I know I’ve been promising you all a formatting post for two weeks now. I’ve been super busy the last two weeks. Unfortunately when my schedule gets crowded, my blog is the first thing that suffers. sigh If only there were 30 hours in the day. I’d still probably be complaining I didn’t have enough time though lol.
Createspace Formatting Guide: The Cost Perspective
On Wednesday formats, I’ve previously discussed how to choose a print size for Createspace and common mistakes made when formatting in Word, but today I’d like to talk about the underlying motivation behind all major business decisions, production cost. When you’re a self publishing author, you are also a business, whether you realize it or not. You need to approach all of your decisions the same as if you were running an actual brick and mortar business because you and your books are your business. You as the author provide a service and your books are the product which your business is selling.
In the world of traditional publishing, just about every decision is made based upon production cost. For example, it use to be in typesetting that all chapters fell on the right side of the book. Publishers did this by either inserting blank pages or adding/decreasing text to force chapters to fall on the right side. Nowadays, especially in the world of mass market books, chapters fall where they may, left or right. And the reason is cost. Some publishing houses no longer force chapters to the right side of the book in order to lower the page count which in turn lowers production cost. Each page, regardless if it’s printed on or not, is a cost to the publisher so if they can limit the number of pages in a book, and still maintain quality, that is exactly what they’ll do. As self publishing authors, you have to look at your book in the same way, and make decisions based upon how to keep the cost of your book down.
Another way to lower cost and decrease page count is with font choice. Some fonts are larger than others even if they are the same size. For example using book antiqua 11pt font can have up to 50 more pages than a book formatted with Garamond Pro 11 pt. Other than the font itself nothing is changed, and if you’ll notice, they’re both 11pt. However, book antiqua can make your book’s page count significantly longer than a different font.
A good book formatter can advise you on how to increase/decrease your page count, will know how specific fonts will affect the final page count, and will be able to adjust the text in order to keep the page count at a minimum. All of this is important especially when your book is already 250+ pages in length. You don’t want to do anything that will make it longer and thereby increasing production cost, which in turn will increase the selling price.
I know, in some ways, this all seems to go against common sense. Shouldn’t a book’s design be about “look” and not “cost”? Yes and no. It should be about both. It is possible to maintain a high quality product while at the same time controlling production costs.
The reason you want to keep publishing costs low is to lower the selling price while still allowing the author to make a profit on their books. Let’s face it, a new author is going to have a much harder time moving books than Stephen King. It’s just a fact so new authors have to do all they can to keep the production cost of their books lowered. When you’re a new author, readers view buying your books as a risk. They are investing their hard earned money in your words and they wonder if it’s a wise investment. They can’t know 100% until after the purchase so they have to take a chance that your words will even out the risk they’re taking on purchasing your book. If your book is inexpensive, it lowers the risk people feel towards purchasing a book from “someone they don’t know”. It’s important to always remember how your customers (readers) view buying your book. While you know every word, and love your characters, they’re your babies after all, the readers don’t know you yet. You’re still a stranger. A stranger who’s asking them to part with their hard earned cash. They have to decide if it’s worth it or not without even seeing your product.
While it’s not in your control how much Createspace charges per page for production, the number of pages and proper formatting are within your control. It’s up to you the business owner (author) to make the proper business decisions so that you’ll have a high quality product at a low selling price. After all, that’s what all businesses do and as I stated before, authors are businesses in the flesh.
What have your previous decisions been based upon? Do you make them simply on “look” or is production cost a factor in your decisions as well?