Jennifer Layton: Publishing Your Book, Part II

Here is the second half of Jennifer Layton’s guest post about publishing her book……….enjoy! If you haven’t read part one yet, just scroll down to the next post to see where we left off…….


I don’t remember exactly when CreateSpace came into the picture.  I had been looking at some really good companies such as iUniverse.  But I didn’t have much money to put up front, and I didn’t want to handle the inventory.  My apartment is small enough without boxes of books everywhere that I have to sell myself. 


Then I was buying a birthday present for someone on Amazon, and I found a link that said, “Self-Publish With Us.”  I clicked on it and was amazed to discover that Amazon has two companies to help indie musicians, filmmakers, and writers like me:  CreateSpace and BookSurge.  After some research, I chose CreateSpace.


It’s simple.  You don’t have to pay anything up front.  You upload your book as a .pdf file, upload your cover art, and order a proof copy.  Once you get the proof, you can upload any changes and order another copy.  Once you are satisfied, Amazon advertises your book, and when someone places an order, they print, ship, and send.  You keep the rights to your book.  You don’t have to keep any inventory.  You can track your sales and royalties online, and once a month, Amazon dumps your royalty payments into your bank account.


And as I’ve recently discovered, because so many companies have connections to Amazon, you’ll soon find your book for sale all over the internet.  I just found my book for sale on Target’s web site.  It’s also being sold in England by a British affiliate of Amazon.  All those sales get tracked through Amazon, and royalties go into your bank account without you lifting a finger.  You can also order copies of your book at a seriously discounted price to use as promo or sell on your own.


One of the coolest things is that there are no startup fees.  You just sign up and open your account.  You just pay for each proof you order, and then once you give the OK to publish, you don’t have to pay anything unless you want to buy promo copies. 


AUGUST, 2008

I took the cover image to Kinko’s and got it scanned and put onto a disk.  CreateSpace has a template to use to design your cover, but it uses PhotoShop, which I knew nothing about.   I sent out another email to my friends and readers.  Denise Squier, one of the CD review writers on my staff at, jumped in to help.  Again, she offered to do it for free.  Again, I wouldn’t let her.  We agreed on a flat rate, and on the credits page of the book, I made sure to thank her and post a link to her band’s web site. 


From my blog, written while I was at work:


My book cover design is done! I’m at work and I shouldn’t be checking my email, much less writing in my blog, but I’m so excited I seriously think I’m going to hyperventilate. The book cover design was just emailed to me, and I printed it and put it up in my cubicle. My heart is pounding and there are butterflies in my stomach. I showed the gay guy in our office, and he squealed. I love gay guys. I love this book cover. Now I am going to go into the ladies’ room and breathe into a paper bag, and then I am going to get back to my work. Tonight, I am going to upload this book cover to the publisher web site and see what kind of final timeframe I’m looking at now.


I had the book cover, I had the book.  I had to choose a page format from CreateSpace’s menu and reformat the Microsoft Word pages to match the format.  I crossed my fingers, uploaded the files, and clicked on the request to have Amazon send me my first proof.


While I waited for the proof, I started brainstorming ways to promote it.  I re-designed my web site.  I set up pages on MySpace and Facebook.  I notified everyone on my blog.  When the book was ready, I wanted to be ready to jump right into promotion.


SEPTEMBER 18, 2008

From my blog:


I got the proof of my book yesterday. It’s an overwhelming and amazing thing to see your book in print. It needs editing, so I’m going to do another round of editing, uploading, and getting another proof, but I just want to take a moment to stop and breathe and look at my book in print. I just want some time to sit and look at this and be proud of myself.


I knew right away it needed editing.  Two things to remember:


1.      Images on the computer screen look different in print.  On the actual proof, the cover image was up too high and too far over to the left.  The back images were too far over to the right.  Ironically, the text on the spine looked great, which was the one part the editors at Amazon had emailed to tell me they were concerned about.

2.      I had forgotten about blank pages.  You need blank pages in your book to separate your credits page from your acknowledgements page.  You also need them to separate chapters and sections. Otherwise, every page continues back to back to back.  Pick any book off your shelf to see how blank pages are used. 


Denise did some quick edits on the cover image file, I edited my Microsoft World document to include blank pages, and then I re-uploaded everything and waited for my next proof.


The next couple of weeks were spent reviewing my proofs and getting a couple more done as I made changes.  I gave the proofs to friends I trusted and asked them to review.  As a result of their feedback, I took some essays out and replaced them with others. 


Then, on October 17, I picked up my latest proof at the post office and knew it was The One.  It was perfect.  I came home, logged onto my CreateSpace account, and clicked on the links to let the editors know it was ready to sell.  And suddenly, that was it.  I got a message from the editors telling me that my book was now for sale, and all I had to do was tell people about it.


In one click of the mouse, I was a published author.  And that’s when I wrote the blog entry at the beginning of this article. 


At first, the book was just for sale on the CreateSpace site.  Amazon had its page up for me within ten business days.  It’s only been a few weeks, and the book is already online at Target and several other sites on the web.


I ordered promo copies and sent them out.  A bookstore in Raleigh called Quail Ridge Books and Music offered to sell it in their stores, at a royalty agreement higher than the one I’m getting from Amazon.  I’m still keeping the book up at Amazon, but I sent several copies to the bookstore as well.


I’ve been too excited to rest since then.  I promised myself when I started this project that once the book was published, I’d take myself out to dinner to celebrate.  I haven’t done that yet – I’ve been too busy, doing everything I can to get the word out.  Sales are slow but steady.  I am selling books.  I autographed my first copy for a co-worker who bought one of my promo copies directly from me.  Customers are posting reviews on Amazon, and they’re all 5-stars (so far). 


I can’t say enough good things about CreateSpace.  I’ll be spending the next several months pushing Trap Door Confessional to anyone who will advertise or review it.  My plan was to just write one book.  But who knows?  This experience is so exciting, it’s addictive.  I may just write a follow-up.


In the meantime, I’m also giving back to the artists who have been so supportive of me by making myself available to help them.  If you are thinking about self-publishing a book through CreateSpace, or just have questions in general about the process, I’ll be happy to help.  You can reach me by email at  There are no stupid questions.  Believe me, I’ve asked them all.


Just like the new parents of a real baby, I won’t be happy until I’ve shared the experience with everyone who can’t run away fast enough.  If I could fit 8,000 pictures of my book in my wallet, I would.


And a wicked little part of me wants to send a copy to Pope Benny and the Jets.  For now, I promise I’ll behave.


Anyone who would like to see what the book is all about can get it here.

Thanks to Jennifer for sharing her experience–I hope it helped some of our readers!