If you’re self-publishing your first book, chances are you’ll concentrate on the e-version first and foremost and worry about the print version later. If you format your file yourself (rather than using a company to do it for you) it’s obviously much more complicated and time-consuming (although to be honest, you still have to proof the file, so using a company is not the complete shortcut you might imagine). I’ve laid down a beginner’s guide of things to consider about the file itself.
ISBN – every version of your book will need one, e.g. every print version, every e-version and every audiobook. Amazon will give you an ISBN for free but they’re not stupid and you can only use it to sell on Amazon. I got an ISBN with BookBaby which can move with the book (it was only 10 dollars and to be honest, it’s not much more expensive to get them yourself, just another thing to do). You can buy them direct and in bulk which is cheaper.
Book size – make sure you choose 6″ x 9″ (or something similar – check the size of successful published authors on Amazon) which is the default. Any larger and it’ll be too expensive to print. Correspondingly, make sure you use this size in word, or the file just won’t match up in create space and it’ll go weird.
Colour vs. black and white – unless you absolutely need colour, choose mono. The difference in print costs is monumental. Also, remember that people change the font colours on their devices themselves, so if you try anything clever, i.e. changing the font colours to emphasise certain things, it might not show up. Go simple.
Margin sizes – think it’s .625″ on the inside margin and .25″ on the top, outside edge and bottom. Double check on create space here.
Page numbers – The first page of your book should be a right facing, odd number so you might need to add an extra page at the front to ensure this is the case. Make sure your numbers make sense, e.g. start at 1. You can have pages without any numbers so long as the sequencing is still intact.
Embed the fonts by using a pdf file. Not a word document, or the fonts you use may not be used.
Images – need to be high resolution – ask whoever does your photo to give you one to use for formatting your book. (if you design your own, then I’m sure you know this already).
Make it easy for people to leave a review – embed social media on the final page with direct links through to review sites and twitter, etc. People rarely leave reviews if it’s a hassle to do so.
Finally, make sure you get a copy yourself to double check. Any changes, once it’s out there, will mean another ISBN number so best to do it right first time or it’ll just get confusing for readers trying to find their book (Amazon will not take down any published books under any circumstance).
And I know I’ve said this before on other posts, but DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE the amount of time it takes to put together these documents and to check and double check everything and then do the whole thing again. You don’t want to have to get another ISBN to revise a few small but essential things.
Create Space has produced a step-by-step guide here.
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