The Printing of Tree People

Rebecca Radley’s novel, Tree People, has been available for a while as an eBook (http://www.amazon.com/TreePeople/dp/B00FGJW03A), but last weekend we published it as a paperback.

Tree People

It is an entertaining and emotional story that we think you will like. If you haven’t seen it yet, please click on the above image to go to Amazon and then click on the cover to “Look Inside” or download a sample to your Kindle and take a look at it.

But, that is not the topic of this post. Today I want to describe our paperback publishing experience.

We hadn’t been in any rush to put it out as a paperback, thinking that the sales would be only a small percentage of the eBook sales. On the other hand, some people really prefer to read a “real” book and we didn’t want to disappoint those readers.

We used our very own Nepo Press formatting service to prepare the camera-ready PDF and then we published it through Amazon’s subsidiary CreateSpace (http://createspace.com).

The total cost was $5.49 (including tax). That was the cost of the proof copy that we bought directly from Amazon (more on that below). Even that cost could have been avoided, but why take chances? Besides, we wanted a copy to hold in our hands.

Rebecca spent half an hour or so setting up an account at CreateSpace and setting up her book, entering the title, author, trim size, etc.

She decided to go with the formatting program’s default size of 5.25x8 (5.25 inches wide, 8 inches high), cream paper, and a matte cover.

It would have been just as easy to choose a different trim size (6x9 or whatever) and/or to adjust the margin sizes. We think the defaults worked great for this book.

After that, it didn’t take very long. The manuscript was in good shape from having published the eBook version and we were able to use the very same manuscript for making the PDF that CreateSpace needed. All we did was add a few tags, to customize it for the PDF. These are tags that are ignored when formatting an eBook, so they can coexist.

We added a <mainmatter> tag to indicate where the front matter ended and the main body of the book began.

In a web browser, we went to the Nepo Press book account for Tree People, uploaded the newest version of the manuscript, then clicked on the PDF button.

After that, we had a PDF. Of course, it needed to be proofread. Rebecca looked for any typos that had escaped previous proofreadings (she found one and fixed it) plus any formatting that looked strange.

Because a title page is generated automatically for the PDF, there were then two title pages. This is OK, but not perfect, so we added an <onlyebooks> tag around the eBook title page, so it would be ignored in the PDF. CreateSpace supplied us with a free ISBN that we added to the copyright page. Since the ISBN applies only to the printed version, we also surrounded it with tags so it won’t appear in the eBook. We did the same thing for a book description that we wanted only in the eBook version. Finally, we duplicated a few <image> tags near the end of the book because we wanted one size image for the eBook and a different size for the paperback (again isolating them with <onlypdf> or <onlyebooks> tags).

The formatting program hyphenates automatically where necessary, and mostly gets it right. However, we did find three proper names that we did not want to be hyphenated and one word, editorial that wasn’t being hyphenated where we wanted it. So, we added those four words to the hyphenation table like this:

<hyhenation> editor-ial eugenia vivian benedict

(This says that if “editorial” must be hyphenated, break it between the r and the i, and never hyphenate the other three words.)

Finally, we did a quick scan to see if any lines extended into the margins, but there weren’t any. (If we had found any, we were prepared to add a <brk> tag to force a line break.)

We reformatted several times as we adjusted the manuscript as described above. It looked ready to go on Friday a week ago.

Saturday, we made the book cover using CreateSpace’s cover generator. We chose the template that allowed us to upload the entire front cover image. We used the same image as for the eBook. We uploaded that image into the template and then added the description and uploaded the author photo for the back cover. We chose a background color that went well with the front cover image. Then we reviewed it again on CreateSpace. It looked good so we submitted it for approval.

We submitted it Saturday evening and heard back from CreateSpace Sunday morning that it was approved. This is one of the beauties of our formatting service. In our experience, the PDFs and Mobi and EPUB formats we submit are accepted the first time.

So, on Sunday, we finalized the pricing and did a final quick scan with CreateSpace’s digital previewer and said, “Publish!”

We chose not to order a proof copy from CreateSpace. A first-time author should get a proof copy, but we trusted our formatting. We still wanted a proof copy but we achieved that in a round-about method that I had seen discussed on the CreateSpace blog.

CreateSpace charges the author for a proof copy based on page count. For this book, with 196 pages, the price would have been $3.20 plus a shipping charge of $3.59, for a total of $6.79, plus sales tax I suppose. (If you order more copies, the price per book stays the same but shipping goes way down.)

Instead of doing that, we went ahead and published, telling CreateSpace to distribute just to Amazon. The lowest list price we could set was $5.34 (again based on page count), so that’s the price we set. At that price, Rebecca would make $2.14 for sales made directly through CreateSpace and would make zero for sales made through Amazon. We published Sunday afternoon and just after 5pm the book was available for ordering on Amazon. I ordered a copy Sunday. I expected to pay $5.34 plus tax, but Amazon had discounted it to $5.07. With tax it came to $5.49 (free two-day shipping through Amazon Prime).

We did it partially for fun. It was slightly cheaper this way, it counts as a sale for Amazon ranking, and it may have reached us a few days sooner. I ordered it Sunday evening and it was in my hands Wednesday evening (three days instead of two because Monday was a holiday). And, it doesn’t have “Proof” stamped on the last page.

We have been showing the book around and we and everyone else are very pleased with the book’s appearance. It looks like a real paperback book, it is a real paperback book. We may not sell many copies, but at an investment of $5.49, it seems like a good choice.

Of course, Rebecca Radley is one of Nepo Press’s authors, and gets the full book account at no charge (nepotism at work, so to speak). You’d need to factor in the $35 charge for the book account (as described at http://nepotism.net/formatting).

If you would like to try it out with no committment or expense, just email me at frank@nepotism.net, with the title of your book and the author name, and I’ll be glad to set up a free book account for you to experiment with.

Frank