A Review of Self-Publishing a Book Using Amazon’s CreateSpace

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Cover of Paperback Made Using Amazon's CreateSpace Cover Creator

Cover of Paperback Made Using Amazon’s CreateSpace Cover Creator

In this blog, I am sharing how I am mentoring a group of high school science students to write and publish a book about their science research experiences by April-June 2015 with the goal of selling 500 copies by the end of the school year.

As my students prepare to self-publish their books, I also am self-publishing a book, Creating Student Authors: How to Mentor Any Student to Be a Self-Published Author. My book serves two purposes: It gives my students an example to follow, and it gives other teachers the tools to mentor their students. Since I asked my students to produce both paperback and ebook formats, that is what I am doing. I have found that it is easier to do the paperback first, then convert it to ebook, instead of the other way around. I am using Amazon’s services entirely, so for the paperback, I am using CreateSpace. I am just finishing up my paperback production, so here is a review of that experience.

What is CreateSpace? It used to be an independent publishing firm, but was bought up by Amazon a few years ago. CreateSpace offers to publish your book in a print-on-demand paperback format. You pay nothing. You submit a file of your book using Microsoft Word or PDF (portable document format), and CreateSpace makes it into a book file. You also upload a cover, or make one using their free “Cover Creator” service. You choose pricing and distribution channels, and they show you what your royalties will be in each one. When you finally submit your book to be published, it will appear only in online retail channels, such as amazon.com. It will not be printed and distributed in hard copy. That is the essence of print-on-demand. A book is printed only when someone orders it online. If you want to put your books on store shelves, you can order them from CreateSpace at cost, then give them to the store to sell on consignment. Talk to your local bookstore manager first to see what makes the most sense for you. What I found works well is to buy about 50 of your books when it is first published. Give some to friends and family and to people who helped with the book, then use the rest for any book events, including giving a few to local bookstores to sell on consignment.

The first step in making a book in CreateSpace is to write it. The basis of a good book is the text, and I have covered how we wrote our books and did several phases of editing and revising over the past year in my blog. One aspect of the text is formatting, and for that, I made a “Book Template for Students” that has all the pagination and blocking for a 6×9 inch book, the standard size offered by CreateSpace. CreateSpace also offers a free template on their website.

The next step is to submit your book in CreateSpace for their internal review prior to publishing. You need to establish a log in account with CreateSpace, then set up your title as a project in their website. After that, follow their step-by-step instructions. I found these straightforward, and CreateSpace offers free help through email or telephone. I used the email service a couple times, and they were prompt and helpful. In the “Interior” setup for your book, you will be asked to upload your book file. Again, this can be in Word or PDF. Once you upload it, CreateSpace says it takes 24 hours to review it, but I have found it is usually faster. During this time, upload your cover file, or design one in CreateSpace’s Cover Creator–I used that, and I have been happy with the result. They have many designs available, and you can change colors and other aspects. Once the review is complete, you will get an email explaining if there is any issue with the file. At this point, you can download a digital proof and order a paperback proof copy for a small charge. Do both. The digital proof looks like a virtual paperback on screen, so use it to catch any obvious errors. The paperback proof is invaluable to see exactly what your book will look like–plus it’s a nice souvenir. When I ordered my proof copy, CreateSpace said it would take about ten days to ship, but it actually arrived in five. After you approve the proof, your book is ready to publish. You can download my Self-Publishing Checklist for Amazon that goes through this entire process.

If you want to have a complete set of directions to mentor your students, then look for my book, Creating Student Authors: How to Mentor Anyone to Be a Published Author. It became available today on createspace.com, and it will be available on amazon.com in a couple more days, plus other distribution channels within the next few weeks. Profits will benefit Ridgefield Public Schools and Newington Public Schools in Connecticut.

My next post will be more about the preparation of the ebook using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.

Subscribe to this blog at https://bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com to get email updates of my posts with tips you can use in your classroom as I describe how I am mentoring six high school science students to become published authors by April-June 2015. Also, please give me your feedback, and please share blog posts with other teachers or anyone who may benefit.

Taking the Final Step – How to Publish and Release Your Book on Amazon

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Tip#8In this blog, I am sharing how I am mentoring a group of high school science students to write and publish a book about their science research experiences by April 2015 with the goal of selling 500 copies by the end of the school year.

The end is in sight. You have written a draft book, you have spent months editing and revising it, while also building followers on your blog. You are finally ready to self-publish and release your book. You have many options, and the choices can be overwhelming. A simple approach is to go with Amazon’s self-publishing services.

Why use Amazon? From a teaching perspective, I want my students to see how to self-publish using one of the main services available, and Amazon is the biggest, most diverse self-publishing service out there. It is also free. It may not be the best option for some students or other authors. Nevertheless, for the first-time, self-publishing author, using only Amazon’s services keeps things simple. If you want to look into other services, Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch describe several of them and their pros and cons in APE (Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur): How to Publish a Book. They also ended up using Amazon, and that is why I chose it for my first book. For these reasons, Amazon was the logical choice in teaching my students.

So what is the process to self-publish on Amazon? I am following Kawasaki’s and Welch’s advice in the approach I am taking with my students. We will first create a print book for publication on Amazon’s CreateSpace. Using that file, we will convert it to an ebook and publish it on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. Both of these websites have a step-by-step approach that takes the author from creating the draft, through formatting, pricing, selecting distribution channels, and publishing. We are doing the print book first because its formatting is more complex, and it is easier to simplify it for ebook publishing than the other way around. For more detailed instructions, you can click to download my Self-Publishing Checklist for Amazon and use it in a way that works best for your students.

Finally, the day of publication and release is important—it shouldn’t just happen when you get to that point, but instead should be part of an overall marketing plan. Make the release a celebratory experience for your students that they will not forget.

Next week, my post will have a tip on how to market your book, including the book release.

Subscribe to this blog at https://bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com to get email updates of my posts with weekly tips you can use in your classroom as I describe how I am mentoring six high school science students to become published authors by April 2015. Also, please give me your feedback, and please share blog posts with other teachers or anyone who may benefit.