Thursday, May 26, 2016

**REVIEW** CreateSpace for Publishing

**For those who want to skip my ranting & get right to the tips and "helps" (hah!) I offer, those items are scattered throughout the post so I put them in boldface font.**

I'm thankful for CreateSpace giving independent writers (and other artists) a platform. Believe me, if it were not for CreateSpace, I'd still be begging to get my foot in the door with an agent or publisher.

Here's the thing: I'm not writing to became rich and/or famous. I write because I like to tell my stories. I might never become a household name, but I will get to see my work in print form. I might connect with a few people who like the way I think.

Whatever the case, I think that it's pretty awesome that I can be in control of all aspects of getting my work into print (or even in digital format) for people to read. So, once again, thank you, CreateSpace.

But, uh...


There are some headaches in the pursuit of anything. Writing the stories for my first C.S. project wasn't hard. Okay - the writing wasn't any harder than I expect writing to always be. I'm full of stories (however that sounds) and want to share all of them, no matter how difficult that might be.

The hard part of preparing the book was using the CreateSpace process.



Heavens to murgatroyd.

I had so many problems. The template I downloaded (to conform to CS standards) drove me crazy. Parts of my manuscript kept being shifted and knocked out of sync with fonts and alignment... I think I've mentioned in another post about the day I literally just sat down and wept. That's right. I wept,

Once I got my manuscript to jibe with the template, I thought I was done with the hard stuff.

The hard part was just beginning.

When I did get the manuscript uploaded, CreateSpace flagged problems with it. Something to do with font embedding, blah, blah, shoot-me-now, blah.

I decided to take a cooling off period with the manuscript and skip past it and work on the cover.
That was going to come back to smack me upside the back of my head. Just wait.

The cover that I wanted were in these beautiful hues of reds and golds. The font was exactly what I wanted (though I can't even remember now which font that was) and I was so happy that I was on a natural high. For about five minutes.

Now the dang cover was erroring out with CreateSpace. Nothing I did would clear the errors - and I really had no idea what the errors were.

Going into the community forums to look for sympathy, empathy and, maybe, help, I learned that I was just having first-timer's dilemma. Apparently, just about everyone was having the same problems. I did find a couple of offered solutions, but they didn't work for me.

After more tears, I decided that the entire universe was against the idea of my getting anywhere with my book. I considered becoming an alcoholic, but I'm such a lightweight that, once I get past two glasses of wine, I'm out so cold that I don't even drool. Someone once took a photo of me passed out drunk. I should take all my photos that way. I was so out of it that I looked perfect and embalmed. Of course, it helped that I was dressed from a night out and my hair and makeup were  seriously on point.

I spent a couple of days feeling sorry for myself, then I jumped back into the task. Since by now I was sick of the cover, I went back to the manuscript. For anyone else who has gotten stuck on the "embedded fonts" error message, here's the deal:

Make sure you are using the correct PDF format. I was trying to save my file as PDF (from Word). When I tried exporting the file as a PDF, I had the PDF/x option. Apparently, using that PDF/X option fixed whatever the heck was wrong with my fonts. This might explain why.

I'm a dummy when it comes to Adobe and all that. I realize the tip I just gave might sound stupid to smarter folks, but some writer out there is going to love me.

Now that the manuscript was finally uploaded, I got back to the cover. Guess what? No matter what I did to that cover, it was always going to error out. Why? Because (and I'm making a logic leap here), until the manuscript got uploaded, the system had no way to know how many pages the book was going to be. The cover has to be somehow auto-configured to match the book size.

Like I said, I'm using some of my logic here. At any rate, once the book was uploaded (and the system knew that it was a 58-pager), it could work with the 6x9 format I'd chosen.

Basically, I had skipped past steps of uploading the manuscript and created unnecessary headaches for myself.

Learn from my trauma: just follow the directions and follow them in order. Here are some other tips for not going insane while using the CreateSpace process:

  • Make sure that you are in a decent state of mind (or whatever comes closest for writers).
  • Before you even start anything else, download a template that will work for CreateSpace. I used one of theirs. You can also find advice for just formatting your doc to the appropriate standards.
  • Keep track of what you are doing. I had several copies of my manuscript done in Word. When i was uploading, I mistakenly worked with the wrong Word doc. Twice. I suggest making a Desktop folder just for the CreateSpace files you'll be working with.
  • Don't keep working on the process once you get frustrated. Get up and walk away.If you are having a problem before you get too frustrated, just imagine the need for a Valium if you go past that point.
  • Do use the Community forums. Even when I wasn't finding a solution, I was relieved to know that other people were struggling. The other members are sympathetic and encouraging even when they don't have the answers you need. 
  • Don't compromise. I did give up on my cover and used another one. As I'm waiting for the proof copy of my book to get here, I've already decided that I'll probably be changing the cover back to the one I originally wanted.
  • DO get a proof copy. There's the quicker option of proofing your work from a digital copy, but I think that seeing your work the way readers will be seeing it makes a difference. (By the way, I am going to do a Kindle edition of my work, but I haven't yet looked at the proofing methods available for that.)
Another reason that I wanted a proof copy - even though I know that I will be making some minor corrections - is that I want to have that copy for my bookshelf. I will set it right next to a finalized copy. When I start to work on the next project, I will use that proof to remind me that I can (and did) do this.

Good luck to any of you who are on the road to getting published - regardless of the route you take getting there. I will leave you with a list of helpful resources that I perused (or wish I had) during the nightmare that was my first try at CreateSpace. Also, there is info for other self-pub options.