Sunday, April 1, 2012

Formatting a 5 x 8" POD paperback on Createspace.

Today I formatted a basic 5 x 8” print-on-demand paperback to be published via Createspace and Amazon. This one is of my newest book, ‘On the Nature of the Gods.’ That's available from Smashwords, Amazon, and within a couple of weeks it will be in Kobo, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony, etc.

Apparently ‘novel’ is like an adjective or something, and that’s why I call it a ‘book,’ which is a noun. (A novel concept.)

In previous blog posts, I talked about making a 6 x 9” trade paperback through Createspace. That process took a week or two, although I had previously done a 4 x 7” book on Lulu. By the time you go through it and learn the process, enter all the information, and design the cover, it can take up to a month with Createspace’s internal review, (mostly the format,) processing, and then postal delivery. (Previously, I also wrote about the 4 x 7” POD of ‘The Case of the Curious Killers.’)

This is extremely simple formatting which can be done in about two hours, once you know what you actually want. In stark contrast, when doing 'The Case of the Curious Killers,' I struggled with OpenOffice, with the mirrored page numbers, and different headers left and right, and in fact my 4 x 7" 'Core Values' POD never went to press due to an unfixable glitch.

Why a 5 x 8” print-on-demand?

The book, ‘Redemption: an Inspector Gilles Maintenon mystery,’ seems a bit big and a bit thin as a 6 x 9” product. It’s only 216 pages in that size. It’s less than half an inch thick. Since I’m the one who has to do the work, and I’m the one searing my brand on it, there’s no sense in doing a product that I’m not keen on.

The basic process is exactly the same. Now, assuming the correct number of blank pages front and back, so that the title page hits on a right-hander, just as the first page of the text should, and the author bio at the back does the same, this thing is ready to go. It has a simple header, identical on every page in the text-section, and simple page numbers, the ‘tilde’ type from Microsoft Word. These are centred, not the most esthetically-pleasing, but quick and simple to do. Instead of going down eleven 12-point spaces for each new chapter like I did last time, this one has six 12-point spaces. Nice, clean, saves paper…and it’s quick.

My page numbers are ten-point, and headers are eight or nine. I’m using Cambria, a shapely font with nice, sexy serifs. The actual text is Times New Roman, 12-point. A technical note, when editing headers in Word, you can adjust them for height. My header is 0.3” from the top, and my footer is 0.2” from the bottom…whatever that actually means; and my margins are set at 0.8 top, inside 0.75, gutter at 0”, bottom at 0.3 and outside 0.4. My camera download cable is capooched, but I’ll borrow one and update this post with photos at some point. But it looks fine on screen. The gutter at 0” sounds odd, but I checked this against the file for ‘Redemption,’ and that one was also set at 0”. Your inside margin must be wide enough not to have the edge of the text stuck in the glue of the binding, capiche? It has to look nice. That’s all that matters. Honestly, take a steel scientific ruler and measure somebody’s paperback in the appropriate size. And if I do mess up, it’s only ten or twelve bucks for a proof copy, right?

Investment of Time in a Simple Paperback.

At two or three hours for each file, this puts things into a little better perspective doesn’t it? It sure beats ‘a week or two,’ which was a hit to the old motivation. No one wants to spend two weeks messing with a file—that’s why I sort of put it off until now, a rainy day, and with my most recent book all finished.

Also, the fact that I nailed the ‘Redemption’ POD on the first upload, with the proof copy in my hands, is encouraging.

The basic premise is simple, ‘pay attention or pay through the nose.’ Why? Because to pay for a proof copy, and then when you finally get it, to see that it’s mucked up, and then fix the file, re-upload it, wait for processing, order another proof, wait ten days or so for it to show up in the mailbox again, and only then find another little error is bad policy. It could have been avoided.

It’s costly, time-consuming, frustrating, and unprofessional. So, am I going to upload my file and smash together a cover and go nuts like that? It’s only ten or twelve bucks, right?

Nope. I’m going to nail this little bleeper on the first pass too. That means waiting and taking another look at it tomorrow, and if I was really smart, I’d wait at least two or three days, taking my time and checking every little thing about ten times.

As for the cover, I plan on re-reading the Createspace directions, so that the image is the right size before I really get into it. I will be using the ‘Spruce’ template again, as it looks fine and I liked the result on ‘Redemption.’

Making the Cover.

What I do there is take the original image, re-crop it, and then put new text on it, making danged sure to keep the edges of all text back at least ½” from the edges. That’s it. Drag and drop from that point.

Another brief note; in (or on,) the ‘Redemption’ back cover, I went dead simple with nothing but a text blurb. The next one might have an author pic and a bio, but if it looks too crowded then I’ll just ditch it.

In keeping with the theme of the Shalako Publishing imprint, we’ll most likely use black as the background colour, and that will be fine, considering the marketing image we’ll be using, which is the same as the e-book version. This book has a new ISBN number, as you can’t use the same one for different formats, etc.

Publication Date.

The book will be out by the end of April, in my opinion. As for pricing, I will set it for $2.00 clear profit per copy and we’ll see what that does, as we can always fiddle with it. ‘Redemption’ only brings $1.95 per sale, but that and the 6 x 9” size is how we got it down to $8.99 retail plus S & H in the first place. When using Collections Canada's CISS, (ISBN system,) there's a place where you set the publication date. When I know for sure the number of pages, and when it comes live on the sales platform, I will go back there and make sure all the data is accurate and then set that from 'forthcoming' to 'live,' and we're all done.

Incidentally, the files from Createspace can be used to create the exact same product on Lulu. More platforms means more sales opportunities, and of course you could take your files to a local printer as Pdf's and Jpeg's and print up a million copies if that's what you want to do.

Addendum: a quick check on Lulu reveals they don't have a 5 x 8 option. What this means is that you could select one of a number of sizes, then simply re-size your pages, (all sections,) keeping the margins, headers and footers where they are. 'Save as,' under a new file name. This preserves the original 5 x 8" file.


  1. this is very helpful, thank you! I agree about 6x9 , looks too big for a shorter novel. I'm going with 5 x8 too.

  2. Thank you, you're very kind. Glad to be of help.


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