Year One – Part Eight – Lemon Squeezy

By Evangeline Jennings

On the eighth day of our birthday week, we conclude the celebrations with a simple walk-through of the book production process. Again this is based on using CreateSpace and KDP. If you use other platforms, your mileage will probably vary.

The only tool you need is Microsoft Word.

Work exclusively in Word until you have a manuscript you are happy with and ready to publish.

Product – Finished unformatted MS Word Manuscript

Only begin formatting when you are confident your manuscript is perfectly clean. It won’t be, but you can fix that later.

Again, use Microsoft Word.

Follow this guide.

Do not use fancy fonts. They’re more trouble than they’re worth unless you’re an expert.

If you’re publishing a novel, that’s probably all you need to know. If it’s a collection of short stories, you may need Google to help with a few awkward fine formatting points related to section breaks and page numbers. Or you can always ask me.

Product – Formatted MS Word “book”.


Many version of MS Word can now save your file to PDF directly. Alternatively, use CutePDF Writer.

When you have created your PDF, check it for quality, paying particular attention to the following

  • Headers and footers all appear exactly how you intended
  • There are no unintended blank pages
  • Page numbers are all correct

If you find any problems, fix them in Word and create a new PDF

Product – PDF of your formatted book, ready for upload to CreateSpace.

The process on CreateSpace is not entirely obvious until you’ve done it a couple of times, but Don’t Panic, if you step through it in the way they tell you to, you’ll do fine. When you have uploaded your cover and PDF to CreateSpace, the system will run various checks and show you any perceived errors. You can either go back to Word and fix them, or ignore them. I ignored three on Cars and Girls where CreateSpace had detected an image that went out of bounds yet, in reality, there was no image.

Sidebar – we discussed book covers a few days ago. There is an additional twist I forgot to mention. When you upload your book cover to CreateSpace, it needs to be a single PDF that includes the back cover, spine, and front cover as one image. If you are using Gimp to create your cover, you will discover that you cannot save it as a PDF. Don’t panic. It’s not a problem. The solution I went for is called Inkscape, which is an open source vector graphics editor. Inkscape looks very cool and one day I may learn how to use it – and what a vector graphic is – but all you need to do is open your book cover image file inside Inkscape and then save it as a PDF. Job done.

When you are happy with the version of your book that is on CreateSpace, you can “submit it for review”. This is their QC process that takes approximately 24 hours. So go get some fresh air. Or a coffee.

When CreateSpace approves your book as submitted and reviewed, you can immediately publish it. Don’t.

You can either order a hard copy paperback to be mailed to you, download a PDF to review, or review online. Do the entire world a favor, order your paperback. And when it arrives, and you’ve orgasmed twice, don’t be afraid to scrawl all over it in thick red ink. You can always and will probably have to order another, because you will be amazed how many errors you didn’t notice when you were working on a computer screen

When you get down to the very last stages of proof-reading, there is another tool you can use. Stephanie Hawking.

The version of Adobe on my PC has an option to read a PDF out loud in a basic lady computer voice. This is an invaluable aid to finding those last annoying mistakes in your book. If you have this option on your PC, then download the final proof PDF from CreateSpace and read along with Stephanie as she mangles your prose and rhythm. It’s torture, but it works.

Product – Fully proofed and formatted paperback, ready to be published via CreateSpace

Tool – Sigil. The free EPUB editor.

Although you will be publishing in a Kindle proprietary format, I recommend that you begin by creating an open EPUB version of your book. There are people who believe you can load a Word document to KDP and get a perfectly good ebook. They may be right, but I think you get a better product if you do it this way.

Also, be warned. CreateSpace will offer to take your PDF and turn it into an ebook for you. That way madness lies.

Sigil looks a little scary at first, but to anyone who has ever had a blog, it should be very easy to pick up.

Top Tips
– To see how to use Sigil, use it to open and inspect somebody else’s book in EPUB format. I looked at two or three bestsellers before I started on my own EPUB.
– Although it’s tempting, do not put your book cover inside the EPUB file you are creating. You load that to KDP separately.
– Use Sigil to generate both an XHTML and an NCX Table of Contents for your ebook. It’s easier than it sounds!

You should NOT try to control exactly how your book looks on a Kindle. You need to think of it as data that is being interpreted by the Kindle and presented to the reader according to choices she has made in the Kindle’s settings. However, I do recommend that you control the line spacing and margins by inserting your custom CSS file into your EPUB’s Styles folder. This was the context of my file, text.css:

p {
text-indent: 1.2em;
text-align: justify;

Feel free to use it. To have each chapter in my book, apply those simple style rules, all I had to do was highlight all the relevant files with Sigil, right click, and select LINK STYLESHEETS.

Easy. Peasy. Lemon. Squeezy.

When you have uploaded your EPUB file to KDP, it will grind away for a few minutes and then present you with a MOBI version of your book that you can review on the web or download to review locally – preferably on your own Kindle.

If you find any errors in the formatting, fix them in SIGIL and start again.

If you find errors in the text, go back to your Word document.

And that’s all there is to it.


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