Moving from CreateSpace to KDP: Sales, Royalties…

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FROM CREATESPACE TO KINDLE DIRECT PUBLISHING

As you may know, Amazon is merging its two print-on-demand publishing services. CreateSpace is becoming part of Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

Originally, KDP was for Kindle eBooks, while CreateSpace was for paperbacks (and videos and even audio).

However, in recent months KDP has added print-on-demand publishing for print books. It has slowly evolved, and now matches CreateSpace in terms of quality, service, and prices (with a few subtle exceptions). Overall, in a few ways, KDP’s print-on-demand is a little above and beyond CreateSpace (it wasn’t originally, but now that it has finished evolving, it is now).

Last week, I transferred my paperback titles from CreateSpace to KDP. It was quick and easy. However, the reporting gave me some anxiety at first, and it took 4 days to catch up. It seemed a bit scary for a few days, but all is fine now.

I SURVIVED THE MERGER BETWEEN CREATESPACE AND KDP AND LIVED TO TELL THE TALE!

Hopefully, you will, too. Be sure to order your survival t-shirt. (Just kidding. But really, if you order a custom-made one, that would be pretty cool.)

DO YOU HAVE TO TRANSFER YOUR TITLES?

Well, on the one hand, if you just sit and wait, it will eventually happen automatically. Maybe at the end of the month, if they’re ready.

On the other hand, if you initiate this yourself, you get the opportunity to login to KDP during the process and basically say, “Hey, this is the exact account on KDP where I want my books to be transferred to.” That’s why I did it myself.

The transfer is very simple. Log into CreateSpace and look for a message asking you to transfer your titles to KDP. It will transfer all of your books in one shot. (Sorry: right now, it’s all or nothing.) It will ask you to use your KDP login, and then you need to agree to the transfer. It will take a couple of minutes.

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT ROYALTIES

You will basically have a one-month delay in receiving your royalty payments.

If you sell a lot of paperbacks each month, this is going to hurt, especially if you write full time or count on that money for a mortgage note or car payment.

It’s a shame that this most significantly hurts Amazon’s bestselling indie authors of paperback books. If you’re significantly impacted by this delay, I feel for you. I’m not a big fan of it myself. (I did contact support to let them know.)

Why is there a delay?

CreateSpace pays royalties 30 days after the end of the month, but KDP pays royalties 60 days after the end of the month.

So, for example, every royalty that you earn in September from CreateSpace will be paid at the end of October (assuming, of course, you meet the standard criteria for receiving a monthly royalty payment). If you transfer your titles during September, every royalty that you earn from KDP will instead be paid at the end of November.

I have a second important note about royalties later in my article.

WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER YOU TRANSFER YOUR CREATESPACE TITLES TO KDP

You should find all of your titles on your KDP bookshelf.

I counted my CreateSpace and KDP titles before the transfer and wrote them down on a piece of paper.

Amazon actually gave me the same numbers on the screen during the process, which was reassuring.

After the transfer, I checked that all of my titles were there. But there’s a catch. Some of my CreateSpace paperbacks and Kindle eBooks automatically linked together on my bookshelf, but others didn’t. Eventually, I was satisfied that everything showed up.

If any titles didn’t match up and link together (that is, paperback and corresponding eBook), you can do this manually, but it’s optional. This has nothing to do with having their product pages linked. It’s just the convenience of having them together on your bookshelf.

It didn’t take long before my CreateSpace royalties showed up at KDP.

At the bottom of the Sales Dashboard, these show separately in the bottom 4 rows, so you can see what you’ve earned at KDP versus what you’ve earned at CreateSpace. But up higher in the graphs, the CreateSpace and KDP data are lumped together (unless you choose a specific marketplace from the dropdown menu).

A nice thing about the Sales Dashboard graph is that you can easily compare your average daily paperback sales from before and after the transfer.

(If your CreateSpace royalties for the month show a higher figure at CreateSpace than they do at KDP after the transfer, don’t worry. CreateSpace will pay you what CreateSpace says they owe you, not KDP, so if KDP shows that your CreateSpace royalties are a bit less, it really doesn’t matter. What I think happens is that KDP captures your CreateSpace royalty balance when you initiate the transfer, and if CreateSpace reports a few more royalties after that, CreateSpace will show a slightly higher figure for the month.)

ANOTHER IMPORANT NOTE ABOUT ROYALTIES

When I transferred my CreateSpace titles to KDP, my royalties at CreateSpace had been coming in steadily throughout the morning.

Almost immediately after the transfer, CreateSpace stopped reporting new royalties. I can still see my royalties in my reports from before the transfer (though presumably that option won’t be around much longer), but no new royalties are showing up at CreateSpace.

That was expected. But what was unexpected was how slowly paperback royalties started coming in at KDP after the transfer.

The first day was very slow compared to normal. The second day was about half a normal day for me. The third day was much slower than that. I was worried.

But later in the third day, sales started to pick up a bit. Then I noticed something cool. The royalties from the two previous days were slowly growing.

When I woke up on the fourth day, the third day was close to a normal day for me, and the two previous days had grown considerably. The fourth day turned out to be much better than the previous days.

It took about 4 days in all for royalties to catch up with their usual behavior.

So if royalties seem very slow compared to normal (about half or less than usual), don’t worry. Give it 4 days or so and see if things eventually catch up. Write down the number of sales that you have at the end of each of the first few days, so that you can see if those numbers grow on subsequent days (mine did).

The Sales Dashboard histogram will help you compare daily sales before and after the transfer.

A FEW COOL THINGS

When I checked out the Historical report and saw my life-to-date numbers, including CreateSpace, it was pretty cool. I didn’t realize that my lifetime royalties added up that high.

After the transfer, I still see Expanded Distribution showing up at CreateSpace.

If you want, you can use AMS via KDP to run an advertisement for a print book. We didn’t have the option to do that at CreateSpace.

European authors can order both printed proofs and author copies printed from the UK or continental Europe. That’s convenient.

Expanded distribution at KDP now matches CreateSpace. Actually, it surpasses it. For example, there is now distribution to Australia, with Mexico coming soon.

You can select two browse categories during the publishing process, whereas with CreateSpace you had to email support to request a second category. Also, the browse categories line up with Amazon’s browse categories better than from CreateSpace (though it still doesn’t seem perfect).

You can enter up to 7 keywords instead of 5, and you don’t have a 25-character limit. (By the way, you can enter several keywords in each of the 7 keyword fields.)

THE GRASS THAT ISN’T GREENER

Not everything is necessarily better.

For shorter paperbacks available in the UK and continental Europe, the royalties are a little less with KDP than they had been with CreateSpace.

If you use Cover Creator, you’ll find that it’s not quite the same.

Proof copies have a band that state Not for Resale across the cover. Though actually I like this, as it makes it easier to tell my proofs apart from my author copies.

New titles will say Independently Published instead of CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Previously published titles are unaffected.

KDP’s community forum is somewhat different than CreateSpace’s. (Ironically, when I visited CreateSpace’s community forum the other day, there wasn’t any spam, now that it’s about to lose its relevance.)

But the main things are the same or better, such as printing quality, printing locations, US royalties, etc.

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

41 comments on “Moving from CreateSpace to KDP: Sales, Royalties…

  1. I just transferred all of mine. Unfortunately it also took the retired titles over as well (which aren’t mine (I used to run a publishing co). Anyway I haven’t seen any paperback sales at all yet and I did this about two weeks ago. Where is it all delineated?

    • Retired titles shouldn’t be available, and if so, it shouldn’t matter that they transferred.

      If you had regular sales at CreateSpace, you should see something on your sales dashboard and month-to-date reports at KDP, though for the month-to-date report you need to toggle ebook to paperback to see paperback royalties.

  2. Pingback: Moving from CreateSpace to KDP: Sales, Royalties – by Chris McMullen… | Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

  3. Great update. I’ve been aware of the transition for some time. As a writer, graphic artist and “book packager” I’ve been able to help a number of Villagers complete their books – design, typography/pagination, upload to Kindle (both ebooks and POD) and provide other assistance. I’m a member of WLOV and FWA and offer discounts to other members.

    Essentially, I provide all of the services that CreateSpace used to offer – plus a few more. We also package for IngramSpark as well as private printers in the U.S. and overseas.

    If you know of authors that need help in that space between “The End” and “On Amazon,” I will help.

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  5. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for keeping us updated on the CreateSpace/KDP issues. You mentioned having your ebook and paperback linked. I had that issue on one of my books and found if your book description isn’t perfectly matched the computer system will not link. A little thing such as bold or italic text differences will stop the linking. Once I found the difference and made the correction, then it finally linked. We can only hope that KDP will continue to move forward to make the self-published author’s experience less traumatic. Warm regards.

  6. Thanks so much, Chris, once again for helpful information. At your suggestion, I went ahead and moved my titles. Easy-peasy. 🙂 Next: Figuring out uploading the next book in the KDP paperback format while not allowing the old format to mix me up. 🙂

    • I suspect that when they automatically transfer, you will still need to claim them at KDP to associate them with your KDP account. Authors who don’t already have a KDP account will need to create one and add their bank info. (If you already have a KDP account with banking info, you won’t need to add banking info, but authors transferring CS titles into new KDP accounts will need to add banking info because in that case the banking info won’t transfer from CS.)

  7. Canadian users of CreateSpace had to wait until their royalties totalled $100 before they were paid. Do you know what will happen to those with accrued royalties less than $100 at CreateSpace? Will they be paid, or do those authors still have to wait for the $100 threshold?

    • It will probably transfer to KDP, and you’ll probably need to reach that threshold (before and after the transition combined). I’m not 100% sure though; I believe this issue came up on the special feedback thread regarding the merger on the KDP community forum. You might contact KDP support to find out for sure.

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  10. this is what I posted on the KDP community last week: “I have not sold any paperbacks in 3 weeks even though I know people that have bought it and they have been shipped and received. So two days ago I sent an email to KDP asking what was happening. Received an email saying: “nope, all is good. Our report shows that you have sold 25 paperback copies of your book since it launched.” So painstakingly I asked just three people to send me email proof of purchase and delivery from Amazon, I did all the screen grabs and included all the Amazon emails to them, to prove that with ONLY THREE ORDERS I had already proof that I sold 41 paperbacks and not the 25 they said. If I need to ask every single person that I know that has purchased my book between the 1 of September and the 18 th of October I will.. if of course they have not deleted those emails from Amazon after their books arrived, which by the way, also VERY alarming, some people have been waiting for a MONTH for their deliveries ordered in Europe and for Europe. 1 month or more. Scary. All this extra work will be a pain in the bum because it takes a lot of time and energy and I am in the middle of promoting my book. I am disheartened and worried and not happy. I am self-published and have spent my money bringing out and promoting this book and when you see no reported sales you just want to give it all up. KDP please do something!”
    and this:
    “I got a reply from KDP that they are looking into it. Have new sales in the past 2 days with confirmations of shipments….but nothing shows up……the problem for me is that I have bought advertising on Amazon and on “boosted” posts on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and I cannot see if they bring sales in spite of the now thousands of clicks on my Amazon page. So I do not know if to continue paying for advertising or not. This is terrible for someone with a limited budget and time frame to advertise in.”

    • I’ve followed the CreateSpace (and KDP) community forums for several years, and I’ve seen issues like this posted about once a year or so. In every case, the author eventually returned to the forum to say that the issue had finally been resolved, though in a couple of rare cases it took weeks or months.

      Amazon’s royalty reporting is surprisingly transparent. Imagine receiving one statement in the mail once every three to six months with a traditional publisher. Amazon reports most royalties within the same day. But Amazon doesn’t consistently report all royalties instantly; the delays can be hours, days, weeks, and rarely even more than a month. Because of the fairly (but not totally) transparent reporting, those significant delays can really stand out when you know a copy has sold but hasn’t yet reported.

      The vast majority of royalties for KDP paperbacks show in the reports when the book prints, which is often the same day or within a couple of days. For most authors, the delays are rare exceptions. But for unlucky authors (for example, I know that this has happened to a few authors in continental Europe), the delays can be more common.

      If you wish to track the royalty of a book that you know was purchased, ask the customer for the printing numbers on the last page of the book, and KDP should be able to use these numbers to track the sale and royalty for you.

      From personal experience, I know of several reasons for delayed reporting of paperback sales. Amazon sources some orders through third-party printers, and the royalty can take up to 6 weeks to show in your reports when this happens. That’s not the most drastic example, but it’s a common explanation. The more drastic example is when 10 of your previous customers have returned their copies to Amazon and then Amazon sells those returned copies to new customers: In this case, you won’t see any royalties from the new customers ever reported, since you already received the royalties when these copies were sold the first time. Amazon doesn’t give you a royalty, then take the royalty away when it’s returned, and pay a new royalty when it resells: Instead, Amazon pays one royalty the first time, you never learn about the return, and so if a customer you know happens to receive a previously returned or cancelled or exchanged book you wouldn’t ever see that royalty reported (and you’d have know way of knowing that it was a previously returned copy).

      Good luck. I hope you finally get this resolved, but from the sound of things, it might take a while to get there.

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