Author’s Corner: Preparing Your Manuscript for Printing

Preparing Your Manuscript for Printing

For my first book, I had written the original draft in WORD. I told you in my last column what an effort it was to create the digital versions. The paperback books were a bit easier (or maybe I was just numb from creating those digital versions).

In any event, when I was ready I downloaded that original manuscript (still in Word), into the size I wanted (5.5 x 8.5 is a standard trade paperback) making the necessary tweaks to the file for proper type size, line spacing and pagination.

Author R.L. Herron

Author R.L. Herron

That was a chore in itself.

Then I converted it (still in a Microsoft WORD doc) to a PDF file to upload to a company called CreateSpace, which is affiliated with Amazon. I chose CreateSpace for one simple reason: If I could do the production work myself, the upload was free.

Making the covers required a bit of the artistic capability that I mentioned earlier. I used photos I took myself or, in some cases, inexpensive stock photos, and converted them into pieces of artwork in Photoshop, or another free open-source retouching software called Gimp (the GNU Image Manipulation Program).

In one of those applications or the other, I made covers, complete with title and a back-cover blurb. If this sounds too difficult however, rest assured there are competent sources where it is possible to buy the work.

After your art is uploaded, CreateSpace (still free) adds a barcode to the back of your book and can assign an ISBN number, the identifier necessary to get your book into bookstores and libraries (Note: it is possible to purchase and provide your own ISBN through, which I will walk you through later).

CreateSpace sends your work to Amazon for you when you’re done. It also has an option for extended distribution, which makes it available to other booksellers.

After the first book, I simply used the previous one for my template.

I mentioned before that getting your work ready for publication gives you respect for the efforts a publishing house goes through. It’s easy to see why they command such a large percentage of the monies generated.

After all, they have to provide proofreaders and editors, buy design time to format the text pages and cover, buy photography or artwork, paper, printing and bindery services, arrange for packaging, storage and distribution – not to mention a budget for publicity.

When an author contracts with major publishers, he/she generally receives a royalty of about 15% of the book’s retail price. That means a book that sells for $20.00 nets the author a whopping $3.00 (assuming the book sells). In addition, since the traditional publishing houses won’t talk to a writer without an agent, you’ll need an agent and that agent gets a cut – not of the retail price, but of the author’s commission.

Therefore, the author actually nets only $2.55 per book.

Now you know why it’s so hard to make a living writing fiction. Stephen King can live on that. He sells millions of each of his books. The average author never sells more than 3,000 copies of a title … ever.

If you’re an author and you feel that percentage hardly seems fair, try to remember …

All you did, after all, was write the silly thing.

Next: The publishing revolution

About R.L. Herron

R.L. Herron, the author of multiple works of fiction, including several Readers' Favorite medal winners, lives and writes in Michigan with his lovely wife, and a finally-paid mortgage. His books are all available on Amazon and online with Barnes & Noble. Visit Author R.L. Herron's Website, Broken Glass.

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