CreateSpace vs Ingram Spark Explained

Thank you to Giacomo Giammatteo for explaining the major differences between CreateSpace and Ingram Spark for self-publishing paperbacks. This article makes it very clear, pointing out your options. Giacomo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the “No Mistakes” Careers series.

I have done a few posts on printing for the self-published author, but the more I play around with social media, the more confusion I see among indie authors. Most of the confusion stems from misinformation or old information regarding the two biggest players in the indie author printing game—CreateSpace and Ingram (either Spark or Lightning Source).

First, to clear up a simple thing that always bothers me—it’s Lightning Source, not Lightening Source. There is no ‘e’ in the name, just like there is no ‘e’ in the lightning that you see during a storm.

And to clear up a few other misconceptions—there are lots of options available to indie authors. In Choosing a Self-Publishing Service, Mick Rooney and I covered quite a few possibilities, and Mick’s site The Independent Publishing Magazine has plenty of articles on those options. But for this post, we’re only going to deal with two options—CreateSpace and Ingram Spark.

What To Compare

Determining what to compare is a major consideration for a blog post. If we go into detail on all the choices, it would require a book to do a proper justification. We don’t have time for a book, so I picked what seems to be the biggest concerns for most indie authors…(continue reading this article by Giacomo Giammatteo).

 


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CreateSpace Digital Proof Streamlined

Love what CreateSpace has done for the digital proofs of books. Gone are the days of waiting on snail-mail to see what a book will look like pre-publication (although that can still works wonders for editing, etc). Now you can get a feel for everything online thanks to the new design. Here’s a video showing the digital proof process in real time.

What are your thoughts?


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New Enable Distribution with Amazon Europe for CreateSpace Books

CreateSpace has just added a new distribution option for paper books: Amazon Europe. If you already have POD versions of your books for paperbacks and/or hardcover with CreateSpace, you’ll want to check this distribution option through your CS dashboard.



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CreateSpace Offers Proof Skips for Limited Time

CreateSpace by Amazon logoFor a limited time, now until May 27, 2011, CreateSpace is offering experienced authors the option to skip the proofing process and just upload live POD books which can be purchased by the public so long as they pass initial inspection. If you’ve been waiting to update your Print On Demand paperbacks with them, now’s the best time. From their announcement;

As an experienced CreateSpace author, we need your help. In our continual effort to improve the book setup process, we want you to try a new option in your account. When you upload files from now through May 27, you can choose to order a book proof or skip the proofing process altogether.

As part of this limited trial we’ll ask you to complete a survey about your experience. Your feedback is important, and it will help us decide if we should keep this option and invite more authors to try it out.

We look forward to hearing what you think!

Warm Regards,
CreateSpace  

What does this really mean? Okay, normally when an author makes a paperback book with the free, no assistance beyond the forums, do-it-yourself style of CreateSpace, Amazon’s POD (print on demand) publishing company, there are few steps to the process. Steps 1 and 2 are uploading proper formatted interior and cover files in pdf format. Step 3 is submitting those formatted files for review. If your files pass inspection, step 4 is normally ordering a proof copy. The proof copy gets physically made as a paperback and mailed to the author at cost including shipping, which typically runs around $10. Step 5 is either approving the proof copy (which means you like it and want it on sale now) or disapproving it and starting the whole process again with corrected files. (The first couple of times I did this, it was a real chore! Now it’s very familiar and much easier.)

In essence, CreateSpace is saying, “we trust our experienced authors to know if they’ve done the process correctly and would like to avoid the $10 and the week of waiting.” It probably came about from the veterans getting tired of going through the whole process every few months when they fixed a few typos pointed out by readers.

Sounds like a good deal to me and I hope it lasts, especially after having done 5 titles with CreateSpace (plus updates or fixing typos) and feeling comfortable with the method. I happen to LOVE this company and am very happy with their set-up, finished product, customer service, pricing, royalties, checks directly deposited to my bank account, everything. They’ve really perfected the art of self-publishing paperbacks at no cost for do-it-yourselfers like me. Highly recommended, even in my book on making and selling ebooks.

For a less experienced author, it’s probably still wise to order a proof copy and make sure you’re happy with it. Can’t wait one week and shell out $10? Better that than having a book with mistakes go out and sell a dozen copies before you realize it.

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How to Get Reviews for Your Ebooks and Paperbacks?

how to get book reviewsReviews are (in my opinion) far more important than covers. Most people read books that were referred to them. When first starting out, it can be quite a task to accumulate reviews of your book. In fact, one of my recent titles has been out for a few months with decent sales, and it currently hasn’t received even one posted review. Yikes! Great thing that it’s selling, but I sure would love to see some reviews for it.

Part of the reason is that I haven’t been overly active seeking reviews. This may be a lazy and stupid effort on my part; we’ll see in time. However, you may want to make a real effort to generate reviews, and this is often easier said than done. Here are suggestions for getting the reviews ball rolling:

1. Ask friends and family to read and write one (friends are better choice than family, and beware of family with the same last name). It’s likely some of these people have already read your book and would be happy to continue helping. Caution them not to write overly sweet and gushing reviews that might be met with skepticism from other readers. Nothing annoys an unhappy customer more than finding out a pack of misleading reviews were left by zealous friends and family. Ask them to be candid and encourage them to list items they didn’t particular enjoy to keep it realistic, not like one big pat on the back.

2. Ask members of forums to write a review. Offer a free book in exchange or offer to give a review for another author as a fair trade. Amazon Kindle discussion groups do this frequently as well as forums like http://indiespot.myfreeforum.org/. It’s easy to meet people at Goodreads and make offers like this to avid readers of any genre.

3. Dan Poynter of ParaPublishing has a newsletter with a monthly reviews wanted section. It’s how I got many reviews that ended up on my website for How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks All for Free. Just sign up for the free newsletter and follow the submission advice at http://parapublishing.com/sites/para/.

4. There are plenty of people who can be found with a Google and forum search. Some charge money, some don’t. Many have a long waiting list while others might be available right away. Because this field is constantly in flux, you’ll need to do some searching. A member of Red Adept’s staff at http://redadeptreviews.com/ did a review of The Little Universe, but I had to apply for it and the posting came out 6 months later. (That site no longer exists, an example of how quickly this industry changes.)

5. Make a mention to readers at the end of your book that it would be greatly appreciated if they would be so kind as to leave an honest review. Let people know it’s okay to include elements they didn’t like as well as those they did. In fact, I encourage readers to do the same for my books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or anywhere else for either the ebook or paperback versions. And if you didn’t like it, that’s okay too. I am sorry if that’s the case, but not everyone will like the same book.

6. This post was referred to me on this subject and has a list of new places that are continually looking for books to review – https://sites.google.com/site/articlemarketplace/blog/ebooks/5-book-review-sites-for-self-published-ebooks (that site no longer exists either, but plenty of new ones do).

Now comes the scary part. What if a lot of readers have complaints or simply don’t like it? Maybe they mention poor formatting, errors with grammar and typos, or that the story just didn’t work for them. Unfortunately, it’s happened to me plenty of times. I can report with good conscience that not everyone likes my books and that’s okay. This will possibly be the case for you too.

However, there is a beautiful thing about ebooks that’s not true with paperbacks (depending on the printer). Ebooks can be regularly edited and updated. If a dozen typos are discovered by readers (or you), then those can be fixed and updated immediately. Amazon usually takes about 2 days to publish a newer version, Smashwords sometimes a week or more, and these updates can happen as many times as you want.

Content of the story and other narrative issues can be harder to work out. For authors who sense that the book simply needs to be better, it will probably be wise to join some writing critique groups and work on improvements. I mentioned earlier a few forums for writers which is a good place to start, and there are plenty more with a Google search for “writing critique groups.”

http://indiespot.myfreeforum.org/ – a place for readers and authors to connect.
http://www.goodreads.com/ – all about books.
http://redroom.com/ – where the writers are.
http://www.authonomy.com/ – where writers become authors and more.

What are your thoughts?


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