CreateSpace formatting, Aunt Nancy, and galoshes

Someone smart needs to tell me what I’m missing. Or if you’re not that smart, but still know what I’m missing, that’s okay too. I won’t know the difference.

I built a ton of time into my workplan for CreateSpace formatting. That’s because everyone told me what a nightmare it would be to do myself, especially this first time. I am prepared for a long haul.

So here’s how I started the haul. I picked a trim size. (5×8, a conclusion I reached after exhaustive market study, or, by grabbing a few of my favorite trade paperbacks off the shelf and measuring them.) I downloaded their template for that trim size. I copied and pasted all my chapters into that template. I uploaded the file. Then I looked at their interior reviewer.

And: it looks pretty much like a book. It’ll need tweaking. I don’t like how I formatted the couple bits of verse that are in there. (That’s because I just put them in italics and called it a day.) And it’s not very fancy, to be sure. I may do something interesting with the chapter titles. But that seems like kind of minor stuff, no? Where’s this nightmare I was warned about?

The best I can figure is, this interior reviewer is a trick that makes me think it looks like a book, but when I get the proof in the mail, it’ll actually look like someone’s Aunt Nancy made it herself in the craft nook in the corner of her basement. Because craft nooks are certainly scary, and BAD THINGS ALWAYS HAPPEN IN BASEMENTS.

So tell me, experienced friends. What horrible things are about to come out of the basement? Will I need a can of bug spray? Protective herbs? Galoshes? What are your CreateSpace formatting tips?

15 words on the street

  1. Hey there. I’ve got nearly a hundred books up through Createspace across a couple of pen names. It’s really not the nightmare people say it is. Sounds like you did fine. Just be sure to order a print proof for your first book. After that you’ll be able to trust the online viewer.

    • Thank you for taking the time to respond, Brigid, especially with such an encouraging answer. :) If it really isn’t as bad as I thought it would be and I like the first physical proof, I’ll probably be able to release the book early.

  2. For me, the nightmare was in the templates. They did not work, in any size. The pages would not break where they were supposed to, UNTIL I took a peek inside their own sample and discovered that I had to add a SECTION break at the end of each chapter, and not a page break. This was NOT explained nor indicated at the time I published by first book, at least not anywhere I found. I saved my instructions on a sheet of paper, so that I would remember with my next book, and it all worked easily.

    They may have changed their templates, because at that time, there were about 600 people complaining that their templates didn’t work and to use templates from another website. One would like to think they took a look, and fixed that issue, but I don’t know. I just know that I wasn’t able to add page numbers or anything else until I got that right, and it took me four days of blood, sweat, and tears to figure it out on my own.

    As for you, Smart Lady…I say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Or worry about it another minute. If your chapters all start on the same page, if your numbers and page headings at the top are correct, and if you have NO blank pages in the interior of the book, it just might be you’re good to go! Hope so, and wonderful to hear it went smoothly for you. Can’t wait to get my hands on this book!

    • Funny you should say that about chapters starting on odd-numbered (right side) pages, because that’s how I always did it with work-for-hire tech stuff, so I was about to go through that template and change all their section breaks to odd page.

      But then I pulled an armful of novels off my shelf at random, and do you know NOT ONE of them starts all their chapters on an odd-numbered page? They all start their chapters on whatever side they happen to fall on. These are all trad published books. Will look at a few more. But I’m thinking maybe that’s more of a non-fiction thing?

      • I found 9 out of 10 of mine did start on the right page, and apparently, CreateSpace insists on it, so that’s how I set it up. (Also, the “pro’s” on the CS board say it’s not professional to do it any other way…?…so I took their word for it, too.)

        My only problem was I had 2 blank pages (which were NOT blank in the document I uploaded to them) that had to be removed. Since you have to upload a .pdf file, you have to make the corrections in that, and I don’t have the full program. I had to send the .pdf file to a friend who does, and she deleted the extra pages for me. The second time around, that didn’t happen, but there were still some tweaks.

        I really want to get the full Adobe program, but I can’t afford it right now. You know how you hate to have to depend on someone else to fix things for you, no matter how willing they are. It’s such an imposition, especially when they are busy with their own jobs. Since the errors were not in my document, fixing the .pdf file was the only option, and I hated that I couldn’t take care of it myself. So…one of these days, when my books hit the NY Times best seller list, I’ll buy Adobe! That’s my plan! 😀

        • That is bizarre, because their Word template does not have odd page section breaks in it. So you’d have to change their own template to get the chapters to start that way.

          BTW possibly they’ve changed it since you did it last, because I’m not having to upload PDF. It’s taking my Word document from their Word template just fine. I keep tinkering with it and just uploading it again.

          EDIT: Unless the Word doc is just for the previewer thingie and they’re going to make me convert it to PDF later? Which case I wonder why they’re handing out Word templates.

          • Well, it’s been four months since I uploaded Swamp Ghosts, so all I know is what I had to deal with then. As far as indents/page or chapter beginnings, etc, etc, it’s all so arbitrary at times, it makes me crazy. Personally, I prefer my chapters to all start on a clean page, anyway, so I’m fine leaving them on the odd numbered pages. And once I numbered the pages, it sort of kicked them to that spot, anyway.

            Oh, their templates did NOT have Section Breaks…that was the problem. Until I discovered adding them manually, it simply would not load properly. Ever. I found out the issue by turning on the pilcrow on one of their samples, and seeing that even though the Section Break was NOT part of the blank template, it WAS part of their sample. So I added it, and voila. All my problems went away. Now I put a Section break after every single thing…TOC, Dedication Page, Chapters, all of it. And it works. Or it did for both of my books. Who knows what will happen with the next one?

            I found that with the eBook, if I ignored every bit of advice in How To Books out there by other authors, and simply did what amazon’s 2 instructional (FREE) books said, it went very smoothly, and I think my eBooks look much better than many I’ve seen. Hopefully that will still hold true when this one goes up.

            Good luck, Jen. Again, if you find a way that works, and CreateSpace doesn’t kick it back at you, I say grab it and run. As I say, I never argue with success, even if someone takes a different route than I did.

        • Ok, did a little reading up. It seems that the general trend is for publishers (self and traditional) to disregard this old standard and start the chapter wherever it starts. But of course some still do it the old fashioned way. So, either is “correct” in the sense that I don’t think either would be jarring to a reader.

          My bookshelf would seem to support this. None of my paper books from the last few years do it (at least none of the ones I’ve picked up today, which was a lot while was eating lunch), but a lot of the older ones do.

          Not indenting the first paragraph of a new chapter is still a thing. :)

          • I put my above response in the wrong pew, but hope you’ll see it anyway. And when I last uploaded a book to CS, it HAD to go in .pdf format. If I can use Word now, that will be lovely, because I can certainly make my own changes in Word. I had to convert to .pdf, send it to my friend to fix, save the newly fixed .pdf, and resubmit. It there was anything else wrong, I had to do it all again. Word would be soooo much better.

            Now, at that point in time, you could submit either one to amazon, but they recommended .pdf. However, the glitches didn’t show up. My friend told me Adobe is notorious for messing up Word files being converted to PDF, hence the extra pages and other errors. But those only showed up for the print version, and not for the ebook. Go figger.

  3. I found my paperback formatting to be easier than ebook formatting. As long as you’re familiar with things like section breaks, page breaks, and widows, it’s not hard. After my first book, I just reuse the same template for all my books now. They go pretty quick.

    • I had no trouble with ebooks at all, once I found the ONLY instructions out there that are correct…namely, amazon’s.

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head about using the same template for each succeeding CreateSpace book. Once you’ve got it working properly, that’s the way to go, and what I do now, too. It was those dang section breaks that did me in on the first one. The instructions said to use PAGE breaks after chapters, and that did not work. But I learned, and now, by George, I think I’ve got it. Second book was a breeze, and now I even write my books in the correct format in Word (or Scrivener), so there are very few things to tweak when I’m ready to upload.

    • I do know Word pretty well, having a background in writing training manuals and such. So maybe that helps. But mostly it was just copying and pasting. I still need to mess with it some more, but we’ll see what happens when I get the real proof!

  4. Oh, I know how you feel! ‘This was too easy; what’s the catch?’

    Like other posters, my first time formatting CS was a nightmare. But I have to confess that it was user error. I didn’t bother to read the help pages when I ran into problems and bulled my way through.

    And that poor proof when it arrived…. ugh. Something out of Aunt Nancy’s dustbin.

    I let CS go for a few months, then gave myself a few days to sit with it. And read the help pages. I now find it pretty straight forward, and kinda enjoyable. And my proofs are pretty. And I’m actually selling printed books. Not a lot; but it’s a nice bump for the month!

    • Definitely waiting for the catch! Because I haven’t gotten all the way through their step-by-step process yet. I’m still messing with the Word document. So I’m kind of waiting for some step I don’t know about yet that’s where all the hard stuff is. :)

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