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The Createspace Publishing Checklist - How to save time and money before you publish on Createspace

The Createspace Publishing Checklist - How to save time and money before you publish on Createspace


This post is written for the author who wants to use Createspace to publish their paperback book, leveraging Amazon’s reach using the print on demand model of self-publishing. I hope the post helps you speed up the Createspace process and saves you some money with the free resources at the end of each section.

Before we jump into the list of things you will need to have ready before starting, let’s explain a few things, just in case you weren’t 100% sure what Createspace was, or how print on demand could help you as the author.


What is Print on Demand? (PoD for future reference)


Print on demand is simply a method of printing that is different from the “I’ll print a 1000 copies to get the best value for money” approach. The old way of reaching a magic quantity of printed books to make the print-run economically viable left many authors with 100’s of their books stacked in the open spaces at home (I can personally vouch for this one). Oh, and what would happen if after printing you found a mistake in the book? 

Print on demand basically means that if a reader wants one copy, the printer prints one copy, they print only enough to satisfy the demand

This means no excess stock of your book, cheaper overall costs however yes, a more expensive cost to print a single book. 

Is it worth pursuing PoD? Definitely.


Who are Createspace?


Createspace is an online platform that was relatively unknown until it was purchased by Amazon back in 2005. Using Createspace, Amazon helps self-published authors leverage their huge distribution network for selling their printed paperback titles. 

By publishing on Createspace an author is able to use the power of the print on demand model AND the power of Amazon’s distribution network. When you list your title on Createspace, your paperback will be listed within the Createspace store, as well as ALL Amazon eStores world-wide.

This means when a reader in some far off country, let’s say South Africa *cough*, wants to order a paperback title of 50 Shades of Grey, a grand total of one copy is printed and shipped to the reader. 

The best part, the printing and shipping costs are all paid for by Amazon, the author selling the title will only ever receive royalties from Createspace, no print-related bills! Just remember, Createspace only allows paperback printing, no hard cover books.

Createspace is a great way to reach readers around the world for little cost, however for those of you who might be in smaller countries it still might be best for local distribution to use a local printer to handle your local book-printing requirements and use Createspace to reach everywhere else. 


Createspace Publishing Checklist.


Let’s start with the result from the PoD process, your readers will be ordering a paperback book.

The paperback book, has a few extra bits and pieces for those authors who might have gotten a bit too used to the eBook publishing process and it’s simplicity. Here is what you will need to have ready before publishing on Createspace.


1.  Completed Manuscript.


No surprise here, have your completed and final manuscript ready.

The manuscript will need to be in a Createspace-ready PDF file. This is a normal PDF file that obeys certain rules, regarding margin, gutter and bleed sizes among other things. 

For those of you who want to focus on the writing and leave the more complex layout to a professional, download the latest Createspace specification file below which will explain to the designer or typesetter handling the layout exactly what Createspace will need for the interior of the book.


For the author – Your interior designer will need to know the following from you:


  1. Trim size(size of the printed paperback in inches/ cm)

  2. Will the interior text and images be black and white, or colour? (This has a very big effect on the cost, always print black and white where possible)

  3. You will also need to give guidance on the font type and size, although a good designer should offer their opinion.


Resources for interior formatting.


  1. Createspace Style Guide (page 18 to 43)

  2. Trim Size Guide





2.  A Cover 


Every printed paperback will have a front cover, spine and back cover, simple enough right?


2.1   About Spine Width 


You cover designer will need to know how wide to make the cover spine. Here is how the spine width is calculated:


Page count

Before tackling the cover design you will need to know the page count of the PDF file of the book interior. This is not the same thing as the page count of the book itself that the readers are used to as it will include the extra front and back matter of the book.



Createspace will offer the adventurous author two options of paper type, white or cream. Now there are arguments for both and opinions seem divided as to which authors prefer. Createspace will allow authors to order samples of the cream and white paper type, this might help you decide. 


So to summarize, the width of the cover’s spine is determined by:

  1. The page count of the PDF file,

  2. The paper type chosen.


Armed with both the page count and the paper-type, plug this information into the free spine-width calculator linked at the end of this section for the width your can pass on to your cover designer.


2.2   Cover Finish - Matte or Gloss?


cover matt or gloss


While you are busy loading your book files on the Createspace platform you are given two options with regard to the finish of the cover, Matte or Gloss. Once again, this is really up to your taste however after seeing both finishes the Matte finish really does look more professional and does not show off finger prints like the Gloss version does. 

Read more on the Matte or Gloss options here.


Again, most authors should be outsourcing the cover design to a professional. Just send the graphic designer a copy of the cover style guide linked in the resources below while you focus on the writing.


For the authoryour cover designer will need the following things from you:


  1. Confirm the trim size (6” x 9” for example)

  2. High-res images you might want used on the cover (300 Dpi +)

  3. Have the text ready for the front cover, spine and back cover,

  4. Author image for the back cover, if applicable.

  5. ISBN number,

  6. ISBN Barcode.

  7. Spine Width (This is calculated from the paper-type and page count, use the spine width calculator link below)


Resources for the cover design:


  1. Createspace Cover Design specifications (From page 53 to page 64)

  2. Free ISBN barcode generator.

  3. Spine Width calculator.




3.   Createspace Account Setup


So you have reached this point. You have a cover file and manuscript interior (separate) both in PDF format and they both obey Createspace requirements. Here are a few other things you can research before the time to help you fly through the Createspace setup process.


3.1   Keywords and Categories


 account setup


  1. You are allowed to choose up to 5 keywords or tags for your paperback. 

  2. You are only allowed to choose 1 BISAC book category for your paperback book.


The BISAC category is where you think you book best belongs on the shelves of the Createspace store, is it perhaps a biography, or a fast-paced fiction novel?

Keywords are what the readers will be typing into the search bar of the Createspace store, think terms like Romance Thriller or Detective mystery.

The keywords and categories for the paperback are not as useful as found in the KDP account, for those authors who might know the Amazon KDP eBook publishing platform well. Createspace does limit the keyword length which makes the practice of using longer-tailed keywords redundant as you are forced to shorten these keywords to 25 characters maximum.


3.2   Distribution Channels


 createspace channels


Channels is where Createspace allows you to publish not just through their store, but though their parent Amazon stores too. When you are on this screen, select all channels  possible for the widest distribution of your paperback.


3.3   Royalties - How much should I sell my book for?


 createspace royalties


This really depends on the author’s goals.

Read more on the Createspace royalty structure here.



Additional  Createspace resources


  1. BISAC category listing.

  2. Createspace royalty calculator

  3. How to Create discount coupons on Createspace

  4. How to order copies of your own Createspace paperback






Remember, for serious authors, even if you think that you might not ever sell many paperback versions of your book, this might not actually matter. Just by having a book published by Createspace, it will appear alongside your eBook on the Amazon store. Not only will it automatically appear alongside your eBook but your eBook will now appear as a discounted buy. Amazon will actually say something to the effect of “Save 50% - Buy the eBook”.

This means that even if you never sell a single paperback title, simply having a paperback version will potentially increase sales of your eBook. 

If you are worried that your typesetter might have made a mistake on the book interior layout, or your graphic designer but have not created the cover to spec, not to worry. Createspace has an interior review process that will scan both your manuscript interior and cover files and highlight faults that may have crept in by accident.

I hope this post helps you prepare for publishing on the Createspace platform. To help authors who might be short on time I have created a PDF summary of the Createspace publishing checklist that you can download and use at a later stage as a refresher.


Download the Createspace Publishing Checklist PDF here.


Did you find the post helpful, if you did please take the time to leave a comment. 

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