Monday, 20 February 2012

Formatting a Kindle Book For Lulu or CreateSpace

So you’ve published your book to Kindle. Now you want to release it as a paperback. The two main ‘print-on-demand’ options you might consider are CreateSpace or Lulu. The main advantage of CreateSpace is that it’s affiliated with Amazon so getting your book listed on Amazon will (presumably) be fairly straightforward. Lulu has the benefit that the company prints books internationally – not just in the USA – so if you want make it available to buyers in other countries (and as a UK author, I certainly do!), Lulu is a better choice. Bear in mind that your Lulu books will be listed on Amazon too as long as you given them an ISBN number (this is available free from Lulu).

Whichever service you choose, the next task you face is getting your book formatted for print. I am assuming here that you have written the book in Microsoft Word. If you have used another word processor or a Desktop Publishing program, the tasks you need to undertake will, of course, be rather different, though the principles are the same.

Traditional Kindle books have very simple formatting without fancy layout and named fonts. To make your text look good in print, you need to put some effort into reformatting your text to fit onto a specific page size, use named fonts, apply formatting effects such as indents, page numbering or section numbering and so forth. In this article, I’ll explain the first step – getting your text to fit onto the page.

First, decide on the size of your book. My book is a novel and the standard size (on Lulu anyway) is 6 inches wide by 9 inches tall which is called US Trade. Lulu supplies pre-formatted page ‘templates’ in various sizes and I’d suggest that you begin by downloading one of these from here: The CreateSpace templates are found here:

As I am publishing to Lulu, the rest of this article describes what I did using the Lulu template. I would expect the process to be similar for CreateSpace but I have no personal experience of that.

First, bear in mind that, while Lulu and CreateSpace call these documents ‘templates’ they are not what Word calls templates. In Word a template has the extension ‘.dotx’ or (in older versions of Word) ‘.dot’. A Word template is used as a repository for reusable styling information that can be loaded into one or more existing documents. The ‘templates’ supplied by Lulu and CreateSpace are ordinary Word (.doc) documents. If you haven’t yet written your book you could, I suppose, start writing it into one of these empty documents. In my case, my book already existed. I decided to use the downloaded ‘template’ as a reference guide. I examined its page-sizing properties and simply copied these into my existing document (actually I first made a new copy of my novel's document because I didn’t want any changes I made to affect the one that was already formatted for Kindle).

So, without more ado. This is what I did. I loaded Lulu’s US Trade template document and then selected Page Layout, Size, More Paper Sizes.

A dialog appeared showing me the Custom size details. These are the settings that were shown in each of the three tabbed pages.

I made a note of all these settings and just copied them into the same ‘Page Setup’ dialog pages for the document containing my novel. Then I saved it. The end result is that my text was formatted to fit on the pages of a 6” x 9” book. You would, of course, need to copy different settings if you are printing to a different size of book.

That’s just the start, however. I next had to apply a whole range of formatting options to make the text look nice on the printed page. I’ll have more to say about that in another article.

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