changed the paragraphs to a justified alignment, straight left and right edges as opposed to a ragged right edge, as it is when paragraphs are left aligned.
This was my first experience of formatting for a print book, and I had no idea what font size to use, or even what size book. So I took a break from the computer and had a look on my bookshelf. The paperbacks are various heights and even different widths in a few cases, but a sizeable majority are the same size, so I went with the majority.
I measured one of the books and the margins, and created a new document with those dimensions. I typed the content of a page from one of the books and played around with different serif fonts and sizes until I had five or six options that roughly had the same amount of text on a page. Then I got Blue Peter-ish (an old UK children's programme with presenters who used to make things out of old kitchen containers and paper) and cut out each of the pages so it would fit into the book. I asked a few people which they thought was best, and ironically everyone went for the same two options, although first and second place varied between the two. So as it is my book I went with my first choice - you've got to have some perks.
So back to the computer and select 'Add New Title' from the CreateSpace Dashboard and then select 'Paperback' as your project type. You then have the option of a 'Guided' or an 'Expert' setup.
I used the Guided setup and I've since had a quick look at the Expert setup, which appeared similar. Certainly you have to fill in all the same information whichever you choose. Remember that most of the information you enter is going to appear either on your book, or on the Amazon site, so don't try and be smart. There are 'What's this' links for each area if you're not sure what you should be typing in.
I had already set up my accounts with Kindle and Smashwords by the time I started on the CreateSpace site so I was familiar with most of the information they wanted until I reached the Physical Properties area. This is where we start print talk.
Some of it is actually quite straightforward, though I am talking from the perspective of printing a novel rather than a non-fiction book with colour photographs, so my interior type is Black & White.
The next option is Paper Colour, and the choices are White or Cream. I selected white but then had a quick look through my books. Every paperback I own has cream paper, so it was back to the laptop and change selection to cream.
Trim Size is the size of your book. It has to conform to industry standards, but the good news is that there are plenty of options. I had already decided on my book size after looking through the books on my bookcase (8"x 5"). Once you decide on the size of your book you can work out roughly how many pages you will have in your book - this affects the price. While price is always important I think that making the book look as professional as it can is more important than saving a few cents.
You need to get to this point, or at least have decided on the size of your book before proceeding with some of the formatting, or you'll have to repeat a few steps.
CreateSpace has templates you can download for the interior of your book, once you've decided on the size. I used the template but probably wouldn't bother next time. If you feel confident at changing the size of the paper to a custom size to fit your book, and set up headers and footers for odd and even pages you don't need the template. If you use the template you now need to copy and paste your manuscript into the new template, and decide on your font and size etc.
As I mentioned if you haven't formatted your manuscript for a print version, then now is a good time to look at a selection of books to see how they're formatted, and what works best for your manuscript.
I'm fast running out of time, so I'll stop here for now, while you play at Blue Peter and decide what size book and font works best for you.