Saturday, 29 August 2015

This Are The Books What I Wrote!

Publishing a book has a few pitfalls, at least if you self-publish on Amazon. I had assumed you wrote it in Microsoft Word or something similar, then just submitted it. It hadn't occurred to me that size was important - it's never been an issue before.

So, I thought that about 450 pages would be a reasonably generous size because I'd hate my readers to be disappointed. But 450 pages on the default MS Word page size, when uploaded became about 750 when auto-formatted for Kindle.

Okay, I thought, so that's really generous and it costs so little. Go for it! Now for the paperback.

Well, that was easy, I thought. All you have to do it tell Amazon's CreateSpace publishing department to auto-fit it to the page size you've chosen - 8 x 10 inches - and it'll do the rest. All I have to do now is order a few proofs - enough for family and friends at the special price - and wait for the parcel to arrive all the way from America. Best wait to check that they look okay before unleashing them on the waiting paperback book market though, just in case...

So, opening this large box, I found it full of massive books looking a lot like science textbooks and far too large for light reading or bedside companions, with the insides looking like badly photocopied pages with almost no margins and with some page numbers half-way down the page.

Moral No. 1: Don't leave formatting to a machine. Get it right by doing it yourself and treat every page as a work of art!

So, backup the original Word document, and change the page size. About 6 x 9 inches is the more or less standard paperback size.

Now, the page count has gone up about 950 pages and every page needs checking to ensure paragraphs are spaced properly and there aren't any unnecessary hidden line-feeds at the tops of pages, and the Table of Contents is all wrong of course, but at least Word does that for you, if you remember to ask it to. Still, that was half a day well spent if it gives my readers a professional-looking book - shows I'm not taking them for granted... and now nearly 1000 pages! What a bargain!

Moral No. 2: There is a limit to the number of pages. It's something like 500 pages. It would have been helpful for CreateSpace to have said so earlier.

So, what if I try a slightly larger format? Another couple of hours of checking and re-formatting, but I'm used to it by now - practice makes perfect.

Moral No. 3: The maximum page size goes up but not by as much as the number of pages comes down when you change the page size, so don't be too generous with the pages unless you want to publish a really big book.

So, what to do?

I have a Kindle version out and selling well, and there's probably a market for 'real' books. My solution is to split the original into four volumes. And I've uploaded the re-formatted full file into the existing Kindle book, so those who've already bought it should get the update when they next go online with their Kindle or Kindle Apps.

And that was a long-winded way to announce that I have not just one but four paperbacks based on The Light Of Reason: And Other Atheist Writing.

Sadly, I can't provide a combined book with all four volumes at a bargain price because there are just too many pages!

The four volumes are (USA):

And in UK:

And, at the risk of boring the pants off you, these four volumes are available for Kindle at bargain basement prices:



What more could you want? That's your Christmas presents sorted!

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  1. What more could you want? That's your Christmas presents sorted!😊
    I would like to be able to buy e-pub versions as I refuse to have anything to do with Amazon, because reasons.
    Avid reader of your columns and thank you for them.
    Terence Moodie

    1. I'm tied into Amazon for 90 days but I'll look at other outlets after that.

  2. Thank you. I look forward to the end of the 90 days and buying a book or two, or three.


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