Self-Publishing Experiment | Draft2Digital to Createspace Paperback

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 4.35.51 PMIf you’re like me, newfangled things always catch my attention.  And so when I heard that Draft2Digital could provide the author with a Createspace-ready PDF of their book, I was all ears.  PDF, you say?  Does that mean I not only can have a copy of my novel in mobi and epub, but I can have a printed paperback copy to hold in my hands as well???

The answer to that question is yes, using Draft2Digital’s Createspace-ready PDF format that’s currently in Beta. I decided to give it a test drive last week with a proof copy that I needed to print on Createspace, and so after writing my book in Ulysses, importing to Vellum, and then importing from Vellum to RTF, I then uploaded it as a new book to Draft2Digital. I know, I know. I could easily just write it in Word and then export. But I don’t write in Word. I write in Markdown, and that means Ulysses.

Whenever you upload an epub version of your book on Draft2Digital, D2D will only show you the mobi and epub versions of your book. But if you upload a Word document (.doc and .docx) and RTF, you will see the PDF option alongside the mobi and epub formats. And that’s exactly what happened. After less than a minute, I had three versions of my book: mobi, epub, and Createspace-ready PDF.

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I then sent that PDF file to Createspace, which gave me the trim size and page numbers and then I set out to create a fake cover (I have the ebook cover above, but I don’t have the full wrap file; it’s also reserved for the actual publication.  Sorry, no cover reveals since you’ve already seen it!) using Createspace Cover Creator.

Using a free image from Unsplash which is licensed under “Creative Commons Zero, which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash,” I created a full wrap cover, added in the title and subtitle, and then the description. I opted to hide the Author image and the Publisher image and then I clicked Review.

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Older version when I was reconsidering renaming the trilogy into a series. But it could still happen…

Personally, I LOVE this image, even if the woman does not look anything like my heroine for she’s a blonde.  But it’s perfect as a full-wrap cover, and when you’re done on Createspace, they’ll provide you with a Kindle cover which is just the front of the book.  Sure, you have to deal with the white boxes but the option, if you don’t like the other templates, is to upload your own design which could require some Photoshop or Pixelmator (cheaper alternative to Photoshop if you have a Mac) skills and risk angering the book cover designer gods.  You could also use Canva.

After 24 hours, I received an email from Createspace saying that my book had been approved. I could have proofed it online but after squinting through all the proofs of my first three books, I wasn’t about to do that this time, not when I needed to see how a Draft2Digital Createspace-ready PDF stacked up against the Pressbooks file I usually uploaded ($99 per book, $59 if on sale), or after much frustration, a Scrivener-formatted PDF.

And this is the result:

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Front, back, and inside pages with bookmark – because I’m editing…

After choosing the matte finish and cream paper for all my earlier books, this time, I chose the glossy option and white paper, which I actually really like. It really makes the image pop out and now I’m wondering if I should switch to the glossy option for the new editions, or reprinting of my previous novels. I only picked the matte option upon the recommendation of a book cover designer, but now I’m having second thoughts.

One of the things about the cover being the way it is, using an existing template from Createspace, is that it’s a great option for authors who may not be able to afford a cover designer for their covers.  Many a cover designer has lamented the lack of taste and the proliferation of awful covers out there, but sometimes, unless a writer knows where to look, cover design can be costly if they don’t know where to explore cheaper options.

Now back to the book.  The interior is actually really good. At 80K words, I ended up with 280 pages, which is much thinner than my previous books with large line spacings leading to bloated page counts. It’s why my books cost $14.99 – $19.99 as the minimum price to order because man, they are big at 400 – 500+ pages. And that’s only because I ended up choosing a fancy Pressbooks theme with large line spacing, but I sure am not doing that anymore.

The only thing that the D2D version of the paperback doesn’t have is the Table of Contents. While D2D gives you a table of contents in the digital versions (I think it does), it doesn’t do that for the PDF version and that can be a problem. But I’ll figure out the solution for that in my next experiment.

For now, I need to edit this book on the go, in a book and not on a 6-inch phone screen.

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20 Replies to “Self-Publishing Experiment | Draft2Digital to Createspace Paperback”

    1. I was just thinking about that last night, especially since my book doesn’t have visible chapter numbers lol as far as I remember, but titles. TOC probably is more useful for nonfiction stuff more than fiction. Isn’t that cover model gorgeous??? And I didn’t need Photoshop to lay it out. I think I’m getting burnt out by all that after playing with Photoshop since 1998.


  1. Hello,
    Your book looks great, but I’m slow I guess. What was D2D’s role in creating the hardcopy? It sounds lie you used a file created via creatwspace anyway. If so what was the purpose of using D2D? One can just go through createspace all the way. I’ve been trying to figure out how to use D2D’s createspace option. I assume the interior would be created by them. I having problems figuring out the cover creator. I’m not sure what to do with that template you download. And they don’t seem to know either.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. D2D will create the interior for you, a standard 6×9 file that you download and use for your interior file. The pdf preview will tell me how many pages there are total, including the copyright pages and the About author pages, if you have them. I recommend adding them ahead of time to your word or rtf document because D2D will include their images which Createspace will say does not have enough resolution.

      I just found this nice post that shows you how to create the cover like I did for Loving Riley:

      Loving Riley’s cover was created using The Pine 6×9 template that you see on that page. Good luck!


      1. Sorry Charles, I didn’t answer your question. I used D2D because I don’t write in Word, so a Word template that Createspace suggests for the size of my books don’t work for me. I write in Markdown language using Ulysses and for this experiment, I then convert it into a Word document (within Ulysses and I don’t ever see it as a file in Word itself) and upload that file to D2D.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Liz,
    That’s a great cover. I’m trying to figure out how best to covert a poetry book (I have it in word and pdf and its formatted for Create Space) into an ebook? I hope to publish with D2D as well as a few others. I tried uploading the word doc to calibre. The lines are ok, but the spacing between poems is a problem as they run into each other with no space. I want a new poem to start on a new page, like a new chapter, but I can’t use headings to work with the chapters as these are not chapters but poems. Any suggestions? Also how would I make sure the table of contents works ok?


    1. You could check out this site for tips on how to convert your poetry for epub and mobi. I use a Mac app called Vellum to do poetry but you can do it in Word. You’ll just need to create a new version just for ebooks apart from the one you already have for createspace so the formatting won’t look weird. In Word, it depends on the styles that you set up to format your document.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the tip. I checked out the site. It sounds tough, but doable. I’m going to see how it works. If not I’ll have to hire someone. But this will be the last resort.


  3. Thanks for sharing your experiment. Have you figured anything out about TOC? Although I write ficiton, I so far mostly write nonfiction and so a TOC is important. Also, is it only 6×9? Most of my books are short* and to the point how to books, so a smaller trim size helps. Although most buy ebook I find that a print copy and ISBN add credibility.

    *In the pre-internet days they called them booklets or pamphlets that you could send away for through the mail for $1 to $5, and many libraries carried them too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mark! When I did the experiement, they only had 6×9 but now they have 4.5×6 to 8.5×11. About 14 sizes all in all! It’s definitely worth a look although I’m not sure about the table of contents. The one I just tested now doesn’t have one. I might use them to format my novellas although I’ll have to learn the cover dimensions for the smaller sizes as Createspace doesn’t have them by default. I love that I learned something new!


      1. Thanks for the reply! I did a test earlier today. Not only is there no TOC but they only printed a page number on the first 10 pages, then every 5 to 7 pages. Very odd and this was on their main default template. Not a good sign – back to Pressbooks for now, at least.

        Though I’ll let D2D distribute non-Amazon ebooks quality formatting is important to me.

        Also I see they have 4.5×6 rather than the industry standard 4×6 (which Ingram Spark offers though Createspace doesn’t, unless you do custom sizing in CS – though I have seen a reports of bad quality printing with custom CS sizes).

        Otherwise my biggest hurdle right now is figuring out how to get 4×6 booklets onto Amazon without having to deal with sales tax reporting in multiple states (necessary if not using POD).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s terrible about the pages being missing. I checked my book that I had formatted through them last year and all the pages numbers were there. Hopefully it’s a glitch.


      1. Chapbooks is what poetry (and maybe stories) were called. For nonfiction advice or how to things 7 tips Like Organizing Your Home for the Holidays, How to Keep Your Children from Fighting, Make Moving Less Stressful, Cooking for Diabetes … etc. as I recall they were pamphlets or booklets – often you sent an SASE (self addressed stamped envelope and a $1 bill or maybe $2. Sometimes for premium hard to find info maybe up to $5.


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