reflections Writing

How EASY it is to self-publish your CI novel

Let me walk you through the process step by step

I just self-published my fourth book, a translation of my popular novel Superhamburgers into Brazilian Portuguese (I also have translations of Superhamburgers in French & Spanish as well as a collection of essays about teaching Spanish to heritage learners). A fifth book, a graphic novel prequel to Superhamburgers, is on the way and will be published in December. Once you have written a book, formatting it, getting it printed professionally and offering it on Amazon is a pretty simple process. As I was completing this last book I took a lot of screen shots so that I could walk you through the process.

This post is not about the creative process of writing a CI novel– I will write about that in a later post. The post is simply about the technical side of getting your work published and then offering it to the world without having to market, organize inventory, shipping, returns or any of that business stuff. Being a teacher is enough hassle. Once you have written a text, all you need is a word processing program.

I print my books through a service called Createspace, which is a subsidiary of and therefore makes it very easy to offer published work online. You can set up a free account by following that link– in fact, you can do this whole process for free. I will also show you how to offer your book on Kindle, which is a good deal for both you and your readers.

Step One: Correct the Page Size

Starting from the document in Word: Change the size of the page to 9 x 6 to reflect the size of the page in your published book. Once you do this, then you will not have to worry too much about printing errors because the document on your computer will really mirror exactly what will be printed. A word document normally has a default size of a normal letter-sized piece of paper. In order to change the page size you must first click on “Page Layout”, then “Size” and finally click on the last option, “More Paper Sizes”. A new box will pop up where you can manually change the size of the paper to Width: 6 (inches) and Height: 9 (inches).

Step Two: Get an ISBN Number & create a Copyright page
Logged into the Createspace page you need to fill in the first two pages so that you can get an ISBN number, which you will then copy onto one of the first pages on your book. This is what it looked like for my latest book:

Once you have the ISBN number, you need to create the Copyright page. I usually leave the first printed page blank and then place the Copyright page on the second page of the book. Book Design Made Simple has a good explanation of exactly what you want to include on a Copyright page.

Step Three: Thank those who have reviewed your manuscript

Do not forget this part! I have a native speaker read and comment on everything that I write. Even if you are a native speaker, have someone from a different region read your manuscript. It is easy to find collaborators; just ask on one of the CI Facebook groups. It is always appreciated to send that person free copies of your book once published.

Step Four: Upload the interior manuscript

I recommend that you save your word doc as a .PDF before uploading it. Images and fonts sometimes jump around when it is uploaded as a .docx but in any case you will have the opportunity to preview your files.

Here is an screen shot of what the manuscript preview looks like. As you can see, it automatically flagged one of my images that was slightly placed outside of one of the margins. The previewer is pretty cool; you can flip through your book and get a sense of what it will really look like.

Step Five: A few things to consider adding to your manuscript

As you can see, I like to embed cartoons into my books to help scaffold the reading. Since I do not know the students who will be reading the book, I also like to provide footnotes on any vocabulary or expressions that are not high-frequency. I also like to include a word cloud of the words that appear in each chapter that teachers can use either as an aid in class discussions or to scaffold student retells.

I am also particular about the glossary. Most students are not going to use the glossary (especially if you have footnotes), but those that do use it want to quickly find the word and return to the story. For that reason I go out of my way to add EVERY word, conjugated verbs and obvious cognates included, and also include idiomatic phrases that may be hard for some students to put together. The glossary is without doubt the most annoying part of the book to put together, but if done well it will help readers enjoy the book. I always assume that a student glancing back at the glossary is a struggling reader, so I try to include as much support as possible.

Step Six: Create a cover

The front and back cover is one simple image that wraps around:

You can create the image using a program as simple as Windows Paint (which is what I do). The exact size of the binding (and therefore the image) depends upon the number of pages. Createspace has instructions so that you create the perfect sized cover.

Step Seven: Order a proof copy and approve for printing

I strongly recommend that you order a physical print copy before placing your book on Amazon. It will cost around $2.15. The Amazon page for your book will normally be created within hours of your approval.

Step Eight: Tell us that you have published a book!

I will happily advertise your book on CI-Reading, a blog for indie authors of CI novels. Just contact me with your book information. This is a free service.

I also recommend that you get a blog and post information about your book. It is most effective to post the first two chapters of your novel so that readers can preview your writing style. Here are the first two chapters of my latest novel, in Portuguese.


  1. Can’t tell you enough how much help you have been for CI teachers trying to self-publish! I will be putting out my first reader soon. Fingers crossed!

  2. Thanks for the guidance, Mike! I’m currently working on a comprehensible reader in Spanish for my 5th – 8th grade students. This is very useful information as I finish adding some more details and start looking for a manuscript reviewer this coming spring. Two of my students are even teaming-up to do some sample illustrations of the characters over break. How great is this job that we do?!!

  3. I just wanted to tell you that I have a copy of your book in my FVR library. I had my kids do an “evaluacion de libros” today. We are coming down to the end of the semester and so I wanted to have them do something to show what they have been reading during FVR time. They could do a video or make a poster and present it. I had a girl who did Superburguesas. She made a slide of a few pics of the characters (Fifi, Rodney, Sr. Superburguesas, etc.). Then she went into MAJOR detail about what happened ALL OFF THE TOP OF HER HEAD, no script, NOT a native Spanish speaker (level 3)! It was amazing. I had a member of our admin observing and he was blown away! So great. She obviously loved the book! Now the rest of the kids want to read it! Secuestros, disparos, narcotraficantes, amor, y el chico NO SE LAVA las manos!!! She was so excited about this book. I wish I had videotaped it! Thanks again for the great read!!!

  4. I had no idea….. thank you, Mike. It was kind of you to take the time to do this.

    I have a story I’ve wanted to write for years, and this may be the impetus.

    God bless, Ron


    On Tue, Nov 21, 2017 at 8:23 PM, My generation of polyglots wrote:

    > mpeto posted: “Let me walk you through the process step by step I just > self-published my fourth book, a translation of my popular novel > Superhamburgers into Brazilian Portuguese (I also have translations of > Superhamburgers in French & Spanish as well as a collect” >

  5. I have always wanted to publish some of my books too! Thank you. So once its published and if others want to purchase the book I just send them the link to Amazon and they can order them from there? No need to stock inventory in my garage or anything?

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this information!! I have almost finished writing my first TCI book and was wondering about publishing. You mentioned showing it to a native speaker first – should this person have a TCI understanding? Really appreciate the trouble you went to in writing this post.

  7. I forgot to add that I have used your Spanish Superburguesas for two years now in my level 3 as a novel to start off the school year. It is fairly easy for my students and they laugh and enjoy it.

  8. This is so generous of you to share the step by step process and it is very clear and helpful. I always look forward to your posts because they are of real value and assistance. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this!

  9. Thanks for this post, it’s like you read my mind! This is what I’m working on this week for my CI Spanish novel. I’ll definitely be looking at the copyright page site you linked to. I hope to send in for the proof copy of my book soon (called “Pancho y las momias”). I’ll let you know when I publish it! Thank you for your support and encouragement.

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