How To Be A Self-Published Author

Introduction | Self-Publishing Options – Part 1 | Self-Publishing Options – Part 2 | Self-Publishing Options – Part 3 | Why Self-Publishing Is Worth Doing | Creating A Manuscript | Critiques Are Painful But Necessary | Book Illustrations | A Cover That Sells | Self-Publishing Through Lightning Source | Self-Publishing Through CreateSpace | Finally A Book!

How To Be A Self-Published Author
How To Be A Self-Published Author: A Step-by-Step Guide
published in December 2009, explains in detail how to use what was then the most current technology and online resources to turn a manuscript into a published book. I usually tell new authors they need to complete their manuscript before starting on the publishing aspects, but I wrote this book as I did each step.

UPDATE April 2015: The online world is continually changing and what was ‘current’ in 2009, is old news now. I have linked to the book on Amazon so that you can use their ‘Look Inside’ feature to see the layout of the print book as well as the Table of Contents. Not everything in the book is included here but you can probably get most of the information you need through this website.

Self-Publishing Through CreateSpace

To publish your book through CreateSpace, you’ll first need to set up an account. There’s no fee involved although before you can place a proof order you’ll need to provide credit card information.

When you log into your account, you’ll be at the “Member Dashboard” which will list your book title and other information after you click the “Add New Title” button. Clicking the button takes you to a page where you can choose the type of product you want to produce, DVD, Video Download, Audio CD, Audio Download, or Paperback Book.

Click on Paperback Book and you’ll be at:

1. Title Setup

Some of the information falls into “no brainer” and some of it might require a bit more thought. The blocks you’ll have to complete in order to save the page and continue on are marked with a red *. Let’s fill in the blocks for this book:

* Title: How to be a Self-Published Author

Subtitle: A Step-by-Step Guide

Volume Number:

* Description: Self-publishing is not rocket science. Today’s technology makes it fairly simple for anyone who has written a book, and who is somewhat computer savvy, to also self-publish their book. This step-by-step guide, written by a publishing consultant and self-published author, is for authors who are tired of waiting for someone else to publish their books.

* ISBN: — I’m going to let CreateSpace assign an ISBN for this book. So I’m checking “Assign my book an ISBN-13/EAN-13 immediately. If I was going to use one of my own ISBNs (only available to publishing companies), I would complete one of the other two two blocks.

Imprint Name: An imprint is similar to a “also known as” and if I was using my own ISBN, I could use one of my imprints. Since I’m not, this is left blank as the imprint will be “CreateSpace”.

BISAC Category: In the first section, select the category that best fits your book’s topic. Then narrow it down with a selection from the section section. I’m going to choose Reference and Writing Skills. Be sure to click “Add Selected” or your category selection won’t be saved and you’ll get an error when you try to submit the completed page.

Reading Level: I usually select Tenth Grade

This book previously published on: Not previously published

Country of Publication: United States

Publication Date: I’m going to leave it blank and let CreateSpace assign the publication date since the manuscript isn’t complete yet.

Language: English

Search Keywords: self-publishing, self publisher, how to publish a book

Number of Authors: 1

* Author 1

* First Name: Pat

* Last Name: Gaudette

Author Biography: I’m leaving this blank for now; I’ll complete it later.

Save & Continue

Oops! My description is too long; I delete “, and who is somewhat computer savvy” and click “Save & Continue” once more.

Success! I’m now at:

2 – Physical Properties

* Number of Pages: I haven’t finished writing this book yet so I’m going to figure that 148 is a good number.

* Interior Type: I’m going to select Black and White with Bleed. Normal choice would be Black and White but I’ll probably get a little creative on some of the pages and extend images beyond the page trim marks.

* Trim Size: The most common size is 6×9 but I want to have extra margin space so readers can make notes. I’ll select the next size up, 7×10.

Binding: Pre-selected as US Trade Paper

* Paper Color: I’ll select White just because I know from experience that Cream can be a little more yellow than I’d like.

Save & Continue

Success! Now I’m at:

3 – Add Files

I also have this message:

According to the interior type and page count you specified on the Physical Properties page, your book’s spine width is 0.33 inches.

Your book’s ISBN is 1442123206 and EAN-13 is 9781442123205.

I’m going to skip over Book Interior to Book Cover click on Create a Cover.

Cover Creator

Another window opens up, Cover Creator loads a selection of cover templates sized for a 7 x 10 book, all named for trees, to choose from. I have to use the scroll bar to view them all. Several allow me to use my own previously designed cover. For now, I’m going to choose The Elm, one of the simplest designs shown.

When I double click on The Elm thumbnail, it opens up to the cover complete with my title, sub-title, and name on the front. The title and my name are on the spine, and there is nonsense text on the back for me to revise as well as a block for my photo.

At the left side are the formatting options for the cover.

1. Themes: Choosing a different option (such as Wild West) from the drop down box causes the font to change. I’d love to use Bickham Elegance but the script font won’t show up as well as something less fancy when the book is reduced to a thumbnail for online resellers. I choose Solid Poplar instead.

2 – Title: The book’s title is already in the block but I change “to be a” to “To Be A” to see if it looks better on the cover. I make “HOW TO BE A” all caps. Then I try it as “How To Be a SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHOR”. I try the entire title in all caps. Each time I click “Apply” the cover is revised with my current choice, both on the front and on the spine. I decide on all caps for now and click “Next.”

3 – Subtitle: My subtitle “A Step-by-Step Guide” is already filled in and, because I’m using all caps for the title, I leave the subtitle as is. If your book doesn’t have a subtitle, uncheck the Visible box. Click “Next.”

4 – Author(s): Just one author, me. I’d like the font size a little smaller but when using Cover Creator’s templates you’ll have to accept the default sizes unless you upload your own cover. I see how my name looks in all caps and then as “PAT GAUDETTE, PUBLISHING CONSULTANT” which reduces the text down but I’m not pleased with the result. I decide on “PAT GAUDETTE, Author-Publisher”, click Apply. This appears on the front cover and the spine; I may revise it to just my name later. I click “Next.”

5 – Back cover quote: I can either unclick the “Visible” box or type wording that will be at the top of the back cover text. I type “Today’s technology makes it fairly simple for almost anyone who has written a book to also self-publish it.” I click “Apply” and “Next.”

6 – Author Photo: I can either unclick the “Visible” block or upload an image 1.5″ x 1.5″ with an image resolute of at least 300 dpi. I open Photoshop and resize one of my photos to the proper size and save it as a .jpg file and also as a .png file. Back at Cover Creator, I click the “Upload…” option and find the directory on my computer with the photo(s). Only the .jpg file is visible which means that Cover Creator won’t accept a .png image. I upload the photo and, since it’s okay as is, ignore Cover Creator’s Alignment & Rotation tools. “Next”

7 – Back cover text: If you don’t want text on the back cover unclick the “Visible” box, otherwise, replace the gibberish text in the box below with your text and click “Apply.” I type a couple paragraphs, edit and re-edit until I’m satisfied with the wording and click “Next.”

8 – Publisher Logo: If you’re the publisher, and you have a logo, you can upload it for use on the back cover. If I was using my own ISBN I’d upload my logo but since CreateSpace is the publisher and I’d rather not see their logo on the back cover, I uncheck the “Visible” box and then click “Next.”

9 – Background Color: Happily, I can change the book’s color from Pumpkin (burnt orange) to something else by using Cover Creator’s color picker. I click on Indigo Sky and my book’s background color changes to rich purple. Then I try Forest Green, Purple, Rich Black, Linen and Hunter Green. I’m undecided between Hunter Green, Rich Black, and Firebrick Red. I choose Firebrick Red (for now) and click “Next.”

10 – Font color: Now I can change the text color on the cover using the color picker. I select Ivory, which isn’t much different than the default color and then try Bright Yellow, Gold Yellow, and Pale Yellow. I choose Gold Yellow, click “Next,” then go back to 9 – Background Color and see how the book looks with backgrounds of Rich Black, Hunter Green, and Purple. This time I choose Rich Black and click “Next.”

After taking a final look through the other steps, I click “Cover Complete – Save Changes” at the bottom of the window and wait for Cover Creator to save my file and close. Once it does, a thumbnail of my cover shows up on the Add Files page along with an “Edit Cover” link and “Full Size Preview” link.

I am extremely impressed!! I just created a decent looking cover and it didn’t cost a dime! So much for paying a graphic artist to do the work.

I’m not ready to upload the interior file (or book block) so I click “Save Changes” to move to the next option and get error messages: “Please fix the problems noted in red below” and “An interior is required”.

I go to the Add Files list at the top of the page and click on the Sales & Promotion link to exit the Add Files page.

Because I’d like to see how much it would cost to publish the book with full color on the interior pages, I go back to the top, click on Physical Properties, and select Full Cover With Bleed for the interior pages, save, and return to Sales & Promotion.

Printing this book in full color produces the following results:

List price must be $32.52 or higher so I enter $32.52 in the List Price block and click “Update Royalties” and see that under CreateSpace’s Standard Plan, each book sold on, listed at $32.52, would net a Retail Royalty to me of $0.00 after CreateSpace takes their $32.52 share. I can however, upgrade to the Pro Plan (for $39) and then my Royalty would be $8.30 per book sold on

It gets better if I sell a book through my free CreateSpace E-Store; I’ll get $6.50 under the Standard Plan and $14.80 under the Pro Plan for each book sold at $32.52 List Price.

My cost to order multiple copies is $19.51 per copy under the Standard Plan and $11.21 under the Pro Plan.

It makes little sense to set the List Price at the share paid to CreateSpace so I see how the figures change with a List Price of $38.95 (which I think is prohibitively high). My cost to order copies stays the same, everything else changes: CreateSpace gets $35.09 Standard and $26.79 Pro; I get $3.86 Standard and $12.16 Pro. In the E-Store I’ll get $11.65 Standard and $19.95 Pro.

I return to Physical Properties and change the Interior Type back to Black & White with Bleed. Changing the Physical Properties caused problems with the cover for some reason and I end up with red warnings that my book’s cover now needs to be edited to fit the new physical properties of the book — which are now back to what they were when I created the cover. I click on the “Edit Cover” link and end up back at the starting point in Cover Creator — my completed cover appears to have disappeared!

I click Sales & Promotion to see if my change to Black & White is reflected. It is. Now the minimum retail price shows $7.44 with my cost for copies $4.46/Standard and $2.62/Pro. That’s much better! I check prices on for books on similar topics and decide $14.95 should be a fair retail.

At $14.95, my Retail Royalty through and affiliates will be $4.51/Standard and $6.35/Pro. Through the E-Store my Royalty is $7.50/Standard and $9.34/Pro.

I’ll probably upgrade to the Pro Plan but for now I click Save Changes which returns me again to the page warning me that I haven’t uploaded an interior file and that my cover needs to be edited. I go to the top and click 5. Review Setup. All the information I’ve completed so far is shown as well as the red cover error messages. I click on “Edit” then “Edit Cover” and Cover Creator opens, again with the templates but my cover isn’t showing up. I find the original template, double click, and my cover is back! I quickly click “Cover Complete – Save Changes”, Cover Creator saves the file, and the error messages disappear.

All things should be so easy. Or maybe they are. I’m still very pleased with Cover Creator and the whole process of setting my book up in CreateSpace. All that’s left is to finish the book block, convert it to a PDF file and upload it.

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