Printing Your Book With CreateSpace: Part II

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.

Formatting Basics

  • 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
  • Click for larger image.

    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.

Click for larger image.

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, which does not allow e-book giveaways like Reaching thousands of new readers is another great reason to get your book in print…so get to work!


Writer of crime fiction, psychological drama, and dark humor.

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Posted in Tips for eAuthors
16 comments on “Printing Your Book With CreateSpace: Part II
  1. Hi some great advice, thank you, I have a question for you, I have printed with create space and Kindled, but my printed book is only available in America, I live in the UK so it makes it expensive for me to purchase here because of freight, do you know any way I can get the print version onto Amazon UK?
    MRS T()G

    • Matthew Iden says:

      Hi Mrs.Tog – Thanks for stopping by. I don’t have experience with CreateSpace UK, but a quick search on the CS Forum ( turned up this recent post:

      “Three steps:
      1. Use a UK ISBN
      2. Pay for EDC
      3. List your book with Nielson’s PubWeb.

      Your book will then be available from and not third party sellers. If you have a US ISBN or a CS one and you opt into EDC it will in all likelihood appear sold by third party sellers.”

      This may not help with the basic cost of shipping for you to get your own copies (I don’t know if Amazon UK has printers there), but at least it would put the burden of shipping on your customers and not you.

      I hope that helps. If you find more, please share!

      Also, if you liked this post, please spread the word using the “Share This” social media links. It helps me justify spending the time to write and research these articles. Thanks!

  2. yoga-adan says:

    matthew, is your proof a hard copy? if so did you have to pay for it?

    thanks, gonna have to try this out soon, you’ve made me feel i might be able to pull it off 😉

    i wouldn’t be using word though, so gotta see if that’ll be a problem, though pages does convert to word, but always with some “weird” elements 😉

    • Matthew Iden says:

      Hi Adan! Thanks for stopping by. Sorry I didn’t answer your questions on Part I…I knew I’d be addressing many of them with Part II.

      Re: the proof. Yes, this is a hard copy. It’s a traditional part of the publishing process because it’s the last chance to catch errors in the “real thing”.

      The cost is minimal: ONE BAD TWELVE is 226 pages and they only charged me $7 USD for it, including shipping (slow, though…10 day turn around. You have an option to rush ship, but the price climbs, obviously). I will be able to buy copies of my own book “at cost” for $3.50–neither Amazon nor I make royalties off of author-ordered copies.

      Re: using Word vs. Pages – CreateSpace accepts .rtf and .pdf for your original submission, and those are “agnostic” file formats that give you control over your formatting, so stick with those and you should be fine!

      • yoga-adan says:

        wonderful! pages converts to both formats really well (epub too) –

        liked your suggestions too regarding eye candy, to keep the b&w cost basis

        i’m assuming the color cover doesn’t make a book a “color” book? but remains b&w if mostly print and graphics like you suggested?

        i need to sign up with CS, doesn’t look like my kdp login works there, but i’m gonna call them first, so i won’t end up with too many logins 😉

        thanks matthew

      • Matthew Iden says:

        Hey Adan, that’s great, glad Pages is so versatile. I know on the PC side, many self-pubbers prefer Open Office to Word. I like OO a lot, but just trained to use Microsoft products, I guess, lol.

        As far as I know, no, a color cover does not take you from the B&W category to color. Only interior color (think photos and color charts and graphs) do.

        And, yes, I meant to mention: your KDP and (I believe) your Amazon logins don’t convey to CS…you’ll need a new one.

  3. Great posts on using Createspace, Matt! I do agree that Createspace is an easy option for someone wanting to make print copies available to readers. I have always made more money and found more readers with my ebook versions, but did go the Createspace route for publishing paperback copies of my mystery series. I admit, however, that I pay formatters for both inside copy and covers. For me, the time it would take to learn the ins and outs of doing it myself could have been spent writing. Ultimately, it costs me about $200.00 for all of the formatting, and I make that back in royalties within a couple of months. Since I don’t look to my paperbacks for the major source of my income, it’s worth it to me. Either way – whether do-it-yourself or pay someone else – I think Createspace is a great option.

    • Matthew Iden says:

      Hey Karen! Great to hear the other side of things and I think you’re correct. If you don’t have the professional background or time + interest to learn the in’s and out’s of formatting and graphic work, you’re almost certainly better off hiring someone else to do it. There are great freelancers out there who can do this in their sleep and $200 is a small price to pay for professional help.

      And, as you did, I would recommend those that hire out still use CreateSpace…tell your designer to go through the steps for you. The workflow, sales and royalty reporting, and integral linking to your ebook titles through Amazon are benefits you don’t want to give up.

  4. obiwannabe says:

    Thanks for the inside info, Matt. I’m hoping to be walking this path in the next few months, myself. Is there a limit to the number of author copies you can order?

    • Matthew Iden says:

      Hey, obi, thanks for stopping by. I don’t believe there’s a limit, no. The proof is usually a single copy (I.e., in case you made a mistake), but if I recall correctly, even there CS lets you order as many as you want (I imagine to let you get several proofreaders in on the action).

      Charging “at cost” for member copies is quite a nice feature of CS, as you can order a bunch at just a few bucks per copy for signings and giveaways. And the more you order, the lower the shipping cost.

  5. […] I talk about my experiences and provide some tips and expected pitfalls here (Part I) and here (Part II). I’ll be posting a Part III of the experience […]

  6. […] collection, one bad twelve, using Amazon’s CreateSpace method. Part I covered many of the basics; Part II covered the “short list” of tips and tricks that helped me get my title to […]

  7. […] one bad twelve printed through Amazon’s CreateSpace program (I document it here: Part I, Part II, Part III). The process is easy, quick, and frankly pretty fun when you get the final product in […]

  8. yoga-adan says:

    matthew, i “finally” got through the process of having my file pass the initial viewer on createspace 😉 only took me three days 😉

    oh, i use my own images for covers, and quite a few pre-structured templates were available, and one can upload tiff or jpg images at 300 dpi for use

    i had determined ahead of time i would use the pre-structured options, but found they had more than enough configurations, including where you can use the whole front for your image, choose the color of the spin and back, etc – nice!

    and as an aside and kudos to createspace, i did finally give in and call once for help, and was grateful for a very patient, easy to follow young lady that took me through several sections where i couldn’t find where to finalize my product and have the whole package finally ready for review

    and especially a big thanks to you young man, your three part series on createspace finally got me over the hump to go get mine done too 😉 thank you 😉

    • Matthew Iden says:

      That’s great, Adan! Congrats. I’m glad you found the series helpful. I think the best thing is that the learning you put into CreateSpace on this first project is going to keep helping you down the road. The process will just keep getting easier and easier for you with each successive title; pretty soon, putting out the print edition of one of your books will be a snap. 🙂

      • yoga-adan says:

        i’m counting on that 😉

        ps – literally just got my email from createspace saying my proof is being mailed!

        ps ps – i guess i do have a followup question matthew : i started each new chapter on the right side page –

        and did the same with my final word segment, section on other available titles, and other back matter, do you think that’s ok, or does it matter at all if the back matter sections start on the left or right side?

        anyways 😉 thanks again 😉

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