Thursday, 17 January 2013


CreateSpace - Reviewed (Update Jan 2013)


Print Friendly and PDF
CreateSpace is the publishing engine of global online retailer and publisher Amazon, the company everyone either wants to love or hate. Createspace began life in 2002 as CustomFlix Labs (DVD), originally intended to make widespread distribution easier for independent filmmakers by providing on-demand DVD production. In 2000, a small group of writers pooled resources to form Booksurge with the intention of creating opportunities for authors to self-publish their books and retain content rights and sales profits. Both companies quickly flourished and in 2005, Amazon acquired them, with CustomFlix Labs changing its name to CreateSpace in 2007. By late 2009, Amazon took the logical step and merged CreateSpace and Booksurge under the CreateSpace brand name to form a single company offering on-demand manufacturing of books, DVD’s and music formats for independent artists and businesses. CreateSpace also support on-demand products for Amazon retail and their publishing imprints AmazonEncore (for deserving author slipping under the mainstream radar) and AmazonCrossing (for foreign language books deserving an English translation).


A few years ago CreateSpace might have seemed like any other POD (print on demand) service, but visit its site now and you will be in no doubt that you are dealing with a competent company connected to the Amazon brand. For several years CreateSpace was the main competitor to DIY self-publishing service, Lulu.com, but by 2009, CreateSpace surpassed the published output of the Tennessee-based self-publishing service.

Many readers will have followed my own DIY self-publishing experiences on this website with Lulu and Blurb throughtout the period 2008-2009 and wondered why TIPM did not offer a more expansive review of CreateSpace until now. We delayed doing a thorough review in 2010 because of the rapid development and changes at Amazon and CreateSpace.

CreateSpace, in spite of all the changes, has built up an extraordinary strong brand and it was no real surprise when Booksurge was subsumed into CreateSpace. Like Lulu, CreateSpace is the ideal place for an independent DIY artist to go and upload a book, film or album for on-demand production and publication.

For the purpose of this review, we will centre on CreateSpace for the services it offers self-publishing authors. The most significant move made by this company was the introduction of full global online distribution and availability package at $39 (Pro-Plan), costing almost half of what is on offer at Lulu for a similar deal. Books submitted and up-loaded must meet with CreateSpace’s technical requirements. Prior to the introduction of this distribution package, CreateSpace would have always been considered the second choice for serious self-published authors. Thankfully, that all changed in 2010 when CreateSpace introduced the package and it truly put the company on the map as a DIY self-publishing service. Of course, like Lulu, if an author has modest aspirations, and simply wants to have a printed book and use CreateSpace’s ISBN, and is happy with availability of his/her book on CreateSpace’s bookstore and Amazon, then setting up a book is technically free, outside of the cost of the final proof copy of the book before it is made available. Since TIPM did this review, CS has waived that requirement, but I would wholeheartedly not advise approving a book until you see a physical proof.

CreateSpace use online tools to upload a completed book PDF file, or allow the author to design his/her book using templates and widget tools. I found the Createspace application for book load-up not quite as easy to use as Lulu (I still feel the same way circa 2012), but that is purely personal taste. The quality of what you have and what you put in is what determines the quality of output on the finished book. The book samples I have purchased from CreateSpace were exceptionally good and on a par with anything I have got from Lightning Source.

From the CreateSpace website royalty video. Also the CS Expanded Distribution plan.

Timing
It may take up to six weeks for your title to begin populating in the distribution outlets you select. Additionally, changes to any details of your book including list price, selling information (such as your book's product description), or your book's files may take up to six weeks to update in all distribution outlets. Outlets don't update simultaneously, so your book's previous list price, selling information, or files will persist until the change propagates throughout the distribution outlets. (CS has improved this, 2012)

Book Update Fees
If you need to change the cover or interior files for your book for any reason, we can accommodate your request; however, there will be a $25 book update fee for each new file change request. This fee only applies to changes made for an EDC-enrolled title."


Calculating Our Share
      Sales Channel Percentage
+    Fixed Charge
+    Per-Page Charge
=    Our Share

https://www.createspace.com/Common/Pix/icons/icon_tip.gif "Upgrade your book toPro Plan to lower your book's fixed and per-page charges.
Sales Channel Percentage
A sales channel percentage is deducted from your book's list price depending on which sales channel the book is sold through."
Sales Channel Percentage
CreateSpace eStore
20% of list price
per sale
Amazon.com
40% of list price
per sale
60% of list price
per sale
"Fixed Charges
Fixed charges vary depending on your book's page count, whether your book's interior is black and white or full-color, and if your title has been upgraded to Pro Plan."
 
Fixed Charges
Standard
Black and white books with 24-108 pages
$3.66 per book
$2.15 per book
Black and white books with 110-828 pages
$1.50 per book
$0.85 per book
Full-color books with 24-40 pages
$6.55 per book
$3.65 per book
Full-color books with 42-250 pages
$1.75 per book
$0.85 per book
"Per-Page Charge
Some books with higher page counts may also have a per-page charge."
Per-Page Charges
Standard
Black and white books with 24-108 pages
None
None
Black and white books with 110-828 pages
$0.02 per page
$0.012 per page
Full-color books with 24-40 pages
None
None
Full-color books with 42-250 pages
$0.12 per page
$0.07 per page


"Based on the above figures, if an author goes for the Pro-Plan distribution on our average example of a 200 page black and white interior and full colour cover books, then we are looking at the following royalty share for authors if they set a retail price at $10:

Through CreateSpace bookstore - $10 less 20% ($2) distribution, less fixed charge for Pro-Plan ($0.85), less page charge ($2.40) = $4.75

Through Amazon bookstore - $10 less 40% ($4) distribution, less fixed charge for Pro-Plan ($0.85), less page charge ($2.40) = $2.75

Through other expanded channels - $10 less 60% ($6) distribution, less fixed charge for Pro-Plan ($0.85), less page charges ($2.40) = $0.75"


"Total Design Freedom Standard
Let a team of professionals work their magic with your manuscript—we'll use your input to custom-design your book's interior and cover while maintaining your unique vision for your book.
Price: $728.00*
Total Design Freedom Essentials
Having high-quality content and a top-notch design are essential to the success of your book. With Total Design Freedom Essentials, you'll receive great savings on our copyediting and book design services to create a professional, polished, one-of-a-kind book.
Price: $1,737.00*
Total Design Freedom Advanced
Want to create a polished, great-looking book and get a head start with marketing? Total Design Freedom Advanced offers a round of copyediting to help refine and prepare your manuscript for publication, the flexibility of a custom-designed book cover and interior, plus a press release with distribution to help get your book noticed.
Price: $2,315.00*
Total Design Freedom Marketing Pro
Launch your book in style with Total Design Freedom Marketing Pro. This comprehensive publishing solution comes equipped with multiple rounds of copyediting, custom book design including a Signature Book Cover, and an assortment of effective marketing tools.
Price: $4,634.00*"

PLEASE CHECK CS MOST RECENT PRICES IN RELATION TO ABOVE

It is obviously worth making a Kindle version available with Amazon if you are going to use CreateSpace to publish your book. The service itself does not come at a fee and the author gets 30% royalties on the retail price.
 
Like competitor Lulu, CreateSpace offer access to a thriving online community of CreateSpace authors well worth browsing if any author is seriously considering using this service. CreateSpace offers an abundance of other services from design and layout to editing, but again, CreateSpace’s strength lies in being a provider of DIY self-publishing services for authors who can provide print ready files and I would like to think that they will not go the way of Lulu and start to place more of an emphasis on some of the expensive packages listed above.

CreateSpace is now at the forefront of DIY self-publishing and the introduction of the Pro-Plan at $39 makes it a difficult choice to ignore. Short of working with Ingram's Lightning Source (a more complex undertaking for the DIY self-publisher), CS beats Lulu hands down on front end pricing, and lacks some of the frustrations authors experience with Smashwords.

CS is still not for the faint-hearted, but with a well-edited and complete print file, you really won't find a better DIY service. I'd take a lot of the added packages, bells and whistles, with a pinch of salt. Go to a freelance designer or marketer if you want those services.

UPDATE: Nov 2010 -CreateSpace announce service improvements.

UPDATE: May 2012 CreateSpace Fully Rolls Out Distribution on Amazon Europe

UPDATE: Nov 2013 CreateSpace Offer Expanded Distribution for Free

RATING: 8.7/10
Comment With:
OR
It's Your Choice!

21 comments:

  1. I'm UK based and I use CreateSpace for Amazon in the States. In the UK I use Lightning Source, having been through a protracted argument over quality with CPI Antony Rowe who print in the UK for Lulu.

    I've sold far more through CreateSpace than I ever achieved thru Lulu - and if my experience is of ny help to anyone in the UK I'd say avoid Lulu, aboid Antony Rowe, go to Lightning Source for UK distribution (including hardbacks) and CreateSpace for Amazon in the USA.

    Tom Stevens

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Tom for the info. I actually had not been aware of Lulu's use of Anthony Rowe printers in the uk.

    I suspect this must have come about last year after the whole Amazon debacle.

    ReplyDelete
  3. hi mick,
    -just comments to begin but i do have questions which i will ask and appreciate if you respond to at the end.

    - as random as things are I have come across you site over the past couple of days and have returned.
    - a career changer, an individual who has wanted to give this writing thing some dedicated time for years - i am here
    - after research and research it appears using publishers marketplace as a datamining resource, that much of what is selling in fiction is of the genres: thrillers, supernatural, vampires.
    - that being said, i would like to self publish.
    - been reading much about different companies who facillitate this
    - my objective is to get my stories out there, for fun and pleasure but when I read fiction I like to learn something as I do
    - i do not want a reader to pay ~16.00 for a paperback plus postage and as you have made mention, the price is very high with booksurge and lulu.
    - i still haven't figured out 'createspace'
    - indypublish has a great philosophy but they are closed to new manuscripts until they catch up on their backlog; that is reputable that they honestly say this.
    - i want to go paperback because i am an environmentalist.
    -anticipate that i will make use of my own webpage

    So
    my questions:
    Q1 - copyright ownership.
    if i 'own my isbn', and list myself as the 'company creating my own publishing name' but then i go with lulu, booksurge etc to facillitate the printing and distribution of my book through amazon etc 'own' my work and will this prevent me from trying to go another venue if I am not successful with them ? for instance changing from one publisher to another.

    Q2 - can one publish their book as an ebook with one isbn and with one publisher and then their paperback with another publisher ?

    Q3 - i would like to make this an ebook right away. is 'ebook' the generic way to describe a book that is downloadable ?

    Q4 - i'm in the states, [one of my kids is studying in the UK this term] and I would like to make sure that my book(s) are available worldwide. i know that you are trying to provide infomation in a diplomatic fashion but if you have a preference based upon your experience and what you have embedded in your very informative website, i would appreciate it.

    Thanks,
    Regina
    do you like U2 ?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Regina,

    Q1. Yes, in theory you can withdraw your book from one self-publishing services and go from one to another. As you say, you are simply using them as a printer. Regarding going with a tradition publisher in the future - thats a little more tricky because you have used 'first published' rights and traditional publishers may not be interested in your book unless it has had a significant sales record.

    Q2. Ebook with one publisher (self-publisher service I assume) and paperback with another - yes if you retain all publication rights, but all contracts differ.

    Q3. Yes an ebook is an electronically downloadable book that can come in a number of different formats (Kindle, epub etc) or a basic downloadable PDF file.

    Q4. Many good self-publishing services offer worldwide online distribution (Lulu, Createspace). What can the real negative is the amount paid in shipping a book if only a US printer/fulfilment to the rest of the world.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The cost per copy for an author using CreateSpace is actually quite low, in fact, the prices I pay are a few cents below what I would pay for author copies from Lightning US.

    In order to get the low price, you MUST pay the $39 Pro Plan fee, which is really reasonable compared to all the other options to take your money that are out there.

    Then there is the advantage of having a direct link to Amazon if that is going to be your main source of sales.

    I cannot speak to any costs that an author may incur outside of the United States.

    The drawback, if you see it as such, is that you must pay Amazon a 40% discount to sell your book. The 20% short discount option available through Lightning is not an option. I could never afford to pay for the marketing and exposure that one obtains through Amazon so the 40% does not seem unfair to me.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Folks that deal with CreateSpace should be careful because their "Expanded Distribution" will eat up over 60% of your retail price. Say your book costs $30, Amazon will pay royalties of approx. $7.80. That is outrageous. The major book distributors out there (Ingram, Baker & Taylor) will charge from 40% to 55% so the price Amazon is demanding is too much.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Lessons from a Conman14 May 2010 01:22

    Fabulous information - thank you - exactly answers all my questions and is greatly appreciated! Cheers and Best Wishes Tracey

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is a very positive review, and gives a lot of information.

    However, half-way through, you stop talking about "they" and start using "we". You are obviously quoting from the company's online information, but you don't say so.

    This puts the impartiality of your review in question doesn't it? Are you just a mouthpiece for Createspace, masquerading as a reviewer?

    Gordon Long
    Canada

    ReplyDelete
  9. Gordon,

    You have made a fair point on the confusion over 'we' and 'they' in the review. I have formatted the post to indicate where I am quoting directly from CreateSpace.

    However, I really don't follow your eschewed logic that quoting factual information from CreateSpace makes the review 'impartial'?

    With respect, I'd suggest you read and familiarize yourself with the other 60 reviews here and the hundred plus articles before making such generalization that we are not being impartial.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Mick

    While your information is valid this is not really a review per se. I would see it more as lobbing known information. However that being the case I would offer the following. Although my math is a bit clunky the msg I get from the information about this service is it would be fool hardy to think you could make money. Example.

    If my 800 page book sells for $20.00 on Amazon, they will take 40% or $8.00. Then since it is 800 pages on the pro plan they will take $.012 per page or $9.60. Then another $.85 per book on the pro plan. So $20.00 minus $8 minus $.85 minus $9.60 is $1.55.
    Yes they do it for free but you give your book away virtually for free also.
    Something for nothing makes nothing. (Sounds like a song)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Eh, Windfield,

    Isn't the whole idea to lob out the information that is there? createspace is by no means the perfect answer to every self-publishing authors aspirations, but it remains one of the best options.

    And I agree, particularly in using self-publishing services, you get nothing for nothing in this world.

    ReplyDelete
  12. My father is currently working with CreateSpace on a book, the cover for which he asked me to design. People should be aware that CreateSpace will reject cover art that contains any text--even rasterized text. This means that designers cannot work with text--arguably one of the most important elements--in their designs. This came as very disappointing news to both me and my father since I developed the artwork and text to work together in a very deliberate manner. CreateSpace, evidently to avoid any potential conflict with typeface copyright issues, will reject out-of-hand any cover art containing text, even if it were hand painted in the artists own script. Buyer beware.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Agile Badger,

    My suggestion would be to contact a customer service rep via e-mail and set up a phone call.

    I have published 15 books with CreateSpace and had my interior file rejected once and a cover once. Both were accepted following a conversation with the customer service rep.

    Kevin Sivils
    /theselfpublishersnotebook.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks, Anon. The issue was eventually resolved in the way you described; after some back-and-forth, the cover will be published as it was designed. But the culture of "reject first, then consider petitions for acceptance later" is needlessly frustrating for authors and designers. I wonder how many customers settled for designs they didn't want simply because they assumed "no" means "no." When they're paying the tab, they should be greeted with "yes" more often.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Does CreateSpace offer any serious marketing services? Once the book is "published" it might rot online unless some evaluation and marketing is done. I understand that Amazon retains a high percentage, but are they really working for it?

    ReplyDelete
  17. CreateSpace do offer marketing services, but I think you would find cheaper and more effective marketing options from freelancers or dedicated book marketing agencies. Amazon (Kindle) retain 30% on sales of books (70% to the author) for most US, UK and Euro territories.

    ReplyDelete
  18. How do the Kirkus and Foreword reviews help with marketing of a new book?

    ReplyDelete
  19. I think authors would be negligent in relying on Createspace's marketing alone. The most successful people seem to take the marketing of their work as their responsibility. They use different means of event marketing along with that provided by their publisher in order to reach people who would benefit from their product. In this way they make a big impact.

    ReplyDelete
  20. what a beautiful design! Those two did a great job decorating such a small space. Looks like a very cozy little nest!

    interior design

    ReplyDelete
  21. I am very thankful to the author to write this fruitful information.It is worth sharing for other users.Thanks once again


    Amazon Feedback Service

    ReplyDelete

http://www.theindependentpublishingmagazine.com/p/t.html/

TIPM Live Facebook Stream