Turning your ebook into print (my print-on-demand adventure)

Rather excitingly, this month I received the princely sum of £22.58 from Amazon. It’s a small start, but an exciting one, because it represents my first dipping-my-toe-into-the-water of print on demand books.

Want to turn your ebook into a print-on-demand one? Here’s a run-down of how I did it – and why if you’re like me, you might want to hire in a bit of help.

Rights to turning your ebook into print

Before you start uploading anything to Amazon, you’ll need to check on the rights for your book. If it’s a self-published ebook, and you haven’t gone through a publisher, then you don’t need to worry about this. But if your original work was under contract, you need to check the contract terms to make sure you’re allowed to print it. I wrote my first book in May 2013 for an ebook-only imprint of Harlequin (who also publish Mills and Boon, although sadly my book was less about ripped bodices and more about getting fingered in a shed). In the contract, I was eligible to revert certain rights after a certain time period, so my agent checked with the publisher and they returned the rights to me.

So far, so good.

On top of that, though, you also need to check whether other book-related things are covered in your contract. If you’ve gone through a publisher, chances are they paid for your cover design and will retain copyright to it even if you have the print rights for the book. Luckily, I was keen to redesign the cover anyway because I wanted it to reflect my blog a bit more – since publishing the book Stuart F Taylor had started illustrating my blog, so he kindly produced an amazing cover in his unique style.

See Stuart’s cover on my print-on-demand book here, and the original cover here.

Formatting your ebook for print

The next step is to format your ebook – for this I had help from the amazing Anna Sky at Sexy Little Pages. Sexy Little Pages is a publishing company that also offers professional services – such as formatting – for authors. If you’re not familiar with book formatting, the easiest (and quickest!) solution is to just get in touch with someone like Anna who can do all of this stuff for you. But if you’re keen to DIY, Anna’s kindly shared some of her top formatting tips for turning ebook into print below.

Choose your typefaces (fonts) wisely 

If you’re formatting for eBooks, keep it simple. Whilst newer eBook readers can display more fonts, older eBooks just get a bit confused and make your work look underwhelming at best. Paperbacks on the other hand offer far more flexibility but again, keep it simple – your book will look far more professional and be easier to read if you stick to a serif font for the main text and something a bit funkier for headings. Don’t just download and use any font you like without checking that it’s licensed for commercial use – it could get you into trouble! Use websites such as Google Fonts or Font Squirrel as they offer a huge range of commercially available fonts.


If you’re creating a print copy of your work, create a PDF with embedded fonts. If you’re making an eBook, you can either upload a Word document or convert it to an ePub, using free software such as Calibre. It’s easy to upload a Word document to Amazon KDP or Draft2Digital and if you follow Smashword’s guidelines, to them too. However, they all convert your book to ePub format and sometimes things look a little bit off. If so, try uploading an ePub file directly – one that you’ve created yourself and tested to make sure everything looks like it should do.

Proof, proof and treble proof

Obviously your book has been proofread and edited within an inch of its life but once you’ve uploaded the files ready to publish, whichever platform you’re using will give you a final proof copy to sign off on. For print, CreateSpace will show you any errors and also let you download a final proof copy. Make sure the page numbers are correct and that everything looks how you expect. For Kindle (KDP), use their previewer to see how your eBook will look on different devices or better still, download the .mobi file they create and test it on your Kindle and mobile phone. Ask friends to test it too. Finally on Draft2Digital, download the ePub file and test it using free software such as Adobe Digital Editions. Only when you are absolutely happy that it looks the best it can be, press the big scary ‘publish’ button.
Alternatively, if this is a complete foreign language and you just want to write, there are plenty of companies available including Sexy Little Pages who offer professional formatting services.

Massive thanks to Anna for the tips, and also for the awesome job she did on my book. Honestly, can’t recommend her highly enough, especially as she also held my hand through some of the stressier Amazon stuff like getting an ISBN number.

Once you’ve got your cover and your formatted manuscript, you’re ready to go! Upload them both to Createspace, input your details for royalty payments, and make your book available. You’ll be offered the option to buy author copies of it too, at a discount price – particularly useful if you’re attending an event like Eroticon and you want to sell your shiny new printed book while you’re there!

Best of luck in your print journey, and if there are other print-on-demand topics you’d like us to explore on this blog, let me know in the comments and I’ll see which experts I can rope in to help out!


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