After publishing my epic tome as an eBook a few weeks ago, I decided to go the whole hog and also make it available in print. So, as a new kid on the block, it seemed like a good plan to hunt down some appropriate how-to info, layout guidelines and a book template.
Pro-Tip: For anyone setting out on the formatting journey, I’d suggest you check out sites like the book designer for some really helpful pointers instead of reinventing the wheel. Do this before you start your layout decisions as it’ll save you time in the long run.
I confess I’m a kick-the-wheels-and-double-check-things sort of person so, once I’d uploaded the formatted text file and added my fabulous background cover image to one of the Create Space (CS) cover templates, I went ahead and ordered a proof copy of the book. I wanted to be able to recheck every page for errors and to actually see what people would be spending their dollars on before I went live with publication. Besides which, the idea of having a physical copy in my hands was very compelling 🙂
When it arrived about 10 days later it was so shiny and book-like and real that I got a major case of the warm-and-fuzzies just looking at it (and still do). In some ways simply holding it in my hands was enough, and I could have called it a day right there. But the whole point of ordering it was to check for errors – and I’m really glad I did.
Considering how much time and effort I’d put into the layout, I was (very) disappointed at the number of issues I appeared to have either overlooked or been unaware of – and was grateful to have the opportunity to fix them. Most were minor, largely to do with the joy of using a Windows product, and simple enough to correct. My biggest newb mistake was my margins. I’d selected 3cm all round, but realised that it’s really much more visually pleasing for the top and bottom margins to be slightly different (to each other). For a print layout, it’s also important to have the inner (gutter) margin wider than the edge margin – unless you’re intentionally providing space for reader annotations!
Pro-Tip 2: Be sure to order a proof copy of your book and go through it meticulously. Check everything while you’re about it, since the gremlins seem to have a bad habit of sneaking the odd gotcha in. When you find issues, tag them with post-it notes and then go back to the electronic version of your document and resolve each and every one. Note: this takes a while and is best done when mind and eyes are fresh – not at 2am when the puppies are finally asleep and some quiet time is finally available!
Once I was satisfied, I uploaded the revised file for conversion and this time launched the online review option. To my surprise I found that CS appeared to havevery ‘generously’ introduced a few additional anomalies to the layout, such as adding in a couple of blank pages and losing my page numbers on even pages. This was irksome, but gratifying in a way since it confirmed my suspicion that many of the layout errors I’d found in my proof copy (coincidentally, missing page numbers and the insertion of several blank pages) were externally inflicted.
After triple-checking the master document – and even printing it to pdf – it was obvious that the errors visible on the online viewer weren’t of my making. So I shot off a query in to CS. The reply was illuminating, if disappointing:
“The interior reviewer is an automated system, so when you upload your file it goes through a slight conversion which from time to time does not translate very well. As you have indicated that your original manuscript on your PC does not present the issue, I recommend converting this file to a PDF and thereafter upload the PDF document… I have found that a PDF document translates better on the interior reviewer.”
I’ve an idea that this is CS for ‘oops‘ or even ‘we messed up‘ and ‘try this instead.’
The conversion to high quality pdf was not without its own minor host of issues, and the online help from CS was of limited use. Fortunately the comments on the community forum, on the other hand… were useful, and I’ve finally had confirmation from Amazon that Girdle of Bones is now available in paperback. And there was great rejoicing!