POD Self-Publishing with CreateSpace: A Timeline


You’ve uploaded your files to the CreateSpace website, ordered and approved your proof and your title is officially available. But what happens now? How long does it take your book to appear on Amazon? What should you be doing while you wait? (Hint: not just gazing adoringly at things.) And after all this time, effort, money, blood, sweat and tears, will anyone even buy it?

Nanoseconds after you click ‘Approve Proof’ your book becomes available on your own CreateSpace e-store. Anyone can purchase from here but most won’t want to; shipping costs are high – for non-US customers, they are downright ridiculous – and you have to create a CreateSpace account before purchasing. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can create your own discount codes (like 20% off or $2 off) to pass around to friends or fans for use in your CS e-store and you stand to earn your highest royalties from e-store sales. It also gives you the opportunity to gaze at a listing of your book – your book! – adoringly.

As I live in Ireland and expect a significant portion of my sales to come from Ireland, the UK and Europe, I decided to sell my book direct from my website. (More on this in a later post.) This meant that I had to order stock for myself, i.e. a box of my own books. Again, CreateSpace’s shipping costs are high – along with its abysmal Cover Creator, that’s one of its greatest flaws – and only it’s economy (up to 21 days) and standard (up to 14 days) shipping methods make economical sense. Order your stock as soon as possible so you never have to force your profits to disappear by forking out for express shipping.

Officially CreateSpace says it can take up to two weeks for your listing to appear on Amazon.com and that it will appear in stages, but generally it seems to take much less time than that. While you wait, consider using the time to publish in e-book format, which was not a pleasant experience by any stretch of the imagination; look out for my e-book post in the coming week. Continue reading

5 Days to a Self-Published Book: Day 5 – Click ‘Publish’

What a week! If the physical symptoms of Self-Publishing Syndrome – headaches, insomnia, overwhelming feelings of regret – aren’t enough of a reminder for you of what we’ve been through, here’s a quick recap:


We wrote the book, submitted it to a round of agents we pulled from The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook based solely on how many names we recognized in their lists of clients, got rejected by all of them, worked on our books for another bit, moved some stuff around, took out the prologue, submitted it to a round of publishers, got rejected by all of them too, came within inches of setting a My Book Bonfire alight, made a voodoo doll of that TV actress-yogurt spokeperson-talk show host-pop singer who got handed a book deal to “write” a “book” so bad it was an offense to the trees who gave their lives so it could be printed, looked down on self-publishing, looked down a little less on self-publishing, became intrigued by self-publishing, changed our minds about self-publishing, decided to self-publish, told everyone we were doing it because we wanted “more control”, put back in the prologue.


Tuesday morning we took what we thought was a perfectly clean manuscript and exorcised the 24,519 errors in it that we didn’t know were there, and then Tuesday afternoon we tried to make it look like a real book by putting in copyright notices, title pages and chapter headings. We also agonized over who to leave out of the Acknowledgements, i.e. your friends who you’re pretty sure will buy a copy anyway. Continue reading

5 Days to a Self-Published Book: Day 4 – An Upload Extravaganza


It’s been a busy week/two and a half months, hasn’t it?

Monday we wrote our book, got rejected by professional publishing types all over town and changed our mind about self-publishing, i.e. decided to do it. Tuesday morning we drove ourselves nuts looking for wayward hyphens, spelling mistakes and sentences that could only ever make sense to us and even then only in the early hours of a Sunday morning and after a tour of cocktail bars, and Tuesday afternoon we made it look like a proper book, wrote a copyright notice we hoped would fend off litigation and wrote an Acknowledgements that won’t have anybody crossing us off their Christmas e-card list. Anyone we actually like, anyway. Finally yesterday, we tried to design a cover that didn’t make our eyes bleed and Photoshopped our Author Photo into Jennifer Aniston.

We are ready now to sprinkle fairy dust over our project, click our heels together three times, whisper a prayer and turn all our hopes, dreams and literary aspirations into a real, live book that we can hold in our hands, smell, leave out on coffee tables for people to see and imagine in Oprah’s hands (or Richard’s hands, or Gok Wan’s hands; lower your ambitions accordingly) as they say, ‘I’m so excited about our next book club selection…’

This step is also known as uploading your files to CreateSpace or whatever POD service you’ve decided to use. (The process is pretty much the same, it’ll just look different.)  Continue reading

Get Crafty with Catherine: Book Trailer Boxes


Over the last two days we made and uploaded our book trailers, but what if we want to hand them out? You know, to the 3-D people? Handing them a disc with ‘Book’ scrawled on it in Sharpie just doesn’t cut it, so today we’re going to relive our crafty childhood afternoons and make a DVD and jewel case cover for our book trailer DVDs.

You will need:

  • High quality paper or photo paper
  • Plenty of ink in the printer
  • DVD boxes
  • CD jewel cases
  • Blank DVDs
  • DVD/CD labels
  • Scissors
  • Imagination
  • Patience
  • Coffee (of course!).

Mousetrapped by Catherine Ryan Howard

DVD Covers

  1. Open a new MS Word document, A4 paper in landscape.
  2. Divide into two columns (left column = back of cover, right column= front cover, space in between = spine]. You can either take exact measures from an existing DVD insert or guess, like I did. (Don’t have the patience.)
  3. Insert a photo and resize it until it fills the page; this is your background.
  4. Insert your cover image on the right hand side/front.
  5. Use text boxes to insert your title, clip listing, etc.
  6. Print that baby out and cut to size. Continue reading

It’s Guest Post O’Clock!

Aren't I just adorable?

When my Twitter friend Kath Eastman asked me to guest post on JeremyNortham.net, I have to confess – don’t kill me, Jeremy fans! – that I didn’t recognize the name. But then I went to visit the site and…well, let’s just say I recognized the face, alright.


Northam has a lead role in Miami Medical which will premiere stateside on April 2nd and is – yes, you’ve guessed it – a medical drama set in Miami. What makes this series premiere oh-so-interesting (besides the presence of Northam and fellow Eye Candy, Cloverfield‘s Mike Vogel), is that the brains behind the operation is Jeffery Lieber.

Recognize that name? If you’re a LOST fan, you should. It pops up every week under ‘Created By.’ But the story behind how he got there – and why, to date, he’s never visited the set, met any of the cast or crew or had any input into the TV phenomenon – is a drama of Hollywood proportions.

Click here to read my guest post on JeremyNortham.net and here to follow JeremyNortham.net on Twitter.

5 Days to a Self-Published Book: Day 3 – A Cover Story


All this ‘Day 3’ and ‘A.M./P.M.’ business is really putting me in the mood for a 24 DVD marathon, and makes me want to start this blog post by saying in the gravelly voice of a male American smoker, ‘The following takes place between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. on the day of the Californian presidential primary…

But I won’t.

On Monday we wrote our book and yesterday we proofread it, formatted it and swore never to do anything like this ever again. But this morning we get to have some fun, because this morning we’re going to make ourselves our cover.

Designing a cover is treacherous POD territory. More than anywhere else, here lies a wealth of opportunities to make your book look self-published, unattractive or just, well, crap. It’s a minefield. While at first glance you might cower in a corner and swear you’re never coming out, traversing it isn’t as difficult as you might think. Just like the whole business of POD itself, there are ways around the path to unprofessionalism.

You can make your cover a number of ways:

1. Use CreateSpace Cover Creator

Both Createspace and Lulu have cover design wizards that are extremely easy to use. Some of the themes let you upload your own photos and you can of course edit the text that appears on them. That’s great, right? Actually no. They only have limited themes and in CreateSpace’s case, there’s no ‘advanced editing’ – you can stick your stuff into the blank spaces in the theme’s rigid template, and that’s that. The templates are simplistic and will make your book look self-published (at least, to the trained eye) no matter what you do with them. (Scroll down for examples.) But then they are free. Continue reading

5 Days to a Self-Published Book: Day 2 P.M.


Just so you know, this will be a whole lot easier if you drink at least one double espresso before proceeding.

This morning was a big bag of fun, wasn’t it? (If by ‘fun’ you mean complete and utter nightmare.) Now that you are so confident your book has no errors in it whatsoever, so much so that you’d be willing to stake your personally inscribed photograph of NASA Astronaut and STS-120 crew member Dan Tani on it (or something, you know, you love a lot), we can proceed with formatting.

The bad news is that this isn’t much fun either.

The good news is that it’s the last not-much-fun thing we have to do.



I have been a constant reader since the day I learned to read, but I never really paid attention to how the books were laid out. I didn’t have to. So when it came to things like margins, justification, fonts and copyright notices (and the hundred other things you have to consider) I wasn’t sure what to do. Not off the top of my head, anyway. So I pulled a few of my favorite books – similar in size to mine – off the shelves and studied them. What was on the very first page? How were new chapters headed? Did the Acknowledgements go right at the back, or on the page after ‘THE END’? Take note of all this, because you’re going to need to know.


Here comes your first big decision: pick a size for your book.

The most popular size in the world of POD seems to be 6 x 9. I ordered my first Let’s See What This Is Like proof in that size and I didn’t like it at all; it was thin, as floppy as a copybook and screamed ‘self-published’. For Mousetrapped, I settled on 5.5 x 8.5 and at 232 pages, it looks and feels like a ‘proper’ book.

Now here’s a tip: regardless of who you’re POD-ing with (why does that sound like a bodily function?), you can download a MS Word template for the interior of your book from Lulu.com. You could do it  yourself, but why bother? Every odd page has different margins to every even, and the page numbers are already inserted. Just make sure you choose the right size. Continue reading