Publishing with CreateSpace

I wanted real paper-and-ink books as well as ebooks. Living in the UK means I have the same desire as all UK authors: to get the book into Waterstones. It’s about the only major high street retailer for books left in the UK. There are, thank goodness, lots of independent bookshops as well, but Waterstones is important.

So I am publishing the same book (with the same ISBN) via Ingram Spark and Amazon CreateSpace. I can, apparently, get away with this by not selecting Amazon’s global outreach option. This means that, so far as they are concerned, the book stays within their own ecosystem. Ingram handle the rest. This, combined with the fact that I bought my UK ISBNs from Nielsen means that my book will, at least, be listed at Waterstones, so people can order it or buy it direct through the website.

Before adding your title on CreateSpace, Amazon make you set up payments (they will do direct bank transfers internationally – at least to some countries) and the dreaded W8-BEN tax form. This is necessary for us non-US authors who want to sell via Amazon.com. If we don’t jump through this hoop, the IRS will withhold 30% of our royalties. Fortunately, Amazon make this incredibly easy by providing an online tax questionnaire which ends with them creating an electronic W8-BEN form. All UK authors need is their National Insurance number, which also acts as a unique tax reference. Simple process. Thank you, Amazon.

Once you are set up as a CreateSpace user, you can add titles. This is straightforward. Amazon are good at allowing you to do things in chunks, so if you haven’t got everything you need, you can save a draft and stop until you get it sorted out. Much has been written about the importance of the description and keywords, so I’ll say no more here.

Amazon will provide a template for your cover. It’s a big template, and your cover only occupies part of it, which is a bit confusing at first. I did run into an issue here. Their online proofing system (which is excellent) showed my cover offset quite badly from where it should have been – a good half-inch out. I ended up downloading a different (correctly-sized) template from Bookow, which did the trick. Some people complain that Amazon want the cover in PDF format. This is not unreasonable, since that’s what their printers will use. They do, at least, accept covers using the RBG colour space. Ingram wants CMYK.

I uploaded the PDF for the interior of the book without a problem. Amazon then insist (rightly) on you going through a proofing process. You can do this online or via a downloaded PDF, but I always want to see and read a physical book. There was a minor issue here. Amazon can only print proof copies in the USA. Why, I don’t know, but that’s they way they work. I ordered two copies (two pairs of eyes are better than one), and chose the standard shipping, which should have taken about ten days. It took a lot longer, and the package couldn’t be tracked. Next time, I’ll be paying a bit more for a courier service.

I got the proof copies from Amazon rather than Ingram Spark because I wasn’t sure whether Ingram would charge me for uploading the new, corrected version. (They did, so it cost me $25 for the file upload of the new interior. You can get proofs from them before the book is released, but no more free uploads. I can only guess that their approval process costs money they need to recoup.) On CreateSpace, you can upload stuff as often as you like, so I knew I was safe..

The only wrinkle with using two POD distributors is that Ingram appear to use thinner paper than Amazon. I had, therefore, to create a new version of the cover for Ingram with a spine one tenth of an inch thinner.

On the whole I found CreateSpace easy to use.

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