CreateSpace is an awesome, affordable, professional tool for writers to gain perspective on their work. It is also the cheapest, fastest way to make physical copies of the book. For those who don’t know, CreateSpace is the self-publishing arm of Amazon.
In September of 2013, I took my thumb drive to Staples and printed out this 600 page copy of my upcoming novel, The Barefoot King.
I had three copies made and the bill was about $90.00. plus tax. I gave it to my two brilliant college lit graduates to comb through and edit. They marked it with suggestions. I kept a copy for myself to make changes. The notes were great, but the process was cumbersome. It was messy and confusing because I kept mixing up the loose-fitting manuscript pages which included 1800 pages of markings. It became maddening.
In November, I had a new, corrected draft completed and ready to read. This time I got smart. I went through the proof-reading process available through CreateSpace. I had three copies made of the new draft. The cost for the complete order was $16.00 plus standard shipping ($5.99). So for three copies it was $20.00 and change. I got this back:
The process was less cumbersome and less confusing because I was no longer dealing with loose manuscript pages.
Why even bother making a physical copy? Why not just keep the book in digital form?
Okay, I will tell you why:
1.) It gives you perspective.
Sometimes, we need a break from the computer or tablet screen. Even with the digital revolution, digital purchases are still only 25% of the US market. It is great to read a book in quasi-finished fashion. It makes it other. It is yours but it is not yours. You bring to it a set of reborn eyes. They are the eyes of your past experience in reading other people’s work. And CreateSpace does a dazzling job in making your proof book look great. It has a polished finish. You really feel you are reading a book. not a manuscript. There is a difference.
2.) It is easier to share with trusting friends who have an editorial eye.
The bound book format is an easier way to share with friends or potential partners: agents, professional editors, or even traditional publishers. It is also easier and cheaper to ship this “condensed” manuscript if someone wants a physical copy. I have found, however, that most people prefer a pdf that they can open on their iPad or tablet.
That said, I love it when somebody returns the book filled with hand-scrawled markings, not printed type. You can feel the spirit of the person in the way their writing reveals their emotional world. Often you might sense their aggravation as they write sloppily or slash paragraphs ( like a butcher who just wants to be done with it!) . You can discern their confidence with an idea as that might write more carefully, more mannered (i.e the point is important to them therefore they time the time to communicate well) . You need to listen to that mannered writing if your truly trust that person’s opinion.
Afterward, I box the notes as if sacred scrolls in a holy library for some other day.
3.) It encourages you to take a deeper dive into the work.
By demystifying the final format of the book, it makes you strive harder to make the book better. Seeing the book in physical form opens your eyes to all kinds of new concepts: the way the dialogue falls on the finished product, the ratio of “open space” to “text”, how the title or chapters flow. It opens you up to new possibilities. Sometimes, you think , “man, some of this is damn good. Who wrote it?” Other times you know, “this stinks because I have come out of the world of the book. This needs to be better. It is not book worthy.”
In my very next blog on CreateSpace, I will reveal the quick down-and-dirty, how-to do it. It’s really easy and there is no set-up fee which is remarkable. You also need to know that under the proofread protocols, you can order only five copies at a time.
The third blog will be about the special secrets I have learned on how best to format for reading in the physical space. I have done 4 redactions of The Barefoot King through CreateSpace. I made a lot of mistakes along the way and you can learn from my misfires.
The fourth and final bog on CreateSpace will be on “Reading Backwards”. Trust me, this process will really help you un-clutter the text. It is a new way of practicing Hemingway’s “Iceberg Theory”.