Adventures in CreateSpace – Chris Longmuir
I’ve been publishing to Kindle since March 2011, with a reasonable amount of success, and with great satisfaction. Like many others before me I’d come to the conclusion I was flogging a dead horse (excuse the cliché but that’s the way my mind works in the blogosphere), by pursuing a traditional deal with a traditional publisher. Been there, done that, worn the teeshirt, I thought, before embarking wholeheartedly into the wonders of the electronic world and eBooks.
So now I’ve been adventuring in the electronic world for all of 20 months, what on earth would induce me to dip my toes back into the print world?
Don’t worry, folks, my original decision stands – I’m done with the traditional route to publish my books. However, I’m often asked to talk to groups, library, women’s, church, ad infinitum. Now one thing that arises every time I give a talk is ‘Where can we get the paperback?’ And I always have to say, there is no paperback, haven’t you thought about getting an eReader. And that always comes back with a resounding ‘No, we like paper books.’
So, eventually I gave in. My readers are demanding paperbacks, so it’s my job to provide them. Now, I know full well that if I go back down the traditional route, the publisher will want my electronic rights as well. And that is one thing I don’t want to do. I definitely don’t want to relinquish my electronic rights. So that only leaves one avenue, self publishing.
Now there has always been a bit of a stigma around self publishing, and I find authors who still publish the traditional way can be among the most disapproving. They forget that many famous writers were originally self published. Writers like – Mark Twain, Zane Grey, James Joyce, D H Lawrence, Edgar Rice Burroughs, George Bernard Shaw, Edgar Allan Poe, Rudyard Kipling – I could go on and on.
Maybe part of my reluctance to go down the paperback route was partly to do with that stigma, because self publishing on Kindle didn’t really seem like self publishing in the true sense of the word, but if I published a paperback I would truly be a self publisher.
My desire to satisfy my readers, however, soon overcame that last vestige of reluctance, and I looked about to see how I could do it. The one proviso I gave myself was that I would not pay for my book to be published, because to me that smacked a bit of vanity publishing, something that has an even greater stigma. So I looked around the POD publishers and settled on CreateSpace, although I had heard that having your books shipped from the
cost an arm
and a leg (cliché again, sorry folks). US
I found the procedure relatively simple by using one of the templates CreateSpace make available. I copied and pasted my book into the template, chapter by chapter, as per instructions, but the biggest decision at this point was the font. Which one would I use? I tried several but the ones I liked didn’t have curly quotes, and I do like them curly! So I came back to the tried and tested Times New Roman with a 2 point leading which gives a bit of extra space between the lines.
Oh, and I didn’t take their advice in respect of the most popular format which they said was a 6x9 size with white pages, because when I looked round my bookshelves I couldn’t find any books that fitted this criteria. Books were mostly 8 x 5 or 8.5 x 5.5, and they all had cream pages. So, based on the size of Dead Wood, I decided on the 8.5 x 5.5 size with cream pages, and the resulting book exceeded my expectations.
The next stage was to decide whether I wanted a CreateSpace ISBN which is supplied free, but it makes CreateSpace the publisher. Now, being the independent person I am, otherwise known as an awkward sod, I decided I didn’t want to be beholden to CreateSpace, so I went the alternative route and bought my own ISBNs. This meant I also had to make myself a publisher. So, what to call myself? All the names and titles I thought of had already been taken, so I was reduced to choosing two family names and I became Barker & Jansen. So if you see my books published by Barker & Jansen, it’s only me folks, hiding behind a double-barrelled name. Besides, the B & J logo on the spine looks pretty tricky.
I particularly liked the CreateSpace digital proofer which allows you to see how the actual book will look when it is published, and the downloadable PDF which sets the manuscript out like a book. It made the inspection and proofing relatively easy. However, I did order a physical proof before actually approving the book.
Once Night Watcher was on stream as a paperback, I went ahead and did the same for A Salt Splashed Cradle. This one needed a bit of extra work though, because it still had my own cover on it, therefore I needed to commission a professional cover, Night Watcher already had a professional one. But once I got that, like Night Watcher before it, everything went smoothly.
So now I have two paperbacks available as well as my Kindle versions, and the strange thing is, there has been an increase of Kindle sales since the paperbacks went on line.
Oh, and one other surprise, when I ordered my first 20 author’s copies of Night Watcher, they actually came in cheaper than the author’s copies I get from my publisher for Dead Wood. And that was despite the cost of postage from the
I can’t understand though, why the author’s copies have to be despatched from
the US US when customers buying
copies. The mysteries of Amazon! UK
So, what are my expectations from sales of the paperback? I’m afraid I have no great expectations, I don’t think they’ll sell in shedloads. I only brought them on as a service to my readers. My heart is still with electronic publishing, and I reckon I’m a true author electric.