Self-Publishing on the Cheap Side (Read: Free)

Letting Go

Letting Go

From my other blog, you know what I felt was key to move from idea to actually self-publishing. I want to talk a little bit then about the service I eventually chose.

Because my objectives were no upfront costs and to have my book on Amazon, I chose to use Amazon’s self-publishing service – Createspace.

Createspace does offer some pay services- cover design, formatting, etc. BUT you do not NEED to pay for any of these.

Because Createspace is set-up for authors to do everything on their own for free, there are many, many tutorials available on-line which will show you step-by-step the Createspace process.

Here are some basics about some of the FREE things I took advantage of.

ISBN and Listing on Amazon:
Createspace assigns you an ISBN! Yeah!! You do not have to pay for this 🙂 If you want to sell your book through a bookstore or Amazon, you must have an ISBN. If you buy your own- one costs $125!

Once your book is done and finished, it is immediately posted on the Amazon site.

FREE BOOK FORMATTING “HELP”:

Okay, “help” may be a strong word here (a really strong word, in fact). But, life is the result of how you look at things and I chose to look at these opportunities as “Help”.

Formatting your book for printing is probably the most the tricky part of Createspace. If you are doing this all on your own, this can be the place that trips you up and makes you want to stop. Don’t stop, though, help is available.

It is one thing to type something out on MS word or some other program. It is another thing to get something in publishable format.

Createspace has several FREE MS word templates that you can use. Several book sizes are offered- please check to see what book size is most typical for your type of book- i.e. fiction vs. nonfiction and so on.

If you are like me, there are several things you will overlook in this process:

Correct page numbering. Seems ridiculously obvious, but the first version of the book I uploaded began at page 5. I had deleted some front material and I had forgotten to reformat the page numbering.

Right and left page numbering. Take a book from your shelf and see how it is numbered. Look at how chapters end and new chapters begin. All of this must be taken into account by you when you are formatting your book. Again, there are many helpful sites about these specific issues (i.e. don’t simply use spacing to get to a new page in MS word, you must you Page and Sections breaks.)

Trim size– your work must be oriented on the page so nothing is cut off in the printing process. What looks “fine” on MS word on your computer may go a bit horribly wrong when you upload the file and they show you how it will appear on a book, printed page.

The templates and videos/forums can help you address all of this.

FREE CHECKS AND BALANCES
When you are doing something all on your own, it is easy to make mistakes. Createspace offers two free services to help you avoid a book printing disaster.

As I wrote, formatting the book is the biggest challenge and you can overlook a lot of things. But never fear! On Createspace, once you uplaod your file, they have something called “Interior Reviewer”. The Interior Reviewer shows how your book will look when it is printed- page by page.

This is where I had “99+” formatting issues, because my first file had the pictures too close to the inner margin. Lesson learned and disaster prevented. This process is so critical. It can help you see if you have extra pages or are missing a page break and so on.

You have to keep reworking the file until it eventually has no critical errors related to printing.

CHECK AND BALANCE #2
Createspace MUST approve your book before you can actually have it printed and uploaded to Amazon.

The turn around only takes 24 hours and this service is INVALUABLE and again is free! (I had no idea this step was required.)

With my first attempt, they sent me an e-mail informing me of the page numbering issues I had, as well as some of my images lacked the resolution required.

Such feedback may be frustrating to hear, but isn’t it wonderful there is a check system in place before you launch your book?

Had this service not been provided I would have produced a book that looked as if it were missing the first 5 pages.

COVER DESIGN:
If you want to pay for a cover design, Createspace suggests a service to use. However, you can also go the cheap route and create your own- BUT you don’t have to do this from scratch (unless you want to).

Createspace has some basic cover options, which you can manipulate some on your own and create your unique cover completely for free.

This is what I did for my cover. The basic design was set and I just inserted my own picture.

The Createspace site takes you through each step of creating the cover. You complete one aspect at a time- i.e. add title, add information on author, etc.

I realize Createspace is not for everyone. But, for me, I could not believe, as long as I was doing the work, I could get all of this for free.

Happy writing! 🙂

16 thoughts on “Self-Publishing on the Cheap Side (Read: Free)

  1. Oh, Kimberly, you have really done a lot of work here. I kind of lose my courage just hearing about all this…….I think if I ever am going to do this, then I will fly over to you so that you can help me 😀 😀

  2. Thanks for this post! You’re awesome, making each step really clear, so helpful. If I look at the whole process, it can be pretty overwhelming. The thing to remember is to take it one step at a time. Cinch by the inch, hard by the yard. 🙂

  3. great stuff and wow, self-publishing has come a long way!
    when myself and friend published a quarterly magazine, booklets and 2 books, 1994-2004, we use desk-top publishing programs, paper mockups and such, we zeroxed, stapled, trimmed all ourselves and more. It helped that my friend was a graphic artist and had published a magazine in the 80s. today it seems to be a piece of cake in comparison.

    I’m looking forward to having your book in my hands in a couple of days!

    • Hey! so great to hear from you! I know what you mean. I do not have the experience that you do- but I have seen a huge change in self-publishing in the past 5 years or so. I have said this to you before- I really admire what you and your friend accomplished. For some reason, it makes me happy for you.

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