Making Digital Books: Formatting Your Novel for Print-on-Demand (PoD)

Making Digital Books: Add your ebook to the top of the stack!

Here’s a thought or two about the future of print book publishing, from a small publisher’s perspective: Why print up 10,000 copies of a book, pay to store it in a warehouse and then pay more to ship it to bookstores, and pay again for returns if the book doesn’t sell?

Why not make it so each book has a press run of only as many books as needed? Even if it’s just one?

That’s print-on-demand (PoD). A customer orders a book, a book gets printed, and then shipped to the customer. No trucks full of boxes of books (except the UPS truck with the customer’s book), no warehouses, no returns. Just a printed book whenever it’s needed.

Pretty cool, huh? Luckily, the quality of PoD presses has gotten so high that you can’t tell them apart from “real” books from traditional publishers unless you know where to look.

And the PoD press I’m going to focus on for novels (not stories, as they’re not worth the effort) is CreateSpace, which is part of the empire.

After you’ve formatted your book for Smashwords, the Kindle, and the Nook, it’s just a few steps more to set up a book as a PoD book. Having a print version of your books makes it that much easier to reach more readers.

Steps for Formatting for CreateSpace PoD

  1. Copy the Word document you formatted for Smashwords, but give the file a new name, such as “XYZ_PoD.doc.”
  2. Using the new Word doc for PoD, repeat steps 1-15 for the Formatting your Word document for Smashwords process covered in the Smashwords blog entry.
    Note: The following settings are what I’ve been using. You may want to tweak them according to your tastes, and to fit your book size.
  3. Next, change the font for the whole document to Times New Roman 11. You may want to use a bigger font for the title on the Title page (see the Organizing your PoD topic below for details).
  4. Set the spacing for the whole document to 1.15. This makes it a lot easier to read than single-spacing.
  5. Click the Page Setup button (on the Page Layout tab in newer versions of Word) and adjust the settings:
    1. Set the margins to .6” top, .6” bottom, .63” inside, and .9” sides/outside.
    2. Keep the orientation as Portrait
    3. Select Mirror margins for the Multiple pages option.
    4. On the Paper tab, select Custom size and set the page size to 6” (width) x 9” (height)
  6. Set the alignment in whole book to Justified.
  7. Fix Chapter Titles and scene breaks (* * * * *) so they’re centered.
  8. Make sure chapter titles start on the same line throughout your book. I start my  titles 2 inches from the top (use the Ruler function to see the measurements on the left and top borders)
  9. Bold your chapter titles.
  10. Change the Page Breaks at the end of each chapter to Section Break (Next).
  11. For the book’s Header:
    1. Add the TITLE on odd pages, centered, 9 points, all caps, and italicized.
    2. Add your AUTHOR NAME on even pages, 9 points, all caps.
    3. The Header should start on the second page of each chapter.
    4. Do not include Headers (or Footers) on the first page of any chapters.
  12. For the book’s Footer:
    1. Insert the page # option, centered, 9 points.
    2. Set the page number to not appear on the first page of each chapter
    3. Do not include Footers on the first page of any chapters.
  13. Review your entire book for formatting issues, such as possible “widows and orphans” — single lines of text at the top or bottom of a page that get stranded, and should be with other lines of text.
  14. Review the “Organizing your PoD Book” topic below and decide what items you want to add to your book.
  15. After you have your PoD file organized the way you want it to look in print, use Word’s option to convert the file to PDF. Select the option for no tagging and no bookmarks.
  16. After you have your PDF ready and error-free, jump down to the “Uploading to CreateSpace” topic.

Organizing your PoD Book

Here’s the typical order of pages in my PoD books, along with what’s on each page and blank pages used for proper pagination, so it all looks right in the printed, double-sided version:

Sample PoD Copyright Page
Sample PoD Copyright Page (click for a bigger image)
  1. 2 blank pages for pages 1-2
  2. Title page on page 3 (this is where you’d use a bigger font size than 11 points)
  3. Copyright page on page 4, listing the novel title, copyright info, a link to my website, cover art credit, and the ISBN.
  4. I have an Also by Michael Jasper page that lists my other novels for sale as PoD and ebooks for page 5. You could also add a section with blurbs or reviews here.
  5. Another blank page for page 6.
  6. The novel itself starts on page 7.
  7. Add a blank page after the end of the novel.
  8. About the Author on the next odd page that follows the blank page from the previous step.
  9. Add another blank page (or two) to ensure the last page of the Word document is blank.

Uploading to CreateSpace

  1. Go to the CreateSpace site and create an account if needed. Log into the site.
  2. Click Add New Title.
  3. Specify the name of your book, select Paperback, and use the “Guided” setup process.
  4. Click Get Started.
  5. Enter title information and click Save & Continue.
  6. Enter ISBN information and click Save & Continue. I always use the CreateSpace-assigned ISBN. No need to purchase your own here, as you’re just using the ISBN as an identifier in various distribution systems.
  7. Set up your interior formatting information.
    1. I select Black & White for the interior type and Cream for the paper color.
    2. Because I set up my Word document as 6″ x 9″, I select 6″ x 9″ for my trim size.
    3. Upload your PDF for the PoD.
    4. For the Bleed, I select Ends before the edge of the page.
    5. Click Save & Continue.
  8. Set up the cover using the CreateSpace tools by selecting the Build Your Cover Online option.
  9. Click Launch Cover Creator.
  10. Select a template to help you format your cover. The number of pages in your PDF file will determine which templates are available. I use “Charlemagne Sophistication”(or the “Palm” for smaller books), because it lets me upload my own front cover and back cover images, and it has space on the back cover for the barcode information (CreateSpace generates the barcode for you). You’ll probably want to experiment a bit with the cover templates and processes here.
  11. Upload your hi-res images for the front and back cover. CreateSpace requires file in .jpg or .tif format that are 6.25″ by 9.5″ and have a resolution of at least 300 dpi. I download hi-res stock images for my covers, add my book’s title and back cover text in PowerPoint, and then I export the hi-res file into .jpg format. I’ll cover this more in a later entry.
  12. Make sure you add your book’s title and your name to the spine for the template.
  13. When you’re done tweaking the cover, click Submit Cover.
  14. On the Complete Setup page, submit your book. CreateSpace will review your book’s files, and then you can order a proof.
  15. Review the print proof, and go over the steps above again if you find any errors. You can get an electronic proof to save time and money, but I recommend getting the first proof in hardcopy so you can read it closely and find errors you may not catch onscreen.
  16. While you’re waiting for your proofs, you can set up your distribution system, using the Sales Information and Sales Channels links. My writing pal Ryan Williams has an excellent blog post on this here.
  17. I recommend you go with the Pro Plan for your PoD books. It’s $39 for each book, which is a bit steep, but it gets your book out to a lot more retailers, and should drive more sales your way.
  18. After you’ve reviewed all your proofs and made sure everything is in place and checked off by CreateSpace, all you have to do is wait for your book to go live, first at the CreateSpace store, and then Amazon, followed by all the other distributors and affiliates.

Be aware that all this PoD stuff is a bit time-consuming, and there are lots of moving parts to it. I’ve given a pretty quick overview, and I know I haven’t given a ton of information on cover creation (that step took me the most time!), so let me know what else you’d like to read more about.

And if you have any tips or suggestions, feel free to share in the comments or via Facebook or Twitter! And thanks for reading.

Back to the Making Digital Books Table of Contents.

If you found some valuable information in this entry, feel free to make a donation to UnWrecked Press via PayPal:

7 thoughts on “Making Digital Books: Formatting Your Novel for Print-on-Demand (PoD)

  1. Michael,

    As always, this series is so helpful to those if us doing this for the first time. I have some questions about the spcifications you set, though. You note to set the spacing to 1.15″, but I don’t see how to do this in Word (I’m using Word 2007). I can set line spacing for “single,”1.5,” or “double.” Is there a way to set the exact inches, or are things different in the newer versions of Word?

    Similarly, you note margins of .63″ for the inside and .9″ for the sides/outside, but I don’t get options for “inside” and “sides” or “outside.” I just get “left” and “right” and “gutter.” Are these new terms for what you mean, or am I missing something?

    Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again for this terrific series.



    1. Hi John — sorry for the confusion! I’m using Word 2007 (Microsoft Office 2007), and I have the option for 1.15″ spacing — there’s a button called Line Spacing on the Home tab, in the Paragraph section. That button lets you do 1.15″.

      And Left Right and Gutter are the same as inside and outside.


  2. Hey, Michael, got a couple more questions for you.

    1) I’ve got a dedication in my book. What page would that go on in the front matter? Do I need to leave more blank pages and perhaps have the book start on page 9 instead of page 7?

    2) I have an acknowledgements page. In the eBook version, I put it in the back, so it wouldn’t take up space in the free sample portion of the downloads, but, traditionally, doesn’t this belong in the front matter? So, again, what page would that go on?

    Thanks for being so helpful with all these questions. This stuff all looks simple ’til you try to do it!



  3. Hey John — thanks for dropping by again.

    1. I’d put the dedication before the actual text of the story or novel, and put a blank page after it. And then start the story or novel. So yeah, page 9 instead of page 7.

    2. I’d put the acknowledgements at the end — that seems to be the typical place for ’em. Check out some books in your genre and see how they do it, to be sure.

    When in doubt, check and see how other folks do it. 🙂


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