Over the last few months, I've entered into the exciting, nerve wracking, and sometimes flat out frustrating world of self-publishing to print. I am so glad I finally got enough courage to embark on this journey. I've grown a lot in the last couple of years, and trusting and having confidence in myself is one of the amazing fruits of my labor. But I digress. I had to do this myself. I am lucky to have a couple of incredibly gifted friends who blessed me with their photography and modeling skills, and a sister who has good copy edit skills. But even then, it was a lot of trial and error and there is a big learning curve.
I now have more respect for why editing, interior design, and cover design are so expensive. By all means, I think these services are valuable. However, many great emerging authors out there can't afford to spend thousands of dollars per book for these services (and yes, for those out there who might be unaware, that is thousands. With an "s"), and would like to have their work in print before they die of old age. For anyone who is in that boat with me, I'm going to link some tutorials and resources that I've found handy. I have learned though, that no one tool did the job in one go. I often got almost the product I was looking for, but there was one thing I couldn't fix. Then I'd have to experiment or find resources to fix that...it was kind of like an RPG! Nerd that I am, I enjoy RPG...to a degree. One disclaimer: I am not an expert at this. Far from it! This is only my first experience. I'll try to save you some steps to finding the key to the wizard's castle though...
1) India Drummond's tutorial on how to format your word document for create space. I really liked this, as she shows you on the screen what she is doing and what it should look like. There were a couple of things I changed in addition to her advice (as a result of my RPGing). I got my page sizes and margins from the template they provide on Create Space, but just used my own word document.
Another thing I noted while on a side quest, was that in professionally published books there are never pages or titles in the header of the first page of a chapter. In order to do this you have to set up the page numbers the way she says, but also make sure to go into page set up =>layout => and check the box labeled "section start." The details are for another day, but I had to play around with this in a couple sections of my manuscript later on because there were blank pages in two places near short chapters. Changing it from starting on a new page to starting odd or starting even seemed to fix this.
I also didn't format my text body exactly the way she did, as I didn't think it matched what I was seeing in professionally published books in my genre. I think this tutorial gives you excellent basics, which you can then adjust to fit your tastes. I suggest scoping out exactly what you want things to look like by studying the books on your bookshelf.
2) Creating Covers in Microsoft Word by Joanna at The Creative Penn. I started here for cover creation. I was mainly looking for an inexpensive way to pretty-up the generic e-book covers I already had. I got some decent results, but most importantly, I learned how to manipulate pictures, layers, etc. within MS word, a skill I used later when I made my actual print cover.
3) How to Make a Full Print Book Cover in Microsoft Word by Derek Murphy at Creativindie. His free tutorial was what I actually used to make my cover for Earth and Sky. When I first read through it, I nearly gave up on the spot. It sounds complicated. But once you dive in, it's really, truly, not that bad. I can't speak for any of his pay services. They look/sound awesome, but I wanted free :)
4) Choosing a Font For Your Manuscript at Holly Brady's blog. I didn't know the difference between serif and sans serif fonts at first. This helped me choose the best font for my manuscript and later my back matter.
Hopefully his helps anyone who is taking this exciting and terrifying step! Let me know if you have questions and I'll try my best to answer.