I will soon publish my children’s play, Suiko and the Puzzle Box. The idea started about a month ago, when I wrote a blog post talking about my experiences submitting it around. It was nothing but a passing thought, but soon the idea was buzzing around my head. After all, I know the play’s good, it’s been performed, and there’s no point in leaving it languishing on my hard drive when it can be out there in the hands of directors, right?
Plus, I’m gearing up to start publishing my novels this winter, and figured it wouldn’t hurt to get a bit of practice under my belt.
Using this play as a test run turned out to be a great idea. I had never used Createspace before–my chosen publishing platform–and had little idea what I was doing. Along the way I made some mistakes and learned a few things that will make the next go-round a much smoother process.
Here are five important hints for those of your just getting started:
- Make the cover after you format the manuscript. I cannot stress this enough. I thought to myself, hey, my cover might take a little while to create, so I will have it made while my stuff is being edited. No! Wrong. This was a terrible idea. Why? Because you need to make your cover from a template. And how do you make a cover from a template? You input the number of pages into Createspace and it tells you how thick your spine will be. But if you haven’t finished formatting your manuscript, the number of pages will be incorrect. By a stroke of luck, my cover turned out right, but next time I doubt I’ll be so lucky.
- Check your formatting again and again. As you are readying your manuscript, periodically upload it to Createspace to check that your formatting is okay. Their program will flag major problems like whether you’re bleeding off the page, or the fact that–random example here–the template that you downloaded from Createspace that swore that it was 5.5″ x 8.5″ is not, in fact, 5.5″ x 8.5″ and you have to reformat the whole thing when you thought you were finished. Grr.
- Custom covers are totally affordable. And I’m not talking using stock photos, either. I went to Deviant Art, poked around the “Available For Commission” forum, and found KucingKecil. She made the gorgeous picture below for the same price one of those stock images costs, and it’s totally original art. I did the typesetting, and voila, my play has a cover!
- If you have images, watch your DPI. If you have illustrations, be careful with this one. Createspace recommends that your DPI (dots per inch) be no less than 300. I diligently went and saved all my illustrations, staging layouts in my case, at 350, just to be safe. Then I put them into Microsoft Word, shrank them down to fit the page… and found that they were no longer 350 DPI. I concluded it’s not a big deal, but we’ll see what I think after the proof copy comes in. Either way, keep an eye out for it.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to get started. Publishing things yourself takes a few tries to get everything right. You upload a copy of your manuscript, and then another, and a third, and three more after that, and, whoops, typo! Fifteenth time’s the charm? Crap, now it’s time to do the cover. Maybe by the fifth book, doing all this will be a snap, but expect it to take a few weeks of playing about to begin with, including the time it takes to create a cover after you’ve uploaded your manuscript for a page count. If you want to release tomorrow, you better have started on this two weeks ago.
Like I said, they’re newbie tips. Probably obvious to those who have done this before, but for me, it was a total learning experience, and next time should be a much simpler process. I may only have to upload my manuscript six or seven times!
Hey, gotta take my optimism where I can find it.
And now, the part you’ve all been waiting for… The cover!
Bonus Hint: Spellcheck your cover. I, er, have a proof copy coming in the mail that says this is a “story of detrimation.” Your art program might not have spellcheck! Mine doesn’t. Whoops! All I can say is: check it thrice. Three betas didn’t catch that particular typo.
The proof copy of Suiko and the Puzzle Box should be here in the next few days, and I look forward to perusing it with my green pen, tidying it up a bit. And then… it’s off to be published for good.
Any other great tips for those just getting started using Createspace? Leave them below! Thanks for reading and good luck in your self-pubbing adventures.