##Please note: this post is pretty old and the pictures are out of date. I've just added a new post here with some pictures of my current paperbacks and the updated formatting. It would be useful to read both posts and compare the differences.##
I was very pleased to come home from work yesterday (April 19th) to find that my author's proof copy of The Tube Riders had finally arrived. The estimated arrival date was Sunday 15th, so it was four days late. However, as I live in Japan and was ordering it through Createspace in America I expected it to be delayed, and four days is not so bad.
Apart from a couple of dents on the front from transportation it looked wonderful. I was expecting it to be a little more flimsy like a regular paperback but quality of the binding is more akin to a textbook and could take a bit of a beating.
Inside the book the paper and text were exceptional quality. For the formatting I used a downloadable template from the Createspace website but the text, headers, footers etc, were all done by myself using a simple Word document. I was very impressed. I don't know exactly what grade of paper was used but it was just as good as anything in any hardback books I have, with a slightly grainy texture rather than gloss.
Here's a more close up look at the text. I used Times New Roman size 12. I was wondering whether to use a slightly smaller text for the final version as on some lines the justification has spaced the words out a little much, particularly between sentences. Also, the longer the book is, the higher the production costs, however while I could make the text a lot smaller, and drop the header and footer to make it perhaps 40 pages shorter, I think it would make it an inferior product and probably paying that extra dollar is worth it.
The cover image was purchased from an artist I found on deviantart.com for a very reasonable fee (for non-exclusive rights) but the cover design is a Createspace template. There is a system where you can pay them to design a specific cover for you, or you can upload your own, but I think mine looks really nice with the deep red of the train on the black background. Obviously you could change the background and text colours if you wanted to, however you couldn't change the size or the font of the text, only whether it was in capitals or not. I think there were about 15 different templates you could chose from, but I liked this one the best.
Here's a shot of the spine. I had no options on text size, only colour and capitals/non-capitals. It wasn't even generated until after the upload of the text. I would have liked it to be a little bigger and I think its slightly off-centre but I think in general it looks okay.
Here's the back cover. Again, I had the choice of colour and style (and size this time) although not font. The ISBN is given to you by Createspace. Some templates had an option for an author photo on the back, but not this one, and I didn't really want one anyway.
Due to the nature of it being print-on-demand (POD) the production costs are higher and therefore my retail price will reflect that. I think the minimum I can charge to even make a small profit is $13.99 but to be honest, the quality of the book is exceptional and I wouldn't shirk at paying that for a regular trade paperback of this size and quality anyway. However, author copies are cheaper at just over $7 (of course pricing depends on the size and length of your book) so it would be possible to buy them in batches and sell them privately.
Based on what I've received I would not hesitate to recommend Createspace (an Amazon subsidiary), although the only downside is that it the only Amazon it is available through is the USA version. However, UK customers could buy it direct from Createspace (as I did, even though I live in Japan), which I would actually prefer because my profit margin is higher, however it probably wouldn't affect the book's ranking on Amazon.
Overall, I was delighted to receive a copy of my book in print. I have to admit I shed a tear when I opened it. I'm not actually expecting to sell many copies, particularly when the ebook is currently only priced $2.99, but I think its important to have a version available, plus it means I am able to submit it as a review copy to magazines, as well as do reader giveaways, etc. The only downside is that I live in Japan so shipping costs are high. I paid for express delivery which was just over $12 (for a single copy) but it still took 19 days. Obviously the more you buy the cheaper it gets, and if you're buying from inside America it would be a lot cheaper anyway.