How to Self-Publish a Book With CreateSpace
If you’ve ever wondered how to self-publish a book, it doesn’t get much easier than CreateSpace.
Every self-published or independent author has some thoughts of becoming the next self-publishing success story. We’ve all heard about the few authors who have made it to the Big Leagues by getting their break in self-publishing. We know that it is possible, we also know that it’s relatively rare for an author to make a quick million (or more) by self-publishing and especially by having self-publishing as their only tool of promotion and publication. Independently publishing your writing is however still an effective way to get your work read and get your name known, and yes, even make some real money out of if you’re willing to put in the hard work from the business end of things. By using the right tools in the right ways there’s no reason you can’t achieve success, and who knows, that might just mean a million bucks and your name on the New York Times Bestsellers List.
In this article we’re looking at how to self-publish a book using Amazon’s self-publishing print-on-demand service, CreateSpace. CreateSpace offers book publishing options for writers looking for a way to easily independently publish their books in hard copy and make those important steps towards becoming the next self-publishing success story.
What is CreateSpace?
CreateSpace is a type of print-on-demand service where a physical copy of your book will be created as customers order it. The service isn’t just for books either; they also offer services for publishing music and movies. CreateSpace began in 2005 after independent book publishing platform, BookSurge Inc. was merged with CustomFlix Labs, a distribution company for independent filmmakers, when both companies were bought by the Amazon group. Everything was put together under the CreateSpace name in 2009 and since then, CreateSpace has become the leading print-on-demand independent publishing media distributor, and it’s books where they’re making their biggest waves.
Why Publish With CreateSpace?
Even though ebooks have taken a firm hold in the publishing industry, people still like paper books. Publishing your book with CreateSpace gives you the ability to reach your readers using a variety of systems besides the basic ebook formats most self-publishing platforms offer. You can still publish your CreateSpace book in ebook through Amazon’s Kindle program, or another edition electronic publishing system such as Smashwords. There are some conditions regarding cross distributing the same work through different companies, so do be sure to meet all of the terms and conditions outlined in every publisher’s site.
With the thousands of self-published books doing the rounds, it’s easy to get lost in the crowds even if you’re book content is top notch. Putting together a book with professional level editing and design is the first step in getting your writing noticed, and bringing that all together in a professionally printed hard copy book lends an extra air of credibility to your work. CreateSpace offers its members all of that with numerous options for distribution to help get your words further.
While it’s free to sign up to CreateSpace and join their community, publishing on this platform does incur some costs. How much it will cost you to publish on CreateSpace will depend entirely on what you’re writing and the type of book you want it made into, as well as which publishing and distribution options you choose. For the average paperback novel, distributed on CreateSpace alone, your proof copy will cost you generally between $7 and $10.
How to Self-Publish A Book With CreateSpace
The first step in publishing with CreateSpace is to Sign up for a free account. After that, setting up your book for publication is as simple as entering your title and author details, selecting your ISBN option, uploading your covers and submitting your manuscript.
Join the Community
CreateSpace hosts a bustling online community where you’ll find all the information and support you’ll need to start creating your book. There are hundreds of posts and articles written by people who have published on the CreateSpace platform and it’s a great place to go to find advice on everything from what books sell best, to cover design, marketing and how to get help with the more technical nitty gritty of self-publishing. There’s also heaps of general chit chat going on to help you get to know other members. Besides all of the valuable information you can learn from the CreateSpace community, one of the best reasons to participate is that it lets you connect with other people, and these are your potential readers.
Publishing Your Book
After you’ve signed up, you’ll fill in a basic form with the details about your book – title, authors and other basics. The next step, set an ISBN.
Assign an ISBN
Every book published anywhere must have an ISBN (International Standard Book Number). This is a unique number assigned to every published book that identifies its edition, publisher, and physical properties such as page count, trim size and the type of binding it uses.
CreateSpace offers four ISBN options, and choosing your best option will depend on where you want to sell your book as well as which country you live in.
CreateSpace-Assigned free ISBN
This is a free ISBN that assigns CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform as your book’s imprint of record and registers this record with BooksinPrint.com. This means that your book will always be identified as a CreateSpace publication and you may only use this ISBN with the CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. If you’re going to stick with CreateSpace as your sole platform, this free option will be suitable for most authors but those wanting to distribute books through other channels besides CreateSpace will need to go for one of the paid options.
If you live in the US, for $10 you can choose your own custom ISBN for you book and choose your book’s imprint of record. This number will then work in the same way as the CreateSpace-Assigned free ISBN and you’ll only be able to use it for distribution through CreateSpace. This is a good option if you’re running your own publishing imprint but still want to use CreateSpace to distribute your work. This option isn’t available for authors outside the US.
Custom Universal ISBN
$99 will get you your own ISBN which you can use to publish under any imprint name, as well as allow you to distribute your book though any of the CreateSpace Expanded Distribution Channels (there are extra charges to be able to do this though). This option is also only available to US authors. If you’re looking for an easy way to get your book sold across a few different platforms, this is the way to go. If you’re outside the US and still want a Custom Universal ISBN, you’ll need to obtain your own ISBN from a different source and choose the following option from CreateSpace.
Your Own ISBN
If you have already purchased an ISBN from another company, you can use this on your CreateSpace book. Using your own ISBN allows you to set your imprint of choice, so long as it matches the imprint already associated with that ISBN, and also allows you to sell you books through the Amazon network and the CreateSpace expanded distribution channels. You can use your own ISBN to reprint your existing works with CreateSpace but if you’re looking to publish a new edition, you’ll need a totally new ISBN.
Upload Your Book
Now we have your book’s unique identifying features all set up, it’s time to get it into print. CreateSpace offers a number of different options for how the inside of your book will appear, from plain black and white, to full colour, cream paper and these will show up in a simple menu option.
You’ll also decide on your print size. The Default is 6×9” (15.24 x 22.86 cm) which is the best option for most people as being the international standard book size, it has the most distribution options. Other sizes are available so choose according to what you’re writing and how you want it distributed.
Once you make these choices, you then set up your book in .pdf, .doc, .docx, or .rtf format. You can download a doc template with preset margins to make sure your manuscript fits the printing requirements, and there are also tutorials and videos that show you how to properly format your manuscript and creating PDF and other types of files.
After you upload your file, the CreateSpace robots will check for any printing errors. At this point you can also get a cost estimation for your finished product.
If you’re having trouble with your print layout or you’re just unsure, you can hire CreateSpace to do it for you. The CreateSpace print design service will arrange your layout, margins, headings and the rest of it. This service starts at around $250. If you’re not too familiar with documenting format this can be a good option but seriously, it’s not that tricky to get a handle on. Before you spend your $250 on formatting, make sure you’ve done a thorough Google search for how to format your manuscript as well as exhausted the CreateSpace community for information. There are more than a few people out there who are more than happy to help you out for free.
It’s important to remember that the automatic file checking process only looks for printing and publication issues and does not proofread your manuscript. The design team too is also only looking for the way things look, not the way things read. To ensure your writing is of the highest standards, it would be a good investment to consider having your work edited and proofread by a professional. CreateSpace has their own editing and proofreading team for hire, but there are countless other options at a variety of prices. Actually, and here comes the self-promotion, I can do it for you too. Check out my services at Kraken Copy for more info on that.
Design and Upload Your Cover
You’ve heard not to judge a book by its cover, but just ignore that and get to work on designing a cover that will have your book looking its best and help you further your sales.
You can design your own cover by yourself or use a professional designer and upload this file in a print ready PDF format, or you can choose one of CreateSpace’s free cover design templates. This Cover Creator tool lets you use your own text and images with about 25 different styles and layouts, and each one has its own customisation options. Using the Cover Creator might be the best choice if you’re unsure how to format your own designs for your specific book size. If you’re doing it yourself from scratch, don’t forget to design the full cover and not just the front.
CreateSpace also has a cover designing team for hire, for about $150.
After you’ve uploaded your manuscript file and your cover file, CreateSpace will review your book and contact you with any changes that are needed before your book gets listed.
Ordering Your Proof Copy
At this point you’ll be seriously thinking about ordering your own proof copy. Buying a proof copy is not a mandatory part of the process, but it is strongly recommended. For less than $10 for your average trade paperback, plus shipping, you’ll be able to hold a physical copy of your work in its final printed form which you can revise and ensure everything is exactly how you want it. If you do want to make any changes, you can upload new files but you’ll need to pay for another print copy to proof.
How to Get Paid For Your Book
While you’re waiting for your files to be given the all clear by CreateSpace, you can set up your pricing and distribution options. The first step here is to set up your royalty payment options, as in how you get your money. Being an Amazon company, CreateSpace does not offer PayPal. If you’re in US, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium or The Netherlands you can set up direct bank deposit but everywhere else you’ll need to be paid by cheque. The minimum threshold for any payment is $100.
CreateSpace and Tax Laws
There are different tax rules that need to be followed before you can start earning any money through CreateSpace, and these will vary depending on which country you live in. US residents will need to provide their tax details, and other countries will need to fill out forms so as not to be taxed by the USA. While these are all simple forms to fill in, do read them carefully to make sure you’re giving all of the information required to prevent any problems down the track that might impede your earnings. If you’re not in the US and you don’t complete these forms, you’ll lose 30% of your royalties to the US IRS.
Distribution and Pricing
When you publish your book on CreateSpace, you’ll be automatically entered into their standard distribution channel. With this free option your book is available through CreateSpace estore, and Amazon.com and Amazon Europe as well as being available in a kindle version. For an extra $25 you can opt into the CreateSpace extended distribution network to get your book out to other retailers in the network.
After you’ve set up where you’re going to sell your book, you then decide how much it’s going to cost. Your list price is set in US dollars and any taxes, such as the VAT will apply when the book is sold so you don’t need to worry about that.
How much to sell for depends on what you’re publishing. Take a look around at the other books being sold in your field to determine a fair pricing. Setting a higher price is not going to mean more earnings, in fact it could mean the opposite. By setting a price lower than what your fellow writers are selling for could help you attract more sales. Experiment with different prices. If something’s not selling then consider lowering the cost.
Set Up Your Descriptions
People browsing your book online are going to be drawn by the cover first and then the description. Your description needs to be both catchy and compelling and also clearly describe what your book is all about. Your book will be categorised by the Book Industry Standards and Communications (BISAC) categories so customers as well as retailers will be able to easily identify what type of book you’re offering. Your description is a primary selling point so be sure to put some time and careful thought into writing putting it together.
How to Market Your Book
Market! Market! Market!
Your book is ready and for sale and looking like a million dollars (hopefully ready to earn you as much). But it’s not going to earn a cent unless people know about it. Now that your book is published, it’s time to take off your writer’s hat and put on your marketer’s hat and get to work. And yes, this part of the job is hard work.
You have to create an interest in your work and you do that first by creating an interest in yourself and connect with people. Get yourself a blog and a website. Get into discussion forums, get onto social networking like Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads and start talking to people. Talk to the people who read books, the people who review books and the people who write about the industry. Get noticed. Be careful though, don’t be that person on Twitter (or any other site) who only posts promos about their own work. This is a sure fire way to bore and or annoy a lot of people and not sell very many books. For more ideas on this style of marketing, check out this article on How to Be a Web Smart Writer.
You can also get in contact with review blogs and websites and ask them to review your book. Different sites have different review policies so make sure you’re clear with these before getting in contact with any one. You’ll also more than likely need to send them a review copy, so be prepared for that extra cost. Vivid Scribe has an open review policy for lots of different works and is happy to promote high quality self-published material.
Just throwing together a book and listing it on CreateSpace is not going to get anyone very far in terms of getting their writing noticed or earning any money from their book. But for people who are willing to put in the time and effort to create a professional product and then take the time to carefully market themselves and their work, using CreateSpace properly can be a really powerful step towards achieving self-publishing success.
So, now you know how to self-publish a book with CreateSpace, what are you waiting for?
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