Create Space - A Review
How Do Your Ideas Show Up In A Book?
Createspace.com, Amazon's Self Publishing Division is a Winner
This is the zillionth article on self publishing, take or give, on the Internet. It is both a personal story and an objective one. I have published two books through Create Space and my overall dealings with them have been quite positive. This article will not compare all of the self publishing companies on the market but will focus on my experience with Create Space.
Self Publishing versus Traditional Publishing
There are countless books and articles comparing traditional publishing with self publishing. I will cut through the thicket of considerations and summarize the issue for you here. I met a guy at a holiday party a few years back and told him I was writing a book. He was a published author of 13 non-fiction books and two novels. One of his books was on The New York Times Best Seller List and sold over 300,000 copies. I asked if he thought that I should self publish or go the traditional route. His advice was simple and jarring. "If you are already a celebrity, get an agent to help you find a big publisher; if not self publish."
Because of the changes in the book publishing industry and the emergence of monsters like Amazon.com, not to mention the discount store Costco, publishing today looks very different than it did just a few years ago. Publishers can't afford to take on an author unless they think the book will sell. Even if you are accepted and given a contract, you will still have to do much of the marketing work yourself.
Don't even bother to approach publishers directly. They prefer to talk to agents, who get a percentage of your royalties. So your real job is to find an agent. You will send out hundreds of "query letters" and hope to get a response. I did this for a few weeks. One response to my email query came 30 seconds after I sent it, explaining in detail (an obvious form letter) how I was not quite the right fit.
If you have the time, fortitude and perseverance, traditional publishing is the way to go, but there is no guarantee that the way is available to you. So you may never get the advance that a traditional publisher gives. Rather you will have to invest you own money into bringing your book to life.
There are different paths to self publishing your book. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, you can do everything on your own. I would advise against this unless you have some serious experience in book publishing, and if you do, it is probably the last option you would take. The other way is to use a self publishing company. These companies are also known as PODs or Print On Demand companies. The amazing changes in technology over the past few years has revolutionized how books are printed. Print On Demand means that you don't have to print thousands of books and hope that you sell them. You can even order one at a time, although that's a lousy idea because you pay for postage.
Create Space - The Company I Chose, and Why I Chose It
As I said at the beginning of this article, my goal is not to survey the world of self publishing companies, but to share my experiences with one. There is an excellent book that helped me to make the decision: The Fine Print of Self Publishing, by Mark Levine. He reviews 25 self publishing companies and gives a detailed breakdown on how the calculate royalties, the services they provide and the ins and outs of the contracts they offer. Before you invest your money you should buy this book. One of the reasons I chose Create Space was their generous royalty structure, which Levine explained in detail.
I will now review the major way points in my experience with Create Space.
How many times have you dealt with a company that has a wonderful pitch, only to find that there's nothing to back it up after you sign? You join up and then find that customer support is an afterthought at best. Create Space surprised me. They have a very automated dashboard for your use in the process of getting your book in print. But inevitably you will have a question that you need a human being to answer. You click on an icon that says "call me." Within 15 seconds your phone rings and you hear a recorded introduction, which is almost immediately followed by a live person. If the person doesn't have the answer to your question, you are given to someone who does. This is amazing in the world of customer service. During the process of getting your book into print, you receive email messages from Create Space, saying "Action is required on your account." You go the dashboard and you see exactly what you need to do. If you have a question, that wonderful "call me" icon is always there. You have put a lot of time and effort into writing your book. The less stress you have in getting it published the better.
Don't think that your neighbor the friendly high school English teacher is the way to go. YOU MUST HAVE AN EDITOR! If that sounds didactic, so be it. Professional editors are just that, professionals. I used the Create Space editorial service and I couldn't have been more pleased. My final draft was returned to me, along with pages of specific comments and electronic markings on the document itself. I could chose to accept or reject any change. My editor went beyond the call of duty and recommended some major substantive changes, which I accepted. You can choose simple proofreading to full editorial review, at different prices of course. My first book, Justice in America, was edited by a fellow attorney and friend. His job was to look at the book from a legal point of view to make sure I was on target. But he was not a professional editor, so the final editing was done by a pro. It's perfectly okay to have a friend, colleague or spouse review your work because you can't have too many eyeballs looking at your manuscript. But the final draft should go to a pro, and Create Space has them.
My First Book with Create Space
My Second Book with Create Space
Cover and Interior Design
If you're an artist maybe you can design you own cover. If you're not, and that includes me, you should take advantage of the Create Space design team. They will ask you to give a verbal description of what you think would be appropriate on the cover and they take it from there. You will be given alternative covers to choose from. For Justice in America I suggested that the scales of justice and the American flag should be the theme. They delivered. For The APT Principle, The Business Plan that You Carry in Your Head, I suggested a rendering of the human brain with the main themes of the book superimposed. I loved what they delivered.
For interior design you are given a wide variety of fonts and styles to choose from, all with recommendations from Create Space.
Create Space provides a buffet table of different marketing programs, from press releases to book trailer videos. I found their press release talent not to be as solid as their editorial input, so I actually had to rewrite a couple of them, and was given a credit with no questions asked. They send your release to hundreds of publications, but before they do they ask you if you would like to add a few local or focused outlets of your own. Both of my books landed me television interviews and one radio interview. Your book will be distributed through an expanded distribution network. When a book sells on Amazon you get a higher royalty than you do if it's sold through another vendor, another advantage of dealing with Create Space, and Amazon subsidiary. You will have a landing page on the Create Space site, where your royalty rate is even higher.
A Create Space Author
Other Services of Create Space
As an Amazon company, you can expect help on getting your book ready to sell on the world's largest retailer. The Create Space people were helpful in getting my books the "Look Inside" feature, which can be a bit confusing when you're trying to do it yourself. They also take care of getting your book published on Kindle, which is a must in my opinion.
The Big Question - Why Do You Want to Write a Book?
Whether your aim is to get traditionally published or use a self publishing company like Create Space, you should ask yourself why you want to write a book. Do you have a story inside you that you just have to tell. Are you writing the book just to help brand your business or profession? That's perfectly okay, and I discuss it in The APT Principle. Here were my motivations and perhaps you may see something similar in yourself. I once owned a legal periodical publishing company and spent the better part of my career interviewing lawyers and judges. Justice in America: How it Works - How it Fails, is my serious but sometimes humorous take, as a legal journalist, on the American system of justice. I loved the research and the struggles of writing it. Is there an area in your where you have spent a great deal time, and do you have it in you to tell the world about it?
The APT Principle, The Business Plan That You Carry in Your Head is a distillation of all of my years in business as an executive and as a consultant. I have a passion for business planning and all of the things that go into making a small business work. I wanted to share it with the world, both the things that I did right, and the things that I did wrong.
Self publishing a book isn't easy, and don't let anyone tell you it is. Dealing with a professional firm like Create Space makes the task a bit easier.
Copyright © 2012 by Russell F. Moran