Self Publishing: Formatting and Covers

It’s not nearly as hard as it seems to get your book ready to be published. The main thing is to have decent software for it. I believe Word can do most of the things I talk about, but personally I use Libre Office. It’s free, stable, works on nearly any computer, has no adware or spyware, and has a lot of people who use it. LibreOffice also lets you convert things to PDF, which will be important.

 

The Basics

The main thing with getting your book ready to print is converting it to the right size. Many of the books you will be making are nine inches by six inches, and you can go into your page settings and just set the file for that. 11 or 12 point font is about right for many books, though you might want to go a bit smaller depending on the story. Georgia and Times New Roman are good fonts for readability, I really don’t recommend Arial or other sans serif fonts. Still play around and see what you like.

LibreOffice lets you add page numbers too. It’s a fairly simple process to add a header to the top of your document, and create a field so it will automatically number them. LibreOffice’s excellent help files will take care of that, or I could create a tutorial if enough people have trouble. Basically, the idea is that the numbers take care of themselves.

 

Some tips:

Make sure you have all starts of chapters on odd numbered pages. That way they will be to the reader’s right when they come to them.

Same with important pages like author notes, forwards, acknowledgements, frontspieces, tables of contents, etc.

Don’t forget to have a copyright page – CreateSpace lets you get your ISBN before uploading your work, so you can stick that in your copyright information. If you need a good example of what that looks like, pick up any novel and flip to the front.

When you have everything perfect, use the handy Convert to PDF function in LibreOffice. Take a look through and make sure it all looks good. This “locks in” all your careful formatting so it can’t move around.

A note: if you convert your book over to a Kindle version, it’s best to save a copy as a .doc file. Luckily, LibreOffice can do that too. Anybody who’s stuck can feel free to message me, though LibreOffice is really easy to use.

 

Your Cover

When it comes time to create your cover, there are a lot of ways to do it. If you’re like me, you will paint something and put it in GIMP, another free graphics program, and add all your own text etc. Pixabay is actually an awesome resource if you need photos. I prefer GIMP because it lets you work in transparent layers – great because you can have a text layer, a background layer, and more, and when you have to fix something on one layer you don’t have to change the others. For example, I can paint something, take a picture of it, put it into GIMP and make that the background layer, then arrange the text on top of it. It gives me tremendous flexibility.

For those a bit less comfortable with graphics, there is also the option to use a cover creation program. Both Lulu.com and CreateSpace have those integrated. So it’s perfectly possible to make a nice cover without having to hire anybody. If you need ideas, go online and look up other books in your genre. You can learn a whole lot by looking, noticing what you like and what you don’t, and maybe taking a few notes. Cover design is a fine art but you can do some nice work if you pay attention to what is effective in other covers.

If you’ve created your cover in another program, convert that over to PDF too. GIMP does that so you don’t need a fancy converter. Make sure you leave space on the back for the barcode, it’s about 440 pixels wide by 354 pixels high, which works out to about an inch and a half wide by just over an inch high. Your cover should be saved at 300 dpi if you make your own.

Go to CreateSpace and follow their publishing wizard. It will literally walk you through the process, explaining everything as you go along.

If you have more questions, of course I’m here, and my material on under the authors links and publishing links to the right of the page is still there too.

A note regarding ISBNs: There is no need to pay for them, and no need to submit works to the Library of Congress either. Both Lulu.com and CreateSpace will give you an ISBN for free and your copyright notice suffices for protecting your work. If someone tries to charge you for either, run away.

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