The cover, distribution and the final product.
With the manuscript formatted, we can move on to the cover.
NOTE: Do not attempt to work on the cover until you are certain of the final number of pages your book will have. Trying to fix the spine later when it turns out you’ve missed out on a few can be an unnecessary pain.
Again, there are several options on CreateSpace:
1) you can use the cover creator, which is a simple online tool similar to Word templates – just upload your picture of choice, fill in details, and the cover is ready. It is easy to use, but does not give you enough control.
2) pay a professional. CS claims their prices start at $149, but I haven’t explored it so I can’t really say anything about it.
3) create the cover yourself – again, using a template provided.
The picture above shows what a paperback cover template looks like in Photoshop. I did not do any work on that – my wife did, based on the cover by Yue Wang and some stock illustrations from the period. I can only guess how difficult it was to make; one thing you need to remember is the bleed. It sounds terrifying, but as far as I understand, it is the part of the paper sheet which gets cut by the printing machine. These machines are not 100% precise, so you must leave the bleed free of any ‘live’ elements – basically anything you do NOT want cut, like any of the text. The bleed is marked on the template with a broad red outline ; the dotted black line marks the entire area that must be filled with the cover. It can get confusing.
Once you have the cover and the interior, move on to Complete Setup, wait for the files to be reviewed (it does not take 48 hours as the warning claims. The review process is much faster). You will then move on to proofing.
Two options here: digital proofing, or ordering a proof copy. Now here’s a problem if you are not based in the US of A: while CreateSpace has got printers in Europe, the proof copies can only be sent from the US, at frankly outrageous prices. So if you’re impatient – like me – and don’t want to wait for weeks until your proof copy arrives, check the digital proof (you will get a pdf to read through and a gimmicky 3D view of the cover) and cross your fingers and hope it will be fine 🙂
Distribution and pricing
Select as much as you can – it’s your own book, so you have full international rights. No reason to withhold on anything. $25 puts you – allegedly – in the US bookstores and CreateSpace direct distribution. If you chose CreateSpace-generated ISBN in the beginning, you’ll also be able to send your book out to libraries.
Pricing is tricky. The books created by CreateSpace look very professional. They are big, shiny, the paper and print are of good quality. If you made a good on job on formatting and cover, they will be pretty much indistinguishable from traditionally published books. As such, there is no reason to price them much lower than other books in a bookstore – and CreateSpace does not really allow it. I had to price my novel of 340 pages at $12 to come out even: not terribly competitive, but not overly expensive either.
As noted before, personal copies arrive from the US printhouse – so I’m still waiting for those to arrive sometime in August. But the books were available on Amazon.uk within three days – and joined up with the kindle version not soon after (have patience with this: it can take up to a week to join both versions. If it’s still not there, let them know) – so I had to buy my own book to see what it looks like. It looks very nice 🙂
EDIT: I just got the paperbacks, almost a month earlier than expected. Well done CreateSpace!
So there it is. A paperback of volume one. The bad news is, now I have to do it all over again for volume two 🙂 The good news is – volume two is coming soon!