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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Hurry, Before They’re Bought – Limited Time Only!

Someone is actually selling my paperback on Amazon for $184. Another is selling it for $187, one for $191 and another for an unbelievable $254.

Geez, what a deal?! I bet people are scrambling to their computers to snatch them up. Maybe it’s a typo on their part, but for all of them? Odd.

Update (Nov. 16), now there is only one left at $184. Maybe the others sold? Nah…

Update (Nov. 16 7pm), and now they are all gone… weird.

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$39 Pro Plan by CreateSpace

self publish, self publishing, createspace, print on demand, amazonSeveral readers have asked questions about CreateSpace like “Is it really free?” and “How do I access the $39 Pro Plan” and other related things.

The answer is yes, it’s entirely free if you’re willing to do it yourself. If creating a document and formatting it to fill pages of a book is something you’re comfortable with, then you can do it. You can also either create a book cover from scratch or use one of their templates. I chose to do it all by scratch and had several issues with Microsoft Word for the interior files and Inkscape for the cover design, but I did get through them. After having done 3 books this way (and now 5), I feel very comfortable with the process.

For those wanting to check it out, here’s what I told an author friend about it;

CreateSpace is Amazon’s print-on-demand (POD) company. They offer a range of services for writers to make books in print. It can be a do-it-yourself and 100% free experience, or it can also be catered to your needs with bells and whistles (and far from free).

I chose the free version and have done 5 books this way. When it came time to actually order a proof copy (something required before your book goes live and usually costs me between $6 and $9 with shipping), I also chose the $39 Pro Plan which allows a significant reduction on cost per books that I buy plus a better royalty payment when others buy the paperback through Amazon or CreateSpace. But you won’t get prompted (or have any need) for the $39 Pro Plan until you’re at that stage of ordering your proof copy. This will only be necessary after you’ve filled in all the pertinent information about your book and after you’ve uploaded the interior files and the cover file and submitted it for publishing (which is a review by them). Once it’s accepted, a proof needs to be ordered for newbies. Then it makes sense to get the Pro Plan which they will give you prompts for.

First go to https://www.createspace.com/
Click on the link for Authors – Make your books available.
Under Book, click Create One (or Learn More if you want to read it from them).
It will then ask you to either sign in with an existing Amazon account or to create one.
Afterward there will be a series of prompts and items to fill in, which should be self-explanatory.

They also have an excellent community support forum that can do an even better job with instructions, and in some cases you’ll find detailed answers for the exact same questions that have been asked by others in the past. Here’s the link for the community support forum https://www.createspace.com/en/community/index.jspa

For much more information and advice on free methods to sell ebooks, please check out How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks All for Free.

You can also contact me by email without any of the following spaces, jason @ the little universe (dot) com

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Paperback Version Now Available

How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks – All for FREE is now available as a paperback via Amazon and CreateSpace. Guess what it cost me to publish there? Nothing, not one penny, because it’s all free.

Well, that’s not entirely true. CreateSpace does require that authors order a physical copy first, which they call a proof, and have it in their hands before they sign off and allow it to be live. Printing and shipping the proof cost 6 bucks. I also opted (optionally) to upgrade to the ProPlan for $39. That allows authors to get a better price on their own books as well as make a better royalty on any sales. However, I immediately ordered 15 copies for myself to give to reviewers and received them all delivered for just 46 bucks which is basically 3 bucks apiece. Nice.

Reminds me of the days I published with Authorhouse and literally spent thousands of dollars on editing and marketing bells and whistles, plus I had to pay about $9 for each book I ordered before shipping. What a waste of money that was. Never, never again.

The only complaint I’ve heard in the CreateSpace forums over product quality is occasionally large orders will have some scratches or flaws in the cover. Not to worry because I also hear CreateSpace will honor any rejects with replacement copies. So far my experience has been entirely positive with the minor exceptions of learning the ins and outs of interior book formatting and cover design. Since it’s a total do-it-yourself experience that’s what makes it free. Their forum help is really valuable and got me past my minor issues.

If you want to sell ebooks and if you want some physical copies on hand, then please check out How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks – All for FREE to get some tips on doing this without breaking your piggy bank.

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