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How to Self Publish on Createspace the Easy Way

If you’ve decided to self-publish your book, and you want a physical book to hold in your hands – much more satisfying than an eBook – then the easiest way is to self publish on Createspace.

Self-publishing sounds difficult, but it’s surprisingly simple – it’s so easy that you’d have to be crazy to pay someone to do it for you!

I’m a commercially published author now, but I understand the frustrations of trying to get your book published, because it took me ten years to get my big break, and I still self-publish too. For example, I recently edited an anthology of science-fiction short stories called Revolutions and published it using Createspace.

So, I’ve managed to self-publish on Createspace several times, and I’ve learnt a few things. Now, I can share my tips, so you don’t make the same mistakes!

Why Self Publish on Createspace?

Createspace is the easiest way for an average person to self-publish their book because it publishes books directly to Amazon’s sites all around the world.

With a forty-plus percent share of all books sold and sixty-plus percent of the online book market, Amazon is by far the biggest market that you can reach as a self-published author.

There are other ways of getting your book on the Amazon website, but because Amazon owns Createspace, it integrates very well with all the rest of the Amazon ecosystem.

Self publish on Createspace: Step 1 – Your Book

In order to self publish on Createspace, first you’ll need to sign up for Createspace here.

Then you start by clicking Add New Title and choosing expert setup – that gives you a single screen to fill in.

Title Information

First, we need to fill in the basic details. The important options are:

  1. Title (book name).
  2. Primary Author (you).
  3. Interior type (black and white for a novel).

We can leave these other items blank/default: Subtitle, Series Title, Edition Number, Publication Date, ISBN (Createspace assigns an ISBN automatically).

Choose a Book Size

You can choose from various trim sizes, but remember:

  • 9″ x 6″ is a standard trade paperback (i.e. hardback-sized).
  • 5.06″ x 7.81″ is a standard mass-market paperback.

Once you’ve chosen your book size, download the template and copy your book’s text into it.

Convert your book to PDF

Createspace uses the Adobe PDF format for the body of the book. So you’ll need to convert your word processor file to PDF in order to upload it.

Here are some options:

  • Microsoft Word allows you to save to PDF using ‘Save As’.
  • In Apple’s MacOS you can save any file to PDF from the print option.
  • There are many PDF converters online. Just search for ‘PDF converter’ on Google.


In Word, when you to save to PDF, click ‘options’ and select ‘ISO 19005-1 compliant’. This embeds your fonts in the file so they come out right.

Upload Your Book File

Remember to check the PDF carefully to make sure it looks exactly how you expect.

Then, once you’re happy with your book’s format, you can upload the interior of your book to Createspace.

Self publish on Createspace: Step 2 – Cover Photo

There are two options, design your own cover or use the template-based Cover Creator. I recommend designing your own cover. A book’s cover is critical to attracting readers, and a template based design is less likely to stand out from the crowd.

Designing your own cover isn’t difficult. At the simplest, you just find an image, make it the right size and add the book’s title and your name to it. I explain designing a kick-ass cover in more detail in How to make a book cover.

Find a Cover Image

There are two options: use an original photo or artwork of your own, or download one from an image library. The cheapest and easiest option is to use your own photo, but image library photos are usually better quality.

Make the Cover Image the Right Size and Add the Title

Creating a cover for a Createspace book is a more complicated process than if you self publish on Kindle alone. This is because Kindles only display the front cover. A physical book also needs a back cover and a spine (the middle bit).

The cover size depends on the number of pages, because that determines the spine width. Luckily there’s a Createspace spine width calculator. Just enter the number of pages in your book and the book size you decided on earlier, and it will generate a downloadable cover template.

You’ll need some image editing software to make the cover image the right size and to add the title and your name as the author. The free image-editing program I recommend for this is GIMP, which is available here.

  • First open the Createspace cover template. That gives you the basic layout.
  • Open the image you’re using as a background as another layer.
  • Add further text layers for the title, your name, the tagline, the blurb, and the spine title and name.
  • Add a white box, in the position shown by the template, for the ISBN barcode to go in.

If you’re struggling with GIMP, there are tutorials here.


Make sure the cover doesn’t have any writing near the edges. Anything readable has to be at least a quarter of an inch from the edges. That includes the edges between the front/back and the spine. Your Createspace template includes edge guides, so make sure you use them.

The cover should end up looking something like the diagram below:

Self Publish on Createspace - Cover Format

Upload the Cover

Createspace requires the cover in Adobe PDF format, so once you’re happy with your design, export it as a PDF.


Flatten the image in GIMP (Layers/Flatten menu) before exporting to PDF, otherwise your cover won’t come out right. Don’t forget to undo the flattening after the PDF export in case you need to change it again later.

Now on Createspace click Browse… select the PDF of the cover you’ve designed and click Upload.


Now just click Submit for Review.

It takes several hours, but eventually, Createspace will email you saying either that the book is fine, or there are problems. If there are problems, fix them, otherwise move on to proofing.

Please remember to proof check your book carefully using Createspace’s online proofing tool, to make sure it looks exactly how you expect. There’s nothing worse than getting a book that is not what you expected, because you’ve made a mistake.

Self publish on Createspace: Step 3 – Distribution and Pricing

Now add the following information:

  • Description (up to 4,000 characters – use it to sell your book to the reader).
  • BISAC Category (this is a hierarchical list of genres. Pick the one you are writing in. E.g. for Revolutions it was Fiction / Science Fiction / Short Stories).
  • Language (English, probably).
  • Country of publication (UK, USA etc.).
  • Search keywords (up to five, add the themes of the novel, don’t duplicate the categories).

Choose Cover Finish

This is just matt or gloss. Personally, I prefer matt, and most commercially published books are matt, so I’d go with that, but it’s up to you.


Select all the channels, so your book gets the widest possible distribution.

Note that selecting these channels won’t necessarily mean bookshops and libraries will start stocking your book – that’s more a question of promotion – but it will put your book on the book distribution systems, which should mean books and libraries can order your book if you persuade them to.


Because it costs money to print your book, there’s a minimum price you can sell it at, and Createspace shows that price. Simply set your selling price to any higher figure you think you can sell at, it’s up to you.

You can set prices worldwide automatically, based on the US price, or customise your prices for different territories. It might be worth setting prices manually to exploit psychological price points like £4.99.

Self publish on Createspace: Final Step – Publish!

Once you are sure you’ve set everything up right, just click Complete Setup.

That’s it. In about twenty-four hours your book will be on all the Amazon stores around the world.

See – I told you it was easy to self publish on Createspace!

It works!

I recently edited an anthology of science-fiction short stories called Revolutions and published it using Createspace.

Read the first story in Revolutions, Sarah Jasmon’s The Uncertainty Principle, for free by clicking here or on the cover.
Self publish on Createspace

Agree? Disagree?

If you’d like to discuss how to self publish on Createspace, please email me. Otherwise please feel free to share the article using the buttons below.