I don’t like to use the word “hate,” but I really do hate doing something simply because “everyone else is doing it.” But in this case, Amazon’s CreateSpace attracts the most self-publishers because they really do make the publishing process simple enough for anyone to do on their own.
If you want to learn how to turn your professionally edited manuscript into a published paperback book that is available for purchase on Amazon and other major book retailers like Barnes & Noble, with the added perk of making your book available to libraries and other academic institutions, then this post is for you.
What is CreateSpace?
CreateSpace is an Amazon owned company that allows publishers and independent authors to print their books on demand (POD) and sell their books through Amazon.com.
Authors can now have access to “expanded distribution” outlets for free. This means that CreateSpace authors are not limited to selling their books on Amazon.com, they can simply click a button and make their books available through other online stores (like BarnesandNoble.com), brick-and-mortar stores, libraries and academic institutions. CreateSpace allows independent authors to gain access to outlets that used to be limited to large publishing companies.
How Do I Know if CreateSpace Is Right for My Publishing Project?
CreateSpace might not be the right choice for your publishing project if:
- You want to publish a spiral bound or hardcover book (you can buy hardcopy versions of your book through CreateSpace but they will not allow you to distribute it through their distribution channels),
- Your book has fewer than 24 pages,
- You want a non-traditional trim size for your book (5.5 x 8.5 inches is the trade book standard but they offer a few other options, click here to view their trim sizes.)
- You want your book to be available for purchase in traditional book stores and other non-Amazon outlets (I know that CreateSpace advertises free “expanded distribution” services that will list your book on other online retailers, traditional bookstores and academic institutions, but keep reading to learn why I don’t recommend using CreateSpace for this.)
Createspace might be a great choice for your publishing project if:
- You are a first-time author who appreciates access to videos, a support staff that you can reach via a call-center for help with publishing your book, and even an online forum of successfully published authors who use CreateSpace,
- You need DIY access to library quality printing and online book distribution,
- You don’t want to pay setup fees to publish your book,
- You like having access to DIY cover design and book layout tools, and
- You like having one-stop access to editing, cover design, book layout services, print book distribution and e-book distribution (please see section below for the fine print).
What Do I Need to Know to Make the Most out of My CreateSpace Account?
CreateSpace offers a lot of great tools, but before you fully embrace everything they offer it helps to understand some of the strings attached to their offerings that are not openly advertised on their site:
- ONLY use CreateSpace cover design, book layout services or publishing packages if you ONLY want to publish through Amazon. Although you will still own the copyright to the book manuscript, you will not own the copyright to the book cover design or the book layout design if you use their services. The same is true if you use their free book cover templates. So if you think you will ever want to sell your book anywhere other than Amazon’s websites, I highly recommend finding a freelancer to design your book cover and book layout so that you will own the source files and you have the greatest freedom for managing your publication. Often you can find services for the same prices or less than what CreateSpace charges. This caveat does not apply to their editing services.
- ONLY take CreateSpace’s free or $10 ISBN if you ONLY want to publish your book on Amazon. Although these cheaper options will allow you to have access to libraries and academic institutions through CreateSpace, you cannot take the book marked with these ISBN options to any other printing or distribution companies. If you really want to make your book available to libraries and academic institutions, you can buy the $99 Custom Universal option (or buy a set of 10 for $250 directly from Bowker if you think you’ll publish more than one book) and then distribute your book through CreateSpace to sell on Amazon as well as distributing your book through IngramSpark to reach traditional bookstores, academic institutions, libraries and other online book sellers around the world. I would actually recommend that you may want to take your unique ISBN and publish through CreateSpace first so you can take advantage of their LCCN assignment service that qualifies your book for inclusion in public libraries, and then distribute the book wherever you want. You can always get the LCCN on your own for free by following these instructions, but sometimes it’s just best to take advantage of a service so you can focus on more pressing matters.
- ONLY use their free expanded distribution service if having access to all of your distribution accounts in one place is more important to you than making money from your book sales. I did not recommend expanded distribution before when it cost $25, and I do not recommend it now that it is free. Here is an example, if you have a 200 page black and white book that is 5.5 x 8.5 inches and retails for $19.99, you will earn $8.74 from your sales through Amazon.com. For that same book, you will earn $4.74 on Amazon’s expanded distribution channel, which includes online retailers like BarnesandNoble.com and an opportunity to reach physical bookstores who are not likely to buy your book because they cannot return them. If you sold that same book through IngramSpark, you will earn $5.50-$8.49 depending on discount level you choose, which gives you a better chance of getting into physical bookstores and can get you into all the same online retailers that CreateSpace offers. (Please keep in mind that this entire distribution conversation applies to print books, click here to learn about distribution options for e-books.)
- Use your CreateSpace e-store to create discount codes as an incentive for bulk orders. When you have the opportunity to sell your books in bulk to a reseller, non-profit or business, they will not want to pay full price. You can take advantage of your CreateSpace e-store to create custom discount codes that you only show to the people you want to have the discount. Watch this quick video to learn how to create your discount codes.
How Do I Make Money with CreateSpace?
By now we’ve talked a little about the financial side of making money with CreateSpace, but let’s break down how you make money with them.
When you sell a book through Amazon.com, or your private CreateSpace e-store, Amazon will collect the price for your book and the book shipping cost and automatically send a printing request to CreateSpace. Next, CreateSpace will print the book and ship the book to the buyer. Finally, CreateSpace will record the sale within three days in your CreateSpace account and wait until the end of the month to receive funds you earned in the previous month. CreateSpace refers to these payments as “royalties.”
Watch this 4 min. video from CreateSpace for more details:
What Is the CreateSpace Book Publishing Process?
Before you begin, you will need the following:
- Email account
- Complete book layout file
- Complete book cover design file (this should be an embedded PDF)
- ISBN number (unless you plan to buy one for CreateSpace)
- Publisher name (this will be your business’ name)
- Contact Information
- Bank account information (to set up Direct Deposit for your book royalties)
- Your SSN or TIN associated with the bank account
To create your CreateSpace account follow these steps:
(Disclaimer: please keep in mind that they may update their website and rearrange things, so you may have to look for the buttons in new locations if this happens.)
- Go to CreateSpace.com and left click on the word “Sign up” on the top of the computer screen.
- Complete the sign up form and click “create my account.”
- Print a copy of the Terms & Conditions and after you have reviewed them, agree to them at the bottom of the screen.
- Open your email to verify your email address with CreateSpace and click “click here to get started.”
To upload for first title, follow these steps:
- Log into the CreateSpace account and click “Set Up Your Book Now.”
- Fill in the information form and click “Get Started” next to the “Guided” option.
- Follow the guide to list your new title but research your book size, ISBN, pricing, channel & Kindle publishing options before you make a decision.
If you have trouble along the way, you can get immediate help from a live person when you click “Contact Us” at the BOTTOM of the website.
Here is a quick question I’d love to read your response to in the comment section below:
Question: Since CreateSpace makes it so easy to publish a book on your own, what do you think you would need to do to make your book stand out from the crowd?