Getting Madrugada, my latest book, into paperback – the process

Beryl Gorbman

If you aren’t interested in self-publishing a book, ignore this post. It’s not actually a post, it’s a boring rant.

The physical publication side of getting my book out there is driving me nuts. Writing it was one thing, but the agonies of formatting and formalities are beating me down.

Publishing Madrugada  for print seems a lot harder than when I did 2012: Deadly Awakening. First of all, it took me about ten years to write Madrugada. I like this book far more than the other one, and can’t seem to stop editing and proofing – and I always find things wrong or things that need improvement. I have to stop sometime.

There is a word in Yiddish – to patchkie. It kind of means to mess around pointlessly, like Stop patchkying with your food and eat it already! I am patchkying with my text.

I sent the idea for the cover art, done by a friend, to a professional book cover designer. I found her after a few false starts and I love what she has done. I only hope the readers like the book as much as they like the cover. Her name is Christine DeMaio-Rice at

I thought I was about done, and then I remembered I need an ISBN number. I went online to that awful Bowker company, the firm that for some reason has sole rights to dispensing these numbers, and I see that they will no longer let you buy just one number. You have to buy a block of ten and that costs $275. I don’t know what I would do with ten ISBN numbers. Apparently, they are catering to publishers.

See my previous posts about Bowker:


There are more, but that’s enough.

Fortunately, now there are bunch of little companies, that no doubt buy ISBNs from Bowker in bulk, and then sell them in lower denominations. A single ISBN number through one of these outfits costs $55. And it takes a few weeks!!!

Now onto the huger problem. This is totally my fault and my personal failing, but CreateSpace, the company that helps you make your manuscript into a physical book, is hard (for me) to negotiate. They provide a selection of dimensions for your book and you pick one. So far, so good.

Then they provide a number of templates, so you get to squish your copy into the template of your choice. This is a great idea, but still requires some talents that I lack.

Let me stress that CreateSpace does a fabulous job. The problems are mine. I should have paid more attention to formatting in Word a long time ago. I never even learned to do a style sheet. Despite a long career writing technical manuals, I somehow slid through.

I am stumped on several things. Like how do you number the frontmatter in those cute little lower-case roman numerals and then start the regular numbers on the first page of book text?

How do you get all the chapter heads into the same format?  Of course, this is the whole point of a template – for a normally intellignet person, this is practically done for you. But not me, nope. There are some instructions for this back on the CreateSpace site, I think, and I need to go back and look, but when you’re anxious to get your book up and running, it is frustrating (at least to me) to have to master the art of page layout. Writing and page layout are not talents that reside within the same person, at least not inside this person.

Last time I did this, they didn’t even have the templates and it was far worse, but some kind friends helped me through the worst of it.

Of course, now that the book is in the format template, I keep finding more things wrong with it. Can’t let it alone. So I’m still doing edits. Still patchkying.

I should mention here that I had similar agonies getting Madrugada into shape for electronic publication throught the fabulous company, Smashwords. The people there actually answered my stupid questions for a long time, and then finally, just took the manuscript and tweaked the damned thing themselves. I am forever grateful. The owner, Mark Coker, is dedicated to publishing the best eBook products possible.

So as things stand now, Madrugada is in a template (for print), but I have given up on headers. They are simply beyond me. For while, I had three conflicting headers all up at once, and finally managed to delete all of them. I did get page numbers going, but not the special ones for the frontmatter.

I have to go through and make sure chapters all start on a right-hand page. And that all the chapter heads are uniform (they aren’t).

I decided I don’t need a table of contents. And since I cannot master headers, I will forego putting Madrugada on top of the pages. I mean, for god’s sake, they should know what they’re reading without me pointing out every minute.

About BG

Beryl Gorbman is a writer and private investigator who divides her time between Seattle WA and Merida Yucatan Mexico. She has published two works of fiction, 2012: Deadly Awakening, and Madrugada. They are both available on Amazon and other outlets. Also at Amate Books, and Casa Catherwood in Merida. You can read about them in various articles on this site.
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4 Responses to Getting Madrugada, my latest book, into paperback – the process

  1. BG says:

    This is BG testing my comments.

  2. John says:

    If it’s any consolation, I’ve never mastered Word either. I’ve tried for hours, at times, to attempt to format a simple brochure with no success. I can’t imagine trying to format a book. I’ve never taken a course in anything related to computers or programs, and like you, I’ve managed to get by. BTW, I’ve often wondered why the title of a book must appear at the top of each page.

    Good luck. Keep trying.

    • BG says:

      Thanks, John. This morniing I looked thru a bunch of paperbacks, and unfortunately, they all had the author name on one side and the name of the book on the other. I have to wait until I’m having a really good day to attack this.

  3. Jane G. says:

    To set up page headers, go to page set up and then click the layout tab. You can select different headers for odd and even pages.
    To use different styles of page numbers you have to first have your doc. in sections. Then go to view headers and footers. A toolbar will appear. Click off the previous button on the section where you start a new style of page numbers.
    Also, for different styles of page numbers or to start a with a specific number, go to insert page numbers and then choose format. A new menu will appear where you can make your selection.
    good luck. I am reading Madrugada now and enjoying it. I love the phrase “where history was destroyed.”

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