So now that you’ve made the momentous decision to get fully knocked-up with your literary treasure, the second decision to consider is where to deliver this, one-pound, several-hundred pages of luscious, decadent, joy. If you’ve read Part 1 of this post, hopefully you’ll avoid delivering it though Lulu, which offers good, but not the best post-literary care. At my fourth time around in literary motherhood—I decided to deliver this baby with CreateSpace.
CreateSpace—A Love Story
So after my not so pleasant experience with Lulu, I went on the hunt for a new venue for publication. Although I was still fuming, it wasn’t easy for me to depart from Lulu. I had utilized their services, off and on, for nearly seven years, and as a creature of habit, it wasn’t so easy for me to break away. However frustration, and my burgeoning obsession to get my novel published, forced me to look for greener pastures. My online research indicated that CreateSpace could be such a place. In terms of rankings for PODs, they were consistently ranked either first or second. Also, the major and most significant bonus is, as a division of Amazon, your book is guaranteed to be featured there, which for most writers is fantastic. Amazon is the biggest and most regarded online store—so being placed on there, is a great deal. There process for publication is also simple, however there are some key distinctions from Lulu that I’ll go into.
ISBN: Since Amazon is a retail store, and CreateSpace is a division of Amazon, you must have an ISBN. There are really only two ways to obtain one—either you obtain one yourself, or they will provide one for you. In my follow-up posts for this series, I will break down the nitty-gritty of things that you have to consider before you publish your book, however in regards to ISBNs, there is something I need to mention. It is EXTREMELY important where you purchase your ISBN.
If you are purchasing your own ISBN, you should do this through Bowker, as 1.) this is the most recognized source for independent ISBN purchases, and what CreateSpace recognizes, and 2.) when you obtain your ISBN through Bowker, you will be listed on the imprint. When you go to publish your book though CreateSpace they will ask you for the imprint name, and that name has to match what is on record, otherwise, CreateSpace will not allow you to use it. If you purchase your ISBN through Bowker, this is guaranteed, however if you use other sources, this is not, and I will relay my experience.
As you recall in Part 1 of this post, my dilemma with Lulu started when they wanted to superimpose their own pseudo-ISBN/ Barcode next to the one that I had placed there—which would have meant that I would have had two barcodes. Their inability to rectify the situation forced me to leave. Now I had purchased that ISBN from a company lulu listed on their site. I did not have them purchase it for me, but found the site and purchased it directly from them. This seemed like a much better deal, as they quoted me way cheaper. Lulu was going to charge me $100, while they around $50. I purchased two, for a little over ninety dollars, which was a discount, and thought that I had gotten a great deal.
Now the ISBN company had two programs—an Independent Publisher Program, and a regular publisher. Since the independent publisher was cheaper—and I did see myself as an independent publisher—I went with that alternative. This came back to bite me in the ass. When I went to publish my book on CreateSpace, I didn’t quite understand what they meant by “imprint” and was baffled when it did not accept my ISBN—saying it was already registered to another publisher. I called them—somewhat frantic—and their customer service people investigated the matter. They got back to me within a few days and informed me, there was nothing they could do, as that ISBN did not belong to me.
You can imagine my shock, so of course I called the company I used, and they confirmed the situation. Their so-called “Independent-Publisher” program was really them purchasing previously used ISBNs from the copyright office, which they now owned, and then reselling them at a lower price to people. If I wanted to own my ISBN I’d have to pay more money. I could not express my anger and frustration—especially with myself, because I felt like such an idiot. But I was also really angry with Lulu for two reasons. First, I had used this company before, and was able to sell my books on Lulu, because they don’t require you to provide them with the imprint name. In addition, you don’t even have to have an ISBN to sell your books on Lulu, so had I not switched over to CreateSpace I would never have known that I didn’t own my ISBN. You may not see this as their fault—after all different companies, have different policies—however there is in fact an insidious element to it. The company I used, is where Lulu purchases it—they charge you $100, for one ISBN, which is fifty dollars more than that company uses—only for them to sell you something that you don’t actually own. You are never informed of this real nature, so this is why I am pissed, because to a certain degree it is fraudulent.
After that debacle, I ended up using a free ISBN with CreateSpace, because I did not want to spend any more money. However, when you purchase your ISBN through them, you can only use it on CreateSpace or Amazon. You can buy books from CreateSpace and then sell them independently, but you cannot take that ISBN and go to another POD or online store, because CreateSpace owns it.
Book creation process: The process of getting the book printed also differs slightly. Both the cover and the document have to be PDF, and before the book is printed it has to go through a 24 hour proofing process. Even after the book is proofed, if you want to make a change to it, even it’s a minor change, you have to delete the older version, upload the newer version, and then it has to go through the proofing process again. If there are any issues, your book will be rejected.
This can be potentially annoying, however if you read their guidelines beforehand, you can avoid that, and at the very least, it ensures quality control. Once your book has been approved, they recommend that you order a proof copy (which I also recommend) and once you are set to go, you can approve the copy. It takes around five business days, before your book appears on Amazon.
Miscellaneous: Now there are other things like Kindle—which you can also utilize—however I won’t go into that now, as that will be for a much longer discussion. My only advice is, if you are uploading your document and did not pay to have it converted for Kindle, use the word format NOT the PDF. Because Kindle is free-flowing, PDFs do not convert well on it, because the document is static. You will be shocked at how fucked up your document looks, especially if you have a lot of formatting, that did not convert well. I learned this, like all things, the hard way.
Aside from that their customer service was really good. You have the option of speaking to someone right away, or emailing them and getting a response within 24 hours. This was infinitely better than the four business days I got with Lulu.
My only significant complaint was the way in which my cover came out, but this has more to do with the nature of POD printers than CreateSpace in general. Although they do quite fine with black and white, in terms of color, the quality is not as great. I complained bitterly about this, but there was nothing I could do.
Based off my two experiences, thus far CreateSpace is the clear winner. Their service, the 70% royalty that they offer, the expanded distribution and availability on Amazon gives it a clear edge. However, like all things, it has its downside, and honestly my long term goal will be to have my own small press, where I can really control the process. You however have to choose what’s best for you.
Here are a couple links, that I mentioned in the previous post, which gives a more wider selection of POD choices.