Friday, June 21, 2013


CreateSpace: Good But Not For Everyone
A guest post by Doug Matthews

Last year, I chose CreateSpace (CS), the self-publishing arm of Amazon, to publish a print book. I made this choice because it allowed the book to be listed on Amazon without having to coordinate printing, storing, and shipping the books myself. They also offered easy conversion to a Kindle ebook

CS as a self-publishing platform is excellent. Once you sign up (free), you get an author ID number and a member dashboard interface from which you can launch any of the CS tools. The interface leads you by the hand through the four stages of setup, review, distribution, and marketing.

Setup allows for your own ISBN or a free one from CS. CS also offers: a variety of industry trim sizes from 5 x 8 to 8.5 x 11, options for white or cream-coloured paper, templates for interior layout, and CS-provided cover templates. You can pay for their help along the way, with interior design (starting at $249) or cover design (starting at $349). I chose to do it all myself (DIY) and have the cover designed by a colleague.

Once the interior and cover are complete, you must upload a file for their review. I had difficulty with this process as their software would not correctly convert my Word file. I spent a few weeks trying to fix the problem. In the end, I used a .pdf file and all went smoothly. I was given ten free books for my frustration and throughout the ordeal their customer support was excellent. After CS approve the book, authors can preview it via a downloadable .pdf file or a physical proof, which costs about $25. The quality of the actual printed copy is comparable to any regular publisher and one of the strong selling points of CS.

Distribution includes an option for Expanded Distribution ($25), which puts the book into online re-sellers, other online bookstores, and libraries, but if you do not have a CS-generated ISBN, you cannot get into the libraries. Unfortunately, libraries recognize such ISBNs as coming from self-publishers and likely will not purchase such a book, so CS’s promises may not deliver in sales. I chose the Expanded Distribution option but do not think it was worth the cost since the standard no-charge distribution includes Amazon in North America and Europe.

Marketing is where your budget can truly get eaten up. I chose no options since all are expensive. They include everything from promotional copywriting to a video book trailer, but no genuine sales help. I used my own resources to do this, as must all self-published authors—just having the book on Amazon is no guarantee it will sell.

So what’s not to like?

For me, it was the disadvantage of being an author in Canada. CS offers high royalties; however, for Canadian authors (unlike those in the U.S. and most of the EU), there is no direct deposit option for royalties. You can only receive royalties by cheque when your royalty balance exceeds $100.00 USD. For most of us, that could take a long time and I still have not seen any money. It is high time that CS fixed this. 

If you don’t mind the delay in payment of royalties and are a Canadian author who expects to sell many books, give CreateSpace a try.

© Doug Matthews 2013
Doug's latest book, illustrated above, can be ordered in a print or electronic version here.