Formatting a self-published paperback book

If I self-publish, it will be through Createspace (CS). There are lots of other options out there, but I decided that CS was the easiest option for me. I have been through most of the processes with CS, up to receiving my second proof, and I haven’t add any problems (other than deciding that I would try the traditional publishing route first!).

Note – this blog refers to a paperback book and not an e-book.

CS has templates which you can download for the size of book that you have in mind. I had already written my book before I discovered CS, so I had to format my book afterwards. There’s plenty of advice on the CS website to show you how to do this, but here are a few tips:

1) Font – choose a font for your headings and narrative text, and make sure it is consistent throughout the whole manuscript. I used mainly Garamond for the majority of the text, and Times for my headings. Justify the main text (sorry if I am stating the obvious, but this is done by selecting the “Justify Text” option in the paragraph tab in Word, or CTRL J)

2) Page numbering – add page numbers using Word. If there are pages at the beginning and end, where you don’t want the numbers to appear, remember to select or deselect  “link to previous”. This option is available when you are in “headers or footers” in the design menu. Look it up, if you are unsure.

3) Margins – follow the CS guidelines for your book size. The gutter setting will vary depending on the number of pages in your book (think thickness of the book). See CS help pages.

4) Widow/orphans – this is automatically set in Word, but it can make the top and bottom lines in your book look out of sync, so you may want to sort out yourself. If you are unsure, Google it!

5) Make sure there are no blank lines in your header or footer, as it will appear in your book. I noticed that in my first proof, the top line of the even page was lower than the top line of the odd page. This was because of an empty line in the header!

6) Drop caps – add a drop caps at the beginning (if you want to!)

7) Page break – make sure you have one at the end of each chapter.

8) Search for double spaces and replace with one space – I was amazed at how many extra spaces I had inadvertently entered into my manuscript!

9) Images – follow the CS guidelines for pixel size. I think they have to be 300dpi. You can change this in Photoshop Elements of Paint or whatever you have access to. Also, see PDF below.

10) PDF – I changed my word document to PDF before uploading to CS. I was lucky enough to have access to Adobe, but I did have to fiddle with the image size settings (open up Adobe, select Edit, then Preferences and amend image size to 300dpi). There are some free online tools which you can use to convert your document to PDF. You know what I am going to say – Google for more info – that’s how I learnt!

11) Paragraphs – I guess this should have been higher up! Use the paragraph option in word as opposed to “tabbing” or “free spacing”.

12) Don’t forget to add your copyright page, acknowledgements etc.

The first time I uploaded my manuscript to CS, I only had 3 issues, so I was well chuffed with that. Two of the issues were to do with image size, and the other was to do with embedding an image. I sorted these out in Adobe.

The Book of Thoth looks amazing in paperback format! I keep picking up the book and flicking through the pages 🙂

I am at the stage now, where after amending the errors in my second proof, I can upload again and order the next proof. Then, when I am happy with the proof, I can approve the proof on CS and I am a few clicks away from my book being available on Amazon. I’m still tempted! However, as you will know from the beginning of my blog, and previous blogs, I am trying the traditional publishing route first (fingers crossed!). Good luck if you end up self-publishing before me!

Check out my last blog if you need help with the cover.


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