But of course it isn't as simple as dollars and cents. There are often optional costs that vendors entice us to buy and the time investment to learn how to do something. Then there's the so-called opportunity cost—maybe you could have been doing something more productive with your time.
Putting aside the opportunity cost, I'm going to run down a list of optional costs and share a few pointers in case you feel like trying this yourself. A solid knowledge of Microsoft Word (or similar) and a dash of patience and perseverance is all you need to make it happen.
The minimum you need to publish a print book using CreateSpace is:
- A manuscript formatted to CreateSpace specifications. (Download templates here.)
- A book cover; again it must adhere to CS specs. (Cover specs here.)
I've produced CreateSpace manuscripts in both Word and PDF format for uploading and find it easier to upload a PDF file. If you are using Word, there may be times when you use a special font or other element and their system will report a problem with your file. I've gotten around this by submitting a PDF because the fonts are embedded when you create the file.
Covers are another area where many people feel at a disadvantage. The cost is going to range from $0 to several hundred dollars so it becomes a budget consideration. Read our post on cover design resources.
1. The first decision you need to make is what size the book will be. You or your cover designer needs to know this in order to design the book cover. Once you select the size you'll want to stick with it otherwise it’s a lot of work to reformat the text and resize the cover.
Also keep in mind that certain sales channels will accept only certain size books so choose an industry standard size. The CS website does a good job explaining that here (select the Printing Options tab).
2. You must have an ISBN and there are four options; again one is free:
This can be a little confusing so read my post about the pros and cons for each choice. For our purposes I'll say that the free option (CreateSpace-Assigned ISBN) is worth considering if you think libraries and schools may wish to order your book. See expanded distribution below or study the options on CreateSpace—their help is quite good.
Other possible costs
- Optional: Expanded distribution
is a one-time cost of $25. Basically Amazon distributes information about your book (metadata) to a number of industry databases and directories. Examples include distributors, libraries, schools, bookstores and other online retailers. If you have the money, and selling your book into these other channels is important, I'd make this one-time investment.[UPDATE: this option is now free as of late 2013.]
- Another optional but highly recommended investment is to order printed proof copies. You can proof your book from your monitor but nothing beats a physical copy. It will cost just a few dollars plus shipping. (I have never completed a project for a client that didn't have corrections after we reviewed the printed proof.)
What about your time investment?
This depends greatly on your word processing and book designing skills. One of the trickier things to do is adding page numbers, footers and headers. After that it comes down to the type of book. Novels will be easiest because they usually don't have footnotes, endnotes, chapter design requirements, section breaks, etc. Find a book similar to your subject and ideally from a major publisher. Study its design and ask yourself if you can use it as inspiration.
Your only required cost is if you buy books for resale or personal use
So if you did everything yourself, including designing a cover, using the free ISBN, and proofing your book online, the final cost is…..$0. All that's left is to put your book on sale on Amazon which is an automatic process. Click here to learn how much it will cost you to buy books for your personal use (select the Buying Copies tab).
Did you know that print books are still nearly 80% of the market? Give it a try by visiting CreateSpace.com and sign up for a free account. And if it gets overwhelming, or you have a question, give me a call.