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Thursday, 10 October 2013

Self-publishing via CreateSpace: My Experience and Tips

Last year I published my children's novel as an ebook. However, marketing ebooks for children is not yet in full swing, I feel, so it has just appeared in paperback - see Millie's cover on the left.

At the same time (almost), I realised that since I started writing dark short stories and flash fiction a year ago, I had accumulated quite a stack of pieces. Some were already published in various anthologies, or had been listed/commended/placed in writing competitions. This gave me the idea and the impetus to publish the collection which turned out to be Bottles and Pots. After sending for quotes from various printers and publishers, and asking advice of writing colleagues, I decided on Amazon's CreateSpace (CS). So this post is intended to be helpful for anyone thinking of going down that route.

It has not been without hitches, some my fault, some I think theirs. They include page numbers, page breaks and the 'Browse' for files button not functioning. With each query there's a 24h a response which sometimes amounted to little more than 'Have you tried turning it off and on again' as per The IT Crowd. Any alteration means another 24h wait.

Eventually, though, all the problems have been solved, and on balance I would use CreateSpace again. Here are my tips for anyone thinking of using this publishing method.

1  Of course, have the text fully ready, edited and proofed, with page breaks inserted.
2  Set aside a whole weekend, if possible, to get everything uploaded for their review.
3  If there are time constraints on obtaining your own copies to sell, bear in mind that once
       your files are finally submitted, reviewed and accepted, you've accepted the proof, and
       you've ordered copies, printing can take maybe 3-4 working days, then shipping 1-3wd,
       5-8wd, or much longer depending on how much you pay. Once you order, the expected
       delivery date may be later than you thought.
3  Read everything on every instruction screen. (Said with feeling.)
4 When CS formatted my .doc file for Millie, the page numbers and some page breaks went
       all to pot, and I kept querying (another 24h wait) and altering (ditto) repeatedly.
       Eventually CS suggested I submit as PDF since they format into PDF. This worked 
       perfectly - at last. So it might always be best to submit as PDF.
5  My browser is Safari, and when I repeatedly hit a brick wall trying to click 'Browse' to
       select my text file, again after several support requests it was suggested that a
       different browser might help. Firefox did - and a colleague finds Chrome good too. So
       if I do this again, Firefox it is.
6  Once cover and 'interior' files are reviewed and accepted, you choose whether to check
       the proof on your computer, or order a copy (cost £10+ in a hurry). The first time, I
       ordered a proof copy, and was glad as there was an aspect of the cover I wanted to
       change. For Millie, I proofed digitally and that was fine (and free).
7  When looking at the proof, it's really important to check every bit of it. I was so tempted
       to just say 'go', as I need Millie p.d.q., but checked and triple checked first. 
8  Once the hard work is over, within the programme CS has some marketing tips.

My first consignment of Bottles and Pots has delivery date tomorrow, and no sign as yet. My order for copies of Millie hasn't shipped yet, and delivery date is just 2 days before I need them for an event. And so the nailbiting continues. On the other hand, not a penny need change hands if you don't want to buy any physical copies of your book (special members' rate) and if you proof digitally. Nothing to lose except your hair!