As I mentioned in Part 2, don’t let anyone tell you that you need to pay for an ISBN, or for submitting things to the US Copyright Office to “protect your copyright.” Keeping the file on your own computer is fine. That will show the time stamp on it in case anyone doubts your ownership. I do recommend backing up your work on a thumb drive or external hard drive, though! If you publish a book, putting the copyright notice near the front of your book protects you as well. You know the one, “this is a work of fiction… ” etc, etc.
I like to set up the title and author info on CreateSpace (or Lulu.com) first, so the service gives me the ISBN, then I put it into my formatted file, convert it to PDF, and then upload it. After that, CreateSpace asks you to briefly describe your book, say who wrote it, and asks you how big you want your book to be. 6″ by 9″ is a good size to work with, that’s the standard trade paperback size. If you need templates for covers or interior pages, CreateSpace provides those too. Google “CreateSpace templates” for more information.
Your short description is often called a “blurb.” It’s best to keep this relatively short, maybe a few short paragraphs, because the idea is to entice the reader in and tell them what’s special about the book in a short amount of time. You can use your cover description for this, or something a little longer. Your book may have really great points about it, but a text wall is not inviting to readers. Just reading the descriptions of a lot of books online will start giving you ideas about how to do this and what it needs to say. Notice what you like, what you don’t, and what works for you with what you see.
Setting up your book
While you are setting up your book on CreateSpace, there will be a place where it asks you to set up a BISAC Code. That’s really easy. Basically, you are giving the two main categories that your book fits in. That will affect who sees the book, and who Amazon tries to sell to, as well as where it would be shelved if you get into a bookstore or library. For example, my comedy book might be in fiction: comedy, as well as comedy: business. Play around with it to see where you might fit, you can change it later.
Also, they will ask you to set up five to seven keywords. A keyword can be a short phrase. This makes your book easier to find in net searches. For example, my comedy book might have “comedy, humor, business, customer service, advice” as the keywords. Note that “customer service” counts as just one keyword. Again, you can change those too.
Next, CreateSpace will ask you where you want to sell your book. They will give you the opportunity to market your book worldwide! No extra fee is needed for that. You will also learn what the basic price is to print your book, so you can choose how much profit you get. There are certain guidelines to this but everything is really clearly explained.
Finally, when you have your cover uploaded, your interior text uploaded, and everything filled out, it will let you do a final review, and you can submit. It takes about a day for final approval. When the files are ready, they will email you and you can give your final stamp to it. You can either use their interior reviewer to check the final proof, or buy a proof copy. It costs three or four dollars plus about four dollars shipping. That step is optional, but at least look at the digital copy before submitting.
Then, feel free to publicize all over, put it on your blog, brag about it, and pat yourself on the back! You’re an author! I’ll give tips on marketing in the next post.
Bonus tip about covers: Make sure and leave space at the bottom or to one side of the back cover for the barcode. If you don’t leave space, or if your art wraps around the whole book, they will overlay the barcode somewhere on the back, so it’s best to leave a spot for it. You can leave a three inch by two inch gap if you want, or use a barricade generator and put it in yourself. Then they won’t add it because it’s already there.
Here’s an example of what I mean: