Sunday, 2 December 2012

Self-publishing for Amazon: Part 3 - CreateSpace

This part of my feedback about the self-publishing process is probably going to sound a little less confident - because I've only recently taken the plunge with the CreateSpace arm of Amazon myself. But you might find my 'beginner's' experience interesting.

Having self-published seven of my backlist, and two brand new books, as Kindle editions, I was being asked by some of my readers for print editions of the new books. Not everyone has a Kindle, and I was quite keen myself to see the books in print. My decision to self-publish with CreateSpace was based on this, rather than on any real hope of improving my financial situation!

Self-publishing through one of the many companies set up for this purpose can be very expensive, so when I heard about the free service through CreateSpace, I decided it was worth a try, especially as I'd been pleased with the results of Kindle Direct Publishing. So I've started off with 'Sophie Being Single'. Here's the finished result on the Amazon page.

In much the same fashion as I started experimenting with Kindle, I started looking at the CreateSpace website expecting to recoil with fear and confusion ... but once again, I found the process easier than I expected. I'm glad I was already experienced with 'Kindling' because the process is quite similar and felt more familiar than it would have done if I'd jumped straight into CreateSpace.

One thing I found surprising was the size of book recommended - trade paperback size (6x9), bigger than the usual mass-market paperback. I'm not sure why they recommend this size, but being a newbie, I went along with it, although other sizes were on offer. I now wonder whether it's such a good idea as it's obviously a slightly more expensive option for readers to buy.

Someone who'd already used CreateSpace had given me a couple of tips, including changing the text of my Word document to single spacing before uploading it. I hadn't needed to do this before uploading my Kindle editions, (I presume that was part of the conversion process), but followed the advice, to be on the safe side.  It's then necessary to make sure every chapter still starts on a fresh page.

I used the same blurb, and the same cover image that I'd used on my Kindle edition of 'Sophie', so those two processes were already sorted; but because the cover of a physical print book has to wrap around the spine and the back (obviously!), you have to do more than just upload an image. CreateSpace gives you a good choice of cover templates so you can drop in your image and get the text in the right places provided, and I used one of these. There was also room, on the back, for the blurb and an author pic.

Once you've completed the book, it has to pass through Amazon's review process. This isn't a review of the book itself - but a check that it's all uploaded properly and that there aren't any 'issues'. I had a couple of minor problems flagged up at this stage which were easy to rectify - eg a chapter starting halfway down a page, which I'd missed, and the fact that the text of the book started on a left-hand page ... it should start on a right-hand page, so if necessary you have to put in a blank page first, after your title page, 'about the author', copyright lines and whatever else you want.

You then have to proof the book. This can either be done on-line, or by buying a physical proof copy. As my book had been edited and already published on Kindle, I opted for the former, but checked it very carefully, especially the pagination again.

The big headache, for me, was the pricing - and much more so than with Kindle. Depending on the size of your book, CreateSpace specify a minimum price below which you can't go. In my case, this was set at £7.04 for the UK market. The royalty per book, if I'd priced it at £7.04, would have been 2p! So to make slightly less of a pointless exercise, I priced it a little higher, at £7.35, still giving me a very small royalty, which is why I've said it's not a money-making project.

I realised this price might sound prohibitive to some Amazon shoppers who are used to bargains!  But CreateSpace obviously have to cover the cost of print-on-demand, and make a profit - and after all, the cover price of a typical mass-market size paperback is usually now about £7.99. I could write another whole new blog post about whether books are being sold for a realistic price - but that's another story!

I was stunned by how quickly the book appeared on Amazon - after only a couple of days, which is much sooner than they said.  But irritatingly, a week after publication, and after I'd done a lot of promotion about the book, giving its price as £7.35, Amazon in its capacity as retailer discounted the book to £6.62. (So there's a bargain for you!). I checked with CreateSpace that this doesn't affect my royalty, but thankfully not - unlike traditional publishing, where my royalty was reduced on discounted copies. With CreateSpace, the author's royalty remains as it was set at the time of publication.

In the final part of this series, I'll give you my summing-up on what I think of both the Kindle and the CreateSpace publishing.


  1. Really interesting post Olivia, and I'll look forward to your summing up. Here's hoping you make lots of sales :o)

  2. You make it sound so easy. Good luck with the sales.

  3. Thanks Karen, thanks Colette. The last part - a summary of my experiences - is now published. Hope you find it helpful too.