1. CJStarkey
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    CJStarkey Member

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    Self Publishing: Create Space

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by CJStarkey, Jan 7, 2011.

    Has anyone used the website Create Space to self publish before? I found it through amazon and I know a couple of other people that are using it/ have used it and are very satisfied with it so far. I'm still sending out query letters and what not to regular publishers, but I really want to get my book out there and I thought this might be a good start. Any feedback on the website?
     
  2. WastelandSurvivor
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    WastelandSurvivor Member

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    I am currently getting my novella published through CreateSpace (I am waiting for the proof to arrive for approval right now) and so far I am satisfied with the process, though sales have not begun. That said, CreateSpace is designed for a very specific type of author. If you want to expose your book to the widest customer base possible through print, you will want to use traditional publishers, not CreateSpace. If you want to make the most of marketing and publicity to make the most sales possible, you will want to use traditional publishers, not CreateSpace. If you already have a devoted fanbase that doesn't care how they get your work, or if you just want to get your book out there and make a few sales while doing your marketing mostly on your own then CreateSpace will probably work for you.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you want to be considered a 'published author' then you'll have to get yourself a paying publisher... using any variety of vanity press won't get you there... and once you've gone that route, most agents and publishers won't bother with you...
     
  4. CJStarkey
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    CJStarkey Member

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    Thanks for the input. I'm currently waiting for my proof to arrive now, too, but I'm honestly having second thoughts about going through with it. At this point, I'm not sure I want to cut myself/this book off from getting published traditionally. I guess I'm just getting impatient; it's taken me six years to write it and now that it's done and I know it's ready to be sent out, I just want it over with already! I've sent out plenty of queries to agents and publishers, so I'm definitely going to wait for respones before I go all the way through with the Create Space route. Out of curiosity, would a work self-published though a media like Create Space be considered "published"? For instance, could you write it up in your author's bio in a query as a published work? Appreciate the help!
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no, it wouldn't... at least not in the 'literary world' where anything like that is still considered a 'vanity publisher' and the work 'self-published'...

    if you claimed it to have been 'published' in a query and anyone in the know looked it up and found it was done by a vanity press, you'd be an object of derision, not admiration, sorry to say...

    those who self-publish are generally not taken seriously as writers, by agents, editors and publishers... sadly, with ample justification, as practically all the books that're churned out that way are significantly substandard...
     
  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    What you can do if you have sold a significant number of copies is put the amount of sales in. You could always be the next Shadowmancer or Princess Poppy, the latter self published sold I seem to remember 40,000 copies you better believe publishers were interested in her. There have been a few others they are the two most famous examples.

    Also if you have reviews and quotes then there may be space in an author questionairre or in the synopsis to include them. This is all UK based but some publishers and agents accept overseas clients.
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't do it! My understanding is that self-publishing makes a novel a good deal less desirable to a traditional publisher, and that most self-published novels only sell a few dozen copies.

    You gave your book six years; give it at least a couple of years of trying before you give up on traditional publishing and, by doing so, largely destroy its chances.

    ChickenFreak
     
  8. lemurkat
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    lemurkat Senior Member

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    I'm going to publish mine through Createspace, but I am doing so because I do not believe it has enough wide appeal or is well written enough to try through traditional means. I just want to have some copies for my friends and family. I sincerely doubt I'd sell more than a dozen copies to anyone but myself.
     
  9. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    To be honest, I don't understand why you wouldn't just try and improve it to the point where it is written well enough to submit to a traditional publisher.
     
  10. lemurkat
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    lemurkat Senior Member

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    I don't see there as many much demand for this particular theme. I doubt the next craze in children's books is going to be the story of a little bird on a big adventure.

    And because I have other stories that do have wider appeal that I feel I should concentrate.
     
  11. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    That sounds like a cool story though. Don't underestimate your work. Also isn't there a difference between printing stuff out for personal use (What you're doing) and printing for publish and sale?
     
  12. twopounder
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    twopounder Member

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    Not to be a naysayer here, but I strongly doubt that Create Space would still exist if "nobody sold more than a few dozen copies." While it's entirely true that you will have a very small market area, that's the deal when you self publish. I'm guessing that the majority of people who self publish simply list their book and hope for the best. I've done a considerable amount of reading, and I had never even heard of create space until last week (quite literally). How can I buy self published works if I don't know their publishing company even exists?

    Also, I'd wager that the writers are only marketing through that one publisher instead of multiple (there are probably a dozen electronic publishing companies that pop up with a simple Google search). It's hard to sell books when you are limiting yourself so drastically.

    There is nothing magical about publishing companies. They don't print on elf bark using pixie dust ink. You aren't guaranteed to sell just because a major publisher fronts the cost of editing and printing your book. The truth is, everyone is competing in the same exact marketplace. This isn't manufacturing, where large factories can kill a garage operation. Words are words, and people buy on quality of writing, not quantity of printing. All a publisher really does is market for you. Larger companies can afford mass marketing approaches to selling books that would bankrupt the average author.

    Currently, publication sales are falling faster than our stock market, and even those large publishers are turning to companies like scribd and amazon for low cost, digital publication. And thanks to those companies, everyone is (almost) equally represented. Digital media is the great equalizer. Remember when you needed a large pot of gold to start your own newspaper? Now companies are closing their newsprint in favor of electronic-only publications. These are the same companies that snubbed their noses at .com media startups... exactly what is going on here.

    As printed media sinks to the frozen, North Atlantic abyss, large publishers are paddling their lifeboats for the same digital media you have access to right this moment. Amazon is reporting roughly 40% of their book sales are in digital format for the Kindle, and expect that number to rise to 60%. Heck, my friend and his wife both have Kindles now. When I asked them to review a chapter of my writing, they asked me to send it to their @kindle.com address. The Kindle immediately opened the .pdf and allowed them to read it with all the proper formatting. That's a pretty high bar for traditional printed media to hit.

    HOWEVER, keep in mind that what the other posts said is correct. If you self publish a story, don't bother mailing it out to major publishers. Nobody wants to buy a story that has already been circulated. This is especially true if your book didn't sell many copies.

    But I wouldn't immediately write off self publishing or digital distribution. Do some research and look at multiple publishing agencies. Create an advertising plan for your book that includes companies like Google and Facebook. You can run ads through both for less than $100 a month. Most of all, try new things. If you spent years writing a book, you can spent a few weeks to research all of your options.
     
  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that electronic self publishing will eventually solve the problems that it has now, so that the very small subset of good books, in the ocean of poorly edited self-published books, will have some hope of getting attention. But I don't think that it's anywhere near solving those problems yet.

    On CreateSpace and "dozens" of copies: I've always assumed that sites like CreateSpace get their high-volume runs from things like training manuals, software manuals, instruction manuals, organizational cookbooks, marketing pitches, nonfiction books with a built-in audience due to the personality of the author, things like that, rather than fiction from new authors. _Do_ they get a lot of business from self-published fiction?

    A traditional publisher doesn't have magic, no, but it has editors, designers, salesmen/marketers, distributors--it has people in several different professions. While it's the writing that matters most, the writing needs the support of these other functions, and I think that it's a rare writer that can also be all of those other people.

    And a publisher also has relationships with booksellers, reviewers, all sorts of people that can get the book, or word about it, out to the public. The "obtainability" problem is changing with electronic books and print on demand, but the problem of getting respected reviewers to review the books is, I think, almost as big as it ever was. Perhaps the solution is redefining "respected reviewers", as I discuss later in this really long post.

    Major publishers can put all of those forces behind _their_ electronic books. It's not about paper versus electronic publishing, it's about the army behind the book, no matter how it's being published.

    Yes, people do buy on quality of writing, and that's yet another advantage for traditional publishers right now. They've already filtered out the really poorly written stuff, and made the good stuff better through professional editing. Can an individual, new, inexperienced author create a book that's as good, or better? In theory, perhaps, but how many readers are going to browse through hundreds of poorly written and edited self-published books to find the occasional gem, if they can get most of that work done for them by sticking with traditional pubishers?

    So I think that the next step for self-publishing isn't about the books, but about the reviews - about some way that someone considering a self-published book purchase can access information about the quality of the books. There may be dozens of review sites out there that I don't know about, but that's the point - I don't know about them.

    I want a search screen that I can access to demand, for example:

    - self-published 'cozy' murder mysteries
    - with at least ten reviews with "writing quality", "plot quality" and "character quality" scores of at least nine out of ten
    - by reviewers with a trust rating of at least nine out of ten, based on "reviewer reviews" from at least one hundred people
    - priced under five dollars
    - available in Kindle for Mac format

    And I want it to show me sample text from each of the "hits", so that I can evaluate the writing on the spot.

    That, IMO, is what is needed. Is anything like that out there? Is anyone working on it? I'm not asking this as a debating point, I'm actually asking. I'd be delighted if it were already out there.

    And I think that the problem of editing also has to be solved. I think that good writers who are capable of being adequate editors of their own work are much rarer than good writers who are not. And _inexperienced_ writers, who have never yet been published, but can edit their work as well as an experienced editor who has seen dozens or hundreds of books go from initial manuscript to publication? I don't see many of those existing.

    And I doubt that many writers can afford to pay an editor for hundreds of hours of paid editing. Maybe the solution is some sort of standard collaboration contract, in which the editor gets a substantial portion of the profits from the book.

    Again, I think that these problems will be solved, somehow. But they're not solved yet, and until they are, I wouldn't self-publish if I had any hope that the book might be traditionally publishable.

    ChickenFreak
     
  14. twopounder
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    Publishers don't really have any special tools, other than a lot of people and money. You can market your book through the same avenues as professional publishers. Granted, it takes a lot of time and energy to create a marketing base of equal size.

    Reviews would also be hard to come by. Not many people are going to sit down and review a book, simply because you wrote it. The upside is that once you create this foundation, you can use it for future marketing as well. Think of it as a long term investment.

    And yes, scribd and create space both have a similar approach to reviewing and rating. Scribd allows the author to enable ranking and comments, in addition to allowing dynamic previews. Create space allows you to publish to amazon and kindle, which allows peer review and previews as well.
     
  15. lemurkat
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    lemurkat Senior Member

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    I'm going to put it up for sale too. Although with international tax fees of 30%, I doubt I'll make any money from it. I've too many overseas friends that might want to buy a copy.

    It's a cute story, but it's a fairly limited market - it's dinstinctly New Zealand, which might give it a chance in the NZ publishing market, if we had a market to speak of. But the only publishers that I consider might have touched it with a bargepole, Raupo (ex Reed) have been bought out by Penguin who won't take anything unsolicited. And since I do not have the time to devout into finding an agent (which is pretty much as hard as finding a publisher), well, it's the only way I can ever have the satisfaction of seeing my book in print. The only publishing house that will happily accept unsolicited in NZ is Gecko Press, and they are very small and print maybe 12 books a year, most of which are sourced from Europe.

    As someone who has worked for 10 years in a bookstore, I think how depressing it is watching NZ books sit on the shelf, get dustier and more ragged and then finally get sold off for next to nothing or sent back to the publisher to be pulped. I do my best - I read them and try to push sales, but unless you're a well established NZ author, you're basically doomed for obscurity. I'd rather have my book only be printed on demand than be pulped.

    I am planning something less niche, although the idea of writing a soap-opera style novel about sparrows is now hatching in my head. Our garden is overrun with them. They're cheeky, smart and quite human. For a bird.
     
  16. Fiona
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    Fiona Member

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    Self-publishing is a good route for some people: people who are writing books that are very niche (don't have a big market), and also for people who want to have a book in their hands to give to family and friends.

    But I have often heard it said that it very unlikely that a traditional publisher/agent would take on a book that had already been self-published... it would have to have sold MANY, MANY copies for them to do that.

    If you have written a book you believe in, then I say give yourself time to see if you can go down the traditional route first because once it has been self-published, it's too late to do anything further with it.
     
  17. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    That right there my friend, is the magic of the publishers. Some of us aspire to NYT best seller's list. Others of us are content going straight to paperback, in with the dime a dozen romance novels. But... all of them need that bit of magic. Heck, being published is no promise you won't flop.

    Amazon is getting closer though they only have a single rating for quality. They do have the nifty "Look Inside" feature that writers probably don't use, just so you can't see how bad their writing really is. I would like to see Amazon's search improved, better categories, and a cull on user created tags. Then, they may be on to something.
     
  18. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Was it December the ebook sales outstripped the number of print sales ?
     
  19. twopounder
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    twopounder Member

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    From this article

    Waiting on a traditional publisher can be just as risky, with returns being less than $30,000 in many cases. Just because a publisher has contacts, doesn't mean those outlets are interested in your book either. It's possible your book won't even make back the publisher's advance.

    Retailers don't like merchandise to sit for weeks on end without moving, so they'll pull your book fairly quickly if it's not selling fast enough and ship it back for credit on their next purchase. Companies like Amazon may stock it for longer, but it's very likely that your first novel will end up out of print and forgotten a year after its first printing.

    Mainstream publishers are jumping on the electronic bandwagon as fast as they can, because a novel takes up a whopping 1 to 2 megabytes of space, and a single storage server can hold every book ever written. There is no need to pull the books, and they can be sold indefinitely. Print on demand works the same way (though holds a lower profit margin from printing costs versus bandwidth costs).

    In the realm of electronic publication, nobody really has an edge over anyone else. A publisher might pay for their name to appear on the front page, but that doesn't guarantee a sale. When someone types in "space travel" and hits the enter key, they get a list of books that they can sort by price, name, author, date, rating, etc.

    Compare that to a brick and mortar store where you have less than 1% chance to be purchased for resale...

    Now, this is entirely up to the individual. Self publishing means a lot of hours spent on your own advertising, hundreds of dollars on cover art (more if you want someone to design the entire cover), finding a good editor and maybe even a few trips to your local book store to ask if they will carry your novel.

    Not everyone wants to spend the time and money required to promote their materials.

    However, keep in mind that electronic publishing WILL be standard in less than five years, and your local bookstore may go the way of Blockbuster.
    For example.

    Notice the number of reads for short stories that don't even have covers? Of course, it doesn't specify the number of readers who purchased the works, but 60,000 reads on an unknown fictional essay with nothing but a cover page and title is pretty substantial.
     
  20. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    it is just a case of getting off your backside and doing the library/school visits, canvassing papers, getting reviews, convincing local bookshops to stock your work , running your website, getting that blog going and doing it everyday, writing short stories for free etc. Basically the things these days you seem to have to do anyway even if you go with a traditional publisher/agent - might involve giving away some work for free etc

    I don't think is a coincidence that several popular YA writers are teachers in their background, they have a network to promote their work.
     
  21. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    Twpopunder, you're close to what I think is correct. It didn't take long for major newspapers to start dropping like flies, and the old ideas (NYT Paywall anyone?) just don't translate well. Our craft needs to change, and we need to figure out how to capitalize on the changes to the industry. Books will always be around, but maybe not as profitable.
     
  22. Fiona
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    Fiona Member

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    Elgaisma - I agree with you. You can get a lot out if you put a lot in. Of course, no amount of hard work can garauntee a good sales count BUT it can help. You DO have to work hard for the book you love... writing the book is the beginning of the journey in many cases. You do have to help yourself by doing whatever you can to get your book out there.
     
  23. Terry D
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    Terry D Active Member

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    Writing is a curious pursuit. It seems to be the only artistic form where the artist needs to be professionally validated to feel successful. Painters, sculptors and musicians are free to ply their arts and keep them, or give them away, or even sell them from a card table at a scenic drive and feel good about it. But writers, on the other hand, seem to feel like the only justification for their craft is in its sale to a 'traditional' publisher.

    I know there is a large part of me that feels that way. It doesn't seem to matter to me that those who have read my work (even those who aren't related to me) are impressed, and pleased with it. Somehow it is lacking because it never sold. In today's economy the chances of a new writer being published by a traditional publisher are staggeringly slim regardless of the quality of his, or her writing. That is simply the nature of the current business.

    Yes, the vast majority of the 'stuff' which goes through the self-publishing grindhouse is poorly written and poorly self edited. Just as the vast majority of the art produced in spare bedrooms, and the music recorded in basement studios is dreck. But if those artists feel good enough about their work to frame them and hang them, or to give them as gifts, or even to sell them for a few dollars at the church flea market, then why is it not acceptable for the writer to 'frame' his work himself? I've seen a book produced by Createspace and the quality is as good as that produced by mass market publishers.

    I'm currently in the process of self-publishing my first novel through Createspace and of writing my second, which I plan to try and sell traditionally. The first book is a genre work, which gives it a handicap from the start, and even within its genre its plot runs contrary to what is currently popular -- a death blow to any hope of publishing it through a traditional publisher. That is why, after several traditional tries, I've decided to go the self-publishing route for that book. The second novel will be more mainstream and as such it should have a slightly better chance of success. But even at that, its chances will be slight.
     
  24. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree it can't guarantee but like with anything you sell or any business if you don't market it, it won't happen at all.

    There is a reason these days that publishers and agents want to know about your other skills, even traditionally published authors need to get to work and promote a book if they don't want it recycled.

    A Scottish best seller may only sell around 1-2,000 copies which isn't a huge amount of income for anyone.
     
  25. Fiona
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    Fiona Member

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    Terry D - that was a really interesting and insightful post. Thank you.

    You are correct - many of us writers are made to feel that without being professionally succesful we can't feel like valid artists.

    It is true that getting published by a big traditional publishing-house is like winning the lottery.. it is so hard for many of us - no matter how good our writing is - and that is extremely disheartening.

    We have to stay strong and keep our self-belief going. I got rejected from some high profile agents/publishers before, but I didn't allow it to deter me. Now I am signed with a publisher that is small but takes great care of its authors. And that makes me extremely happy.

    What is right for one author might be wrong for another. There is nothing wrong with self-publishing at all. I know there are some excellent writers going down that route. Sometimes it's the only way.

    Good luck with it :)

    Elgaisma - I'm with you 100%. I am trying every way possible to think of ways to promote my book. It's hard but will be worth it.
     

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