Welcome back to Worldbuilding Wednesday, where I’m going through in great detail how I publish my stories. Today’s subject: Uploading your book so that people can buy it.
I’m going to start with the process for CreateSpace since they take the longest to get back to you when they review your file. My process is to upload to CreateSpace, then to Amazon and then the next day do Smashwords as Smashwords posts your story immediately and then does a review for the Preferred channels.
Onwards to the tl;dr! *laughs*
All right, first off you need to go log into CreateSpace. Go to your dashboard and then click the button that says Add New Title. You’ll get a new screen that asks you for the name of your new project (be careful when you type it in because you won’t be able to change it later!) and then what sort of project it is. Obviously, we’re uploading a paperback but they do allow you to upload other sorts of files, like ebooks and the like. Ignore those options and pick Paperback.
You have a choice now. You can pick Guided or Expert mode for entering your book. I always go with Expert anymore because I do know what I’m doing. Sixty plus books uploaded will do that. I highly recommend that you choose Guided for your first one, though. You’ll be walked through every step with extensive explanations for what each thing is. That can be very, very helpful when you’re doing it for the first time. I find it annoying anymore because it adds a bunch of review and save time to the process but.
This is your first round so choose Guided unless you feel very brave. Bear in mind, forever after this book will use the Guided or the Expert mode so it’s a permanent decision.
A new screen will come up with the information you need to fill in. First off there’s the Title of your book. It will already be filled in. Next is Subtitle, which you want to match exactly with what’s on your cover. Pull the cover up and copy off that if necessary or copy from your Cover Blurbs file.
Next, you need to Add Contributors, i.e. you as the author. Once again, be very careful on how you type your name or pseudonym in. This is an almost impossible to change one and yes, I have messed it up and it took a series of emails with CreateSpace to get it fixed. There are places to enter any titles or Jr / Sr you might have for your author name, as well. CreateSpace will allow you to put in a middle name. Amazon and Smashwords do NOT allow you to do so but that’s okay. You can just have two first times for Amazon and Smashwords if you choose to use a middle name for your author name.
Next, there’s a box to check if your story is part of a series. If you have any plans of writing a sequel for your book then click the box and put a series title into the text box that opens. Your number for the book will obviously be 1 but future books will have 2, 3, etc. I actually do keep track of that because I have so many series.
Edition can be ignored. That’s something that applies if you have multiple editions of your book. Remember how I said that you should be very careful putting the name in? Well, one of my early books has two editions specifically because I had to decommission the original, misspelled author name, book and create a new edition of it with the proper name. Shouldn’t be a problem for you now though so leave it blank.
Language = English automatically. If your book is any other language then select the correct one from the drop-down box.
Publication Date = leave blank. If you leave it blank then CreateSpace will fill it in for you. The only time you’d use this is if you’re doing Pre-orders for your novel and well, that’s probably not something you’ll get into for quite a while. Blank works and you don’t have to stress about it anymore.
ISBN = another choice for you! This is the point at which you can either use one of CreateSpace’s ISBN or you can use your own ISBN.
If you choose CreateSpace’s ISBN then you have another choice. You can take the free ISBN number and have CreateSpace listed as the publisher or you can pay a fee. The fee is $10 and you can put your name or publisher name into the file or you can pay, I believe, $99 and have even more control. Frankly, if you didn’t buy your own ISBN number I’d go with the $10 version. That gives you what you need to get the book into bookstores without breaking the bank.
On the other hand if you bought your own ISBN number then you click that option, enter in your ISBN number and type in the imprint name (whatever your ISBN numbers are listed under in Bowker’s database).
You’ll notice on the left side of the screen that there’s a bar that lists the various steps that need to be completed. There’s also a Save Progress button. I highly recommend pushing the Save Progress button right now. Everything that you’ve entered correctly will now turn from bright red to green. Go fix anything that’s still red.
Onward to Trim Size! It automatically defaults to 6 x 9. If that’s your size, go on to the next step. If not, change it to the correct trim size for your cover and book interior.
The next two boxes you very likely won’t want to change. They’re Black and White or Color, and Paper Color. Your book has been designed as Black and White. That’s what CreateSpace defaults to so you leave that alone. Then you can choose White or Cream as your paper color. The default is white and I haven’t seen any real difference between white or cream paper. If you want cream, go for it. It’s really not that big a deal since it doesn’t cost extra.
Now it’s time to upload your interior and cover PDF’s. Remember, both the interior of your book and its cover have to be PDF files. Otherwise CreateSpace won’t accept them. Make sure you have that before you get to this point.
First is PDF Interior File. Click on that option, browse and then select your file. The bleed has a choice as well. The book interior file that we designed is set for Bleed Ending Before the Edge, which is the default choice. Leave that one alone.
Next is Cover. You can choose to use their cover creator but again, I really don’t like the styles they have available and you’ve already created a cover so it’s not a big deal. Click PDF Cover File, click Browse and select your POD PDF cover file. Hit Open and it’s there.
Next you have to choose what sort of cover finish you want, matte or glossy. The standard is glossy as that’s what most books out on the market have. I tend to leave it alone but if your cover would look better matte then feel free to select that option now.
Onto entering the data on your book, starting with the Description. This is your Story Blurb so copy and paste that into the provided box. Use the longer version, not the short one for Smashwords.
We now get into an area that’s still flummoxing me, mostly because I’m only just figuring them out: BISAC Category. This is the ‘shelf’ that your book will rest on in the computer and in bookstores. Getting the wrong shelf can kill any hopes of selling copies of your book. Getting the right one with a good cover and blurb will make all the difference in the world.
BISAC Category works this way:
Top level = Fiction or Non-Fiction. I’ve been assuming Fiction so pick that.
Second Level = Genre, i.e. Fantasy, SF, Romance, History, Mystery, etc. Be sure of your Genre! If you put your book on the wrong shelf your readers will never find it. This is, however, one of the things you can change later, though.
Third Level = Sub-Genre, i.e. Noir Mystery, Cozy Mystery, etc. Or Epic Fantasy, Contemporary, Dark, etc. Try to get as close as you can on this one to the overall feel of your particular book.
If you’re really unsure what genre your book is ask someone to read it over and give you feedback. There’s also a a Dean Wesley Smith class on Genre Structure that you could take. I did and it really did help me figure this out. I had quite a few books on the wrong ‘shelf’ and started selling once I switched them.
Author Bio is next. Copy and paste the one you created in your Cover Blurbs file.
Language = your language. It defaults to English so change it if you wrote in a different one.
Country of Publication = your country. Unsurprisingly given that CreateSpace is a US company, the top of the list is the US. Go down to other countries if you’re somewhere else in the world.
Search Keywords = the exact same keywords you used when you created your EPUB file. I keep them in my Cover Blurbs file so I don’t have to go look them up each time. Being organized can be very, very nice. You get five keywords so try to make them general, not specific to your story. I.e., don’t put ‘monkey’ unless your entire story wraps around a monkey.
Next we have two check boxes: Adult Content, yes if you have sex in it, no otherwise, and Large Print which means anything over 18 pt. font for the text of your book. You probably won’t have to check this one unless you’re doing a special Large Print edition.
All right, now we’re onto sales type information. The next series of things you need to decide are what sales channels you’re going to release your book to.
NOTE: You don’t actually have to select any of these! If you’re creating a book just for you and a few friends you can leave every single one of these unselected. The book will be listed in CreateSpace’s system and you’ll be able to order personal copies but no one else will be able to see / buy it. That’s also the option you’d use if you were going to do Pre-Orders and send Review Copies out to people, but that’s a big subject for another post so we’ll just leave it alone for now.
There’s two sorts of Distribution: Standard and Expanded. Expanded Distribution used to cost money, about $40. It doesn’t anymore. I expect that eventually CreateSpace will combine the two categories into one unless they create a new sort of distribution or something.
Standard Distribution includes sending your book to 1) Amazon, 2) Amazon Europe and 3) CreateSpace’s store. If you want people to buy your book then I recommend that you check all three of these.
Expanded Distribution sends your book to 1) Bookstores and Online Retailers, i.e. actual real bookstores can see and buy your book, 2) CreateSpace Direct, which allows bookstores to buy your book for wholesale prices without affecting your royalties, and 3) Libraries and Academic Institutions.
I recommend clicking everything possible so that you have the widest possible distribution. It’s free so why not? I actually spent the money for Extended Distribution without protesting because it takes the headache out of getting your book to stores.
Please note, Libraries and Academic Institutions will only be available to you if you choose to use a CreateSpace ISBN number. Otherwise it’s unavailable. If you really, really, really want to use your own ISBN but you also want to get it to libraries and schools then do two editions, the regular one with your ISBN and then a “Library Edition” that’s identical but which uses CreateSpace’s ISBN.
It’s time to enter your price! Hopefully you’ve already used CreateSpace’s calculator to get the price–it does have to be printed on the back of the cover. Do remember that if you want bookstores to pick up your book you need to make sure that the Extended Distribution box shows a profit of between $2 to $3. That’s the profit margin for the bookstore and you can’t mess with it if you want to sell copies.
Make sure that everything is green on the left side bar. Verify your name, title and the rest of the information. This is your last chance to change things without major effort.
If everything is okay then it’s time to click Submit for Review. You’ll get a popup box that says that it will take about 24 hours to check your book to make sure it meets CreateSpace’s requirements. It does take at least 12 hours for the check to happen. I’ve never had it take longer than 24 hours.
Most of the time I’ll upload my books in the evening and then in the morning or by lunch the next day I get an email that says ‘your file is ready for proofing’ or ‘we have found problems with your submission’.
If you have any problems, go fix them (hopefully you won’t) and resubmit your book. If not, then it’s time to proofread your book for the very last time.
Follow the link they sent you or log back into CreateSpace and open your book’s file. It’s status should say Awaiting Proof Order.
You have two options, you can 1) Order a printed proof of your book (which can be seriously cool) or 2) review the digital copy of your book. For the first couple of books it makes sense to order the printed proof though that will delay your release by at least a week and a half. I did it for my first 3-4 books and learned a lot about the transition from electronic to printed page. I will say that the bleed on the covers is very regular and there’s virtually no variation between multiple copies of your book. (I ordered four of my first book just to see how much variation there would be between copies.)
If you choose to get a printed proof, you will have to pay for it. The cost you pay is the exact cost of the paper and printing, so it’s much less than the cover price. A $25 book costs about $5-6 to get a proof. That’s a little bit of an ouch but not too bad. They do make dandy presents to give people (though they have “PROOF” in big letters on the last page).
Once it arrives, read it carefully. Find any errors you can. See if you need to adjust the gutter or how the page breaks work. See if you have paragraphs with too much space between words. This is your final quality check so maybe give it to a persnickety English-loving friend to review and create notes on.
Fix anything you find, resubmit, wait 24 hours and then Accept your book.
If you go for the digital proof then you have another two choices, 1) view the Online Previewer or 2) download a PDF of the book. I tend to go with the Online Previewer because it saves paper but do what works best for you.
Either way, just like with the printed proof, check for any errors, if gutters need adjustment, page breaks, word spacing, etc. Fix any errors, resubmit and then Accept your book.
Congratulations! You have now published a Trade Paperback novel! *cheers wildly and throws confetti everywhere*
There’s one more step before you’re done, though. Under Distribution you’ll find an option called Publish On Kindle. CreateSpace will, for free, convert your print book and submit it to Amazon as an ebook. The two versions of the book will be linked together automatically and there will be a little globe symbol next to the Amazon version when you look at your dashboard on Amazon.
I don’t do that.
I’ve already gone through and created a version for Amazon. It’s set up so that the reader will get more text, not more front-matter like the copyright page. I’m much more concerned about giving the potential reader the text of my book than I am with having the two versions be identical. You can always do what you want but I recommend saying No, Thank you.
CreateSpace will ask you why not? Their dropdown box has an option ‘I already have a Kindle edition’. Select that, say no to resubmit files and then you’re well and truly done.
Celebrate! The most time-consuming and persnickety part of publishing your book is now done. Next week we’ll go through how to publish it to Amazon and Smashwords (hopefully in the same post!) and then I’ll do one last post on what little I understand of advertising your book so readers can find it.
I hope that you enjoyed reading this. Please do ask questions if you have any. I like sharing my world building but writing these takes time away from writing stories that I could publish. Thus, it would be greatly appreciated if you would consider leaving a donation. All money received goes toward keeping me writing and posting these columns. Thank you very much!