On CreateSpace

On my to-do list for some time has been to talk to you a little bit about print, how I came to choose CreateSpace for that, and my experience with it so far. Hopefully this will be just an overview and informative while mercifully brief.

Question #1: To print or not to print?

Print! Yes, ebooks ARE the future. I buy digital whenever possible, don’t even like to buy paper books anymore, and I absolutely believe that’s where we’re going. But I also understand that I am not Jill Every-Reader. While more and more people are trying out ebooks and embracing them every day, there are still plenty of people who prefer paper, or who are simply not ready to take that plunge.

For me, print is about customer service. If I were running a retail store (which I have done), part of my job would be to stock the types of products my customer wants and needs. I know from experience that customers can get pretty peevish when you don’t supply what they want. If it’s within my power to give my customer the type of product that best suits their need, why would I not do that? This is as true for providing both print and ebook formats as it is for providing your customer with a variety of file formats for various devices.

Question #2: DIY or Author Services Company?

I think of Author Services as those companies that offer to do this for you. Names that come to mind are AuthorHouse and Xlibris. Companies like CreateSpace and Lulu also offer author services packages in addition to the DIY stuff. This is something you’re going to have to answer for yourself. For me, and most of the indies I spend time with, it’s DIY as much as possible. We simply don’t have the money to shell out hundreds of dollars for someone else to do this work, and it just doesn’t have to be a big deal.

In fact, I think that, especially when you’re talking about fiction which is primarily text without images, print can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. A simple print edition is no harder than formatting for e.

I have read some scary-ass things put out by Author Services Companies. I’m not saying they’re all charlatans, and I’m sure that some of them provide great service which the authors feel is worth the price. I get that they need to make their services sound important, worth the price they’re charging, etc. I have seen some claims that lean toward un-truths, and some really bad “science” when discussing sales numbers. If you’re going that route, beware. Read a lot. And keep in mind when reading testimonials that many people have a need to justify their own choice, sometimes by making it seem better than it is.

Question #3: Which company should I choose?

Keep in mind from this point on that I’m talking about my thought process, my choices, and what works for me. Your mileage my vary. Because we’re obviously going to talk DIY, the conversation usually comes down to three: Lulu, LSI, or CreateSpace.

I’m throwing out Lulu right off the bat as too damned expensive. A big part of the decision-making process for me was: how cheaply can I sell my book? Answer from the Lulu calculators? Not cheaply at all. In just the manufacturing costs, the exact same edition I got from CreateSpace prices out 70% higher on Lulu. (To be fair, I have to say that they price out about the same, except that I’ve added an option to lower my CS price, which I’ll talk about later. As far as I know, Lulu could have something like that, but I don’t know.) Lulu has more format choices (coil-bound, hardcover), but for fiction and a first novel, I don’t see any need to get fancy.

LSI (Lightning Source) is favored by many indies as the most professional way to go. And likely it is. It certainly seems moreso in the way they don’t put a lot of information on the website and expect you to do a lot of talking on the phone. (Oh yeah, you know that’s an issue for me.) Most of going with LSI is about having more options and maintaining ultimate control as the publisher. The trade-off in that seems to be having a somewhat more complicated process with a bit more to learn–although I’m not sure because I haven’t actually worked with them, and shelling out a good deal more up front.

ISBNs and ownership are an issue for some indies. They want to have their own imprint, to have everything in their own name, they have their reasons and they’re willing to pay for that. I’m not right now. Unlike the other options, LSI doesn’t offer free ISBNs and requires you to set yourself up as a publishing company. And while that may look really spiffy, I’m just not into the added hassle right now.

LSI has other initial costs that are greater than CreateSpace. I don’t know if the books cost appreciably more like they do at Lulu, again because LSI isn’t upfront about that stuff. I do know that most of the LSI books I’ve seen are priced higher than mine, but then, most of the books I’ve seen are priced higher than mine.

LSI has some other benefits with regard to distribution and you can find people talking about these all over the web. Most of them don’t apply to me as a beginner, and those benefits don’t outweigh the added hassle and expense.

After I have progressed in my career, if I feel I need to have an LSI edition, there’s nothing that says I can’t go do one later. I still own all my stuff, right?

My choice was CreateSpace and I’ve been very happy with it. And since this is running long, I’ll try to just bullet the pros and cons for you.

Pros:

  • No up-front cost. Nothing. You can go print your book with CreateSpace today for free. Free ISBN (but you can bring your own if you’re into that), no setup fees. We like free.
  • ProPlan- Lowers your cost. You’ll want to add this. It’s an up-front cost of $39.00 (for each book). For this you get a lower manufacture cost which allows you higher profits and/or the ability to lower your retail price. Since you pay the manufacture price for any copies you personally buy, this will pay for itself pretty quickly in your copy for your mom, giveaways, review copies, and the ones you sell out of your knitting bag to sweet people who are just excited to meet someone with their name on a shiny cover.
  • ProPlan- EDC: Just as important, this gets you into the Expanded Distribution Channel which I believe gets your book into Baker & Taylor (but I don’t think into Ingram and I cannot find that info). Don’t get excited. This does not mean B&N is going to order your book to stock in their stores. They probably won’t, even if it’s doing well. I’ll discuss that in the Cons. But it will allow your book to be listed at B&N’s website, at Book Depository (which has free international shipping), and allows registered booksellers (like your local indie bookstore that carries books by local authors) to order your book at wholesale prices.
  • You will find VS. posts around the internet that talk about CreateSpace books not being able to get into Baker & Taylor, not being available to resellers, etc. Be advised that the EDC is a new program, so check the date on those posts when you’re doing your research.
  • Oh! You should also know that renewal of ProPlan is only $5 per year. My annual fee was waived in December, I assume because my book was out less than 6 months. I believe LSI does charge an annual fee to list your book in its distribution network. I read somewhere that it’s around $13, but that may be old or inaccurate info.
  • Easy as print as PDF. Really. That’s all there is to it. Now, getting that PDF just right might make you pull out a few hairs, but you don’t HAVE to get super fancy in your layout to produce a good book. MOST people don’t care about fancy book interiors. What’s important is that your book is readable. With a little thought and care, you can do that. You did it with e, you can do it for print.
  • It’s pretty fast. Once you’re done with your part and you upload your book, it take a few days for them to review it. They’re not proof-reading it for you, but they are making sure you have the right margins, stuff like that, and that nothing’s going to get cut off or anything. After that, you order your proof copy for the price they’ve quoted you as your cost. From my limited experience, I’d say expect to pay about the same amount as your book’s cost for media mail which generally takes a 7-10 days unless it’s a busy season. Expect to pay exponentially more for expedited shipping options. Once your proof is in-hand, all you have to do is log on and say yes! I approve! Go sell that bitch! And then it goes live on Amazon pretty quickly, like within a day or two, if I recall. Other sites will pick it up eventually.
  • Low cost means low price. You know how I feel about low consumer prices. CreateSpace, and some fudging with fonts and layout stuff, allowed me to put together a book that sells for $8.99, the same as what the mass-market price seems to be right now. Not being more expensive than my vetted counterparts is important to me.

Cons:

  • Borders doesn’t list it. I’m at the point of thinking this is more Borders’ problem than mine. I mean, It’d be cool if they would pick it up and I could sell a few more, but whatever. I don’t think I’m losing that much by not being at Borders.com. They’re losing more by not embracing indies in general, that’s for sure. Anyway, I think this may be because I’m not in the Ingram catalog, but like I said above, I’m not sure about that.
  • This edition will probably never be in the brick and mortar chain stores. Doesn’t matter who it’s listed with, CreateSpace does not allow you the option of making the book returnable. Essentially, the bookstores want to order a bunch of books, put out a few for however long they decide to try them out on the shelf, then box them up and send them back for credit. So think about it like this: maybe one day you have orders for a couple hundred or a couple thousand books. Awesome. And then in six months you find that all but six copies were returned. And all the “profits” you’ve been waiting on, that couldn’t be distributed to you because they’re held against possible returns, are now gone, and you get a check for $3. Possibly it’s better to have loved and lost, and certainly I’d like the opportunity to be browsed in the chains, not saying that wouldn’t be a great thing. Just it’s hard to work up a lot of upset about it, and the hassle/expense vs. potential benefit ratio just isn’t impressing me right now. (Ok, who am I kidding, if B&N calls me up and tells me they want to stock my book, my laptop and I will be on Zoe’s doorstep begging her to help me put together an LSI edition ASAP. I will bring a Firehouse Sub to get me in the door. I’m crafty that way. But I just don’t see as a likely scenario right now.) I know there are people who go with LSI for reasons of ownership who still don’t want to exercise the option to make the book returnable.
  • I’m not the publisher. Like I said, I don’t really care about that at this point. CS puts their name on it. I think this may be because I went with the free ISBN, and I think it might also be a requirement of expanded distribution.

I think a lot of the point is that I’m happy with CreateSpace because it was cheap and easy for me to just get it done now without adding fees I couldn’t afford or stresses I don’t need. If I get to the point where it’s no longer the right choice, I figure I can go with something different at that time, when I’ve grown into it.

Sorry about the lack of merciful brevity, and I’m going to continue for a bit because indies like numbers. It’s been absolutely worth it for me to put out the print edition. Extra costs for me were $80 for the rest of my cover and a new title page from Robin (a title page I also put in my e after that), and the $39 pro plan from CS.

I make 5xs more in royalties on Amazon than I do when I have sales through the EDC. Which is fine. The royalty from EDC sales isn’t much less than I’d get from a standard royalty if I had a trad publisher. So I’m not really losing anything, I’m just getting 5xs more from Amazon. Since I put the book out at the end of September (actually 4 months exactly from the day I’m writing this. Print was several weeks behind the ebook version because I thought it would be harder and I was learning a lot of stuff at once), I’ve sold 45 copies through Amazon and 38 through EDC (most of those I believe are via B&N), for a total of 83 paperbacks. I’ve pretty much just cleared my expenses. And that doesn’t count any of the ones I sold to local acquaintances. Having print also gives me something more to offer as a giveaway, which is nice, as people seem to get more excited about a $9 item than a $1 item. Go figure. And it’s cool to know there are people out there who are actually willing to pay that much to read my book. Yay!

So, in conclusion (finally), totally worth doing, really happy with CreateSpace as the cheap and easy alternative, and looking forward to reaching over 150 paperback sales soon so that I can rub Brad’s nose in it. I’d love to hear your experiences, addendum to this info, and will try to answer questions in the comments. Hope this was helpful.

43 Comments

Filed under self-publishing

43 responses to “On CreateSpace

  1. Interesting post…I published my first five novels with Booksurge, which has now morphed into Create Space. I haven’t published anything since the changeover, but I get the newsletters, etc., and I’ll probably see what they can offer when my newest manuscript is ready.

    What do you know about Smashwords for e-book publishing? I’ve heard other authors applaud it.

    • Smashwords is great. They’re the gateway to get your story into Sony, Kobo, Diesel, and the Apple iBookstore.

      For myself and most of my friends, sales on Smashwords and all their affiliate vendors combined are a drop in the bucket compared to sales on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, published through Amazon KTP and Pubit respectively. (In fact, most of the people I know who do well at BN have listed there through Pubit and did not have as much luck when they were listed there through Smashwords.)

      That said, you just gotta do all three, because your book should be in any place your customer wants to buy it if you want to build readership. Positive points for Smashwords for:
      ~the coupon code feature with is GREAT for giveaway contests and reviewer copies
      ~a nice customer experience- I often pop over to Smashwords to look up a book I saw on Kindle because I prefer their HTML online sample feature
      ~all the books are DRM-free which is an issue for me and many other ebook enthusiasts. Sometimes I have to go buy at Smashwords because someone’s applied the DRM option to their Kindle book. Why I don’t buy DRM-encumbered books is a whole other story.
      ~they’re a great vendor to recommend to your international readers
      ~the free Style Guide at their site, the one that’s recommended reading before trying to upload your book, is a great primer for all ebook formatting beginners.

      Smashwords isn’t the total package answer–at least right now, but I think it definitely has an important part in that package for all us indies.

  2. mbm8377

    Great post! I do have some questions for you. When it comes to your cover, do you create it yourself? Do you have to pay to use any images? I’ve always wondered that. I made mock covers for my works in progress, just for fun, but if I published, I’m not sure how to go about that part of it.

    Also, what do you do for editing? Do you just edit yourself or do you put out some money and have someone else do it? Like you, I’m not looking for put out a whole bunch of money in the beginning, but I have seen some self published titles that are good stories but could have been sooooo much better if they had an editor. I don’t want to be like that. I don’t remember that being a problem with your book (actually it was one of the few where I didn’t spot the glaringly obvious need for more editing).

    • Cover-
      You can do your cover yourself. They have help with that on the site. I, personally, do not do my own covers. I’m a writer, not a graphic designer. For me, part of putting together a professional package is hiring the right professionals to help. You’ll find a graphic for my cover artist, Robin Ludwig, in the sidebar if you’d like to check her out. She’s all kinds of awesome. Tell her I sent you.

      Yes, unless you have some great photos that work, you will probably have to pay to license the rights to someone else’s image work. You can often find images that will work that are not prohibitively expensive.

      Expect to budget maybe $150-$200 for your cover, including images, and be clear with your designer about your budget so there are no surprises.

      Editing
      It is VERY hard to be honestly critical about our own work. We tend to be too easy or too hard. Sometimes, somehow, both. I tend to err on the critical side, and that makes things hard motivationally, but I think it helps me on the editing end. More importantly, I’m lucky to have a long-standing relationship with another writer. She and I have been nurturing our craft and each other for years now. My critique partner is my main source for a second set of eyes. Now that I’m more active in the writing community, I’ve met other writers whose opinions I trust to whom I can go with my work. Hopefully relationships like that are something you’ll be lucky enough to fall into as you move forward.

      Not all writers are created equally in this respect. Editing is not every writer’s strength. Some in my circle have tons of information on a particular subject (like science stuff), some are incredibly creative and can always come up with a name for something, some make good sounding boards. All good writers, but not all of them are my first go-to for critique. So as you get your work back from others, you’ll have to use you own judgment about who seems to have a knack for that, can spot real problems yet still allow you to be true to your own voice and story.

      Outside of finding friends to do that for you, there are a number of people out there who do this work. I believe this is usually done for an hourly rate. I haven’t used any, but I know “Wulfie_” in an online friend sort of way. She does this work, has rates posted (upfront stuff like that is a thing with me), as well as her qualifications and some testimonials. Perhaps you’d consider giving her a try with a part of your project and see how that goes?

      For meeting writer folk interested in exchanging work, trying Crit Partner Match, a community founded by author Kait Nolan (my crit partner).

      Hope that helps!

  3. I think it was great for you to post this. I still have your email where you explained some things to me about formatting for print. You’re a wealth of information. I’m really glad you’re willing to share your experiences with everyone.

    I have experience with Xlibris. I’m not even sure CreateSpace was available at that time. I had my first novel printed, and they did most of the work for me. It ended up costing me close to $500.00. But the worst part is that they priced my short paperback novel at $19.99! Needless to say, only friends and family bought my book. That’s a ridiculous price for a paperback, and to me, that was the very worse part of my experience with Xlibris. I mean, I’m actually embarrassed that it costs that much! I’m planning on using CreateSpace for my other novels, but I promised a friend I would get his done first. :)

    • That is so like you to promise to get someone else’s work done first!

      Thanks for sharing your experience here. Reading that makes me more leery about the author services type companies than ever.

      And that should be a really big red flag for anyone looking at service packages. Make sure that you’re not giving up control of a product you created and are paying to have produced.

  4. Wow, Susan, thank you so much for this post! Really, really helpful. I’ve been telling everyone that I’m not going to mess with print for now, but now you have me re-thinking that decision… I guess I was thinking even CreateSpace would be more expensive than that. Hm. I’ll have to mull this over some more….

    Thanks!

    Amy

    • I really had the impression that it had to be more work and more money than it was, and that it was something for later. That may have been true, but I think it’s a misconception now, and the bulk of the reason I made this post. You know the customer-service part of me just never want to tell anyone “I’m sorry, I don’t have the item you’re looking for.” Lots of people are still looking for print and are annoyed to be left out. Not nearly as many people as will throw 99cents to try a new author in ebook, but maybe the print following will come in time. Who knows?

  5. These are the same reasons I went with CreateSpace. I started at Lulu, but the cost became so prohibitive that I ended up shopping around for another option and found CreateSpace. (I do a lot of conventions, so having print books on the table is a must at this point.) I found them to be fast, reliable, and of good quality, plus the one time I had to contact their customer service they were very polite and addressed the issue promptly.

  6. mbm8377

    I used CreateSpace because when you’re a Nanowrimo “winner” you get a free proof from them of your manuscript. It was incredibly easy, especially since they had templates and it was done super quickly.

    I’m still somewhat on the fence about self publishing, but I do have a work in progress that I post by scene/chapter and I will probably look to self publish/e-book that because I know most agents or traditional publishers wouldn’t want to touch it with a ten foot pole since it’s been out there for all to see for free.

    • Yes, that’s true. Still, I’m sure you’re glad you’ve done it the way you have and that it’s been a good learning experience. As far as self-publishing…it doesn’t sound like it would be a bad idea to use this manuscript that’s probably not going to suitable for traditional shopping to be the beginning of an experiment and getting your feet wet in the indie stream. It seems like the idea that no one will touch you if your name is attached to a self-pub book is fading every day, so it’s not like you’re limiting your options by doing so. On the contrary.

      Thanks for letting everyone know that it really isn’t hard to publish via CreateSpace.

  7. I’m using CreateSpace as well, and am equally happy with it. In the future I may try Lightening Source, since they allow returns and distribute through Ingram. The whole returns issue is so frustrating!

    • It is. But then, on the other hand, do I really want to be financially responsible for all the over-ordered books that got printed and didn’t sell? Unless you meant that the over-ordering and returning part that is part of how it’s all broken is frustrating, because yeah, totally right there with you on that!

      Thanks for you comment, Nancy!

  8. I used Aventine Press for my first edition of my first book, and it was a good experience. They were just starting out (had about 15 books published) and are still going, seven years later. That said, they charged me $400 and priced my book at $20.95 when it should have been in the $15 range.

    Now that I know what I’m doing with interior and cover layout, and have an editor, I’m very glad that CreateSpace exists. I do have my own ISBNs, but that’s because I want my own imprint with as little hassle as possible. LSI just sounds like a big headache to me.

    • Also, I’ve had mixed success with the EDC for CreateSpace. They still haven’t listed my books properly on Book Depository, for instance. Haunting Miss Trentwood isn’t listed, and Catching the Rose has the absolute minimum information shown. Oh well.

      • Thanks for that perspective. There are definitely going to be people out there who are going to feel like they need someone to do this work for them, and either can afford it or are otherwise willing to sink the money into their dream and pay for those services. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I hope there’s information out there that helps those authors make the best choices when it comes to author services companies.

        I didn’t even know my book was on Book Depository until someone emailed me to let me know. You can see where I stand with Amazon vs. EDC. I can tell you that I’m pretty sure nearly all of those EDC sales are BN. Once a month I get a report of several books ordered all at once. I think this CS reporting sales through BN all at the same time. That’s my theory anyway.

  9. One other thing I forgot to mention concerning my experience with Xlibris. They kept calling and bugging me to death to let them market my book this way or that way. And it was always REALLY expensive. And I knew that I would be throwing my money away because my book was priced too high in the first place. But they kept calling and calling. I had to start ignoring them. I finally emailed them and told them to never call me again.

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  11. Hey, thanks lady twin! You just answered a bunch of questions I’ve been meaning to ask and some I hadn’t thought up.

  12. Great post Susan! Thanks for all the time you spent putting this together for us!

    What I would like to know is, how you got the book to $8.99? How many pages is it? Amanda Hocking sells hers for the same price and each is about 320 pages. When I priced those pages out on Amazon the book would have to be like $11-$12 and that is with the upgrade. Can you share some tips with us as to how you were able to this?

    Angeline Kace

    • I would imagine that if Amanda’s selling a 320 page book for that price that she’s only selling that edition on Amazon. If she’s selling it at other places, perhaps she also has an LSI edition. There are some authors who do both to get the best of both worlds (there are seem to be slight advantages on Amazon to go through CS). Because Amazon doesn’t have to share profits when they sell the book, you can get the price much lower by not doing opting in to EDC.

      Hush Money is 192 pages. It’s a short novel, a bit over 51k words, which is not atypical for YA. Rather than use some of the wider fonts I found were suggested, I stuck with Times which is fairly narrow but still very readable. I kept the margins as small as possible. In short, I did everything I could to keep the page count as low as possible and still get a clean, readable book. The one complaint I’ve had was for not using justified text and having ragged edges [of text along the right, like what you see on this blog], and that was from someone who’s kind of a hobbyist in this area. I think the average reader has been satisfied with the product, and I don’t think I diminished the overall quality.

      I just searching one of her books on both sites and did not find it at BN, so I’m going with the theory that she didn’t opt in to EDC in order to bring her price on Amazon down.

  13. Thanks for all this great info. I did the really hard way and published 8 nonfic books myself–as publisher. Wow did I learn a lot. I’m happy to say they’re selling fine on Amazon, but not many other places. I don’t want to do that with my fiction. I entered ABNA and will get a discount on CreateSpace, so am glad to hear it’s a good experience. I will probably try that when I get a file full of rejections this summer and decide all agents/publishers are idiots and don’t know a good book when they see one.

    Also, I’ve been stressing over the cover, so I’m glad to get the referral for yours.

  14. Great post! I really appreciate the detailed information. I’d already decided to go with CreateSpace for my first indie book, but it’s nice to have confirmation of my decision and a bit more detail about the other options.

    Thanks for the information!

  15. Susan,
    I was basically going to ask the same question as Angelina. I will be bookmarking you though as this was great info and the very thing I’m struggling with right now. My book is pretty long and for that reason, they’re telling me it cant be priced lower than $14!! That’s without royalties! But also, that’s without the membership ($39) and now, after reading this, I’m going to play a little with the fonts, margins, etc to see if I can’t get it lower. The most important thing to me is keeping it reasonable for customers. Thanks for all the great info.

    • I’m pretty sure that I was paid back for the Pro Plan fee just in the savings on the copies I’ve bought on my own. So it’s probably going to be worth it. Pro Plan alone will give you room to lower the price with better profit, and then just selling on Amazon and not EDC will give you even more wiggle room. You gotta start somewhere. Good luck on your condensing!

    • Hi Heather

      I hate to be naive, but are you saying if I publish through CreateSpace, they’ll tell me what to charge for the book? That sounds like a non-starter–unless everyone’s like that.

      • Jacqui,
        There’s a formula by which they arrive at the minimum you can charge for your book. There’s going to be an amount that the book costs just to print it. Say that’s $4. Then when you sell it, beyond the printing cost, CreateSpace/Amazon has to get a share. So they calculate that percentage, add it to the base cost, and that’s the minimum you can charge. Say that comes out to $5. You can sell it for the $5 and make no profit, but you can’t sell it BELOW that minimum because then you would have to pay them for each sale to cover all of the part they’re entitled to for the parts of the product they do for you, materials, printing, sales, fulfillment, whatever. Since they take their part out of what the customer pays, they don’t allow it to be a negative amount.

        What you charge beyond that is up to you. You can charge $5.05 or $15. They don’t care. It’s the minimum that we’re talking about.

        It gets a little more complicated when we’re talking about EDC. When you’re selling through Amazon, there’s just the one company. When they have to give a discount and/or share the profit with another company like another bookseller, that affects what there share is going to be, so there’s another formula for the base cost IF you chose to opt in to the Expanded Distribution Channel. In that case, the minimum amount that you’re going to have to charge is going to be a little higher because you’re now including funds to pay yet another link in the chain between you and the reader.

        I hope that makes sense. And yes, I’d say that everyone’s like that when we’re talking about Print On Demand. The only alternative I can think of is offset printing in which you buy a ton of books up front, warehouse them yourself, take the orders and ship them yourself, etc. In that case, you own the stock, you’ve paid for the services, and you’re free to charge (or not even charge) as you please.

        What’s nice about CreateSpace is that they have calculators for this stuff on their site that you can play with without even registering. Playing around with the numbers that way might help it make more sense also.

  16. Thanks for the information, Susan. I will play with the calculator. When I got into writing, I couldn’t find a publisher and didn’t think I could afford Create Space et al, so did everything myself–got ISBNs, bar codes, made the book covers, formatted/edited the book, found a perfect binding printer, yadda yadda. What I didn’t get was the advice on what ‘normal’ was, so I made a few mistakes (like where my footer went at the bottom of the page–stuff like that). There were also times when I wasn’t sure I could solve the problems, would have to give up (getting my pictures and tables in a printable format–what a disaster that was). Each book costs me about $5 (for 100 copies, less the more I order. No shipping because they’re local.). I want to try an easier approach for my novel. I’d rather devote all that time to marketing than production.

    You’ve given me a lot to think about. Thanks for taking the time.

  17. abigail boone

    Thanks for your time on this. I was wondering if you could list some ideas for software in creating our own covers. I know Adobe has free trials for various projects, do you know of any offhand that are easy to use and create quality graphics? If not, I’ll do some hunting and come post what I find.

    • CreateSpace provides a cover creator application at their site.

      That said, it’s my firm belief that if you’re serious, a cover is just too important to DIY. If you don’t already own graphics software capable of creating a NY-quality cover then you probably won’t use it well enough to make a great cover. If the work inside is good enough, you’ll probably make the money you spend on a quality cover back fairly quickly (assuming you’re doing ebooks as well since paper books are a harder sell and it takes longer to get those moving), but an obviously amateur cover is likely to drive off a lot of readers before they even give you chance, especially when you’re talking about a print book where the prices have to be a lot higher than ebooks.

      Of course everyone is free to choose their own option, but my opinion on this is really strong and I don’t want to encourage anyone who doesn’t have a pretty decent handle on graphic design to go DIY here. If you decide you’re interested in contacting a cover artist, you can start by checking out mine. You’ll find a graphic with a link to Robin’s website in the sidebar. I’m not sure what her rates are right now, but I’d say expect to pay between $150-$300 (for front, spine, back) depending on the complexity of the design. That amount will probably cover license(s) for the image(s) you’ll use, which you’ll be expected to purchase separately. If the budget is critical, be frank with your artist about that at the outset.

      In free graphics programs, I use GIMP when I have to do my own graphics work. It’s not really easy to use, but good graphics programs often aren’t. There’s definitely a learning curve. There are many tutorials around, many on YouTube, that can help you with specific tasks.

      Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful on that one.

  18. Susan thanks so much for this article. I’ve been pondering about CreateSpace for some time now. You’ve answered a lot of questions I didn’t even know I had. Thanks too for taking the time to respond to each individual query, reading through cleared up the few queries still floating around in my mind, such as pricing and EDC.
    Julia

    • My pleasure, Julia. When I went to upload Heroes ‘Til Curfew, I did notice that there were some changes to the process since the time I wrote about it. But the basic information remains the same. Good luck with your project!

  19. Ola Scott

    Hello, i am new to cs. i am doing a children’s book, it is about 28 pages with a wrap around cover. When you lay it out flat you can see the whole farm, the animals and barn. the front cover is the barn with animals, the back is the house, garden with a rabbit stealing carrots out of the garden. My question is should the front and back cover be as one whole picture when I put it on PDF or should I do two pictures one for front cover and one for back.Please help! You can email me at silverstorm53@bellsouth.net

    • Because I’m not at all savvy about graphic design, I employ a cover designer who interprets CreateSpace guidelines and sends me a completed cover file to upload. You would probably have better luck asking your question in the CreateSpace user forums. Best of luck with your book.

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