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Monday, January 19, 2015

Formatting for CreateSpace—Part 1: Creating and Uploading Content


So, in the last two weeks, I have formatted a collection of poetry, a collection of flash fiction and two collections of short stories for print-on-demand release via CreateSpace. It’s not a bad process and there’s a lot to like about it. Firstly, it’s easy and, for the most part, intuitive—especially if you follow the guided instructions. I’ll walk you through what I do, and note where I depart from the guide. Please note that you may want to go about this process differently - and other authors do. I am only sharing what I do and why. I hope it helps.


  1. After I have nuked my manuscript (edited and formatted the final draft, added italics markers, and dumped it all into a text document), I make sure I have written a description for the catalogues and saved that in my descriptions file, and that my Author blurb is to hand. Once all that is set up, I start at my CreateSpace dashboard.
  2. I click on the ‘Create New’ button in the ‘My Account’ box to the left of the dashboard.
  3. I fill in the details, giving the project a name, noting what kind of project it is, and then choosing the guided  process.
  4. After that, I’m taken to the Title Information page where I fill out all the details of the title.
  5. Clicking ‘Save and Continue’ takes me to the ISBN page, and I select the CreateSpace ISBN as it gives me more distribution options. I also record both ISBNs in my story records, so that I have it easily to hand for later in the process.
  6. The ‘Continue’ button at the bottom of the page brings me to the Interior, and here I tend to select the 6”x9” option for my large-print document size, and 5” x 8” for normal print. At this stage, I download a clean formatted template and save it so that I can add content.
  7. Before I log out, I skip a few steps and go to the ‘Distribute’ drop down on the left, where I click on the ‘Description’ button.
  8. On the ‘Description’ page, I copy and paste in the content required: the story description or blurb for catalogues and the author biography, and then I choose a BISAC category and fill out the other details. I complete this page now, because it makes it easier to select my distribution channels once the title is complete, as that part of the process requires the description to be completed, and comes before it in the guided process.
  9. Once everything is filled out on the Description page, I hit ‘Save’ and then log out.
  10. Now, I go and format the content into the template I’ve downloaded. Once that’s done, I take note of the number of pages there are. If there are over 300 pages in the 5”x8” template, I know I’m in for a little bit of formatting grief, as the amount of trim space may need to be adjusted so that what I’ve formatted in the template will be accurately reflected when I go through the preview.
  11. Formatting into the Template: I do make a few changes as I format. For instance, for the book to be designated Large Print, you must make sure none of the font is smaller than size 16, and this means altering the Headers and Page Numbers, as well as some of the front and back matter and the pre-formatted font size. Note: It is easier to format the page numbers BEFRE you format the content font size and BEFORE you paste your content over the place holder text, as there are less pages to alter and to check. This also reduces the chance of formatting errors, later. Also, if you want to alter the font size or type of the content, it is always better to do this before copying and pasting your content over from the text document. You will also need to make sure you have enough place-holder chapters to match the number of chapters your book has, and possibly add an ‘Other Works By’ section at the end. Also, make sure you remove any sections you don’t need, such as the ‘Acknowledgements’ or ‘Dedication’ section, and add any sections you may need. You will need to be careful about which section breaks you remove as this can affect the page numbering.
  12. Checking as you go: Even though you have edited your manuscript to the final format before starting this process, it is always a good idea to add content a single chapter at a time. This will enable you to do one more copy edit for each chapter, AND replace your italics markers  with actual italics. (I use QQ at the start and end of each sections of italics—it’s easy to search for and easy to spot with the naked eye. Also, it does not occur naturally in words in the English language, with is useful when using Word’s ‘Find’ function.) Remember, if you find a mistake, or make a change in your document, you should also duplicate the changes to all the documents formatted for this manuscript as this enables you to update documents you may have already uploaded to other platforms.
  13. Once I am happy with the content, I go back to CreateSpace, log in and select the title I’m working on from the Member Dashboard. Clicking on the title takes me to the Project Home for that title.
  14. On Project Home, I click on the ‘Interior’ link under ‘Setup’ and am taken to the Interior page. This page allows me to upload the file I have prepared for the book’s content.
  15. The first thing I do is check that the Trim Size section is set on the right trim size for my project (6”x9” for large print, and 5”x8” for normal print). If it isn’t, I change it to the appropriate size by clicking on the Choose a Different Size button and then selecting the correct trim size from the options offered.
  16. Back on the Interior page, I go down to the next section and select “Upload a file” by clicking on the dot.
  17. Once the box is selected, I then click on the ‘Browse’ button and browse to the content file I have prepared. I select the file by double-clicking on it, and then scroll down the Interior page to the ‘Save’ button.
  18. Clicking on the ‘Save’ button, I then go and find something else to do while the file is uploaded. I have found that if I change tabs or do anything else during this process, I receive an upload error message, so it’s best to just leave the browser alone.
  19. When the file is uploaded and the automated checking has completed, the Interior page informs me if there were any glaring manuscript issues I need to deal with. If there are, I generally deal with those before going to the interior review stage. If there are no errors, I click on the “Launch Interior Reviewer” button.
  20. When the Interior Reviewer has loaded, work through the review. It is best to do this with the base manuscript open so that you can make corrections as you go. This is especially important when you have a large book, as what is perfectly formatted in the Word template, may not be perfectly formatted in the reviewer. When in doubt, trust the reviewer and make the changes in your document to match. I found when working with large books of poetry and short stories that I had to be very careful not to orphan titles at the bottom of a page, even when they were not orphaned in the template.
  21. When I’m completely happy with the content, I click on the “Save and Continue” button at the bottom of the page. This will take you back to the “Interior” page.
  22. On the “Interior” page, click on the “Continue” button.
  23. Now, it’s time to build your cover.

See my next post.

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