The Wild and Wonderful World of CreateSpace

Just yesterday, I received a package in the mail. This package contained the proof copy for my first ever print book, Introducing Super Sporty. This book was first published as a Kindle eBook in 2011, but, thanks to CreateSpace, it has become a real, tangible thing, and not just ones and zeroes. I felt a quiet thrill holding my own creation in my hands, in a form that I could feel, for the very first time (and there was a proper barcode on the back and everything! Squee!).

Of course, it isn't perfect. The text on the cover is a little too wide, the margins are a little too narrow, and there is one picture which came out really fuzzy and pixelated and just ... ew.

However, it is pretty close to what I envisioned. And those problems mentioned above are nothing that a few tweaks on Word and can't fix. It's on its way to being ready for publication.

However, it wasn't easy to get this far. I first tried out CreateSpace last year, and after two seemingly fruitless weeks, I'd decided to call it quits. I promised myself that I was never going to try that horrible CreateSpace ever again.

And, yet, I did try again. Perhaps the allure of a print book was just too irresistible (as much as I love Kindle, there's nothing quite like the feeling of a real book in your hands). Perhaps I just really wanted to have a print option of my book available for those readers who don't have Kindles. Most likely, it was a combination of the two. But what really sealed the deal was realizing that, when I tried CreateSpace before, I went about it all wrong.

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about how nothing you do is ever useless. Well, that two weeks of hopeless drudgery last year trying to get CreateSpace to work was not useless at all, because, this time, I knew not to make the same mistakes again.

What mistakes? Well, there were many, but they could all be boiled down to two basic problems.

First of all, (WARNING! TECHNICAL STUFF AHEAD!) to make the PDF for the interior of the printed book, I had tried to convert it directly from a MOBI (the file that Kindle uses) to a PDF. Doing this meant that there were all sorts of spacing issues, and that the margins were non-existent. Despite my trying to make things better by using CutePDF editor and SmallPDF (two excellent online PDF wranglers), the inside of the book did not look good at all.

This time, I copied and pasted the text and images from the HTML of the book straight into OpenOffice, moved the images around a bit, and exported it as a PDF. It did the trick, and the inside looks much better.

The second thing that went wrong last year was that I chose to have the book printed in full color. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it jacked up the price a LOT. I would have had to charge $7.99 to make any profit at all (and by 'any profit at all' I mean ... 30 cents per book). And that was standard distribution; expanded distribution wold have cost even more (CreateSpace gives you distribution options; standard is just the CreateSpace store and the Amazon store, and expanded distribution adds bookstores, libraries and schools).

This time, I chose to print the book in black and white. It's not as pretty, but it means that I can choose Expanded Distribution, only charge $6.99, and still make a decent profit of around $2 per book.

So there you have it. CreateSpace can be REALLY annoying, but it's not impossible to tame. You just need to learn what works for your book.

By now, I'm sure you're dying to see how my proof copy turned out. Well, here it is!

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