Saturday, January 7, 2012

My Experience with CreateSpace

Several people have asked me to write about my experience using CreateSpace, a subsidiary of Amazon, to publish my first novel Anna’s Tears.

After careful consideration of other options, some of which offered very similar services, the deciding factor was CreateSpace’s relationship with Amazon. I can’t comment on the quality of the other services as I have not used them, but I can say that so far I have been extremely pleased with my decision.

Two of the many things that have stood out with CreateSpace have been their “a la carte” options, meaning I can pick and choose what services I want to purchase from them and their top-notch customer service.

As a side-note, if you have the ability to generate your own cover and format your interior text, then CreateSpace’s free publication option may be for you. I have an author friend who is much more technically inclined than me so this works well for him.

A la carte:

As I have often said, I can write a novel but am not very good at coming up with the marketing materials related it. This came as a great surprise to me as I have written more marketing documents than I can count, but when it came to generating text about my own work, I couldn’t capture its essence in a compelling manner.

Consequently I decided to buy Promotional Text Creation. I also needed help to generate the cover of the book and with typesetting. For this I purchased Total Design Freedom Custom Interior and Unique Book Cover.

Something I like is that I can opt out of purchasing promotional materials or other marketing related services at this time, but can always add it later if I want to. One of the other companies I looked at does not give you this option.

Customer Service:

From my very first interaction with a CreateSpace employee, I felt as though the company was behind me and my project. I know that that this may sound silly to some people (and no, they’re not paying me to say this!) but every person I interacted with seemed sincerely interested in me as an individual and not just “another author”.

The first customer service person I spoke with gave me as much time as I needed to answer my questions, explain the services I was considering and how everything would work. She also followed up with an email outlining my options and provided a summary of our discussion.

After I had decided what I wanted to do, they held my hand during every step of the way. At one point during the editing process, there was a mix-up regarding the number of edits and rounds of that I was allowed and after I explained my quandary, they accommodated me without any hassle what so ever.

More on Services Purchased:

Getting the front cover and interior text generated was easy. I filled in a form that they provided outlining what I was looking for in terms of mood, image, etc. Within a couple of weeks I was given two cover options and two text style options. They used stock photos for the covers, but they presented them in a way that was unique and professional looking. In fact they were both so good, I had a hard time selecting one. The processed allowed me to request some changes to the covers and interior styles, which I did. I have had many compliments on how great the cover looks, and its ability to grab attention. People often look for the name of the traditional publisher when they see the book and are surprised to learn that it is self-published.

As part of their service they send you two proofs to approve. Not only was it a huge rush to see my manuscripts in the form of a real book, I can assert that errors really did “jump off the page” of the first proof despite many rounds of editing and checking.

Not having the time or inclination to figure out how to do it on my own, I also decided to purchase their Kindle-Ready Conversion option, which made things really easy. They provide instructions on how to upload the files and when I ran into trouble, they were only a call away. And I must say that Anna’s Tears does look great on the Kindle!

Finally, I purchased the Pro Plan which included being added to the Extended Distribution Channel making my book available to other book vendors and libraries.

Nuts and Bolts:

I found CreateSpace’s email notification and the “call me” button on their website to be really useful. They responded to me in a timely manner and almost always gave me exactly what I was looking for with their first attempt.

Because they have a print on demand service, there are no minimum orders, and I’ve been extremely happy with the quality. It doesn’t look at all like a self-published novel.

Generally there has been a pretty quick turn around between customers ordering the book and getting it. I have heard of some delays with Canadian orders (although mine showed up quickly), but not with US orders.

Money Stuff:

Obviously CreateSpace makes some money off of the services that they deliver but I felt that it was still very affordable, especially since I did not have any minimum order. The other way they make money is sales of books by their parent company Amazon and others. Although I would want to get exposure for my book in a broader way through a traditional publisher, I’m happy with the royalty percentage that I get with CreateSpace and Amazon Kindle.

In an ideal world, you would want people to order your book from your CreateSpace page, as you earn a higher royalty this way, but people seem to be more comfortable with the Amazon brand, and have opted to order from there more often than not.


If you are not a US Citizen, I would suggest that you find out if your country of residence has a tax treaty with the US. In my case, as a Canadian, filling in a few forms and waiting around for them to be processed has meant that the automatic withholding of the 30% US tax has been waived and I only have to pay Canadian taxes on royalties.

When filling in your forms to get your ITIN, make sure you fill them out correctly the first time. There are other blogs that tell you how to do this. I made the mistake of going to the closest IRS office where I was given wrong instructions which led to a rejection of my application and a delay. For my second attempt I was happy to learn that most US banks employ State Notaries who can notarize your documents for you at a reasonable price, which is much more convenient that the trip to the closest IRS office. Just be sure that the individual notarizes all of your documentation, including the copy of your ID.

I hope that you have found this to be helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions on this, or if there is anything you want to hear more about.

Yours in writing, Nathalie

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