by Will Viharo
Like it or not, CreateSpace has become the go-to resource for indie publishers, whether they’re individuals or collectives (small presses).
This means their titles are POD (print on demand) and their books are available for purchase on Amazon and a few other distribution channels. They can even be made available to bookstores if you choose that option.
And “options” are exactly what you’ll be faced with as soon as you get started. That’s a good thing. Just make sure you choose the right ones for you.
Since I started my own imprint, Thrillville Press, I’m fast learning about this process myself. And I’m sharing this experience with you to hopefully smooth out your own pathway to creative and commercial independence.
In my previous blog I outlined the reasons I made this choice. Those will naturally vary according to individual agendas. My own history isn’t a template, just one possible source of inspiration and identification as you embark on your own unique journey as a literary entrepreneur.
My experiences as a self-publisher are limited to Lulu and Kindle. Frankly I found Lulu to be a bit difficult and unsatisfying as a publishing partner, and, since Amazon Author Central is not only readily accessible but very helpful, I regretted not just going with CreateSpace for the print editions of my books in the first place.
Fast forward, beyond my few disappointing experienceswith small presses, and I’m right back where I started: DIY. But this time, I’m doing it under my own imprint, which requires more work, but the payoff, at least professionally, is worth the hassle.
I went into the CreateSpace site without any foreknowledge of how it works, though I’ve heard it is very user-friendly, which is good for someone like me who is technology-challenged. Turned out to be immediately true. The menu options on the member’s dashboard are easy to navigate and self explanatory, even for a clueless novice like me, which means you shouldn't have any problems understanding how it works, either.
Oh yeah – you’ll have to sign up for an account, of course, but that only takes a few minutes. And once again, it’s free. All it costs is your time. And patience.
Small Press, Fine Print
When I decided to start my own imprint, I didn’t know whether I’d have to register some kind of paperwork with some kind of legal entity or what, but I just dove right in anyway. Fortunately, CreateSpace offers that option for free. Well, almost for free.
When you choose “create a unique ISBN” from that particular drop down menu (the regular prompt process will automatically bring you to that page, you don't have to look for it first), you are taken to the Bowker Identifier Services website, which requires further authorization and registration via email.
Bottom line: for only $10 per title, you can purchase a “unique” ISBN that will get you listed in search engines as an official publisher, with your own small press. Just keep in mind it can't be changed once it's been purchased.
You can also select the option of more expensive ISBNs, which greatly expands your options down the road, allowing you more freedom to distribute and promote your titles, whether they’re yours or by another author should you choose to expand your publishing “empire,” or you can just let CreateSpace assign you one for free - in which case, you can't claim your own "imprint." But $10 is a lot less than the legal process required for starting your own company!
From what I can tell, the only advantage of a free CS assigned ISBN is that this option will make your book eligible for purchase by libraries and other academic institutions. Your call. Otherwise, the cheap $10 ISBN will get you into five of the six global distribution channels offered for your book, including retailers, otherwise free of extra charges.
For the Kindle editions, and indeed for each separate iteration of the same title, you would need to purchase (or designate free) separate ISBNs. But since Kindle books are only available for purchase via Amazon anyway, I didn’t see any point to this further mode of title identification, so I just went with the assigned AISN numbers offered free of charge to all Kindle authors.
It’s a good deal all around.
The next stage is uploading your cover art and interior files, which CreateSpace can design for you, at extra expense, though I preferred to have them all done by professional freelance artists and formatters. I want my small press to appear as professional as possible, and so should you if you want to survive in this intensely competitive and crowded online marketplace.
Since I retained rights to all my original art and content files after the small press that initially published them went out of business, I was able to tweak them with my own customized logo, and reformat the interiors to meet industry standards. They looked fine before. Now they’re even better. After all, it’s my small press’s rep on the line now.
CreateSpace recommends you choose 6x9, which is the most common choice for trade paperbacks, but I went with the second most common size, 5x8. There are a bunch of other sizes to choose from as well, all conforming to industry standards.
The X-asperating Files
If there is an issue with your interior file, you will receive a notification like this when you choose the “interior review” (you could skip it, but I highly recommend you do not).
No big deal. I had my pro formatter adjust the sizes, and resubmitted them for review/approval, which takes up to 24 hours. You will need to wait that long until you find out whether there’s an issue with the cover in regards to the page count/size of the book.
If there is, you’ll receive an email notification like this:
The interior and cover files for The Thrillville Pulp F..., #5981189 have been reviewed.
The cover file does not meet our submission requirements for the reason(s) listed below. Please make any necessary adjustments to your cover file and upload it again by logging in to createspace.com.
The cover contains live elements/graphics that extend beyond the trim line and may be cut off during the production process, the full cover for example. Please make sure that any elements intended to be viewable appear at least 0.25" away from the outside edges and only background information that can be cut off extend through the bleed area. For information on how to make a basic cover, please see: https://www.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1251 Interested in professional assistance? CreateSpace services can help. Satisfaction guaranteed. https://createspace.secure.force.com/csp/Outreach?r=cspvas0043
The cover contains content on the spine, which is too large for the page count. We require at least 0.0625" space on either side of the spine to ensure the content does not wrap onto the front or back cover. Interested in professional assistance? CreateSpace services can help. Satisfaction guaranteed. https://createspace.secure.force.com/csp/Outreach?r=cspvas0043
The Interior file meets our submission requirements; it is not necessary for you to make any revisions to this file or upload it again.
The CreateSpace Team
Annoying, since you have to start all over again (though your other work and the project page itself are saved) so you can resubmit the corrected files for another 24 hour review, but at least it's easily explained and addressed by my paid artist.
Even with this delay, my book will wind up being reprinted under my own label less than two weeks after it went out of print under a now defunct label. That's about a year less than how long it would take a traditional publisher to put it out - from the date of actual acceptance, so that year doesn't take into account the year or years wasted trying to land that contract.
Plus my Kindle editions went live literally overnight!
Still, now you know why some authors prefer to just let other small press publishers deal with this unsexy stuff.
But if you’re patient, you’ll keep all the profits once it's live, too. Just bear that fact in mind as you're gritting your teeth.
Next: Making your product page all it can be.
PHOTO: WILL VIHARO (ART BY MIKE FYLES)
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New Orleans, LA