This Article originally appeared on on May 16, 2014

Guest post: Self-Publishing: How To Capitalize Using Createspace
By Nicole Delacroix, author “Glimpse of Darkness”

With major advances in technology publishing has left behind the hefty price tags and entered the realm of the digital age. With a free online setup, access to the Kindle Direct publishing, and even options to produce an audio version all within a few clicks, Amazon is the indie/self-publishers dream come true. Even traditional publishers see the major benefits to print on demand and EBooks and indie/self-publishing no longer carries the stigma it once did just a few years ago. Amazon currently owns Kindle Direct Publishing, Createspace, and as resources for the indie/self-publisher.

Print-on-demand is quickly becoming the fastest, most profitable and easiest way to get your voice heard. Createspace even offers the option to distribute via traditional channels and stores like Barnes & Noble and Booksamillion and even academic libraries. The truth in indie/self-publishing is that most people searching Amazon or browsing a book shelf don’t even question whether the book was printed by a publishing company or independently produced.

There are many advantages to going the indie/self-publishing route and there are many different options available to the independent writer. One thing that you need to be aware of is that when you indie/self-publish you don’t get the marketing resources that would come with a traditional deal, but if you’re social media savvy and willing to work hard, you can make it work for you. I will focus primarily on my personal experiences with Createspace, so remember that while this is one example, there is an option that fits every need, you just need to find what works best for you. Many of the traditional services are also available via Createspace for a nominal fee.

Here is a step-by-step guide to publishing your own book using Createspace based on my experiences:

Step 1: Create
This really is the heart of the process, writing your book. Make sure to include all the necessary parts: introduction, acknowledgements, dedication page, table of contents, title page, copyright page and if you’re feeling lucky a blank page for that all important autograph! You can choose to prepare your files yourself or you can use Createspace professional services. There is a free user friendly templates you can download to format your book. Once you’ve completed the formatting process you simply export to a PDF format and you’ve got a print-ready file.

Step 2: Setup
Now that you’ve finished the most important step, writing that book and formatting it, now it’s time to add it to the Createspace site. Again, the process is step-by-step and guides your through any possible pitfalls. If you haven’t already set up a free Createspace account, you need to do this. Even though Createspace is owned by Amazon, they really are independent of the Amazon network. The first landing page you should see is the member dashboard – if this doesn’t load for you, you can access via the My Account pull down. Here’s where all your projects will live and breathe.

You will start by clicking the big friendly Add New Title button; from here you will fill in your book title, description, credits, choose a book size and a paper color and finally upload your files. I personally didn’t use many of the Createspace services as I decided I wanted complete control. I hired my own cover artist to do the artwork and formatted the book myself. You can use your own files for both your interior and exterior data. Createspace does have a free stock photo library for cover art – remember you can’t use art without permission from the artist – so if you’ve decided you like that picture you downloaded three years ago from some art site that you don’t remember now, you’re better off getting new art. There is also a paid service where you can commission artwork from the Createspace site, but I found my own artist (who is a GENIUS) and got exactly what I wanted.

**Side Note** if you’re looking for an artist, find work that you love and reach out to the artist. Most artists are open to doing commissioned work just remember they expect to receive payment in half on agreement and balance on delivery. Know what you want, provide character descriptions, pictures if you have them, anything that helps put into focus what you want, and then let the artist give you their vision. My book cover would have been 100 times different if I didn’t let my artist give me what he knew I needed to make my cover art work.

Now that you’ve uploaded your files, it’s time to choose your book’s ISBN number. Unless you’re planning on re-publishing or distributing your book with a traditional publisher in the future there isn’t much value to paying for your own ISBN, so I went with the free Createspace assigned ISBN.

Step 3: Review
Now that everything looks the way you want and you’re happy with your masterpiece, it’s time to submit your files to the Createspace team for review. This consists of an automated file checker (which depending on the size of your book can take a while) that makes sure you didn’t color outside the lines (margins people, margins) and then a manually review which can take up to 24 hours. If you’ve formatted correctly, you should pass the auto check without an error (things like embedding fonts happen, they will embed them for you, just click ok!) and you’re off to the manual check. This is a little more drawn out as a staffer will check page by page to make sure the auto check didn’t miss something. Please note, they will not check for editing mistakes, spelling mistakes or content issues.

If you take the time to join the community any first-time author will be advised to view multiple proofs of their book until you’re satisfied. This doesn’t require purchasing multiple copies (although I suggest at least a few purchased runs) as you can digitally proof your masterpiece. I only suggest a purchased copy when you think you’re ready, you need a least three to five people you trust (preferably someone who is a dedicated Grammar Police Officer) to run through and look for all the misspellings, typos, grammar issues and proofing issues. Each person will locate something the others didn’t and you’ll be glad that they catch it before you go live.

The last thing to consider before you hit the big “Approve” button is a Library of Congress Number (listed under Marketing as LCCN assignment – please note there is no guarantee that your book will be listed and you must meet the requirements). If you want to have a chance of listing your work in the Library of Congress, you MUST submit for the number BEFORE you approve. You will need to add the LCCN number to your copyright page before you approve, Createspace will take care of sending the project to the Library for you – it’s included with the fee. Is it necessary? Absolutely not, it’s more of a prestige item, and there is no guarantee that the Library will even list your book, but if you want a shot at being listed, it’s there.

Step 4: Distribution
So you’re finally ready to hit the “Approve” on your proof, you’ve made sure you have no mistakes and your literary genius is finally ready for the literary world at large. Now it’s time to set up your distribution information and select your sales channels. This is where you determine how much you want to charge for your masterpiece and how much you want in royalties. Createspace has a little say in what you need to charge based on the book size, number of pages and the type of paper you’ve selected. But as long as you hit that base price, you can charge as much above that as you feel comfortable with. My suggestion is to play with the royalty calculator before you decide on the format and size for your book. Of course, the format is going to affect the number of pages, so you need to keep this in mind as well.

Createspace currently doesn’t offer a hardcover option, so if you’re looking for the fancy dust cover and hardback edition, you’ll need to supplement your publishing options and look for an additional source for this edition. If you do this, remember the Createspace ISBN will not work for the hardcover edition you will need to opt for a paid ISBN. Bear in mind that most independent authors don’t profit from hardcover editions as they cost more to print. It’s something you have to decide for yourself as it affects your retail pricing and royalties and any personal cost to buy books for promotions.
After you set your pricing you choose your distribution channels. You will automatically receive the option for, Amazon Europe, Createspace EStore and you can add in the Expanded distribution (free!) for bookstores and online retailers, libraries and academic institutions and even Createspace Direct. All of which are free to use, but remember the more channels you choose, the more it affects your pricing and royalties. I myself chose the standard distribution but only opted for the bookstores and online retailers from the Expanded distribution. For my title, the rest didn’t hold any value, so I didn’t need them. Remember, just because you select the channel, doesn’t mean that you’re going to walk into a bookstore and see your book, but the title is available for them to order. Amazon listings take between five to seven business days to fully populate, and if you publish on Kindle, you may see two listings for a few days as they meld your paperback and Kindle editions into one listing, as Douglas Adams said “Don’t Panic”! Eventually within a few business days your masterpiece will be listed as one entity, paperback and Kindle versions.

Once you have your initial listing, you can update it with additional information or edits via Amazon Author Central ( – you will be required to open an author account). Here’s where you can create a nice landing page for your full bio and headshot, anything that may increase your sales. All in all, Amazon is responsive to requests, they have kind courteous staff that is available to answer any first-time author questions via phone or email support, to guidance and help throughout the process.

Step 5: Sales & Marketing
Now your masterpiece has made it to the final and most important part of the process, getting the word out there. I missed the mark and didn’t start marketing my book until I had actually finished my book. The truth is that you should be marketing your book at least six months before you’re actually going to publish. This gets your name out there, via virtual blog tours, social media, and traditional marketing routes. However, Createspace again has a suite of on-demand marketing solutions to help you make your masterpiece well known. Everything from press releases to video trailers, they have everything you could need. I personally didn’t use any of these services, rather choosing to fumble on my own, but I had the good fortune of having a marketing professional at my disposal. Amazon also offers up-to-date sales reports so you can track how well your work is selling.
Remember, it’s never too soon or too late to start plugging your work, so go ahead and tease the masses with a little taste of what you’re writing. Build up your social media followers (Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Google+, Goodreads, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.); make sure to use your personal website/blog as the focal point. Everything should point to one main landing page for your work, and everything pointing should be in line (formatting) with your main site. If you’re HTML savvy, this will be an easy chore for you, if you’re not I suggest finding a good professional to assist. There is nothing worse than an unprofessional landing page, it’s one thing to be fun and silly, it’s another for your product to appear this way.

In closing, with the ease and cost-effectiveness of Createspace it’s no wonder that in 2012 there was a 59% increase in self-publishing titles over the previous year . Even now, self-publishing still remains a new frontier for independent publishers, which means it’s the perfect time to jump on board.

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