My top five tips for first-time self-publishers on Createspace

A few days ago, I hit the upload button on Createspace and ordered a printed proof copy of Conditional Love. It is on its way from America and I am expecting it to arrive on 29th August, which will be a nice (I hope) birthday present to myself.

I can not wait. Seriously. I am so looking forward to seeing the real thing in all its papery glory.

Anyway, this enforced period of inactivity has led to me to ponder what I would pass onto other first-time self-publishers, so here are my top five tips that I wished I’d known earlier:

1. Back up your work every day
Every day before I begin writing, I save a copy of my manuscript in a folder on my computer labelled ‘Conditional Love Back Up’. Then I change the name of the document to the previous day’s date plus the manuscript’s name e.g.’ 130828 Conditional Love’. The date format of year/month/day works best as it is easier to find files again if you need to. I began backing up daily after losing four thousand words at the end of November last year. People more sensible than me would back up at the end of each day.

2. If you are planning on using Createspace (or similar), read blog posts on formatting early
I didn’t research how to format for Createspace until after I’d finished my manuscript. I had no idea that I shouldn’t use tabs to indent paragraphs and I’d never used different paragraph styles. I found a useful blog post on Ann Charnock’s blog. (I also bought her book and emailed her for additional help!). Learning about formatting six months ago would have saved me a lot of time. From now on I will be formatting my writing as I go.

3. Enrol on the Goodreads Author progamme
I only became a member of Goodreads last year as a reader, but didn’t realise until July this year what an incredible resource it is for authors. I enrolled onto the author’s programme and invited all my twitter followers to be my friend. I’ve got an author profile page and I will be running a giveaway of my book from 1 September. There is also an opportunity to list events such as book launches etc.

4. Give yourself more time than you think you’ll think you’ll need
Like anything in life, if you haven’t done it before, it will take longer than you predicted. For example, my beta readers needed longer than I’d budgeted for to read the book and answer the questionnaire. Also, I planned my book launch for 4 October, thinking that I would have plenty of time between sending it to Createspace on 16 August and then. However, my book reviewers need time to read it and I haven’t even got copies to send them yet!

5. Outsource as much as you can afford of the things that are new to you
Although I spent several days tearing my hair out, trying to format my word document for Createspace, I knew that I could do it. Formatting for e-readers however, was a different matter. I read a couple of blog posts on the subject and then downloaded some free software called Jutoh with the intention of doing it myself. The self-publishing guru, Joanne Phillips, told me about a company called EKindled who will convert my word document into all the various file formats for e-readers for around £50. For me, this was money well spent.

So there you have it – my top five tips for newbie self-publishers. If you have any tips that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you. Please comment below.

Cathy Bramley
By Cathy Bramley

Cathy is the author of the best-selling romantic comedies Ivy Lane, Appleby farm, The Lemon Tree Cafe and A Vintage Summer. She lives in a Nottinghamshire village with her family and Pearl, the Cockerpoo. Her recent career as a full-time writer of light-hearted romantic fiction has come as somewhat of a lovely surprise after spending eighteen years running her own marketing agency. However, she has always been an avid reader, hiding her book under the duvet and reading by torchlight. Now she thinks she may have found her dream job.

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