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Publishing | Create Space from Start to Finish

General Layout
Text layout
Recommended Fonts
Putting it all together
Finishing Up

It’s time. You’ve finished your book, you’ve hired/bargained with an editor to make it polished and you found a copy-editor who will correct your spelling gaffes. You’ve looked at the options, you’ve debated on sending your prized manuscript to a publishing house and decided you’d rather go independent. And if you decide that there’s really only one way to go: Amazon’s CreateSpace.

I decided to give this a go with my photo-poetry book to see what it’s like and here is what I discovered. Before we get started, yes I already have an article with an overview on CreateSpace. This one is an in depth explanation of everything you will face when it comes to making your book.

There are two parts to this adventure. Making the book and getting paid. I’m handling them in this order with quick links to help you if you need to refer back.

First Copyright

Now, as explained elsewhere you already own the copyright of the book you have created but I recommend getting protected by the copyright office before you do anything else. You do not need it to be in published format to get the manuscript coy protected. Please refer to my article on copyright for that.

General Layout

Eventually you will need a final pdf with everything embedded so you many upload your internal content. How you go about that has many options specific to your computer most programs will let you save a document as a pdf. But that's the end product to get there you first need some way of organizing the internal content of the book. You will need a software program capable of designing layout for publishing. As usual there’s an expensive Adobe equivalent (FrameMaker)t. I believe MS Word now allows for more customizing but of course apple has the easiest method built right into Pages - the iWorks word processing and layout software.

The first thing you will need to know is the trim size of your book. You can look at what options are available and take out a ruler. Remember the trim is always described in width then length. Different trim sizes are available if you want a full colour book vs. one with only text inside.

For example my photo poetry book is obviously full colour so I had the option of going with an 8 inch by 8 inch trim whereas that’s not really traditional for regular books. Now you can go outside the norm. But it won’t be possible to add it to extended distribution and you can’t go wider than 8 inches wide no matter what you want to do.

Once you’ve picked your book size you need to fiddle with layout. For apples Pages this meant I created a paper size under “Page Setup” and did away will all the non-printable margins. Once I did that I consulted this document to figure out where I need to space things. (To create the correct size document in Pages: select File -> Page Setup -> select the paper size drop-down menu -> manage custom pages. Remember to save your size and remove non-printable areas)

It’s important to note that if you want your pictures to bleed to the edges you need your page size to be slightly larger than your trim size. What is bleed? It means there is no white border around your picture, it bleeds to the full edge.

There is an explanation as to how to do it on the page I linked.

You will need to know ahead of time how many pages you have. This will take some fiddling because the more pages you have the more you must indent your work, thus the more pages it creates. But in general the rule is simple. Big books mean facing pages have a bigger white gap between where the text ends and the end of the page. Your software program will probably call this a margin. (Of course if your going for colour there should be no white margin)

But I experimented with an all layout text as well. I used pages but explaining what I did may make figuring out other software easier.

Text Layout Using Pages

The hard way.

This is what you need to use if you are creating special layout like a poetry book with poems in different arrangements on the pages you can also use it for text but it is not recommended. You'll see why.

In pages you can create templates for page layout. Doing that allows you to hand draw a text region appropriate for the size of the book you anticipate. If you refer to the document I linked. If you expect to have 600 pages the inside pages need to have a one inch gap on the inside (I.e. facing) of the pages.

The outside gap can be as small at 0.25 of an inch but they recommend 0.5 of an inch and that is what i went with when I experimented with this for text. I then made a template for the front page, a title page, a copyright protection page a start of a new chapter and a left page and a right page.

Now all one would need to do is copy and paste the completed manuscript into the template. But the template is fussy and doesn't’t automatically flow the text onto the next page. There may be a way around it but I Don’t know it so if you wanted things done this way you would need to put it in chunks by hand until it fits.

The easy way.

You can choose word processing, go to page set-up and choose your custom paper size, then choose inside and outside (and top and bottom) margins, and it will make everything flow for you. I wish I had tried this first.


Whether creating an a specialized poetry book of a traditional novel you have some choices about fonts. I read a CreateSpace article about possible fonts. It helped me get a start and the writer may have other useful articles for you to check out under “Free Publishing Resources” I did a brief skim and some of them are incredibly basic but might be useful if you’re just starting out. Though to be honest I cover a lot of the ground in this web site so you may find some of the advice redundant.

He advised some fonts and the article is worth reading about why. I of course, decided to take his idea and take it a step further and experiment with every font I thought I could use. Here is my list (remember these are apple supplied fonts.

Recommended fonts:

There’s also some debate on what is a good font for covers and the same author wrote an article about it. I plan to ignore its existence entirely. But I do layout design a lot so if you’re totally stuck you can take a look at his article. Speaking of.


Once you know how many pages you have you need to design a cover that will fill fit the book. Now you can go and look at their submission requirements and hand size your cover. But who wants to do that when you have two other, better options.

One, you can use one of their templates using the cover creator which is described here. Normally I oppose using someone else's template but I looked at them anyway to see what they were like and loved one and chose if for my poetry book.

So the third option is to let them do the calculation for you. You can let them build a template on this page and open up the document in Adobe Photoshop, Pixelmator, or any image design program that can open Photoshop files. (Or you can use graphic converter I suppose, I use Pixelmator so I had no problems)

The template simply has lines as to where your usable content can go and where the spine will be etc. You build your image using the template, remove or hide the template layer, flatten the image or export it as a jpeg and you are good to go.

Putting it all together

The creation stage is easy. You go through a step by step process you can interrupt at any time. You first chose an ISBN for your book which you can then right away copy into the text of your book’s copyright page if you so wish. (I didn't bother with the photo-poetry book)

Once you’ve uploaded the file you can review it with their online tool to see a possible example as to how the book will look.

You get to choose the price, the distribution channels and how you will accept royalties. You will need a book description, this will be the one in the Amazon catalogue, and an author description. The latter being the worst part in my opinion.

Then there is a 24-48 hour waiting period while an actual human being glances over the book to see if there will be problems. After that it’s ready for your final review.

Once you’ve dotted all the “i”s and it’s amazon approved you have the choice to order a physical copy or trust the online reviewer tool. They advise first time publishers to order a physical copy. I advise you to always order a physical copy.


During the creation stage you will be asked to set up an account for how you handle royalties. I prefer direct deposit and had already entered an account for publishing on the kindle (which I have not yet done) It’s easy, it’s painless, you just need to know your bank account number and the routing number. (Found on your checkbook, you do have a checkbook don’t you?)

Finishing Up

You get the galley copy (what they call a proof copy), you look over it; if everything is right you simply confirm it is ready. If you need to fix something you go back through to the correct stage. For instance when I found out glossy paper was not used for colour books I lowered my price - and I noticed an error in my authors bio. No wonder I hate those things.

Once you have approved your book and you have made a page for it, wham it’s available - sort of. Yes you can sell it using your own storefront connected to the CreateSpace store. But while you would earn more money that way it’s not very fun to promote a book using one of their boring templates. Not to worry all you need to do is wait 3-5 days and it makes it onto Amazon’s online catalogue for the whole world to see.

And there you have it. Your book, in print. Now it is time to break out the machete because you’ve got that uphill climb to gain recognition. There are various alliances, pages and groups out there for independent authors as a good google hunt will reveal.

Good luck.

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