Feb 19, 2011 - Tech Help    13 Comments

For anyone with Technical Difficulties beyond their control…

The Kindle format giving your trouble?  Not sure how to submit your book to Smashwords?  Want to self-publish with Lulu and not sure what to do? 

Feels like I’ve done it all.  Originally submitted to Lulu.com and self-published.  Formatted the book using every trick in the trade.  Reformatted to submit to Smashwords.  Reformatted yet again to submit to Amazon for the Kindle edition.

I’m a Microsoft Certified Tech, so ask away!


  • Glad to hear it, Dan! So very glad we could spare her from PA. I can say all the nasty things I want about them now. I’m a PA author no more!!! It took a year and a half but I got ’em to terminate my contract. I’ve since re-released my first book with CreateSpace as well. It’s so much better than PA’s attempt.

    Congrats again to your wife!

  • Jeff.
    Thank you for the help you gave awhile back. I have completed the effort of publishing my wife’s book, “Death By Artichoke”, http://www.cozymurders.com and she has already had her first paper interview published today in the Lewiston Sun Journal. She has another coming up in the next couple of weeks with another. CreateSpace was very easy to work with and the cover was refitted even though I made minor mistakes on the spine. This makes the venture a lot of fun instead of the mistakes I made with the you know who publisher that I went through in the begining for my book “The Android Chronicles”. As I told my wife, “It’s all about you hun. Don’t worry about my book. It’s as good as dead. Today is your day in the sun and not mine”. We at least learnt from my mistakes :)Thank you again for your help and instructions on the process… Best Regards, Dan

  • (Had to break this up – was getting long!)

    9. For the cover, if you have a specific cover or image in mind, you’ll have to get really technical and create a book cover yourself and do the same thing, namely convert it to pdf. If you’re remotely familiar with graphics programs, like Paint Shop Pro X2 (what I use), then this shouldn’t be too bad. If you’re unfamiliar with this, I’d recommend using one of their templates to create your cover. Honestly, it’d be a helluva lot easier.
    10. Once the cover is completed, or uploaded (whichever you prefer) they’ll walk you through entering the book’s description, price, author bio, all that fun stuff. It’ll then also ask you where you want to sell your book at. I let mine go wherever they wanted to. I also enabled all the distributing choices except the “Estore” option, which I think let’s them automatically send the data over to be formatted for the Kindle store. I didn’t do this ’cause I had already created it with the kdp.amazon.com website. Plus, I can set my own price independently of the paperback edition. Again, my own personal preference.

    Once everything has been submitted, they’ll go over it to make sure everything falls in place and looks good. They’ll make sure your margins are correct, the cover is good, etc. If they have any suggestions for you, they’ll do so then. If everything looks good, they’ll have you order a “proof copy” so that you can see what it’ll look like in print. Go through your proof copy with a fine-tooth comb. This is your finished product. Make damn certain you’re happy with it.

    I caught a few itty bitty little errors that were just enough to drive me nuts. So I corrected the errors and resubmitted, thereby making me go through the process again, which was fine.

    Like I said, if you do the work yourself, it literally doesn’t cost a thing. I can personally buy a copy of my book for $4.19 + shipping (about $3.75). The more copies you buy, the cheaper the shipping is. I worked it out. Once I approve my proof, if I order 10 copies of my book, at $4.19 a piece, shipping is $8.00. That’s $0.80 per book, making the wholesale price of my book $5.00. I can then sell it at the local bookstore for $9.99 and make a few bucks. 🙂

    So yes, you’re right. The definition of a POD publisher is a Print On Demand service, meaning your book exists digitally. Once someone orders your book then it’ll be printed and shipped out. Oh, speaking of shipping, I don’t know where you live, so I can’t vouch for shipping times, but I place my first proof copy order Sunday night and got an email Monday early afteroon that it shipped. It was on my doorstep on Thursday when I made it home. Talk about fast! And it only cost me about $8.50 for the whole thing!

    Hope this helps!

  • Hi Dan –

    Yeah, I really love Createspace, more so than the first POD publisher I ever went with which was Lulu.com.

    Ok, to answer your questions about Createspace. Essentially, with a POD publisher, if you’re willing to do the work, namely if you prepare the insides of your book EXACTLY how you want it to appear, this will be a breeze. For example, if you want page numbers, you have to add them. Headers & footers are all up to you, as well. Adding the copyright page, dedication, table of contents, all of that falls on you.

    I’m a computer tech, so I’m very familiar with Word 2007 (which is what I used to write my two books). There are all kinds of nifty little tools in there to make your life easier.

    But in essence, here are your first steps.
    1. Determine what size book you’ll go with. I’d recommend their default choice of “tradeback” which is 6″x9″.
    2. Make a copy of your manuscript and tuck it away in a safe spot. Better yet, copy it to a flash drive, just in case. 🙂 You’ll see why in step 3.
    3. Go into your page setup for your word processor and resize the page to make it match your book. For me, I went into the page setup and told it the pages had a width of 6″ and a height of 9″.
    4. Add any headers & footers you may want. On mine, I added my name to the top of the left page and the book title over the right. The best way to get an idea on what your book ought to look like is to go pick up a paperback book you’ve recently read and compare it. Go through it to see what you’d like on yours.
    5. I personally went through and added “drop caps” to the start of each chapter. That’s where the first letter of the first paragraph on the first page is about 3 times the size of the rest of the writing. That’s my own personal preference. 🙂
    6. Go through your book with a fine tooth comb and then have someone else go through it. The cleaner you can get it, the better.
    7. Once you have the interior set how you want it to appear in your book, it’s time to convert it to .pdf. Now, here’s where it might get a little tricky. Take it from someone who dealt with this. To convert your manuscript to the format Createspace wants (.pdf), try not to use one of those free “pdf printer” options, ’cause they keep resizing the page back to 8.5″ x 11″. It was a royal pain in my a$$. Instead, and using Microsoft Word 2007 as an example, my word processor had a feature where I could specify a “Save As” into a pdf format. That tells the pdf that the page sizes should be exactly what has been defined on the document itself.
    8. If you haven’t already, create an account with Createspace. And I would, as R.M. said, upgrade to the “Pro” account by paying the $39 fee. That way you can buy your book (as the author) at a discounted price and you’ll get more royalties when you sell it. Follow the steps to publish a book. You’ll get to the part to upload the interior. When you get to the cover, go to the next step.

  • Hi Jeff.

    Thank you for the advice. I know what you mean about the constant emails. I did have another question and wouldn’t you know it. It looks like you and another author have answered that question before I could ask.

    I was going to ask about a good P.O.D. publisher that won’t destroy the pocket book and I noticed you both writing about createspace.

    Can you tell me more about them? I went to the site and didn’t go any further then too look at the main page. From what I gather it looks like they set you up for free with an I.s.b.n. and process a digital copy of the book which you can order copies from at any time you wish. Am I on the right track? If so are they priced good on copies that you need to order and is their a minimum of copies to purchase at one time?

    Thank you Jeff for any answers you have in advance.

  • So, bottom line. Protect your wife. Don’t let her use PA. Everything PA offers to do (for a fee) is available online free of charge.

    Don’t trust their editing/formatting. Mistakes have been made. You have to keep an eye on them constantly. The cover design was mediocre. Yes, they say that they cover all costs when it comes to producing the book, but it is still better to do it yourself.

    Give it a try. I think you’ll be surprised at how easy it is. And if you get stumped, ask away! I deal with this stuff on a daily basis. Plus I’m a Microsoft Certified computer tech. 🙂

  • Hi Dan –

    Ok, for me, with PA, before I signed the contracts, I asked them specifically about the rights to my book in electronic format. Any electronic format. They (PA) said that if I wanted, they’d add an addendum which stipulates I retain all rights to my book in electronic form. I don’t know if the contracts have changed much, but for me, the addendum was added to paragraph 12.

    Is your wife considering PA? If so, I’d have to ask has she considered self-publishing? You have much more control over your book, the royalties are better, and you can determine what price you want to charge for your book. PA used to pay 8% (yeah, only 8!!) for ebook royalties and then would chrage outrageously for it, thereby assuring you wouldn’t get any sales. Now, PA has said they’ve increased royalties paid to 20%, but it’s still nothing compared to the 60% or higher most places pay, like Smashwords, or even Kindle’s Direct Publishing.

    Tell your wife to seriously consider self-publishing vs. PA. I went with PA just because I thought what could it hurt? They’ll market my book better than I ever could. Yes, they can, but they want ridiculous fees for “we’ll go over and talk to Disney and tell them about your book” in weird places, like Portugal, or Germany, etc. There are all kinds of things PA can be doing to market, but wants $$$ every step of the way, not to mention YOU are their target buyers. They send me at least 10 emails a day.

    Did you say you went with them, too? Then you know what I’m talking about. A word of advice. Unless you’re super happy with PA, start sending them emails now telling them your desire to NOT renew your contract at the end of your 7 years. It took me a month and a half of daily emails trying to get them to acknowledge that I would NOT be renewing. I finally got it in writing from them. If you don’t do that, the contract clearly says that it’ll renew itself for an additional 7 years.

  • Hi Jeff

    This is Scifi lover.

    Hard cover as in the paperback copy produced by PA.

    I remember signing the contract with them last year and didn’t understand my rights to retain the ability to control Kindle. Tus they control that and set the price very high. I would like to understand how this is done so that my wife does not fall into the same mistake that I made. Thank you in advance for any instructions you can offer me.

  • Scifi lover –

    Ask away! When you say hard copy, do you mean a paperback copy? A physical copy?

  • J H –

    LOL Again, trust me. You know they have a power button. You know that the cd-rom tray is not a coffee mug holder. You’re leaps and bounds over many of my clients!

    Actually had a client who poured (accidentally) a cup of coffee on their laptop and wonder why it wasn’t working properly. *sigh*

    For now, the most I can recommend is that you keep your computer updated with any security patches, critical updates, etc., and make certain you have some type of anti-virus software installed that keeps itself updated automatically. I do know of four or five that are free and do a really decent job.


  • Hi Jeff

    Thanks for the visit; thought I’d return the favour!

    Do computers have a sensor for users who exhale coffee through their nostrils while reading blog comments?

    Trust me, I’m technologically impaired. I have en entire IT division that cringes if I walk in their direction..

  • The Kindles like .mobi extensions.

    If you prepare a clean document (.doc) to Smashwords, and then specify you want to “opt in”, they’ll convert your book to a whole slew of formats, including .mobi for the Kindle. Free of charge.


    Many people, myself included, have used this service. I urge you to take a look!

  • what format will the kindle recognize?