This is Part II of a two-part series on my experiences printing my short story collection one bad twelve. Part II covers the “short list” of tips and tricks that helped me get my title to CreateSpace.
Braindump: Things to Know
Here’s a short list of things to keep in mind when you’re ready to open up that CreateSpace project.
- Look over the half dozen industry-standard trim sizes CreateSpace offers, then scour your shelves for books that match or come close. Then keep them handy, because you’ll want to refer to them for how they handled pagination, header information and location, title page layout, font size, and more.
- Pagination and header information varies wildly, but it’s hard to go wrong with pagination centered at the bottom and your header information centered at the top.
- Fonts: Times New Roman looks amateurish. Consider using Garamond or Bookman Old Style instead. Understand that not all fonts are free nor are all fonts widely available. You will have to “embed” non-standard fonts when you submit your file to CreateSpace (they have instructions on how to do so).
- 12 point font is standard manuscript submission font size, but looks quite large in paperback. Consider 11 point. The exception: if you want your work to qualify as a “Large Print” title, you must go up to 16 point.
- Drop caps in Word 2003 are an easy way to add elegance to chapter beginnings: Format > Drop Cap
You will save yourself a headache by turning Styles “on” and “Show All Formatting Marks”. Among other issues, your spacing may be thrown off by “invisible” blank spaces that are affected by a large font Style that precedes it (like the white space after a short story title or chapter head…see image, to the right). If you don’t notice that it’s the style that’s causing the “too much space” problem, you’ll drive yourself crazy.
- You may have discarded “curly quotes” in favor of straight quotes for easier file transition to digital formats like .mobi and .epub, but straight quotes look antiseptic and unprofessional in print. Consider a quick Find and Replace to get curly quotes back in there for the print version.
- Rather than using images for eye-candy, consider using Wingdings or Webdings–font-based graphical elements–for visual interest to break up chapter sections. DPI is never an issue and their placement is predictable and in line with your text.
Sections and header information
Sections are useful tools to separate, well, sections in a document such as front matter, chapters, and–in my case–different short stories. This becomes ultra-important in print versions where you don’t want header and pagination information to be in any of your front matter (title page, dedication, acknowledgments, contents, etc.). This can only be accomplished by creating a distinct Section and paginating it separately.
It also becomes useful, for instance, if you want different-looking headers. In my short story collection, I wanted my book title (one bad twelve) and name (Matthew Iden) together on all left-hand pages, but wanted the name of the current short story (“Up A Rung”, for instance) on the right (see image, to the right). Again, this can only be done using Sections.
Knowing how to allow other parts of the header and footer to pass through (such as keeping the page numbers rolling along accurately) involves understanding how they are de-linked. I won’t go into detail here, but check out the great online tutorial Headers and footers: From basic to elaborate. The information is specifically for Word 2003, but the concepts should be transferable, especially the section on “elaborate” headers.
- Use CreateSpace’s templates to help you…much easier than figuring it out yourself.
- Be aware that Word does page layout backwards from actual: right is left and vice versa.
- Remember that some front matter pages (like Contents) traditionally do not have facing pages and start on the right.
- The first page of a book traditionally starts on right and has blank facing page.
- An older style for short story collections seems to be to have blank facing page for the title page of each story.
- When you create your book cover or hire someone to have it done, make sure you get a copy that is 300 dpi resolution and that all incorporated photos are of a high enough resolution to print well. Don’t accept a cover from a freelancer that is only “screen ready” at 72 dpi or you won’t be able to use it for your print cover.
- If you take your own photos, always take them at the highest quality you can. A good rule to remember: You can always reduce the quality of an image from the original, but you can never increase it. Resolution quality only goes in one direction!
- If you make your own cover, be sure to keep a layered copy. If you hire out, ask for the layered document; you may not use that graphic artist in the future and a new designer will be handicapped if they don’t have the original art file.
- Remember to “bleed” a “cut off” graphic over the line to get the best trim. If you take a look at one bad twelve’s “walking men” cover, you’ll see that the stock photo is cut off at the top and right. This is just what I want, but if I don’t “bleed it over” the cut off line, I might end up with an awkward-looking black line around the graphic instead of a nice, crisp edge.
- You’ll need a .PDF print driver or .PDF creation software to make the final graphic product to send to CreateSpace. Understand that the PDF file format is free and non-proprietary; although most people know about Adobe Acrobat, there are many .PDF printers available for free.
This is a very scattered, very short list of things to keep in mind. While the sum of the parts might seem daunting, the process is actually very straightforward. Your worst enemy will be tedium as you find small mistakes in your document, unforeseen issues, and enhancements you didn’t think of including until you’ve uploaded your “final” version.
My journey with CreateSpace has only just started; I’ll post a Part III after my proof arrives (soon!) and what it means to move forward from there as I work through the experience…and get my greedy little paws on that first publication.
Addendum: As my friend Adan found out and I forgot to mention, despite the connection to Amazon, your KDP login will not work for CreateSpace. Also, this might be minor for some folks, but printing also allows you to conduct giveaways on Goodreads.com, which does not allow e-book giveaways like Librarything.com. Reaching thousands of new readers is another great reason to get your book in print…so get to work!