self-publishing success for indie authors


This is why you shouldn’t let Createspace do your print book formatting

The first book I self-published, I did all the formatting myself in MS Word. I liked it. It turned out OK, but not great.

For the 2nd, I hired someone on Elance, it cost around $450 to format in InDesign.

Then I taught myself how to format books in InDesign, code ebooks, and became a Word formatting expert.

I even put out a formatting guide and some free templates to help others.

But authors keep getting stuck on the same problems.

How do I format my book for print? What fonts should I use? How do I make an ebook?

Sometimes it’s easier to just pay somebody to do it – since almost every indie author will publish on Createspace, taking advantage of their formatting services seems like a no-brainer.

This is why you shouldn’t do it

Createspace formatting starts from $349.00 (simple) and goes to $679.00 (complex).

I can’t tell if they use InDesign or MS Word, but it doesn’t really matter because they won’t give you the source files anyway.

(Ok, it does matter – most readers won’t notice the difference but InDesign formats will have a subtle, more professional “feel” to them, that has to do with better spacing between words).

The designs I’ve seen from Createspace are very good. You could certainly do worse.

Here are a couple from Erin Wiley’s book The Dunes (click to zoom).






The book will look good. But…

1. Createspace limits changes

I believe it’s 10 rounds, which should be plenty, but maybe you need to update something later, or make changes, or rewrite a sentence. After your revisions are up, you need to pay more. This could be cheaper than actually buying InDesign though.

2. Createspace doesn’t give you the source files

If they did, you could just hire someone on Fiverr to make the changes for you, even if they are in InDesign. Or, if you’re writing the sequel, it would be easy to hire someone cheaper to use the same style template and just replace all the content – if you had the source files. You’ll get a print ready PDF that can’t be edited.

3. No easy ebooks

You should have done the ebook formatting first, before adding in all that style and fancy fonts, because the ebook code will be much simpler. But maybe you didn’t. So now you have your PDF and the original, unstyled Word document. You need to start all over and make ebooks that match the PDF (or not – ebooks should be as simple as possible).

If you had the InDesign file or Word file, converting to an ebook wouldn’t be so difficult. Converting from PDF to ebook is nearly impossible – you can’t use the PDF or Smashwords or BookBaby for example (they may say you can, but it won’t be pretty). If you’ve already fine-tuned your changes and caught typos in your print formatting, you’re going to have to do all of those over again with the ebook files. (When you start formatting, make sure to keep an updated Word file with all the changes and fixes you make, you’ll want it later).

Personally I have a full time formatter, I pay him $500 a month to format all my books. I’m getting a good deal. Createspace’s simple option (I believe) just lets you pick out a template to customize. You could do better using my free templates, choosing the fonts from your cover design or my epic list of best fonts per genre, and hiring someone on Fiverr (for less than $100) to finish it all up for you and return the InDesign files so you could get changes made later.

Have you used Createspace’s formatting services? We’d love to hear your experiences.

Written by: selfpublish

Derek is a book cover designer finishing a PhD in Literature. These days he spends his time building tools and resources to help indie authors publish better on his blog, Read More


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