Looking for CreateSpace? What’s the Best Alternative Now?

 

THE BEST PLACE TO PUBLISH A PRINT-ON-DEMAND BOOK

For 10 years, I have heartily recommended CreateSpace for self-publishing a paperback book.

But now if you visit CreateSpace, you will be directed elsewhere.

So what is the best place for print-on-demand now?

The two major options are Amazon KDP and Ingram Spark. There are a couple of other options, such as Lulu and BookBaby.

AMAZON KDP

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is Amazon’s original self-publishing service.

kdp.amazon.com

Although it used to be exclusively for Kindle eBooks, it has recently expanded to offer paperbacks.

It has also evolved so that it either matches or surpasses CreateSpace in the most significant ways.

CreateSpace didn’t disappear. Rather, CreateSpace simply merged with KDP.

KDP’s paperbacks print on the same facilities used by CreateSpace.

You get the same quality with KDP as you could expect from CreateSpace.

Since KDP is Amazon’s company, KDP is the natural feed for Amazon sales, and most indie authors sell the vast majority of their books on Amazon.

KDP lets you self-publish for FREE. (But I do recommend investing in one printed proof before publishing.) KDP’s main competitor, Ingram Spark, charges a setup fee.

KDP is also the most convenient option. When you finish self-publishing your paperback, you can self-publish a Kindle eBook edition with the same publishing service.

The distribution is slightly better with KDP than it was with CreateSpace (now that KDP added Canada distribution and Expanded Distribution, and is expanding to other countries like Australia, Japan, and Mexico—actually, I already sold a book in Japan).

KDP offers a free ISBN option.

You can now advertise paperbacks on Amazon by publishing with KDP.

As with CreateSpace, the free Expanded Distribution channel will get your book into the Ingram catalog, and if you use the free ISBN option you may get into Baker & Taylor.

The royalties are the same (except for sales in Europe for books under 100 pages).

Authors based in Europe can now have proofs printed from the UK or continental Europe instead of in the states.

If an author was looking forward to using CreateSpace, in principle KDP should seem just as compelling.

For most authors, I recommend checking out KDP’s print option first.

INGRAM SPARK

Ingram Spark and KDP are the two main print-on-demand companies.

www.ingramspark.com

Ingram has been a major distributor in the publishing business for decades and the Ingram catalog is famous in the publishing industry.

Ingram does charge a setup fee, and you may spend more ordering proofs or author copies (depending).

Some successful illustrated children’s authors who self-publish sell hardcovers well. For a print-on-demand hardcover, I recommend Ingram Spark.

(If you just want hardcover author copies and don’t need to sell them print-on-demand, another option is Nook Express. Note that Barnes & Noble’s Nook Express doesn’t currently offer print-on-demand with distribution; it’s currently for ordering author copies. However, Nook Express has been growing and expanding recently, so perhaps this will change in the future.)

A few indie authors who thoroughly research how to format their books with stores in mind, how to prepare an effective PR kit, and how to approach bookstores in person effectively may find it beneficial to self-publish with Ingram Spark. Most indie authors struggle with bookstore sales unless they sell author copies in person to local stores, in which case you could have these printed at KDP. But if you’re among the few who can get bookstores (and other types of stores that sell books, which can be valuable) to order directly from Ingram’s catalog, you might be able to set a discount to help with this (they could order from Ingram through KDP’s Expanded Distribution, too, but there you can’t control the discount).

Authors who aren’t based in the US and who expect significant sales in certain countries through Ingram’s distribution channels might benefit from Ingram Spark.

These are a few examples where Ingram Spark’s print-on-demand option makes sense compared to KDP.

Though I will say, in general, Ingram seems attractive with its potential distribution. But getting into the catalog is the easy part. Getting stores to order through those distribution channels is the hard part. Even KDP will get you into the Ingram catalog through the Expanded Distribution option. And if you’re worried about KDP’s imprint name showing as Independently Published, simply buying your own ISBN from Bowker (in the US at least) will solve that problem (and let you create your own imprint name).

OTHER OPTIONS

BookBaby is an interesting option for both print-on-demand paperbacks and for eBooks.

www.bookbaby.com

BookBaby has a big advantage for authors who are already planning to invest a significant amount of money on a variety of publishing services, such as formatting or editing.

Among eBook aggregators and distributors, BookBaby also stands out in terms of its Kindle offering (with a KDP Select option).

I generally encourage new self-published authors to try to learn formatting on their own and to keep their overall publishing costs to a minimum. You have no way of knowing whether you will sell enough copies to recover your costs, and many new books don’t sell particularly well, so it makes sense not to risk too much when starting out.

Also, if you wind up publishing several books, and most successful indie authors do, think of how much you could save in the long run by learning how to do some of the work, like formatting, on your own.

However, if you do need to hire professional services, BookBaby offers a variety of paid services in addition to what appear to be competitive distribution options.

BookBaby also posts a satisfaction guarantee on their website.

I featured an inspirational story on author Cheryl Holt on my blog last year. Cheryl is one example of a top author using BookBaby. (But of course, there are no guarantees that you will have success, regardless of how you choose to publish. My example just shows that it can be done.)

Another print-on-demand option which has been around for years is Lulu. You might find Lulu to be more expensive for a typical paperback, but you might also discover some publishing options at Lulu that are hard to find elsewhere. For example, suppose you wish to order author copies with spiral binding.

www.lulu.com

If you were among the few authors who could have benefited by directing customers to the CreateSpace eStore, Lulu or BookBaby’s BookShop may be of interest to you (but you may have to use BookBaby for all of your distribution channels, and you may need a minimum investment to publish with BookBaby).

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

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

Moving from CreateSpace to KDP: Sales, Royalties…

Image from ShutterStock.

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

CreateSpace eStore is Closing Effective October 31, 2017

Image from ShutterStock.

CREATESPACE ESTORE IS CLOSING

Beginning October 31, 2017, customers will no longer be able to purchase paperbacks directly from the CreateSpace eStore.

If you have a link to your CreateSpace eStore and a customer clicks on it, the customer will be redirected to the corresponding page at Amazon.com.

According to CreateSpace, the reasons behind the change include:

  • It’s much easier to search for books across Amazon’s site than it is to search for books on CreateSpace.
  • Amazon offers a much better checkout process than CreateSpace does.
  • Amazon offers better shipping options, including Amazon Prime.
  • Amazon sends out tracking notifications for orders placed through Amazon.
  • Amazon’s storefront is a much more familiar interface for customers.
  • Several customers have requested the features described above.

Unfortunately, when a customer clicks on a link to a CreateSpace eStore and is redirected to Amazon, authors will earn Amazon.com royalties (not eStore royalties).

Since Amazon offers all of the features listed above, this will improve the customer shopping experience. However, these features cost more (on average) compared to CreateSpace’s simplified eStore setup, so authors will no longer earn eStore royalties—but see my note below about improved Amazon.com royalties for the next 6 months.

Although authors are losing 20% from their eStore royalties, there are a few benefits which help compensate for this loss:

  • Some customers who would have visited your eStore, but who would not made a purchase through CreateSpace (because they didn’t qualify for free shipping, had to setup a new account with CreateSpace, or didn’t trust CreateSpace like they trust Amazon), might now make a purchase from Amazon. The redirection might help a little with a higher percentage of sales.
  • Some customers who would have purchased one book from your eStore might buy a few of your books on Amazon (because your Amazon page features your author page, or because your other books show up on your customers-also-bought list).
  • When a customer buys your book from Amazon.com after being redirected from your eStore, your Amazon.com sales rank will improve, whereas eStore sales had no effect on sales rank.
  • When a customer buys your book from Amazon.com after being redirected from your eStore, the customer’s review will be a Verified Purchase (except for the rare customer who chooses not to let this designation show), whereas reviews from eStore sales were unverified.

Although the new program goes into effect on October 31, 2017, CreateSpace will be adjusting your Amazon.com royalty for all Amazon.com sales made between November 1, 2017 and April 30, 2018. CreateSpace is calculating what percentage of your sales (for each book) were made through your eStore and through Amazon.com over the past 12 months, and is using that to determine your adjusted royalty for the next 6 months.

So if you drive just as much traffic to your eStore over the next 6 months as you did over the last 12 months, you should earn (on average) about the same royalty as usual until May 1, 2018, at which time your Amazon.com royalty will revert back to normal.

Most authors sell very few books, if any, through their CreateSpace eStores: Those authors are virtually unaffected by this change.

However, there are a few entrepreneurial authors who are fairly successful at driving traffic to their CreateSpace eStores. If you usually get a significant percentage of sales from your CreateSpace eStore, you may wish to consider getting other options into place by May 1, 2018. Following are a few suggestions.

  • Accept payments directly (perhaps through PayPal). Either drop ship from CreateSpace (ordering author copies sent directly to customers, although this process isn’t ideal), or order author copies in bulk and then mail to customers directly (you wind up paying more for shipping/packing this way, but you gain the ability to include a bookmark, business card, or thank-you note and you get to inspect the quality of the book firsthand).
  • Setup a website to replace your eStore. It’s very easy to setup a website that processes payments, though it comes at a cost. Then ship copies via one of the methods mentioned in the previous bullet point.
  • Use Amazon Associates. Change all of your current links to your eStore to Amazon Associates links to Amazon.com. This way, you can earn a commission on all of the traffic that your drive to Amazon. In fact, you earn a commission on anything that the customer buys (within a set time period), so if the customer buys another book instead, you earn a commission for that—or if the customer buys a Kindle Fire HD, you earn a commission on that (which is even better).
  • Consider using an alternative print-on-demand service that offers a storefront, such as BookBaby’s BookShop or Lulu. For most authors, I recommend CreateSpace for Amazon sales, but if you can drive significant traffic to a smaller storefront, it may be worth exploring other options. Some print-on-demand services may  let you continue to use CreateSpace for Amazon, while supplementing by using their storefront for traffic that you can generate (however, you must check on this point, as some publishing services may not allow it).

Most of my customers purchase their books directly through Amazon.com, so personally I’m not really affected by this change. However, for two of my better-selling titles, I will be earning 61% royalties (instead of the usual 60%), minus the book cost, for the next 6 months—although it’s just 1%, those two titles sell frequently enough for that to add up to a cool, unexpected bonus. (Thank you, CreateSpace and Amazon.)

Copyright © 2017

Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

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