Friday, August 06, 2010

Printing Your Own Book

Last November I participated in National Novel Writing Month, an event held online every year where thousands of people attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. I "won", which means that I did write a 50,000+ word novel in 30 days. One of the perks of winning was a free proof copy of my book from

CreateSpace is an online self-publishing company affiliated with It's free to get a basic account and publish a book as long as you do all the work yourself; you only pay for the actual printed copies. You upload a PDF of your book to the site, formatted exactly how you want it to appear in the final book including page sizes, numbers, etc. You create a cover for it, either by yourself or using one of their pre-formatted covers. For my book cover, I took a photo in my backyard (an antique key on some grass) and inserted it into one of CreateSpace's covers.

Next, someone at CreateSpace checks to make sure that your book will print correctly. It's a very basic check - mainly just to be sure that your PDF is the right size and nothing is going to be cut off on the edge of the page (they don't check for typos, missing pages or anything like that). Once your book has been checked you can order a proof copy. The cost depends on the size and page count of your book (mine was free thanks to NaNoWriMo, including free shipping!).

Your book is shipped to you, you check it over and if you're happy with it you can make it available for others to purchase at and Or, if you're like me and you only want to have a copy for yourself, you don't have to make it available to purchase at all.

The hardest part of this (besides writing the book!) is formatting the PDF. It took me several days to get my book set up correctly. CreateSpace doesn't give you much help with the formatting, probably because they would prefer that you pay them to do it for you! So I used this website from self-published author Lisa Shea which goes through pretty much everything you need to know about printing your own book. She also gives her thoughts on the other two big self-publishing sites out there, Lulu and CafePress.

All in all I was happy with my free copy from CreateSpace. It was 224 pages long, which included my NaNoWriMo story plus a 43-page short short I threw in to make it a bit longer. I think the cover turned out nice, though you can see in the top photo that the front didn't turn out centered like it was in the second sample photo - it's cropped closer on the right side. Finally, the copy I got was a proof copy but the only place it said "proof" was on the very last page of the book. That's a good thing, because I was worried it was going to say it on every single page!


Ms Muffin said...

Wow!!! I am totally impressed! Congratulations for finishing such a project!!!
I just checked out the website cause I was curious. I could even do it in German ... :-) I am really tempted! I like writing and always dreamed of writing something longer than a letter or a blog post. :-D Luckily there is still alot of time until November to decide.
I find it awesome that you could make your story into an actual book. I did not find anything about that on the site - maybe they only did that last year. But I guess if I would actually finish something like that I could probably make it into a book myself ...
Wow, that post really gets me thinking ...
And I love your book cover by the way! REALLY cool!!!!

Cat Carlisle said...

The free proof copy offer was from NaNoWriMo, here it is on their site:

They have done it for several years now so hopefully they will do it again this November!

Ms Muffin said...

Oh, thanks for letting me know. I looked in the wrong place. (I thought it would be considered a prize or something ...) Thanks for the link. I am really tempted to try this ... well, I still have a bit of time to think about it ...
Are you going to do it again this year?
I wonder how many pages 50,000words are ... do you know?

Cat Carlisle said...

Definitely give NaNo a try if you have the time, it is a lot of fun and a good learning experience! I would like to do it again this year, though it depends on what happens with the story I am currently working on. I don't want start a new one until I get this one finished. Let me know if you join and we can follow each other's progress.

The story I wrote last year was just a tiny bit over 50,000 words and when I printed it, that came out to 172 pages. The page size was 5 inches by 8 inches, which is the smallest size CreateSpace offers.

Erika Jean said...

Your very own book! How cool! I don't think I could every write a long story... I remember back in high school I struggled often to get 3 or so pages ;-)

Didn't realize I was caching in you area! It was super pretty out there - I'm thinking I will def. be back up that way some time. Perhaps we could meet up for a caching day sometime?!

Cat Carlisle said...

Sure, that would be awesome! I'll email you with my contact info. :)

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