Disclaimer: Other than utilising their systems for the publication of books, neither T. R. Robinson nor T. R. Robinson Publications are employed by, personally connected with or affiliated to, CreateSpace or its parent company Amazon.
Note: The information contained below is primarily intended for new and inexperienced authors. Those familiar with self-publishing will probably not find anything they do not already know.
With the majority of self-publishing platforms, systems and sites primarily focusing on digital editions it is easy for indie (independent) authors to forget a fundamental fact: approximately sixty-five percent, perhaps more, of readers prefer physical books i.e. paperback, hardback. Further information regarding this may be found at here. Authors should therefore seriously consider having their books available in both formats. CreateSpace provides one of the platforms where this may be done. An added attraction: It is free to use!
The following is only intended to provide an overview of the processes for publishing with CreateSpace. Further, detailed, information and guidance may be found within the site. Of necessity, if this is to be of any real use to new and inexperienced authors, this post is lengthy, far more so than is the usual case for posts within this website.
Each aspect of the CreateSpace process will now be considered in order of presentation.
Create an account
First and foremost, an author needs to create an account. They will have to provide:
- A valid e-mail address. This will be used for logging-in and for communications.
- Remember, for security, to use a unique one rather than utilize one already created for other accounts.
- First name. This will depend upon whether the account is being opened under the author’s actual name or under a nom de plume (pen-name).
- Last name. Same condition as for first name above.
- Where resident. A dropdown list is provided.
- Type of media. A dropdown list is provided. Naturally, an author will select ‘Book’.
The information entered should be carefully checked before the ‘Create My Account’ button is clicked. The process is fairly quick. A unique numerical author ID (identification) number will be provided. This ID is for the named author and not for their books; each book will be allotted an individual ID.
Once the account set up has been confirmed it is possible, though not necessary, to proceed straight to the setting up process for a book. Of course the same applies for those using CreateSpace to create other media.
At this stage the author is invited to partake of various options including joining the CreateSpace community. Whether to accept is very much a personal decision however, at this stage, the author has enough to concentrate on. It is suggested they wait before making a decision; they may subsequently come back to these options at their convenience.
The author will now be presented with a list of high level categories. Many have sub-categories some of which are broken down into further elements.
Title: Please note – though it is permissible to use miscellaneous characters (!; ?; #; etc.) in a title it is not possible to enter them here. The title has to be entered without them and the author needs to remember this is how the book will be identified within the dashboard.
Sub-title: If the book has a sub-title it should be entered here. This is not a ‘required’ field. The panel should be left blank if there is no sub-title.
Primary Author: The panels will be pre-filled with information provided at account creation. It is possible to amend this if necessary e.g. change a complete first name to an initial. The name entered here should be the same as that under which books are to be published e.g. Abigail Rosalind Morgan or A R Morgan or A. Morgan etc. This is completely at the author’s choice but should be consistent for all books.
Add contributors: If there has been a collaboration of authors this is where to add their name(s). The panels should be left blank if there are no additional authors to credit.
Series Title/Volume: Self-explanatory. This should be left blank if the book is not part of a series.
Edition Number: Naturally, the initial publication will be ‘1’. ‘2’, ‘3’, ‘4’ etc. come into play when there have been ‘substantial’ subsequent amendments to the manuscript. It is left to the author to enter the appropriate number when relevant. It will be a personal decision but when the amendments are only minor the author may choose not to change the edition number.
Language: Enter the language the book has been written in. A dropdown list is provided. This information is required for retail listing purposes.
Publication Date: This may be left blank. In this case the publication date will ultimately be shown as the date the author finally approves the book for publication. However, the author may amend this to a future date if they are preparing a pre-launch campaign or simply wish to hold back upon publication for some other reason.
ISBN (International Standard Book Number):
The author has the option of accepting a free ISBN from CreateSpace or of using one they have purchased. Three elements come into play here: Who is to be identified as the publisher; Cost; Book availability.
- Who is to be identified as the publisher: A free ISBN will identify the provider, CreateSpace in this instance, as the publisher not the author. In the majority of cases this is of little consequence but see point 3. If the author feels it necessary to be identified as the publisher, they will have to purchase a ISBN; see point 2.
- Cost: Most indie authors have little in the way of resources and consequently wish to keep their expenditure to a minimum. ISBNs are usually sold in blocks of ten at a price many would find off-putting and perhaps out of their reach. Nevertheless, they need to consider point 3.
- Book availability: A free ISBN means the book may only be sold through the ISBN provider’s site. For example; a free ISBN from CreateSpace means the book may only be sold through them or Amazon: CreateSpace is an Amazon company. The author will not be permitted to make the same edition of the book available through other retailers e.g. iBooks, Google Play, Barnes & Noble, etc. If an author really feels the need to make the paperback/hardback edition available through other retailers, they will have to purchase and utilize their own ISBN.
Further background information regarding ISBNs may be read here.
Trim size: This is usually prefilled with 6 X 9 which appears to be a United States of America (USA) preference. Nonetheless, the author is given the option to select a different size. There are many options each designed to suite the variety of markets available; most territories have a general preference. For example, within the United Kingdom (UK) 8 X 5.5 or thereabouts appears to be the preference. Of course the nature of the book also has to be considered e.g. children’s books are normally published in large formats. The author will also be asked to decide upon margins. Most will require text to terminate before reaching the edge of the page however, this would be different for books containing many images like those relating to photography. In these instances, the text/images will reach right to the edge of the page.
Paper: This will be prefilled with ‘white’. An author should not glance over this and simply accept the default of ‘white’. Any casual examination of book shelves will reveal ‘cream’ is a consistent choice. If the author wishes their book to ‘look’ professional and to fall within normal accepted parameters, they are advised to select ‘cream’. This may impact upon the eventual cost of the paperback/hardback but most will acknowledge it is sensible and preferable to opt for cream.
File: This is where the author will upload their final manuscript file. The system allows for different formats: word; doc; docx; rtf or PDF nevertheless, a PDF with imbedded fonts tends to be a preference.
Most authors will have prepared their book either utilizing Microsoft’s Word or Apple’s Pages. However, it may be of interest to some to know CreateSpace also provides ready programmed templates. Within these there is the additional option of utilizing formatted or unformatted versions. If the author decides to use one of these they will have to select the one that meets the trim size already decided upon. The templates are easy to use and provide a visible image of how the book will look in print. It is simply a matter to copy/paste into these. One point to note: sometimes the formatting of the last paragraph within a chapter or section gets thrown out. For example, if the text being copied has been justified (i.e. margins are equal on both sides) the system sometimes alters the last paragraph to left justification (i.e. level on the left but staggered on the right). It is a simple matter to correct this by highlighting and applying whichever justification the author requires.
Helpful Tips & Ideas: These provide valuable advice upon how to prepare files in an acceptable format.
Finish: There are two choices – Matte or Glossy. This is primarily down to personal preference however, cover design images should be considered; the finish can impact upon appearance. There is no hard and fast rule. One point to be aware of; colours, especially the darker ones, usually come out darker when printed.
Caveat: Though this option is presented at this stage it is not possible to fully proceed until the later review process for the books interior has been completed. Why? Because the author needs to know the page count before selecting a cover template.
The author may create their own cover utilizing CreateSpace’s system with their own images. Apparently this is a fairly easy system.
Alternatively, the author may upload a readymade cover. Unless, they are a digital artist these have usually been purchased from elsewhere. They will usually need to download and provide the appropriate template to the artist.
If they would rather not bother with either, creating a cover themselves or paying for a professionally created one, authors may utilize a free readymade cover from CreateSpace. However, they need to be aware these covers are available to all and consequently, there may be numerous books with the same design meaning their book will more than likely not stand out in an already overburdened market.
It is important the author now takes great care to check all the details entered before submitting their book. Though all aspects may be amended later it would not reflect well on an author or book to constantly have to make changes.
File Review: The author should have carefully checked their final file before reaching this stage. If not, they should logoff and do so. They may sign back in at any time and reload the file; the information already entered will be retained within the system.
When uploaded the manuscript, in whatever format, will be quickly submitted into the CreateSpace system. Once it has been processed, and providing there are no serious anomalies, the author will be requested to review the content.
Proof Your Book: This may be done in two ways.
Digital proof: This option downloads the CreateSpace’s excellent digital proof system. The content is presented in a format that looks very much how the book will appear in print. The author may then flip through each page and check format, page numbering etc. If necessary, the author may return to their original manuscript and make appropriate amendments. Once amended the manuscript will have to be reloaded and the review process recommenced. It is well worth the author’s time to fully review at this stage as it prevents having to amend after publication, which never gives a good impression to readers.
PDF proof copy: Either in addition or as an option, the author may download a PDF copy of the manuscript. This again provides an excellent image of how the print edition will look.
In both instances a page count will be provided which the author requires in order to select the correct cover template: see under ‘Cover’ above.
Channels: These are where the book will be made available for purchase.
Normal: The system will automatically select: Amazon.com; Amazon Europe and CreateSpace eStore. The author is able to deselect these but it would be pointless to do so.
Extended: The author is offered the option to add ‘Extended’ channels. Why would these be useful? Explanations are provided against each but in principle they additionally make the book available: across multiple on-line retailers; to libraries; for independent book shops and book resellers. Apparently adding extended channels may sometimes, but not always, impact upon a book’s final purchase price. The writer has never experienced this but has read a few comments to this effect.
Pricing: A list of geographical areas is presented with the minimal pricing an author may charge shown: CreateSpace and Amazon need to recover the cost of printing, binding etc. Initially the price shown for each region is based upon conversion from one, usually the USA dollar. The author has the option to choose their own price for each territory provided it is not below the minimum stated. It is sometimes worth doing this to make the price more attractive in certain territories.
Royalties: Understandably most authors will opt for a 75% royalty payment. However, due to varying localised or national regulations, some territories only allow for a 35% royalty payment. The royalty payable for each outlet and territory is shown in the right hand column. Note: VAT (Valued added tax) will be deducted prior to the payment of a royalty.
Cover finish: This should already be pre-filled from the information entered earlier. The author now has the opportunity to change their mind if, after reflection, they consider it appropriate to do so.
Description: This has several elements to it:
Description: This is where the synopsis or blurb will be entered. It is best if this has already been prepared. It would then simply be a matter of copy/paste.
BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications) Category: This helps: retailers identify where the book belongs within their systems; readers to find books within the genre they like; make the book available in all territories (some territories will not permit a book to be put on sell without this information).
Author Biography: This is where the author may give as much or as little information about themselves as they wish. They should try not to make it too lengthy; readers just want some insight into who the author is. A more comprehensive biography should form part of the author’s website or blog.
Book Language: This should be prefilled from information entered earlier. If appropriate it may be changed here. A dropdown list is provided.
Country of publication: This is not necessarily where the author physically resides. The publication country is associated with the ISBN. Where a free CreateSpace ISBN has been utilized the country of publication is the United States of America (That is where the CreateSpace and Amazon businesses are located). Where the author uses an ISBN they purchased, the country of publication will be the same as that stated in the purchase process. The author must take great care to enter the correct country. A dropdown list is provided.
Search Keywords: Five are allowed. These are words/short phrases the author thinks readers may enter when searching for a book. They should think hard before entering as these could have quite an impact upon a book’s discoverability.
Adult content: Thankfully publishers take this aspect seriously both for the protection of children and for those who prefer not to read such material. It will reflect poorly upon an author if a book contains adult material and they do not tick this panel.
Large Print: Self-explanatory. Authors should be aware a large print edition may attract a higher price; CreateSpace has to cover the inevitably increased cost.
Publish on Kindle: This is a useful option that enables a Kindle edition to closely resemble the print edition. Beware: The manuscript uploaded for the print edition will not be entirely suitable for Kindle e.g. there is no interactive content list or links to the author’s on-line website, blog, social media accounts etc. The manuscript will require some adjustments to make it suitable for Kindle. This will be discussed in a subsequent post ‘Publishing with Kindle’. However, if an author knows beforehand they are going to opt for utilizing this CreateSpace service they should have the adjusted version of the manuscript ready.
Sales & Marketing: This is where CreateSpace will show an author available services to help with the marketing of a book. Note: These can be a little pricy for authors who have little in the way of resources.
The above is only intended to be an overview to assist new and inexperienced authors to get going with the publication of their physical books. Within the CreateSpace system there are many helpful guides and notes authors may avail themselves of. There is also an active community within which questions may be raised and answers, to question already asked, found. Provided the author does not try to rush matters the process is reasonably straight forward and within the grasp of most.
A couple of matters not mentioned above:
Amazon account: The author will need one. The process is straight forward but will be discussed in a subsequent post ‘Publishing with Kindle’.
Tax: No matter where an author is based or a book sold, tax is always payable. The author will have to complete a tax form. Further information and guidance regarding tax and tax forms may be found at here.