’m not the kind of person to write a ‘How To’ blog. Mainly because I don’t officially know how to do anything and the things I do achieve tend to originate from brute force and ignorance, blood, sweat and tears – oh, and blind luck. So you’ll be pleased to learn this isn’t a ‘How To’ blog. It’s more of a nightmarish account of the trials and tribulations I had in turning my Ebook into a paperback last weekend.
I’ve put off doing this for nearly a year because I really wanted to see how the Ebook faired before I ventured any further into the foray of self-publishing. And I’m glad I didn’tattempt it before now because, as I’ve said in an earlier blog, the gaffs and errors that existed in the original Ebook were so embarrassing, to have them in print would make me want to top myself. But during a telephone conversation with my mother the other day, she expressed a wish to have a paper copy of my book. She’s 80 years old and understandably doesn’t have access to a Kindle or a Kindle app or even a computer. And so I thought to myself, hmm – well it’s nearly Christmas and I have no idea what to buy her… And that is how the idea first germinated in my mind.
So I rubbed my hands together, rolled up my sleeves and opened my laptop up for business. First I logged onto CreateSpace (which is a sister company of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing who publish EBooks) went through all the inputting of data, bank details, tax malarkey, creating an ISBN number – all that jazz. Next I set about trying to upload the book exterior (the cover). But CreateSpace wasn’t happy with the original tuppenny-h’ppeny cover we used for the Ebook. The resolution just wasn’t good enough and it wouldn’t accept a jpeg either. So I thought, screw it, I’m sick of that day-glow pink cover anyway – with its ridiculously oversized heart on the front (I blame my husband for that heart – I never liked it. I’d told him I wanted a barbed-wire heart, if anything, but he insisted that was beyond his technical capabilities and he needed to fill some space). So instead, I plumped for using CreateSpace’s own cover-creator function. That was a bit of a debacle in itself; trying to find and match a suitable photograph up with one of their title templates, then sticking in a decent blurb, cover colours, font style and colours – all that jazz.
Then began the REAL fun and games. Uploading the interior (the actual book itself). Being that I had uploaded my book to Kindle as an Ebook thirty-g’million times, I thought this would prove no problem at all. But, oh dear God, how wrong I was. The upload was simple enough but when trying to fit the book into the standard 6-by-9 inch book template, well it didn’t quite fit. First off, CreateSpace gave me the option of allowing them to refit the book into a standard template. And this looked God-awful. The print was virtually up against the edges of the page and the writing seemed to be horribly crammed in. So I took CreateSpace up on their second template option which made the book look far more presentable; bigger margins, less cramped – a much nicer reading experience. However, this doubled the thickness of the book – oh, and doubled the price of making the book too…
So then CreateSpace asks you to approve what you have created and I had a flick through the virtual pages. It was then that I noticed that on at least five occassions the book had a blank page before the start of a chapter (which there wasn’t in the original manuscript – I physically went back to check all the page-breaks). And on one or two occasions a new chapter started on exactly the same page as the last chapter had ended. Agghhhh!! If I uploaded that book once, I must have uploaded it fifty times. I kid you not. And finally I thought the issues were resolved and I hit ‘approve’.
After this procedure you must wait approximately 12 hours whilst CreateSpace assesses your virtual book. When this waiting period is up, they email you so that you can go in and do your final approval of the project before allowing it to be available to purchase online. At this point I noticed MORE errors. For one, the word, ‘International’ had decided to separate on the front page, i.e.:-
Which, of course, was exactly the effect I wanted. No it bloody wasn’t! So then I had to decrease the cover page font size. Subsequently I noticed the book didn’t look quite as I expected. I had to physically go to the bookshelf in my lounge and open a real book to prove this to myself. The first chapter of a real book always starts on the ‘opening page’ (the one on the right). And mine didn’t. So, ignoring my husband’s helpful advice to, ‘just leave it as it is and suck it up’, I had to add a blank page and re-upload and re-approve. I think I went through the approval process THREE times (all of which requiring a 12 hour wait before I could access the final draft).
Eventually, after hours and hours of staring at a computer screen and ignoring my family for an entire weekend, I painstakingly leafed through a virtual copy of the book that was acceptable (but for a few asterisks’ which had bafflingly un-centred themselves in the uploading process but at this point I was about to string myself up from the rafters so the crappy un-centred asterisks’ had to stay). I made my final approval and clicked ‘submit’. Eeek!
So, after a few more days of waiting, the book is finally available to order on Amazon. Yay! And no, I can’t get any discounted ‘author’s copies’, as to order the book from America (from CreateSpace itself) works out more expensive than ordering a copy from Amazon UK just like every other buggar. So that’s my mum’s Christmas present sorted (if you know my mum, please don’t tell her – it’s a surprise. Don’t worry, I know for sure she doesn’t read this blog because she doesn’t have a computer). Maybe it’s a birthday gift option for other unlucky family members this year. They’ll probably never read it, but they can just stick it on their bookshelf and think, my daughter/sister/irritating friend wrote that book. Or they can use it to prop open an annoying door that keeps closing (it’s certainly heavy enough). And would I recommend CreateSpace? I guess. It certainly wasn’t a doddle but nothing important comes easy, and had I not needed an impromptu Christmas present, I probably wouldn’t have bothered. Most self-published books are read in the Ebook format these days.
So, perhaps it’s a crappy gift – not much better than buying your loved-one a bowling ball withyour name on it. But my mother expressly asked so it’s not precisely vanity publishing. And for anybody out there who feels a burning desire to buy it, it’s not exactly cheap. CreateSpace can’t make them for any less – and not look like a piece of dog turd (and that’s before I, as the author, even consider making any profit!). To create a print-on-demand book comes at a cost. It turns out, in the (self-publishing) Ebook age, paperbacks have become expensive – maybe because of lack of demand. Or perhaps they are not expensive, perhaps we have just devalued books too much over the years; everybody wants to read for nothing. Anyhoo, now I’m off to order my very own copy (which will never be read in case I come across more errors); you see, I’ve got this annoyingly heavy lounge door I need to prop open…
STOP PRESS: Since the writing of this blog, I’ve received my copy. It’s massive! I’ve seen smaller bibles! I’ve had to go back into CS and re-upload another version in a smaller font with decreased line spacing. Oh, and I’ve had to arrange for customer services to make the pages cream as white turns out to be ‘retina-burning-white’. You see, I make these mistakes so you don’t have to. *sigh*