Top 10 Tips For Self-Publishing Print Books On Createspace

I recently returned to print and because I have absolutely no patience for page layout, Dean Fetzer from Gunboss did the interior for my non-fiction book, Career Change: Stop hating your job, discover what you really want to do with your life, and start doing it!

bookbindingToday, he shares some tips for how you can do it yourself.

There are a number of services you can use to publish your book – they all have different attractions and merits— but I’ve been using CreateSpace’s publishing tools a lot lately, both for myself and for authors I’ve been helping.

It has the advantage of being quite flexible, it manages the process quite logically and just about anyone can get to grips with it – and books appear on Amazon without the delay you get with other services!

So, without further ado, here are my tips for getting the best results from the service.

(1) Plan your book

This might seem obvious, but a little planning can go a long way to getting best result for your book. I’m not talking about the actual writing of it – you’ve probably got that under control.

Note: if you haven’t done it already, you will want to register an account with CreateSpace so you don’t hold up the process later.

Five things to think about when you’re planning your book:

–       What size should it be?

–       Have you got all the images you need for the book?

–       Do you have your own ISBN?

–       Is your book ready or nearly ready?

–       Do you need any professional services?

This last one is probably the most important, as this will add time to your project and needs to be taken into account.

(2) Get your information together before you start

So you’re ready to start – what next? Take a few minutes to think about what you’re going to need to tell people about your book. You need to have this information ready before you submit your book.

–       Title

–       Author

–       Series (Is it part of a series? If so, is it the first?)

–       Publication date (this can’t be before today’s date)

–       ISBN (If you’re supplying your own) [also see What you need to know about ISBNs ]

–       Description (A tight, concise blurb for your book that makes people want to read it!)

–       Author biography (Who are you? What makes you interesting as an author?)

–       Category (Critical to helping people find it and also helps Amazon classify it accordingly)

–       Keywords (These are essential to help people find your book)

–       How much to charge?

(3) Pick a category

You will need to pick a category for your book to help people find it. Known as a BISAC or Book Industry Standards and Communications category, they’re used by the book-selling industry to help identify and group books by their subject matter. Picking this can have a strategic advantage, too, as some categories are over-saturated and it’s difficult to get books into the top 100, much less the top 10 (if that’s your goal, of course!).

If you’ve written a historical thriller romance, then putting it under “Romance/Historical” is likely to give you a better result than lumping it in with all the millions in “Thrillers” that are already out there. And “Thrillers” doesn’t have sub-categories like “Romance”, so this is probably a better fit. You may need to play around with it a bit to find the best category for your book.

(4) Decide on keywords

Another critical way for people to find your book is keywords. These are words that, the more unique they are the more likely people will search on them, whether through Amazon or even Google. You need to think hard about what you put in as keywords, as you can only add five words here. Putting in “Nazi treasure” or “Degas art heist” is much more specific than “thriller”, “first novel” or “vampire romance” and should result in more people finding your book.

Read more about keywords for your book here.

(5) What should you charge for your book?

This is a tricky one, but much more straightforward than pricing an ebook. A simple way to decide what the price should be is to look at other books in your chosen category and see what the average cover price is.

CreateSpace helps with this, as once you’ve submitted your manuscript and chosen the printing size and processes, it will tell you what the minimum price is for you to cover the costs of printing it. As a guide, average paperback prices in the UK are around £7.99-8.99 and $12.99-14.99 in the US. Obviously, the lower the price, the more likely you’ll get someone to buy it.

(6) Choose an industry standard size for your book

Part of determining the price of your book will be the size you choose to publish it at – it can also affect your distribution, as only standard sizes can be set for “expanded distribution”.

Known as “trim size”, as that’s the size of the book once it’s been cut out of the paper stock, a normal paperback size is 5.06”x7.81”. Trade paperbacks come in at 6”x9” and cost more to produce, of course. But the critical point is that they’re known as “Industry Standard”. More information on sizes is available on CreateSpace’s Trim Size chart.

If you don’t know how to set your document up to the correct size, CreateSpace gives you the option to download a Word template once you’ve picked a trim size or you can find a generic one here. I can recommend these templates as it’s much easier to take the text of your book and paste it into one of these than trying to get Word to cough up the right size by yourself.

[ From Joanna – you can also check out the new book design templates from Joel Friedlander, TheBookdesigner]

(7) Formatting needs to be within their guidelines

The next issue is formatting: this is critical to making your book look its best. And a word of warning, too, that a badly formatted book will turn people off as quickly as a badly edited one.

I could devote a whole article to formatting, but I’ll save that for another post. Any formatting issues will be flagged up once you’ve submitted your book for review, but the more you can anticipate these, the smoother the approval process will be. The three main things to remember are:

–       Don’t put any page elements outside the guides for content; whether page numbers or other header or footer info, it all needs to be within the content area.

–       Use print resolution images. If you don’t, the results can be blurry or worse, badly pixilated.

–       Check pagination before you submit anything – one missed page and your whole book needs redoing.

(8) Get your cover professional designed

A professional cover design is critical. I know Joanna’s talked about this before and I can only agree – even in this age of everything digital, a good cover design says a lot about your book even before anyone reads the blurb. More importantly, it can convince them to buy.

So get your cover designed by a professional. CreateSpace offers this as an option, so even if you don’t know a designer, you can get a good cover designed by someone who knows what they’re doing. And they’ll send you a PDF version with all the proper ‘bleeds’ so it will print correctly and make the approval process smoother.

You can find more book cover design options here.

(9) Make sure you have print resolution images

There is quite a difference between images prepared for viewing over the internet and those intended to be printed, even by digital printing methods. If your images aren’t “high resolution” or “high-res”, you won’t get the best results from the printing process and CreateSpace will flag it as an issue.

Your cover and any images you use inside your book need to be at least 300dpi (dots per inch) to ensure they look good once they’re printed in black and white. As a comparison, screen resolution images are only 72dpi on average. And if you’re printing those images in color, this is even more critical. Okay, if the look you’re going for is blurry and/or pixelated, then that’s a conscious decision – just remember there are ways to achieve this and still have a high-res image.

(10) Submit a PDF

Your book is formatted correctly, all your images are print resolution and you’ve checked the pagination to make sure it’s all there. Now you need to submit your file to CreateSpace for approval and printing. While you can submit your interior file as a Word document, I don’t find this as satisfactory as submitting a PDF. Things are less likely to “move” or change if your file is a PDF, as it’s meant for this sort of thing. Word will allow you to generate a PDF these days, but if you haven’t got the latest version, there are conversion programs or even websites that will do the job for you.

If you don’t own a full copy of Adobe Acrobat (not just the reader, that’s not sufficient) and you plan on producing more than one book, I’d suggest getting a copy – it has saved my bacon on more than one occasion!

(11) Order two proofs

Okay, that’s 11.

Still, you should order at least two proof copies of your book – things never look the same on screen as they do in print. You don’t have to read it through, but you do need to look at most pages to make sure everything is as it should be. And get someone else to look at it, too as you may miss something critical.

When you’re happy with the way it looks in print, approve it and you’re done!

Do you have any questions about print publishing on Createspace or any other service? Please do leave a comment below and we’ll be happy to answer them.

I can help!

Finally, if all this seems daunting, I can help. Whether you just need a cover file produced, or your book formatted so it looks professional or you need it copy-edited, you can get in touch with me and I’ll provide as much (or as little) help with your project as you need. And I’m reasonable!

dean_fetzer_lgYou can find more information on the services I provide at or contact me through the form on the site [ ]

Dean Fetzer is the author of three thrillers, a former pub reviewer and has been a graphic designer for more than 20 years, designing for print and then the internet before naturally moving into book design.

Top image: Flickr Creative Commons Bookbinding tiny books by Solsken

Be Sociable, Share!


  1. says

    I have co-authored a historical novel/modern detective story, which has been published by a small press in Boston which now uses CreateSpace for its printing. The paperback book looks great until you take a peek inside. The print is tiny and there are huge side margins (and even the top and bottom margins are on the large side.) The publisher says he did everything by CreatSpace’s rules but each time the book formatted for 6″ x 9″ with font 12 is submitted to CreateSpace it comes back the same: font 8 or 9 and all that white space. We thought it might be that our Word file (and pdf) was European sized (we live in Italy) and not American-sized, but even having the publisher create the Pdf on his American computer hasn’t helped much. For CeateSpace all is OK. But we have a book that is almost impossible to read…despite good reader response. It is maddening and the publisher doesn’t seem to have any ideas. Any advice on what to do? What kind of file to submit? (p.s. even the kindle version has problems with irregular paragraph indentations!)

    • says

      I did this by mistake once – had my page size set for 8.5×11 instead of 6×9, so they reduced the image to fit the page. Figured it out when I got the proof, so it didn’t go to print that way. At least with Createspace, even though you’ve gone to print, you can change it any time, so get the publisher or someone who knows how to format it properly to reformat it and resubmit to Createspace.

    • says

      Hi Gayle,

      PD’s right, it’s a formatting issue. Somewhere in the setup process, you’ve got a page that isn’t set to 6″x9″ – when setting the page size, you need to make sure that you’ve selected the whole document to set to that size. Regardless of what it looks like on screen, if you haven’t told it to make the whole document 6″x9″, it’ll appear when the final file is generated.

      This just highlights the need to generate – and proof – a PDF before you submit it.

      Hope this helps, but let me know if you need more information.


      • Leslie Freudenheim says

        November 3, 2014
        I need advice:
        I have just finished co-authoring a book on Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s been edited extensively and we have 40 images we want to insert.
        1. Is it sufficient to hire a designer who knows how to lay out/design a book and code it for amazon.ipub to upload? or
        2. Is there good reason to submit the book to Createspace and use one of the designers they suggest instead of using the designer who designed my hardback book (pre-self publishing). He says he knows how to lay it out for both kindle and print on demand.
        Leslie F.

        • says

          Hi Leslie,

          As long as your designer lays the book out to fit with CreateSpace’s guidelines, there isn’t a problem with doing it yourself – that’s what this is all about!

          As Joanna has said below, you can’t just upload your book to Amazon without a lot of difficulty. It’s far easier to use CreateSpace which, when you submit your book, often has it available to buy on Amazon in a couple of days. (best selling point, in my opinion as other suppliers can take up to 8 weeks to submit your book).

          Hope this helps, but let me know if you have any further questions.


          • says

            I just finished submitting my book file to CreateSpace and they are very helpful. I talk to a representative , immediately, by filling out the call me now. The answer to whether or not you can do a coloring book on their website is “Yes” but the thing I actually ran into was my lack of experience with .pdf files. Once that was figure out, it was a breeze.

      • Shannon says

        Hi Dean,

        Regarding size, the book I am starting to write is a How To (presentation skills, e-mail communication, etc.) book for ESL (English as a Second Language) students.

        What is the standard size for such how to type books – 6 x 9?

        Thanks again.

    • says

      I have had very good luck publishing with Create Space (by which I mean the books came out looking the way I wanted them to, not that they sold all that well).

      I use Open Office to format my books, and it has an option to export your book as a PDF. This means, among other things, that the PDF uses the same page size as your document, so when you submit the PDF to Create Space you don’t get surprises. Things have gone wrong, but in every case they were my fault and I was able to fix them.

      I design my own covers and format my own books. I feel more confident in my ability to do these things than I do in my ability to do the actual writing. I use free display fonts from Font Squirrel and public domain images from has page images from books that have fallen into the public domain (before 1923 in the U.S.) Those images can include illustrations which you can use for free. You can see examples of my book covers at my Google Site:

      Create Space will give you an online store to sell your books and your royalties for these sales will be much higher than they will be on Amazon. The problem is, whatever you set your price to in Create Space, Amazon will sell it for less than that. The same thing applies with Expanded Distribution. Yes, technically this makes it possible for your book to be sold in book stores. What it really means is that your book can also be bought at the B&N website for full price, your royalty will be less for those sales than for the ones from Amazon, and your customers will pay more than they would on Amazon. So the Create Space store only makes sense if that is the ONLY way you’ll sell your book and you have some way to steer customers to it. Expanded Distribution only makes sense if you want your book sold in bookstores, and the bookstores want to sell your book. If Oprah Winfrey ever self published a book this would be a good option for her,

      CR does a good job with colorful covers and black and white interiors. Color interior pages are expensive (four times as much) and every page is treated as a color page whether it needs to be or not. I did publish one small book of color photographs and it didn’t come out that well and even with a very small royalty it was much more expensive than full color books you’ll see at a bookstore. I can’t recommend CS for color interiors.

  2. Sunny says

    How does this apply to children’s books regarding format? Is that any different? I have several children’s/comic books that I am attempting to publish and am hoping to switch from Lulu, as the prices are too high.

    • says

      Hi Sunny,

      Well, I’d say it depends: the question is more about the content when it comes to children’s books – if they’re black and white they should be fine. I’d urge caution with colour, as the paper’s not very heavy, even with colour printing; a lot of reports suggest it’s not that great for full colour printing.

      If you’re unsure, give it a go and see what happens. Personally, I’m suggesting clients go to Lulu for better quality colour printing. It’s not Blurb perfect, but the quality is better than I’ve seen with CreateSpace or Ingram Spark.

      Hope that helps, but let me know if you have any other questions.


      • Laura De La Cruz says

        I see that the royalties are different if people buy the book from CreateSpace vs. Amazon. Should I encourage people to go to CreateSpace?
        Probably a “duh” question, but if yes, then I just use that URL to send (I do a bunch of marketing of my book on FB).
        Thanks and thanks for responding!

        • says

          Hi Laura, many apologies for the delay in getting back to you – it’s been a busy summer!

          You can encourage people to buy direct from CreateSpace, but it’s a fact of nature that people are basically lazy – if they’ve already got an Amazon account (and most people do) they’re more likely to buy it there, rather than set up an account at CreateSpace.

          And you could just end up upsetting people if they don’t want to go down that route. By all means do what you can, but I think you’ll find the Amazon links better received.

          Hope that helps, but let me know if you have any other questions.


      • Leslie Freudenheim says

        November 3, 2014
        Can we submit a finished book, designed and formatted directly to Amazon to upload to print on demand? Or should we go through Lulu, or CreateSpace or Blurb?
        The book is currently 48 pages double spaced but with 40 color photos it will be longer. Print quality is important.
        Leslie F.

        • says

          Hi Leslie,

          I wouldn’t go through CreateSpace if you’re after high quality – you’d be better off with Blurb for the best results, but it’s not cheap. That said, it sounds like the kind of book you’re producing is aimed at a more discerning market, so cheap isn’t really an issue. All my photographer friends use Blurb, which is a high recommendation in my book.


  3. says

    I am thinking of converting my ebooks to paper books on createspace. Since their royalty setup depends a lot on page count, can you tell me how many words go on their average page?

    • says

      Hi Mark,

      Very sorry it’s taken so long to get back to you.

      It’s not the royalties that are affected by page count as much as the price to produce the book, which means you may have to charge more for a book, possibly making it uncompetitive on price. I admit it’s a balancing act – whether to charge enough to make a profit or keep the price down to remain competitive and still convince people to buy it, taking a much reduced royalty.

      Word count is a tricky one as it depends on things like fonts used (they have different sizes, even when you specify the same pt size), letter and line spacing, page size – all of these affect how many words you can get on a page.

      That said, my rule of thumb is that 250-300 words per page is about normal in your average paperback . If you use 250 as a worst case scenario, you should be fine.

      Hope this helps, but let me know if you have any more questions.


  4. says

    Hi, I have my book of photography printed already. Can I still use Createspace to sell it in amazon? or I have to print the book with Createspace?
    Juan Mayer

    • says

      Hi Juan,

      If you’ve already printed a book does it include an ISBN? If you reprint it with CreateSpace, you will need a new ISBN as they’re very strict about reusing and ISBN from another version.

      You will also need to lay out your book to their guidelines as it won’t pass the approval process if it breaks basic things like margin specifications or colour specifications.

      So, basically, you’re going to have to do it all again!

      Let me know if you have any other questions.


    • Princila M says

      To the best of my knowledge, you can get published from anywhere in the world. All you need is access to the Internet, good writing and communication skills.

    • says

      Hi Eshaal,

      If you mean can you publish via CreateSpace in Pakistan, I have to admit to not being sure.

      Have you tried to set up an account? If not, your best bet is to contact CreateSpace direct and ask the question. You may have to take any earnings in dollars or euros, from the pages a quick search turned up.

      Sorry I can’t be more help, but I am aware that this is an issue outside Europe and the US.


    • says

      Hi Susan,

      There are numerous ways to provide the interior of your book to CreateSpace, but the most foolproof in terms of retaining the layout is to create a PDF of the final manuscript when you’ve got it set out. This is easily done with Microsoft Word now, as it allows you to save a file as a PDF. You can download Word templates from CreateSpace for the interior files.

      In terms of the cover, you will need a full wrap-around cover that comprises the front, back and spine, including an ISBN barcode. There are templates available from CreateSpace to help with this, but you really need to have an image programme like Photoshop or at least Gimp to do it justice.

      When you get to the submission stage, there are lots of things to have ready which I think are all covered in this article, so have another read.

      Hope this helps,


        • says

          Ian, both and GIMP are great programs. I admit to not using as often as I use GIMP, however, there are particular things that I do with each. I also have Corel Draw X6 Graphic Suite and Draw Plus X5. Both of those are a headache to learn, but worth it. You’re correct about, as I use it fairly frequently. Thanks for the program!

  5. Yve says

    I just received my first book proof from Amazon’s CreateSpace. The cover looks great, but they said they had to add a plain white binding and back cover.
    Was the cover I uploaded supposed to include a binding? I don’t so much mind the blank back. Or will the actual book that people buy have the title, etc on it? I only uploaded a front cover for the size of the book.
    Thank you in advance for any help!

    • says

      Hi Yve,

      You will need a full wrap-around cover for your book – if the spine and back are blank, it looks like a mistake! People are used to books that have text on the spine and information on the back, which you are hoping will help persuade them to buy it if they picked it up in a bookstore. It also doesn’t present your book as well as you might like, and the last thing you want to do is make your book look bad.

      Ian’s right, yes, you can use the cover generator from CreateSpace to generate the full wrap around cover. There are also templates you can download from CreateSpace to fit your book and edit with Photoshop or one of the alternatives (as you can see from the earlier post, there are other programmes, I just always use Photoshop because it’s what I know).

      Alternatively, you can find a cover designer and get them to do the cover for you. And getting a professionally designed cover done can make your book look all the better for it. Remember you want your book to look as professional as possible and a good cover is part of the package.

      I can’t stress highly enough how important this is – and if you need any help, just let me know, as I’m happy to answer questions.

      Hope that helps,


    • James Simmons says

      For covers in Create Space I use the cover creator and “The Palm” template. This lets you submit a front cover image and a back cover image, plus you can select the colors and words you want to appear on the spine. I am happy with how the books look. You definitely need to check out cover creator. There are many options, any one of which is better than what you’re doing now.

  6. says

    I had a book published my books were sent to and when I read one I found out I could not market them do to the fact none of my research information was put on the books so now I was told I cannot sell them nor market them and it is going to cost me again to republish them I don’t want to be sued for not putting research information and there are so many grammar errors what can I do is there a publisher who I can get to redo my books with out paying a arm and a leg ?

    • says

      Hi Carlyle,

      I’m not sure how your book was published before, but if it was submitted to CreateSpace, it won’t cost you anything to resubmit it – that’s one of the great things about publishing that way.

      If you are talking about the actual setup of your manuscript, then that’s a different matter.

      When you say that none of your research info was put into the book, are you talking about footnotes? Endnotes? References at the end of chapters? That may be easy to fix, but without seeing the manuscript, it’s difficult to say. If you want me to take a look, drop me a line at dean @ gunboss dot com. I may be able to help, or at least let you know what I think.



  7. Don Chatfield says

    Ready to publish my mystery, like what I hear of CreateSpace, but dismayed by the bad experience reported at CreateSpace Sucks (100% of his print copies arrived in terrible condition).

    Has that all been corrected since 2010, do you know?



    • says

      Hi Don, I’ve been using Createspace for a number of years now and I am SUPER happy with them. But your other option for print on demand is Ingram Spark so check them out too.

    • says

      Hi Carlyle,

      I’m not sure how your book was published before, but if it was submitted to CreateSpace, it won’t cost you anything to resubmit it – that’s one of the great things about publishing that way.

      If you are talking about the actual setup of your manuscript, then that’s a different matter.

      When you say that none of your research info was put into the book, are you talking about footnotes? Endnotes? References at the end of chapters? That may be easy to fix, but without seeing the manuscript, it’s difficult to say. If you want me to take a look, drop me a line at dean @ gunboss dot com. I may be able to help, or at least let you know what I think.



    • says

      Hi Don,

      Sorry about that stray post. As Joanna says, the CreateSpace experience is vastly improved since that website was written. From my experience, the bad experiences tend to be problems with initial setup, not with the supplier. And you can hardly argue with all the people who are successfully publishing their manuscripts with CreateSpace!

      I’d say, give them a go!


  8. says

    Dean, I have a coloring book that is several weeks in the works. Is Creatspace setup to handle that, or is there a better way to go with such a project?

    • says

      Hi DFallis,

      Are you talking about a book with black and white line drawings in it? If so, then that’s probably going to work okay, although I’m not sure the paper stock is heavy enough for colouring; it’s likely you’ll get bleed through, particularly with marker pens or other saturating colouring tool.

      You may have to try it and see what the results are like. For heavier paper, you could try Lulu, but it’s not likely to be cheap. I understand Lightning Source has a heavier paper, but it is also not cheap, and isn’t that friendly in terms of setup.

      Hope that helps and good luck!


      • says

        Since you can set up for free, and then order a proof, you’ll be able to see exactly what the final product looks like quite inexpensively. Give it a try to see if the quality is what you are looking for.

  9. karen says

    Can a PDF be too large for Create Space to manufacture? My print ready 8 1/2″ by 11″ PDF will be approximately 700 pages, including text and 400 photographs. Thanks.

    • says

      Hi Karen,

      Yes, you can hit limits with CreateSpace in terms of page size – I haven’t yet hit one for file size, but there are strict limits on page counts for all the different formats. You will find a list of the most popular ones here:

      From that list, I’d say you’re not going to be able to use CreateSpace, black and white or colour. Out of curiosity, what kind of book are you producing that size and pagecount?

      I would also say that one thing to watch is slippage when you print a book that big as when they go to trim it, the thickness of the book can make it slip in the cutters and you end up with wonky pages.

      Let me know if you have further questions,


      • karen says


        I will study the link you included as well as the Create Space website. In answer to your question, my intended 8 1/2 x 11″ book is a “regional” historical collection of unique life accounts and photos from 75 people who lived in the lumber mill, logging camps, and small timber towns of northwestern Mendocino County, California, during the mid 1900s. Of course my preference (within my budget) is to keep the book in one volume. I am setting the text and photographs in InDesign CS5.5. Now I have the consideration to use the 7.5 x 9.25 trim size which would allow for a max 828 page count, or divide it into two books. I am continuing to learn to use InDesign and Photoshop throughout my five year project so I will need to learn how to resize from 8 1/2 by 11, or divide into two books. If I choose the smaller trim size for the 700 pages will the “wonky” :-) pages?

        What would you suggest?

        Thanks so much.


        • says

          Hi Karen,

          You may not see ‘wonky’ pages at all, but it’s something to be aware of when you’re proofing. I’ve never done a book that size with CreateSpace and I’m not sure I’d recommend them for a book that is so photo heavy. You may also get bleed through from the other side where you’ve got a particularly dark photo – 60gsm is a little light in terms of photographs and “ink” saturation.

          And James’s advice on what to do with the cover is good – photos are a good bet and will look good on it.

          Hope this helps, but let me know if you have any further questions.

          Kind regards,


      • karen says

        Dean and James,

        For clarity about my photographs. All of my photographs are informal pictures, many taken with the old “box” Kodak cameras. They present themselves as little photos in an old fashioned “scrapbook” with black photo corners surrounded by story text. With the best of printing presses, they probably wouldn’t have more clarity than now because they are informal pictures to begin with. They do print to my satisfaction on my desktop printer. My book is approximately 1/3 photos and 2/3 text. With the above information in mind, do you think the 60lb. white paper is appropriate? I appreciate and consider your responses.



        • James Simmons says


          If you are happy with the way your pictures print on regular (not photo) paper you’ll be reasonably happy with CS. For a book on your subject cream paper might be preferable. I mostly use cream paper, but I have published books on computer programming that use the white paper. Proof copies are cheap. Get a bunch of them until you are happy with the results. Try to get it right the first time, but realize you probably won’t. You can donate the imperfect proofs to a library sale.

          If you have a couple of really nice photos put them on the front and back covers. Photos on the cover look a lot better than they do in interior pages. You might use The GIMP to give them a sepia tone.

    • James Simmons says

      700 pages is at or near the limit for Create Space. Also, 8 1/2 by 11″ is an odd size for a book. You may want to pick a more standard size. That will of course affect your page count.

      Illustrations can look nice in a Create Space book, but photos in a normal book will be printed on “slick” paper and tipped in. If you have 400 photos in a 700 page book it sounds like the photos are the point of the book and I don’t think you’ll be happy with how they come out. Drawings and computer screen shots look fine. I did a memoir with a few photos and I was happy, but the photos weren’t the most important thing in the book. I just needed them to be clear. They didn’t need to be beautiful.

      Color photos are incredibly expensive in Create Space and I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be disappointed in how they look.

      On the other hand, any kind of illustration on your book cover will look really nice, as good as you could ask for.

      With Create Space you need to build on its strengths, which is beautiful color covers with readable B/W interior pages.

      Here is a series of books I published with CS:

      Do a “search inside” to see how I handled interior illustrations. I think these books show off what CS does well and avoid what it does poorly.

  10. Shannon says


    So I need to start writing my manuscript in Word as a Word document first, right? Then, I need to convert that Word document to a PDF, correct? I thought we could just type our manuscript directly into Create Space.

    If we have problems with pictures and sizing and formatting and layout, are there any Create Space staff that will help us with the document?

    Thank you.

    • says

      Hi Shannon,

      I’m afraid CreateSpace is a finishing shop, not a means to help you with your manuscript. At the very least you have to submit a finished manuscript to them and yes, there are people there who will help you with the layout of your manuscript – for a price. It is an option, but there’s no guarantee you’ll be happy with the results and it could well cost you quite a lot of money.

      You can do a lot of it yourself – you can download a template from CreateSpace for the size you want, not to mention a cover template when you’re ready for it. If you don’t want to do it yourself, there are people that can help you, too.

      Personally, I wouldn’t rely on CreateSpace to do your work for you, but it is an option.

      Hope that helps, but let me know if you have any more questions.


  11. Amanda Bird says

    Is it possible to make changes to your book after you’ve already published it and started selling–a second edition, or a corrected edition, or something like that? If so, are there fees involved?

    • says

      Yes, of course you can make changes – just upload a new version. With Createspace, the only fee is ordering a new review copy if you want to do that – otherwise, you can just review online.

  12. says

    createspace formatting is much scarier than ebook or mobi – I think I might have to resort to fiverr to find someone to do it for me – it’s a collection with about 7 tables of contents!!!

    But this post has helped allay my fears somewhat anyway, thanks! Wish me luck :-P

  13. Roger Heppleston says

    I am planning to publish a book using Create Space’s free IBSN. I have a cover and and am at the satge of creating a typeset PDF but I am unclear who creates the copyright and publishing page at the front of the book. If its me , how do I get the information?


    • says

      Hi Roger,

      Yes, you are responsible for creating the copyright page – I’m afraid it’s all down to you! CreateSpace adds nothing to your files, including the ISBN or any other information that pertains to the publishing of your book.

      You don’t have to put a great deal on the copyright page beyond your copyright info (i.e. © Roger H 2015) and the ISBN number that you’re allocated by CreateSpace. Many authors in the US leave it simply as ‘All rights reserved’. I would add ‘First printed in this edition 2015′ and credit any creatives that may have helped you put the cover imagery together or laid out your book for you. There is more information that tends to be included if you’re based in the UK, but if you’re aiming at a global market using CS as your publisher of record, it’s probably not that critical.

      Hope this helps, but let me know if you need more information.


  14. says

    Hi Joanna–I’ve enjoyed your site and hearing you on the Self-Publishing Podcast with Dave, Johnny & Sean. My question is in regard to the high-res photos in a CreateSpace book–I’ve been an Indie author and publisher for many years (since before KDP), and authored 43 books, but i still have trouble with the inside images. I know it’s best to have images that are larger so scaling down (and never UP) will retain better quality, but it seems that no matter what I do, and no matter how many times i submit images (author photo, chapter adornments, scene separators) to CSp within my book file, it always gets flagged as not high quality enough and the resultant proof shows that too. Poor quality. There must be some trick to this without having to hire expensive graphic folks or buying huge amounts of commercial decorative elements. I have Photoshop elements and GIMP, which i use most for these things, plus irfanView. Any idea how to get print-quality for these images? It seems unnaturally complicated. Thanks.

  15. says

    Thank you so much for this post! I’m getting ready to try and publish my first novel, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, within the next six weeks. (It’s amazing how your first child’s due date can motivate you to get things done.) I’m looking at purchasing a set of 10 ISBNs from Bowker, as I have more books I’d like to publish in the future. I’m also wondering, however, if I should purchase a barcode for the CreateSpace version. And if I assign the book an ISBN and barcode, can I still order proof copies and fix things before publishing so I don’t have to use multiple barcodes?

    • James Simmons says

      You can get a free ISBN from Create Space and unless you have a specific reason not to do that I would. You’re going to get a bar code on the back of your Create Space book whether you want it or not. No need to buy one. Having an ISBN is needed before you upload your book. It in no way affects your ability to order proof copies, publish your book, revise your book, etc.

    • says

      Hi Brittany,

      Sorry for the delay in getting back to you – it’s been a bit mad!

      If you are planning to publish more books, then yes, I’d order the ISBNs. I don’t usually recommend people buy the barcode as well, unless you don’t have a way to produce them yourself – it’s an unnecessary expense in my book. And there are places online that will generate them for free.

      While you can use CreateSpace’s free one, there is a feeling in the indie community that this is not a “professional” option. Call it snobbery, but don’t forget you’re competing with the traditional publishing industry and you’re trying to produce the best book you can. The better it is, the less likely you’ll be criticised for quality, or being an ‘indie’ author.

      James isn’t entirely accurate with his statement about barcodes: these have to be put on your cover imagery by you or your cover designer – CreateSpace does not add this automatically unless you use their cover design wizard and again, not necessarily the best option for getting the cover your book needs.

      I hope this helps, but let me know if you need further information, either here or via email, and I’ll endeavour to answer your questions.


      • James Simmons says

        When you speak of the cover creator wizard there are a couple of options that give you more flexibility than the others. One is called “The Palm” and it lets you use a JPG for both your front and back covers and lets you specify the colors and fonts for the spine. You can make a nice enough looking book with this option. I’ve been happy with mine.

        There is another one that lets you use a JPG as a fully formatted wraparound cover. I haven’t tried it, but I would guess that you’ll get the barcode when you use this.

        I agree the other options in the wizard aren’t that great.

        I have a picture of some Create Space books that I published using “The Palm”:

      • says

        “James isn’t entirely accurate with his statement about barcodes: these have to be put on your cover imagery by you or your cover designer – CreateSpace does not add this automatically unless you use their cover design wizard and again, not necessarily the best option for getting the cover your book needs.”

        Hmm… the Createspace templates show you what space you/your designer need to leave clear for the bar code. When you upload a finished pdf cover, Createspace does, in fact, insert the bar code automatically.

        • says

          P D, is that with the free ISBN? CreateSpace has never added a barcode to my covers! I’m afraid my inner control freak is showing as a) I’ve never used the free ISBN as I like having the publisher of record be me, and b) would never trust them to put it in the right place! If it does add a barcode, that’s definitely useful for people who are unsure of the technology.

          That said, I can’t stress enough that getting a cover professionally designed is crucial to putting the finishing touches on your book, particularly if you are planning to publish your books long term – the cover is a prime marketing tool and is so important: just ask Joanna!


  16. Barbara Palumbo says

    I would like to publish a memoir book written by my mother, would like to have some pages with color photographs in the middle possibly on coated paper. Which self publishing company allows you to combine papers in a situation like this? I have been searching and cannot find this information anywhere.

    • says

      Hi Barbara,

      I’m afraid that what you’re looking for is not yet available. What you’re looking for is something a traditional printer can do, but not something you can do via one of the self-publishing outlets.

      Digital printing doesn’t allow for the manual insertion of different papers – every part of your book is printed on the same paper, regardless of content. This is an ongoing issue and one that I hope will be addressed in the near future, particularly where quality is concerned. I wouldn’t recommend CreateSpace or Ingram Spark for full colour printing as the paper stock they use is just too thin, resulting in image bleed through the paper. Lulu is better, but still on the thin side. If you want good quality colour printing, then something like Blurb is the best option, but it’s also pricey.

      I would suggest two versions of the book: one that uses black and white photos (they can be converted) for the mass production version and a limited edition put together by a small press or book binder that includes the colour photos you’re after. Alternatively, find a traditional printer you can work with and get copies produced that way. It won’t be cheap, but it will probably give you better results. Of course, you will have to manage the distribution, too, but it really depends on what you want to do with the book.

      Hope this helps, but let me know if you have further questions.


  17. says

    I am totally overwhelmed with trying to decide how to publish my memoir. As soon as I settle on Createspace, I hear about IngramSpark or Smashword! I want to publish to eBook and POD. Any advice??

    • James Simmons says

      I published a memoir on Create Space and am pretty happy with how it came out:

      I’ve said this on a few other posts on this blog, but you can have a nice looking book if you put color pictures on the cover, black and white inside, and use “The Palm” cover template which lets you specify an image file for the front cover, another for the back, and which puts the title on the spine for you.

      I would recommend saving your manuscript as HTML and using the free program Sigil to format your e-book from that. This will give you something very close to what your customer will get, so you can make certain that the formatting is as good as it needs to be.

    • says

      Hi Hank,

      I would recommend CreateSpace for most users for print versions as I think it’s the easiest one to use, particularly if you’re not terribly technical. I find Ingram Spark a bit clunky in comparison, but it has things that recommend it to some users. And CreateSpace gets your book on Amazon in next to no time.

      In terms of the ebook version, the best solution is to submit your book directly to Kindle Direct as opposed to using the conversion option in CreateSpace, as it won’t give you the best results. I would also recommend submitting it to Smashwords for the other platforms, at least, as it will get your book available on more platforms.

      I have also received your email and will be responding very shortly!



  1. […] into a book with them? Dean Fetzer (@deanfetzer) of British publisher GunBoss Books provides his Top 10 Tips For Self-Publishing Print Books On CreateSpace on The Creative Penn. While posts like this have appeared before, what I like about these (11, […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *