Self Publishing with CreateSpace: My Experience

I’ve been promising you guys a post dedicated to my experience self publishing. Well, I’m finally going to make good on that promise. I’m going to go through all of the steps that it took for me to transform my manuscript into a book. The timeline will cover the entire book writing process, even before I began the self publishing process. So, let’s begin.

May 31, 2013 – First chapter complete

Some of you have followed my blog since its inception at the start of June. For those of you who haven’t, now you know that the first chapter of my book, Divided Within, was written all the way back in May. This came less than two weeks after I walked across the stage at my university graduation ceremony.

August 15, 2013 – CreateSpace account setup

After pushing through almost three months of writing my first book and looking into the prospect of finding an agent to represent my work or self publishing, I’d decided to self publish my first book, for a number of reasons. But in deciding this I had to make a decision regarding which self publishing company I’d actually use. There are about a million out there and most have at least one benefit. I was still in the process of writing the first draft of my book, but I’d decided that CreateSpace was the way to go for me.

August 26, 2013 – First draft complete

On this lovely day down here in Texas when most college students were returning to school I’d managed to finally finish my first book. It was a remarkable feeling because there could be no more thoughts coursing through my head questioning whether or not I could do it, I’d done it!

September 15, 2013 – Beta readers offer feedback

My beta readers actually received the second draft of my book. I’d already read through it once and made some necessary changes. The feedback was mostly positive and each reader sent me pages of notes to look over.

September 17, 2013 – Initial contact made with CreateSpace

This was when I first logged onto my CreateSpace account and began the publishing process. At this point in time I notified them that I would be purchasing a custom cover, interior design, Kindle conversion service, Library of Congress Control Number, and 500 bookmarks. The prices for these items is as follows: cover – $399, interior – $349, Kindle conversion – $79, LCCN – $49, bookmarks – $139. The grand total came to $1026 with tax. I didn’t pay this on this date. I’m sure some of you are wondering why in the world would I pay a thousand dollars to publish my book. Well, these services are not required to use CreateSpace. An author can do everything his or her self and pay nothing. At this point in time I wanted my book to be as professional as possible.

September 19, 2013 – Initial consultation with CreateSpace representative to discuss services I’d shown interest in

The woman I spoke with was both friendly and knowledgeable. I had a list of questions that she was able to answer without hesitation. We discussed all of the above services I’ve mentioned and this was the first time I learned that I’d be receiving twenty complimentary copies of my book with my order. I was surprised and happy that I’d get to give the people who helped my book make it this far a free copy. I was unprepared at this point to pay and we settled for my paying the next business day. I paid the full $1026 at that time.

October 2, 2013 – Design team consultation

This first consultation with my design team was meant to give me the opportunity to discuss exactly what I wanted done with my book. The major topics would include the cover design and the interior formatting. But by this point I’d decided to use their free cover generator instead of having them design the cover for me. I told this to the person I spoke with and she told me that based on my responses to the cover questionnaire that she thought it was a good decision made by me. The covers that I’d mentioned were not highly complex and I felt I could easily come up with something using the free cover creator that I would be proud of. She immediately issued the refund for the cover service of $399. I’d prepared for the other services and we quickly decided the interior formatting and the bookmarks. The entire call took about fifteen minutes when they’re typically well over an hour according to the person I spoke with.

October 7, 2013 – Full interior complete

This was remarkably fast. They had given me a two week window in which they would be working on my interior formatting and had it ready only five days after the consultation with the design team. I was greatly impressed. I took this opportunity to read all the way through my book for the third and final time. In doing so I found somewhere around 35 errors that needed fixing. CreateSpace allows for up to 200 textual changes after the initial interior is complete, so I was well within that threshold. I made the necessary corrections within a Word document they provide and sent the manuscript back.

October 18, 2013 – Full interior complete with my changes

This is where it gets a little rocky. Just a little. I received what I hoped would be my final proof of the book, but there was a problem. Not a single one of my changes was actually made. This leads me to believe that no one ever actually looked at it before sending it back to me. I was upset, but let me be clear, by no means do I think this was done on purpose or in negligence. I know that CreateSpace publishes a great many books each year and mine was not the only one being worked on at the time. I called the support number and she expressed concern as to how this happened and agreed to have my changes made within three business days because I’d already had to wait for it.

October 23, 2013 – Final proof received and approved

True to her word, I received my final digital proof on that third business day and every mistake I’d corrected was in fact corrected. I jumped for joy. I was incredibly excited because I thought my book was all set to be released at the click of a button. But no, I’d also be receiving a physical proof. The celebration had to wait just a little while longer.

October 29, 2013 – Physical proof received and book released

I received my author proof and almost cried when I had it in my hands. I’d read countless forum discussions and posts discussing the quality of the books printed. In some cases as much as half the order was said to be damaged. But my book was perfect. Absolutely perfect. I logged onto my CreateSpace account and my book was officially released.

October 30, 2013 – Amazon product page online

The CreateSpace website told me that the Amazon product page would be online within 5-7 business days of my book’s release. Well, like every other timeline they gave me this one was very generous in its time frame. I woke the next morning to the sound of thunder outside my window and found my Amazon product page to be up and running. I was ecstatic. The world finally had the opportunity to read MY book!

November 7, 2013 – Kindle edition published and first book signing

The Kindle edition was said to be released within fifteen business days of the release of the print edition of my book. Well, again CreateSpace outdid itself and got it online within eight total days.

My first book signing took place on the campus of the University of Houston Downtown, where I graduated from in May. They were holding a criminal justice majors day, which was my degree, and invited me back. I’d only been given a two day notice and had to scramble to make a display, but I did and the signing was overwhelmingly successful. I was able to sell 21 of the 25 books I took with me with a number of students and professors expressing great pride in the fact that a UHD alum had written a book so soon after graduation.

November 8, 2013 – Bookmark order refunded

The order of bookmarks that I’d originally placed was refunded because they still had not begun work on them and I didn’t want to wait any longer. Bookmarks are really more of a perk than anything, so I decided to order some business cards instead to give out at signings and events so that people knew how to get in contact with me.

Conclusion

If I had to rate my experience with CreateSpace I would probably give it a 97%. You’re probably thinking about the issues that I described above as lowering the score far more than three percentage points, but I don’t think so. The issue with the interior was quickly resolved and the bookmarks were never a necessity. Every timeline I was given for a service to be completed was easily met and every person I talked to over the phone was able to quickly answer any questions I had. CreateSpace allowed me to price the book fairly, whereas other self publishers force the author to price high in order to make any money. The books printed are no lower quality than what you might find from a traditional publisher. The total cost ended up at $477. And the books are sold to me from CreateSpace at only the cost of printing, which is very low.

I would absolutely recommend CreateSpace to any author looking to self publish. Keep in mind that I only discussed the services I used. They offer editing, marketing materials such as posters, business cards, and postcards. They offer the free cover creator or a cover design service.

I hope any reader of this post feels a bit more knowledgeable about the self publishing process with CreateSpace!

If you’d like to see their work for yourself, then buy my book! It’s available in print and on Kindle! The Amazon page can be accessed here.

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