CreateSpace is Amazon’s platform for self-publishing paperback copies of a book, and the method I am using for my Smith Family Secret series. Deciding to self publish was a journey itself, much like the Wizard of Oz and the rest of L. Frank Baum’s Oz collection. On the one hand, there was the traditional method of querying agents and submitting to publishing houses. Pros: once an agent likes your work, they will do some of the legwork. They have connections and influence, whereas I (being an elementary school teacher) spend most of my day conversing with seven year olds. Cons: having an agent doesn’t guarantee a publishing contract.
Self-publishing, on the other hand, means that I am in control of my own fate, like Ozma of Oz, one of the very colorful characters that appears in the land of Oz. When Ozma was born, the Wizard wanted to protect her, and so, had a witch turn her into a boy and hide her in the countryside. One day, she (he at the time – gotta love magical stories) took matters into his own hands, and devised a way to leave his life at the witch’s house. Working some magic, a wooden horse came to life and they both rode out of town toward the Emerald City. Once in the Emerald City, and after many wonderful adventures, Ozma’s destiny was revealed. Turns out the orphan boy was Ozma, Princess of Oz, and fated to be a kind, but firm ruler.
Yes, self-publishing requires a bit of magic. The editing process alone is enough to make anyone run screaming in the direction of the Wicked Witch of the West. Because I am overly meticulous, every minute detail must be perfect. The margins, the cover placement, the way the spine text sits. Every. Little. Thing.
Here’s a quick review of the process using CreateSpace, in case you are thinking of following the yellow brick road into self-publishing town through Amazon.
Pretty straight forward. Title, authors, other contributors. This by far is the easiest section to complete successfully.
Once you have ISBN’s this part is easy too. Just make sure that you have enough ISBN’s for each version of your book. The paperback ISBN is different than the eBook or hardcover, even if it is the same edition of the same book. Each identifier stands alone. See Self Publishing in the Land of Oz Part 1 for more on ISBN #’s and why they are important.
You have the ability to upload the interior of your book right to the website. The program is very smart, and will point out problems that your book might have in print. Once uploaded, you have access to a digital preview of the book. It lets you flip through and see digitally what the book might look like. On several occasions, I looked at the book with this previewer and knew right away I needed to make changes.
The saying goes, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” No matter how good a book is on the inside, everyone judges a book by its cover. Books with very minimal sales on Amazon have revamped their cover images and suddenly are on the best seller list. Createspace offers a few different options for cover design. You can use their instant cover creator, which when used cleverly can work out just fine. You can hire someone to create the cover, or you can upload a completely original cover using their handy dandy templates and hope for the best. This is what I did. Note: Books under 132 pages technically are not supposed to have spine text. What book have you ever read that didn’t have spine text? I had to do quite a bit of finagling to get it just right. In fact, getting the cover right was the most difficult part of this whole process.
Once everything is locked and loaded, its time for the review process. This is when the CreateSpace gurus check out all of your files and find all of the flaws. They say it is a 24 hour turn around process, but in most cases of review (I submitted 7 or 8 times – lost count after a while) it came back in 18 hours, either approved or not approved.
Once the files are officially approved through the review process, you can look at a digital proof on the computer, download a lovely PDF file, and order a paper proof, in other words a copy of the book. I ordered three proofs. The first proof I got back was a wonderful thing to hold in my hand – and then I changed 22 things about it, margins, type set, spacing etc. The second proof I ordered was moderately better, but still lacked that feeling of a polished, published book. The third proof is in my hand, and I think I have a winner.
Self-publishing is not for the faint of heart. But if done right, one day you can wake up an orphan and go to bed a princess, Like Ozma, the Princess of Oz.
Official release date for the Smith Family Secret, October 1st, 2013.