I am setting up our eleventh book on CreateSpace, Wendy’s upcoming novel, Becoming Mia. I have laid out four science fiction books, two legal books, three user manuals for my software product, and a memoir over the last two years, with most of them in the last six months. It’s gotten pretty turn-the-crank by this point. There are some tricks, so for you authors out there getting started with CreateSpace, here is what I do.


I bought a group of ten ISBNs from Bowker, at They are the central authority for ISBNs. The account with them was easy to set up, and entering the data for each ISBN is straightforward. If you buy one ISBN, it’s $125, ten is $295, and a hundred is $575, so the per-ISBN price goes from $125 to $29.50 to $5.75 as you bump the volume. I bought ten, and have now bought a second ten. Had to think about that one. If I had bought a hundred right off, I would have a bazillion left for what I paid for twenty, but I decided to stick with ten at a time.


I write directly into Word. I find it easier than writing in manuscript format and then having to re-format the bejesus out of the thing to try to get it into book format. Here are some formatting tips.

  • page and margins — For page size, I use 6″ x 9″. This is under Page Layout, Margins in the Paper tab. Under the Layout tab, I use Different odd and even, Different first page, Header 0.5″ from edge, Footer 0.2″ from edge, and vertical alignment of Top. Under the Margins tab, first set Multiple pages to Mirror margins and Orientation to Portrait. Then I use Top 0.9″, Bottom 0.75″, Inside 0.85″, Outside 0.45″ and Gutter 0″.
  • sections — I use two Sections. The first section I use roman numerals i, ii, iii for page numbering. This runs from the inside title page, over the copyright page, the table of contents page, any foreword. Then a section break on new page. The book text proper starts with page 1. Both sections are set up as the above for page and margins, and the Different first page setting suppresses the printing of the page number on the first page.
  • text — All of the interior text is in 12-point Times New Roman, because it is about the easiest thing to read. The serifs help the eye track the line of text. San-serif type is hard to read for any length of time.
  • header and footer — I put the author name in the left header, and the book name in the right header. I do these in san-serif bolded capitals, like Arial or (if you have it) Euromode. This helps the eye, which is looking for the next line of normal Times New Roman on the next page, skip the header.
  • chaptering — I use a page break at the end of every chapter.
  • titling — I use Heading 1 for titles of the main sections of the book, like Part 1, and Heading 2 for chapter titles. If the book doesn’t have main sections, just chapters, I’ll use Heading 1 for chapter titles. Set up the first chapter title the way you want titles to look. I use 16-point bolded Times New Roman. Now put the cursor in the title, then right-click on the style (Heading 1 or Heading 2) and select Update Heading 1 [or 2] to Match Selection. You have now taught Word how to format the titles to your preference. Using Heading 1 and Heading 2 is important, because then Word can generate the table of contents for you, and you can update it as you write.
  • scene breaks — I also create a new style for scene breaks, so I can format those quickly (I use either just a blank line or blank line plus three centered asterisks plus blank line. The three centered asterisks are 14-point Times New Roman. The centering and font size are handled by my new style button, which makes it faster.
  • table of contents — If you put your cursor on a blank page at the front of the book, such as the last page of roman-numeral-numbered pages, and go to the Reference tab in Word, you can get Word to generate the table of contents for you, using the Heading 1 and Heading 2 styles, and inserting all the page numbers.
  • Kindle and dead-tree versions — I end up having to split the files for Kindle and print versions. For the Kindle version, you suppress the numbering in the table of contents, and you have to have hyperlinks turned on in the table of contents. For the dead-tree version, I have to scan the top of text on each page to make sure the blank line from a scene break doesn’t land on the top of a page, making the text start one line down. You don’t want to do that in the Kindle version.
  • uploading — For Kindle, I upload the Word document, which drags along the hyperlinks for the table of contents. For CreateSpace, I convert the Word doc to a pdf file. This gives me a little more control, and keeps CreateSpace from interpreting Word internals with a different template file and messing things up. I use a free version of PDFCreator, which looks like a printer in your printer list. You select print, fill in the pop-up window with the file name and the directory you want it to end up in, and it gives you the pdf version. One benefit of PDFCreator over some of the others out there is that it embeds the fonts correctly for CreateSpace. CreateSpace will substitute fonts for fonts it doesn’t have and which are not embedded in the pdf, so if you use anything out of the ordinary for fonts, they need to be embedded.
  • interior review — CreateSpace’s Interior Reviewer will always complain that the pdf file isn’t on the same size paper as the book, but they put it where they think it goes. They always get it right.


Covers are important, and they’re a pain in the ass to format properly for CreateSpace. Here’s what I do.

  • setup — I use CorelDRAW to do layout covers. You can get some older versions free if you hunt for them. I draw a 6″ x 9″ box. OK, there’s the envelope for the front cover. Now I go to the CreateSpace style manual (which is at CreateSpace PDF Submission Specification) and calculate the spine width based on the page count. I select the box I have, and create a new copy of the box 6″ plus the spine width to the left of the first box. OK. There’s the envelope for the back cover. Now I draw a box over each of those that is 0.125″ bigger on each side, so 6.25″ x 9.25″. That is my trim dimension. Finally I create one new box that follows those exactly and encompasses the whole shebang. That’s my trim outline.
  • You end up with something that looks like this.


  • assembly — against this template I assemble pictures, text boxes, title, author name, spine text and imprint — the whole nine yards. I don’t worry about what hangs over the edges, that I’ll trim off. I keep the template boxes on top, so I can see how it will look when trimmed. Sometimes I have to change the template lines to white or some other color to see them.
  • trimming — When I have it all the way I want it to look, and I have saved it as a CorelDRAW file, I erase four of the setup boxes, or push them to the back behind everything else, but not my trim outline. I need the overall trim outline box. I export a 300 dpi jpg file from CorelDRAW. Now this is going to have all the garp that hangs outside of the trim outline, but that’s fine. I now open the jpg in Microsoft Office Picture Manager and select Edit Picture and Crop. I move the crop corners in to where they are close to the trim line, and crop. Now I go to 200% zoom, and go to two diagonal corners to adjust the crop corners exactly on my trim outline and crop again. I save the jpg.
  • printing — You can’t print the cover out of Picture Manager. It wants to scale the picture to the paper, which will really mess up CreateSpace. Instead, open the trimmed jpg in Microsoft Paint. Go into Print, and select PDFCreator, and hit Apply. Close the Print dialog box. Now open Print Preview, and select Page Setup. Set all of the following: Adjust to 100% normal size, Paper Size to Ledger, Orientation to Landscape, And check both the Horizontal and Vertical centering boxes. Click OK in Print Preview, and now print the cover with PDFCreator. That pdf file will work with CreateSpace.

OK, so enough for now. But that’s what I do to prep up for CreateSpace. It sounds really complicated, I know, but you get to where you can do it all pretty fast. Figuring it out in the first place, though, was not fast, especially getting the cover pdf to embed fonts properly and maintain color saturation (use PDFCreator!) and to get it to print to exact size (switching to Paint after trimming), so hopefully I saved you some of that learning curve.


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