Page Numbers and CreateSpace

When Amazon Gets it Wrong

Normally you would expect a publisher to help you make sure your book is done correctly. However, in an odd twist, CreateSpace is sometimes refusing to publish books until they INCORRECTLY number their pages. Here is what you absolutely need to know before working with CreateSpace.

This may not happen to you - which would be great! Just in case it does, though, you can use this section to help press your case and ensure your book comes out the way you want it to.

A little background. I've been using various self-publishing systems, including CreateSpace, Lulu, CafePress, and others, since they very first became offered. I was using the predecessor of CreateSpace. So I've been using CreateSpace for years and have put many books through the system. I've also helped a large number of other authors navigate the systems. I'm well versed in how these systems work.

On July 2, 2013, I decided to revamp my ten medieval novels. So I sat down for a day, edited them all to have some extra wording at the back, and resubmitted a new version of each into the CreateSpace system. All of these novels had been in the system previously, some for multiple versions. None of these books was a "first time submit".

Nine of the books went in fine, without any issue. However, the tenth, Looking Back, got rejected. Only this one. Looking Back had already gone through two rounds of updates. So this exact same book (with extra wording at the back) was now being rejected.

Here is the message I received from CreateSpace.

The interior contains inconsistent pagination or page numbering. Please ensure that your numbered pages are ordered logically and sequentially. For information regarding pagination, see number five in following resource:

Section 5 reads:

5. Pagination - Pagination is the page numbering of your book. We require that the page numbering is consistent and cannot accommodate two sets of page numbers (i.e. two different page numbers on a single page), page numbers that begin where a previous volume ended, or large gaps in page numbers. Again, this is due to our unique printing model. Every book is manufactured upon order, and if a book were to begin with the page number 201, this would cause customer concern that there was an error.

This completely baffled me. All of my books follow the industry standard. The first page of the story is counted as page 1 - but is not physically numbered. Page 1 is always on the right hand side. Numbering begins on page 2, which is on the left side. Page numbering goes forward from there.

Page Numbers and CreateSpace
click for larger version

I went page by page through Looking Back and it was perfectly correct. It was the exact same as my other books, and the same as fiction novels on my shelves. This is the industry standard.

So I sent a message to support. There's no way to actually "respond" to a rejection - you have to simply write support with a fresh issue. I asked them for clarification about where the page numbers were having a problem.

Here is what I received in response, from Anele:

Upon further review of your PDF file submitted to us, I can confirm that your interior page does not start on a logical page number as it starts from number "2" just after the prologue page.

Please make sure your numbered pages begin at a logical number and are consecutive. You may leave some pages unnumbered but, the numbered pages should begin and/or resume again at the next logical page number. We cannot accommodate multiple or conflicting page numbers on a single page.

To learn more, go to:

I hope this information helps, please do not hesitate to contact us should you have additional questions.

So she is making it clear that she wants me to start numbering the copyright and title page. She doesn't want me to start numbering with the actual story. Here's an at-home challenge for you. Pick up any fiction book in your library. Does it start its numbering with page 1 being the copyright page?

Again, I couldn't "reply" to her. I could only start a new message. However, her message also had a feedback link. So I both sent feedback and I also created a new support message. Here is my message to them:

The reviewer is not accepting my book because "Upon further review of your PDF file submitted to us, I can confirm that your interior page does not start on a logical page number as it starts from number "2" just after the prologue page. Please make sure your numbered pages begin at a logical number and are consecutive. You may leave some pages unnumbered but, the numbered pages should begin and/or resume again at the next logical page number. We cannot accommodate multiple or conflicting page numbers on a single page."

I gently submit that the reviewer is confused. It is absolutely industry standard to not label page 1, which always begins with the first page of the story. I just checked a number of the romance novels in my library and they all are laid out this way. I have published ten novels with CreateSpace and all use this exact format. All have been approved multiple times as I go through my versions. Even this book here, Looking Back, is on its third version and the first two were approved with this exact page layout.

It is proper and normal not to have page 1 labelled. Labelling starts with page 2, and it starts with the second page of actual content.

Please approve the book as is, because this is the way the book should be laid out.

This time I received a message back from a Senior Support Specialist. Here is what the message read. I received this on July 4th.

Dear Lisa,

My name is Tony, Senior Support Specialist with CreateSpace. I wanted to connect with you regarding your recent survey response. Thank you for taking your time to outline the issues you encountered while utilizing our services. I appreciate that you specifically called out the need to improve on the consistency of our file review regarding pagination.

I have reviewed you file and see that the prologue page is actually page seven, taking into account that the title page is page number one. You don't need to number the first pages but your page number two would actually be page number eight. You are also welcome to use roman numerals at the beginning and then switch to traditional numbers.

Please know that we really appreciate your business here at CreateSpace and we strive to make your experience with us as seamless and helpful as possible. As always, please feel free to contact us with any additional questions or concerns you might have.


Tony Senior Support Specialist

This is getting beyond silly. They want me to number the title pages? They want me to number the copyright page? Have these people actually read fiction books before?

My response, sent on July 4th:

Dear Tony -

Title pages are never page one. I am completely baffled by this conversation. I have nearly a thousand books in my home from all sorts, and I just grabbed a bunch of fiction titles to look. None of them numbered a title page or copyright page. Not one. The first page that "earns" a number is the very first page of a story. That page isn't physically numbered, though. The first page that gets a visual number is page 2, which is the second page of the story.

I've been loading books into the CreateSpace system for years and have never had anyone try to change this industry standard numbering. Just two days ago I reloaded ten of my books and nine of then went through fine. It is only this one book that is getting rejected - and this book previously went through fine for two versions. This is the way the book NEEDS to be. It is the correct way to label a fiction book.

I can send you links to countless webpages, and references in countless books, that illustrate this standard. I can send you photos of numerous commercially printed books which illustrate it.

I just grabbed a copy of Charlaine Harris's book "Living Dead in Dallas" from my shelf. It has five physical pieces of paper before it gets to chapter 1. None of those are labeled. Page 1 of chapter 1 is not labeled. Page 2 of chapter 1 is labeled ... "page 2". This is the industry standard for fiction books. I am beyond baffled that CreateSpace would complain about industry standard page numbering.

Copyright pages never get numbered. With roman numerals or anything else.

Please let me know who to talk to who instituted this policy, so I can make sure it's fixed before it damages other authors' works. It would be ridiculous for CreateSpace to start blocking swaths of authors for doing something properly. And it would be beyond silly for CreateSpace to start forcing authors to publish deliberately "wrong looking" books so the authors can no longer have a professional product.

Is this really how your professional team, the one that people pay money for, lay out books? If that's the case I need to warn people not to use that team, if the authors are going to get an unprofessionally laid out result in return for their investment.


Here is a photo of the first three pages of the Living Dead in Dallas story, published by Penguin. Penguin is absolutely a "professional publisher". They have NO numbers at all in any of their introductory pages - the copyright page, title pages, and so on. There are five pieces of paper before the story and none have numbers on them. The first page of the story has no page number on it - only the "1" for "Chapter 1". This page is on the right hand side. The second page of the story has a number 2 on it. The third page of the story has a number 3 on it, and so on.

Page Numbers and CreateSpace
click for larger version

Here's another example, to show this is a historic standard. This book is Leave Her to Heaven, by Ben Ames Williams, published by Sun Dial Press in 1947. It's a book my great-grandmother read. Again, the pages up to the beginning of the story (the copyright page, the title pages, etc.) have NO page numbering on them. The first page of the story, where Chapter 1 begins, has no page number on it, but is "counted" as page 1. The second page of the story has a physical 2 on it, and numbering progresses from there.

Page Numbers and CreateSpace
click for larger version

So this is the way fiction books have been presented for decades.

Here's my step by step instructions, which I've had live for years, on how to properly do page numbers in a book -

Page Numbers in a Novel

I realize this can be a bit tricky to visualize, so here is the full display of what the first nine pages of the book look like, as if you were looking at the book and turning the pages.

Page Numbers and CreateSpace
click for larger version

Finally, after all my messages and screenshots and rabble-rousing in the CreateSpace forums, CreateSpace gave in and accepted what we were saying. Here was their message.

Hello Lisa,

Thank you for your patience.

I have received feedback from our Technical services team, who advised that the title was resubmitted for review and that the processing team was advised to pass the file for the pagination. Upon completion of the file review, you will receive an automated e-mail with details of our review.

I hope this email finds you well and I really appreciate your patience.

The book was accepted as-is. Note that CreateSpace didn’t admit to any wrong-doing here. They made it sound like they were allowing my book to pass because I was being a pain. Meaning they could easily block another author’s book for the same paging “reason.”

So, to summarize, if CreateSpace tries to get you to number your book from the first page, send along this information. Hopefully that will push them in the right direction.

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