Have you ever pictured yourself as a book author? Doing book signings in quaint independent bookstores, randomly seeing your book in the hands of someone at a cafe? Giving away signed copies to your best clients? I admit that I’ve always wanted to write a novel. After several starts and stops over the years, I’ve finally admitted that computer training guides are more my style than the next great American novel!
No matter where your talents lie, the introduction of self publishing has opened up a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs and small business owners to gain respect and show off their expertise. You are no longer limited to selling a PDF on your website. You can now have a professionally printed book hot off the presses and in your hand quickly and without involving a big publishing house.
However, if you are on the less technical side of things, you might be feeling a little bit intimidated. You shouldn’t be. Self-publishing does take a little bit of technical knowledge, but using Amazon’s Self Publishing site, Create Space, it is well within the skill set of the average computer user.
I’ll take you along with me on the process of self-publishing my book, The No-Fear Guide to Updating WordPress on Create Space. This post is part 1, and we’ll look at the process from a high-level. In future posts, I’ll talk about the two steps that stop some first-time self-publishers in their tracks: formatting the interior and creating the cover of the book. We’ll format the book using Microsoft Word and convert it to a PDF using Adobe Acrobat (or a free online converter). I will also show you more than one method of creating the book cover.
What is Create Space?
Create Space is the on-demand publishing arm of Amazon. You can use them to publish books, CDs and DVDs, distributing them out to Amazon.com and other retailers. It’s free to create an account. There are two major advantages to using Create Space for your physical book. 1) Your book is listed on Amazon.com which is the largest online bookseller in the world and 2) You can do very small, low cost runs of your book. That means you don’t have make a huge investment in book inventory just so you can sell books at your next speaking gig or workshop.
Creating a New Title
Once you’ve set up your account and your payment information, you are ready to create your book. Click Add New Title from the sidebar or on your Dashboard screen. You will enter basic information about the project. Entering most of the project details will be self-explanatory. You’ll enter things like the title, information about the author, the description etc.
You’ll need to choose an appropriate size for your book. There are many factors that go into this: the length of the book, the type of book, the manufacturing costs, etc. Be absolutely sure that you’ve chosen the best size before you start to format the inside or create the cover of your book so that you don’t get stuck doing rework.
Format the Interior
Once you’ve determined the size of the book, you can download an interior template to help make formatting a bit easier. In a future post, I’ll show you some tricks for formatting this template so your book really feels like YOUR book. I’ll show you how to use Word Styles to change the look of the heading and how to create an automated Table of Contents.
Create the Cover
You can create your own cover in a graphics program or you can use the Create Space Cover Creator. If you are not experienced with designing graphics, I recommend that you hire a graphic artist with experience creating book covers. A good book cover is an essential element if you want to have a popular book. Once you get that cover art, they might be able to put it in the right format for Create Space, or you might have to do it yourself. I’ll show you how.
There are several other decisions you’ll need to make and fields you’ll fill out for your book. I’m not going into a lot of detail on these because they are fairly self-explanatory and not technical. They include things like the language, description, author information and ISBN number.
The last decision you need to make is to set the price and the distribution channels. At the time of this writing, both standard and expanded distribution are free.
Once you made all of your choices and uploaded your cover and interior, you’ll submit the book for review. Amazon runs your files through automated and in-person checks to be sure everything is fine. In about 24 hours, you receive a message letting you know if your files passed muster. If everything is OK, you can look at a digital proof, and order a printed proof of your book. When you are ready to approve those – voila! You are a published author!
It sounds easy, right? While it’s not incredibly difficult, there are some technical things you need to know to get a quality end result. Stay tuned for the next installment in this series where we’ll go over some tricks I learned when formatting the inside of The No-Fear Guide to Updating WordPress.