Proofing Your CreateSpace Paperback


Back in the old days—the old days being 2010—the only way to check that your CreateSpace paperback was a-okay was to order a proof copy.

This wasn’t a bad thing. It was exciting. So exciting that the postman began to wonder why you were waiting at the door for him every morning, your eyes peeled for the cardboard package that was the very first copy of your (very first?) book. Finally when it did arrive, there came the hours of gazing at it adoringly (taking pictures of it on its own, taking pictures of it amidst the other books on your shelves, carefully polishing away the fingerprints visible on the glossy cover card with that neat little cloth that came with your iPhone…) and then going through the pages one by one, marveling at it all (“Is technology great, eh?”) while simultaneously checking for wayward paragraph indents.

But then, a stomach drop: an if that was supposed to be an it. And then a missing word. And then an extra space that seemed to create a hole of white space in the middle of the page.

So you ordered another proof copy, and that wasn’t quite as exciting.

The third one was just an expense you regretted having to add to your “Expenditures” list.

The fourth you grabbed off the postman with disdain.

The fifth you couldn’t bear to look at, which kind of defeated the purpose.

And so on and so on.

(If anyone is thinking, five proof copies? How hard are typos to find? I can only deduce that you have yet to experience the joys of trying to make tens of thousands of words you are so familiar with you can finish the sentences with your eyes closed absolutely perfect.)

But these days, proofing your book is a little bit easier. CreateSpace, who I use for all my printed books, now has three proofing options:

Option 1: The Digital Proofer

After you have submitted your files for review and CreateSpace has okayed them, they’ll offer you a link to their Digital Proofer: a fancy display that will enable you to virtually flip through your book—as close an approximation to flipping through a physical copy as possible.

Click for a larger image.

What I like about it: you can see the whole book, including the cover, and those dotted lines help you visualize what the finished pages will look like. It’s always helpful to see your text in as many different ways as possible.

What I don’t like about it: in my experience it crashes Safari all the damn time. Also, it’s not a printed proof. You can see what will appear on what page, yes, but what about how the pages will feel? What about the thickness of the paper? The colors on the cover? The glue of the spine?

What it’s useful for: I think if you order a printed proof and find typos, next time round you can rely on the Digital Proofer instead of yet another physical copy which will cost $$$ and take a week to arrive.

Option 2: Download a PDF

If your browser doesn’t take too kindly to the fancy digital proofer above, you can download a PDF instead. I find this a tad pointless because you uploaded a PDF, so what’s different about this?

What I like about it: As I said above, it’s always helpful to look at your book in as many different ways as possible. And unlike the PDF you uploaded, this will show you your book on a two-page spread, with page 4 opposite page 5, page 6 opposite page 7, and so on.

What I don’t like about it: This isn’t strictly how the pages will appear, because you’ll lose some of the margins to binding in the physical book. In the image above, for example, the “Praise for” text looks like it shifted too far to the right, but it’s not—when that page is one of hundreds glued to the spine of the book, that text will appear dead centre. It doesn’t show you the cover but then that would be pointless as it’ll look exactly like the cover PDF you uploaded. Also, it’s not a printed proof.

When to use it: Only to give your book another typo-hunt run through, I’d say.

Option 3: Order a Proof Copy

I can’t understand how anybody could skip this step. Not only is it exciting to finally hold your book in your hands, but how could you honestly put something out there that you hope people will buy without ever having seen it yourself? It just doesn’t make sense to me. I’d be awake at night in a cold sweat of terror wondering when the refund demands were going to start coming in…

What I like about it: Everything. What’s not to like? Besides the romance/excitement factor, this is the ONLY way to check that your book has come out the way you intended. No other option will even give you a clue as to what the pages or cover is like, and we all know proofing from paper is far more effective than proofing from screen.

What I don’t like about it: After a couple of rounds, the waiting and the expense can start to grate. That’s why I’d recommend that you order one proof copy and check your corrections using one of the methods above after that.

When to use it: Always.

Tip: you can order up to 5 proof copies of any book. In the past I’ve given reviewers these proof copies, as I want them to (i) receive the book before it’s on sale and (ii) know it’s a proof, and all CS proof copies have “Proof” printed on the back page. So I order my full five. If I need more, I re-submit the interior file—even though it’s the same one—and go through the “submit files” bit again, and then even though it’s the same book, I can order up to another five proof copies. Simples!

Join me on Thursday for proofing your Kindle book. 

Self-Printed: The Second Edition, is available now in paperback and e-book.

33 thoughts on “Proofing Your CreateSpace Paperback

  1. Jason O'Mahony says:

    Don’t talk to me about typos. What is most infuriating is that when you find one you just know that someone else who finds it thinks you’re some lazy bum who didn’t bother your arse proofreading or commissioning professional proofreaders. By the way, is it just me or are typos increasing amongst professional industry-published eBooks too? I have read two recently, both by respected authors, and both had actual errors like reversed words, jumbled words, and in one case an irrelevent rogue word just slap bang in the middle of a sentence. Maybe they’re coming down in standards to meet us as we go up.

  2. Claude Nougat (@claudenougat) says:

    That’s exactly been my experience, Catherine! And what a good idea to order all 5 proof copies to use for reviewers!

    Unfortunately for me, that makes it too expensive: since I live in Italy, it means paying the shipping over to Europe and then again the shipping back to America (and that costs far more than the book !) Ah, I wish I lived in the States, it would make marketing somuch easier…But I can’t complain, Rome is nice place to be, no question about it!

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      What you could do Claude is order one proof at a time, and have them shipped directly to the reviewers. CS don’t put any bill or anything in with the books so they wouldn’t see the price, and it costs only $3 approx to ship from CS to US addresses, and only takes a few days. A bit more time consuming for you but much cheaper!

      And Rome is wonderful — I had a great time there last January. 😀

  3. Novel Girl says:

    Another Paper advocate! As an editor I edit on screen because I have to for one reason or another. However, there’s no better way of light copy editing or proofreading than to edit in paper form. I’m definitely ordering a proof paper copy when I publish with Createspace.

  4. Linda Acaster says:

    I’m just doing this with my Native American historical “Beneath The Shining Mountains” – I put the title in here so if they want readers can check the ebook cover on Amazon – because it is the *cover* of the CSpace pbk that has proved problematic. It printed much darker than the uploaded pdf, or how it looked in the Digital Proofer, but CSpace insisted it was within variance.

    I had to go back to my cover designer; she’s twiddled – just lightening the cover itself and not the elements would probably have caused more problems than it solved – and I am currently awaiting the proof of cover2. Is it due to the high contrasts between sunset & silhouettes and skin tones? Could be. I’ll bear this in mind with my next book’s cover.

    So there y’go – what comes out well for ebooks doesn’t necessarily work as well for paper. Be warned.

    I totally agree with Catherine’s take on using the DProofer to catch typos and make the book look as best as poss *before* ordering a physical proof. I live in the UK so there’s the delivery hassle. And thanks, Catherine for pointing out how many we can purchase.

  5. jimrada says:

    I’m working on my first CreateSpace book now and I do like the digital proofer. It’s so much faster and cheaper than having to pay for corrections on a hard copy proof that I used to do with other publishers. So far, I’m enjoying the process of working with CS.

  6. Debra Eve says:

    Thank you, perfect timing! I just downloaded my CreateSpace template last night and am in the process of formatting my book.

    Speaking of lack-of-editing in Big Six books, I ran into this last week in a popular mystery: “It was just an angry flock of geese. They rose into the air, honking angrily.” There was also a large room with a large credenza against the wall. I saw several repeat words that any good editor would have picked up, not typos per se, but awkward descriptions.

  7. stuckinva says:

    I didn’t order a proof copy of my book when I went through the process, and while part of me is like WHY DID I NOT? the frugal part of me is saying “but you got 5 free copies anyway shuddup over there!”

    I found the templates CreateSpace gives you to be absolutely worthless though–they only go up through so many pages, and the fonts they use…don’t even exist in their font catalogue (or whatever that’s called). I ended up having to nuke everything and just manually put in the margins and such.

  8. Marcie Lovett says:

    Great to hear that createspace offers the ability to proofread digitally. When I got my first printed proof of my first book, I was horrified to find typos (after I reviewed it what seemed like 100 times and paid an editor), After making corrections. I expected the second proof to come back error-free, but found a few more.

    After revising one more time, I decided I was finished and that if there any more errors, I would have to live with it. I wasn’t happy about having to order another proof at that point, since I was ready to publish. I understand that createspace has stopped requiring you to get a final proof. It would have been helpful to have the option to read it one last time on screen instead of in print; I will definitely take advantage of that option for my next book.

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Yes, that’s true: CreateSpace now offer you the option of skipping ordering a printed proof altogether. However I do NOT recommend it, as you can imagine. I think it’s cheeky to put a book up for sale when you’ve never seen the finished product yourself.

  9. Paula Howell says:

    I agree completely with everything you said here, Catherine. I almost made the mistake of believing my book was “perfect” after SO many edits before and after the book was uploaded with CS. A printed proof very quickly proved me wrong! Missing words, double words, extra spaces, etc. So while a digital review is okay, I have to say I agree there is nothing more important than proofing a printed copy and even better, let others review it as well because they will see mistakes you easily might miss. My favorite part of your post, though, is your description of what it is like to receive the first book…gazing adoringly at the book, taking photos (for the blog, of course!), worrying about fingerprints on the new glossy cover and flipping through the pages as you marvel at your creation…it’s all true! And funny!

  10. Sharon says:

    Many experienced users here! I have a question. After you’ve hit the publish button, can you make further revisions if you need to or is the book locked in forever? I ask because I’m sending out my advance reader copies not so very far in advance. If I get a few good endorsements back late, after it’s published, can I go back. add a page and reupload the file?

    I saw your nice London video by the way, Catherine – so cute, you speak in exactly the same way that you write!

  11. Vera Soroka says:

    I have a question. When you proofread it on line like that can you make correction right there on what you are reading or do you have to go back to the file and make those changes? Thanks for the great post!

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      No, you have to go back and make the change to your original file and then re-upload it.

  12. energyforyourlife says:

    Many thanks, C, for the timely post. I’m also about to convert my first non-fiction book using CreateSpace.

    Claude, I thought that Amazon U.K. was now doing POD in the U.K. vs. printing and then shipping from the U.S. I thought I read that on a publishing industry site 2 months ago. I may be mistaken. Sharon, that’s an interesting question. It will be interesting to see if hitting the ‘publish’ button really does cast everything in stone, er paper. 🙂

    I’ve been a corporate writer and published 7 firm’s annual reports. A few were listed on the NYSE. When you know your butt and job are on the line for an extra comma, you tend to catch all the small bits. But the energy and adrenaline expended is stupid. They are only words! Our team would go over and over and over the darn things. Eight to 15 typeset drafts were not uncommon BEFORE going to (typesetters’) plate. At that point, changes were $100 a word. We worked to achieve a perfect draft and did. In the typeset drafts, we’d be amazed how many things we’d ‘see’ that we swore weren’t in the last draft. But they were. We were simply too close to the material.

    My nickname was ‘Hawk Eyes’ in those days. For some reason I don’t have the same intensity about it all now. Perhaps I should. But I actually want to ENJOY the process of publishing – all of it.

    At a Canadian publishing conference last year, 44 of 45 people in the room said they’d be tolerant of typos in an e-book or printed book. Only one person in the room went ape anal about the book having to be perfect, and how it was a travesty about all the errors these days. We collectively shushed the nit picker and told him that we were far more interested in the meaning and story and could all live with the typos. So I think it is with most readers these days. Most of them have worked on documents where they did make a typo, and they lived to talk about it. So will we. If I lose a couple of sales because of my error, but the content in my book is well thought out and valid, then I’d rather have readers that ‘get’ the content and keep moving forward in life.

    I try to ask 2-3 friends now to act as my second set of eyes. But if they’re too busy, or ‘forget,’ I go it alone and proof as best I can You hit it on the head, Catherine: with +40,000 words and +300,000 characters, things can slip by. Even then, having a couple of returns did make me pay more attention.

    Question: is there a racket going on with folks who buy and then return e-books the day AFTER a free KDP promo. It’s as if they ‘missed’ getting your book for ‘free’ so they decide they will buy it and then return it to get it for free regardless. Has anyone else noticed this ‘phenomenon?’ It seems uncanny. Pox on the returnee.

    I would liked to think it would take me a week to ‘publish’ my print version. By the time all the dust settles, it will be more like a month. Hopefully the cobwebs will fall off my eyes. And I’ll simply pick away at each word with love and great attention to detail.

    Thanks for sharing the excitement of opening the proof package, Catherine. It’s all such a worthwhile process. I want to make editing the final rounds of my books as enjoyable as I can. It wasn’t at all enjoyable in the corporate world. Far from it! I want to find ways to enjoy this part of the process too. Otherwise, I will pick away at my self. And I really don’t want to do that to myself or to my books. I’d rather keep enjoying all of it – even the typos. After all, they were written with love.

  13. kellie larsen murphy says:


    I just wrote about the proof process as well. I agree that the digital and download options are great and can give you a feel for how the finished product will come out. But I still don’t think anything is better than the hard copy proof. Yes, the cost and waiting is annoying but besides typos, it is the clearest way to see spacing and centering issues due to the spine, etc. For me, the third proof was the charm and it was time to hit the publish button. Thanks again for your tips.

  14. Sylvia Morice says:

    Great advice in the article and in all the comments. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. I’m getting ready to publish my ebooks via Createspace and this info is sure to help.

  15. Mark says:

    Why are there no posts after 2013? I am almost ready to submit my MS to a publisher. CreateSpace is intriguing. The self-publishing world has changed, and is changing, so much that I wanted more current information. Do you have a suggestion for most current data/reviews?

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