After years of work on getting this thing ready, “The Sky Thief” now has its first physical proof being sent my way via Priority USPS. It’s really the final phase of getting this thing out there, assuming nothing goes terribly wrong in the printing (which is entirely possible knowing my luck and dwindling bank account).
Going through CreateSpace was a process in itself, and arguably more difficult than any of the writing or editing involved in the book. To anyone self-publishing that wants physical copies of their work, I think CS can be a great tool, but be aware that it has a steep learning curve. Quite simply, there’s a lot of stuff that goes into a book that is well beyond what most people imagine.
To start, anyone not familiar with graphic design, pre-press, and general formatting of print work is going to have a struggle. 90% of my issues getting proofs ready came down to technical graphic-y stuff that had very little to do with writing. It says quite a bit when doing the math and designing on your cover is the easy part of it all.
I use Windows 10 and Scrivener to write, which is a program I highly recommend. However, be aware that Scrivener is native to Macs and Windows don’t have all of the features its counterpart has. Like embedding images using tags. That would have been helpful. So, for chapter headings I wanted to created, instead of having handy tags that automatically embed and resize them them as needed, I had to learn how to use embed images directly onto my Scrivener pages, as well as adjust sizes constantly between compiling the digital and PDF versions of TST. Just getting them the right size and properly set into the finished pages took a good several hours!
Once I figured out how to compile Scrivener books with images properly, then came the fun part of learning how to flatten and embed images within Acrobat itself. You see, I tried uploading what I thought were finished copies of my PDF to CreateSpace. The initial preview looked great, but when the final reviews came back, all of the images had gone missing in their development process. I chalked it up to the images not being “flattened” properly, and thus being tossed from CS’s automation.
This in itself was not even an issue if it were not for something on CreateSpace’s end, which is the sheer amount of time it takes for these review processes. Between approving a draft and getting my final proof reviews, it averaged around 12 hours. During this time, no changes can be made, and the review process cannot be cancelled if you realize something three hours in and need to upload a new cover design.
On one hand, it is nice that Create Space takes the time to make sure the final product you’re getting is the one you truly want. I’m not entirely positive on what goes on in the review process – whether it’s physically looked at by someone or simply automated – and I’m sure I’ll be glad in the end that it is a very thorough process. That did not make it any less frustrating to wait overnight just so I could turn around and reupload a new draft so I could wait another twelve hours (to be fair, Amazon’s KDP program fares only slightly better, taking only a few hours instead of half a day).
However, in the end, what’s done is done and hopefully in a nice little package heading to my doorstep tomorrow morning.
The biggest takeaway from all this, and what I hope readers will get out of it, is that there’s a ton of formatting and design and super-techy stuff that goes into a book. Anyone wishing to self-publish should hopefully know what they are getting into if they want to give it a try. I don’t regret the experience necessarily; it was a good learning process that felt good to do once. However, if I am in the financial situation where I can outsource it for the next books, I would not hesitate in the slightest.