Ever since I got the rights back to my first hard cover book, When Danger Calls, I’ve embraced indie publishing. Given that I came into writing well into the digital age, I’d always created my manuscripts on the computer, and had to learn formatting to satisfy the style guides of my publishers. However, there are still readers who love print books. Although not very many of them seem to be the ones who read my books, my mom is one, and for her, and maybe a few others, I wanted to provide a print option for Deadly Bones. The easiest (and I think cheapest) way to do it is to use Create Space.
They walk you through every step, and with the exception of ordering a print proof (which I strongly recommend even though they offer an on-screen version), there’s no cost. And, if you’re lucky enough to know someone who can create the print cover (I happen to have a very helpful daughter!), because a print book needs a back cover and a spine, there might not be any additional expense. Or, your cover artist might be able to do both versions.
Last week, I got the print proof for the Create Space edition of Deadly Bones, and in giving it another read, I found a few glitches. Most were minor—quotes going the wrong way, when I broke up dialogue with dashes. Word has a mind of its own when it comes to some punctuation issues, which is why I don’t like curly quotes. Straight quotes can never go the wrong way. But readers seem to like the curly ones. Creating a book for print is different for digital. You have headers and footers, and this time around, I decided to try justifying the margins.
I’ll be honest here. I sell very, very few print copies of my books, so although I wanted the text to be typo free, I didn’t bother justifying the other two books. If it bothers any of the people who bought one (all 12 of them), they haven’t let me know.
But, justifying the text does look more professional. Then, once you justify, you have to deal with hyphenation. Letting Word do it for you is a disaster, so what I did was simply give a visual scan of the book. When there were big white spaces, I’d do what I could to adjust things. Brought back high school English class. I confess I did look up most of the words before committing to the apostrophe, to make sure I remembered the rules.
In digital books, there are no page numbers or headers. In print books, there are headers (and footers if you’re putting your page numbers there.) The Create Space template does some of the work, giving you different headers for odd and even pages. Look at a print book. See how the book title is the header on one side and the author’s name is on the other? That’s not so hard to figure out, but then the first page of every chapter has no header. That meant going back and swapping page breaks for section breaks on those pages. Likewise, there aren’t headers on the back matter—the stuff at the end of the book.
Another challenge was that every time you change sections in Word, the page numbers start over, so you have to go back and manually re-connect them. At least that’s the only thing I figured out that worked.
Author Julie Ortolon did a wonderful step-by-step blog post about handling headers. You can find it here.
I was very close to farming the formatting out, but if I separate sales of print from sales of digital, I don’t think I’d ever have earned out what I spent. And, I’ve added a few more skills to my toolbox.
Quite frankly, I find formatting a digital book many times easier than dealing with the print version, so I haven’t hired out that part of the process yet.
Want the book in print? It’s here. It may also be at the Amazon store by the time you read this, but the truth is—I make more money if you buy from Create Space!
Causes Terry Odell Supports
Pro Literacy Worldwide, The Nature Conservancy, The Adult Literacy League, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society