I found that Amazon has a company called CreateSpace. They do all kinds of things but the service I wanted was their trade book publishing. (They also offer a number of design services which I didn’t need as I know my way around preparing PDF files for professional production.) The main CreateSpace service is based in the US, but copies for the UK and EU are printed and shipped from Bedford, so only copies bought direct from CreateSpace incur hefty shipping costs. I didn’t research other companies as the testimonials for CS were excellent.
Once I had the final, final version of my text I had to get my pages ready for print. I’d written When She Was Bad in Microsoft Word and could have produced PDFs directly from my final draft, but Word isn’t a professional publishing tool and is known to have a number of annoying idiosyncrasies with its PDF export. It also lacks typesetting essentials such as full kerning and ligature controls. I wanted my book to look as good as it possibly could so I completed the pages using Adobe InDesign, laying out my text into an 8x5in template. I set the book in 11pt Baskerville and removed the automatic hyphenation (neater to manually hyphenate a word and only then if absolutely necessary). I then went through all 260 pages tidying away any widows or orphans (short lines at the top or bottom of a page) and ensuring all the text on each page was neat, compact but not too crowded. I haven’t worked as a sub editor for over 25 years but it is easy work when it’s your own words you’re fitting.
CreateSpace details its PDF requirements on the site but I didn’t find the margins, trim and bleed instructions particularly helpful. My wife Jenny, a designer by trade, had to slightly rework the cover she’d designed for the Kindle edition for the paperback sizing, and added a back cover and the spine and barcode panels. We needed to use a higher resolution picture of a Prada rucksack for the print version (300dpi rather than the 72dpi that had been okay for Kindle) and ended up using a different bag for print.
I added additional text on copyright, a few blank pages front and back, and an Author’s Q&A I did with a friend. CreateSpace provided the required ISBN free, which was included in their barcode. All done.
I uploaded it to CreateSpace and they performed a full check at their end. One small correction was required and then I clicked the magic button to order a proof copy. The proof copy was $4.21 and the postage was $14.38 as I wanted it that week (I just couldn’t wait!), so that was $18.59 (£14.13) for my very first copy of my very first book.
As CreateSpace is an Amazon company it was on sale on all their sites almost immediately and they do all that ‘Look Inside’ and ‘Sample magic’ for me. The price you can charge is dictated by page size and page count and I wanted to keep it low reasonably low. I set it at £7.99 here and $9.99/€9.99 elsewhere. I make roughly the same royalty on the paperback as I do on the £1.99/$2.99 Kindle edition - £1.29 a copy. I can buy copies for myself via CreateSpace for $4.21 each, but they ship from the US so it’s not not that great a saving for me from the UK price unless I buy in volume.
At the time of writing I’ve sold 80 copies, with another dozen I’ve bought and distributed myself. As the Kindle version is cheaper and was available first it accounts for the majority of sales, but I’m hoping the paperback will pick up some momentum once I start marketing it.
It’s been a great thrill putting my first novel on my shelf - I can’t recommend it highly enough, well worth the fourteen quid it took to get it there. I’m happy to answer any questions anyone may have on what I’ve done.