CreateSpace (CSP) and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Become One

Not a surprise to many self-published authors to hear that Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (for ebooks) and CreateSpace (for paperbacks) are merging. Amazon has owned CreateSpace for many years, but all this time authors have had the ability to upload and sell their ebooks and paperbacks through each service independently.

This is the official word on the marriage:

We’re excited to announce that CreateSpace (CSP) and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) will become one service. As a reminder, KDP now offers Expanded Distribution to sell your paperbacks to physical bookstores in the US, as well as the ability to sell your paperback books on Amazon.ca (Canada) and Amazon.com.au (Australia) (Amazon.mx (Mexico) coming soon). With these features, KDP’s paperback distribution will be on par with CreateSpace’s distribution. KDP also offers features that aren’t available on CreateSpace. These include the ability to purchase ads to promote paperbacks on Amazon.com and locally printed author copies in Europe.

As a result of these enhancements to KDP and our ongoing efforts to provide a more seamless experience for managing your paperback and digital books, CreateSpace and KDP will become one service. On KDP, your paperbacks will still be printed in the same facilities, on the same printers, and by the same people as they were on CreateSpace.

In the coming weeks, we’ll start automatically moving your CreateSpace books to KDP. Your books will remain available for sale throughout the move and you’ll continue to earn royalties. Once we begin this process you’ll be unable to edit existing titles or create new titles on CreateSpace. To learn more about the move and review the latest, visit here.

If you have a release planned soon or you would like to start the move yourself, you can move your entire CreateSpace catalog to KDP in just a few steps. To get started on your move to KDP, log in to your CreateSpace Member Dashboard. During this transition, you can contact KDP customer support by email and access phone support in English.

There are a few payment and printing fee differences associated with the move. Any royalties earned while your books are on CreateSpace will be paid according the CreateSpace’s payment schedule, 30 days after the end of the month in which they were earned. After you move your books to KDP, new royalties earned will be paid on KDP’s payment schedule. KDP pays royalties on a monthly basis 60 days after the end of the month in which they were earned. As a result, you’ll be paid in October for any royalties earned in September on CreateSpace and be paid in November for any royalties earned on KDP. In addition, some low-page count books will see an increase in printing fees when they are printed in the UK and EU. We’ve already sent an email to the small number of accounts affected by this change. Learn more about KDP’s printing costs here.

We’ll be in touch with more updates in the coming weeks. It is still Day 1 for independent publishing. As Amazon’s recent shareholder letter noted, there are more than a 1,000 authors who earn more than a $100,000 a year from their work with us. We could not be more optimistic about the future of independent publishing and this change will allow us to innovate faster for you.

Best Regards,
The CreateSpace and KDP Team

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Facelift or Botch for Amazon Author Central?

Seems like every time I publish something, like a video training course, the internet gives it a new spin. In this case Amazon Author Central profile pages got a facelift which may be a botched job. It appears an effort was made to have more show at the top of the page at the sacrifice of information about each item. This is the new look and I’ll explain the differences:
Amazon Author Central Oct 2014The biography is a thin column beneath the main photo, which shows less text than the old version (I need to shorten the URLs to appear on one line). Also only two photos display, whereas the old version showed a choice of boxes beneath the main one allowing readers to click on eight options. Just one blog post is listed unless you click the “pan sideways” button, where before several blog headlines were shown prominently. It took me a few minutes to figure that out as I am used to scrolling down, not panning sideways. Fortunately you can still scroll down and find the old information, but it’s not as apparent at first glance since it’s further down from the landing zone. The video area shows higher on the page but only one, where before there was a choice of eight like the photos. “Author Updates” have replaced “Latest Tweet” and “Blog Posts” so that’s kind of a toss-up. The horizontal book presentation has a lack of reviews displayed. This is a bit concerning for books with many good reviews, in the event people don’t scroll down further to see the reviews. Although for books with great covers and few reviews, it might help a bunch.

The image below is from the UK Author Central, which never displayed blog posts and must be next in line for the facelift (France already got hers, Germany and Japan waiting).

Amazon Author Central Oct 2014 2Perhaps it’s just a matter of getting used to the changes, but at first glance I prefer the old version. If they could figure out a way to add the reviews to the horizontal book display, I’d like it better. Plus the photos and video options from before were a nice touch.

What are your thoughts? Please share in the comments. Have you seen your new look and made any changes?


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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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Smashwords or Draft2Digital for Ebook Distributor?

smashwords or draft2digitalThis article by Jason Matthews first appeared on The Book Designer.

You’re selling ebooks on Amazon. Where else? The options keep expanding as a rising global market embraces digital books. There are dozens of potential retailers, but only a few of the big sellers have enabled indie authors to directly upload in do-it-yourself fashion. KDP Amazon was the first to offer that. In recent years, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Google Play have followed suit. Apple iTunes allows DIY uploading too, if you’re a Mac user.

Beyond those options, other retailers exist that are only available through a distributor. Since 2008, Smashwords (SW) has been the established solution, where authors can upload for sales and also distribution to many retailers that don’t enable direct uploading. Smashwords admits it is primarily a distributor, where most authors will make about 90% of their earnings via the SW distribution partners and not direct sales from the SW bookstore.

Lately more distributors have emerged, some charging upfront for their services and others free of cost with their earnings made on a cut of any sales, usually around 10% of the retail price like with SW. I prefer the no-cost-up-front companies. One choice is Draft2Digital (D2D), and it’s often compared to SW. Each distributor has pros and cons, but is this just a case of apples and oranges or is there a frontrunner? I’ve written on this in the past as have many others, but since e-publishing is an ever-changing industry, it’s nice to reevaluate some of the deciding factors.

Fear the Meatgrinder?

The most obvious difference is the formatting to be done before uploading. SW CEO, Mark Coker, is an expert on formatting that will be compatible for all reading devices. The Smashwords Style Guide, is a 27,000 word manual explaining the majority of requirements for the average ebook. Its length and scope have been reported to cause hair-loss, migraines and contemplated suicides for tech-challenged authors. In contrast, Draft2Digital doesn’t have a style guide. Their goal is “to support your style guide.” Just send them your Word doc, RTF or EPUB file and they’ll convert it.

An intriguing contrast: do we trust D2D’s program as an intuitive ebook formatter or do we buckle down and learn to do it ourselves? Not surprisingly, this factor alone divides the masses. Some writers (like me) appreciate the knowledge to upload with their own personal touches, while others love skipping that learning curve altogether. Would you prefer not to learn how to create an NCX file or even know what an NCX file is? Would you prefer not to be subject to the rigid requirements of the Meatgrinder, the endearing name given to the SW file converter and spell-check software on steroids? You don’t have to worry about that with D2D. Hey, if Google can build a car that drives on autopilot, D2D can probably design a program to format ebooks.

I wonder if quality is compromised. Are aesthetically unpleasing ebooks getting published more by D2D than SW? I believe that’s probably true, but I also think the quality is getting better all the time.

Sales Potential

This is what matters to me: who are the distribution partners? Presently D2D will get your ebook into

  • Apple
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Kobo
  • Scribd
  • Page Foundry

(Recognize that all of those except PF can be done on a DIY basis, though it’s harder for PC owners to get into Apple. Still, there’s value in doing things once and having it relayed to all channels, or after the inevitable updates happen when a reader points out a typo or you decide to add your latest link to the About the Author page.)

Outside of Amazon, those first three retailers are the main players. Apple is now my second biggest seller. But those retailers aren’t exclusive to D2D.

SW distributes to

  • Apple
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Kobo
  • Scribd
  • Page Foundry

In fact, SW has been doing it longer and also distributes to

  • Baker & Taylor Blio
  • Flipkart (India)
  • Oyster
  • txtr (Germany)

plus three channels to libraries

  • Library Direct
  • Baker & Taylor Axis 360
  • Overdrive

Note that India represents a ton of potential readers, and as the digital age matures Flipkart could be a great source of sales. For current ebook distribution partners and sales potential, the advantage clearly goes to SW.

Paperbacks

Want your book in print with the same ease of skipping the format learning curve? D2D also enables a paperback version to be uploaded to CreateSpace (CS), Amazon’s print-on-demand company. Again, I prefer to upload directly, but formatting books for CS can be a Herculean task for newbies, known to drive even pacifists to seek gun applications and home addresses for Microsoft Word designers. Interior templates exist and formatters too, but D2D is offering an attractive option for CS paperbacks. I haven’t tested their system to comment on performance, though I admit being a fan of the concept. Can you envision being chauffeured to a book signing in a Google car while D2D formats your next release in paperback? It’s a nice thought. Fortunately CS has an excellent digital previewer for analyzing results and determining what changes need to be made. Advantage for paperbacks goes to D2D.

(As an update to using D2D for paperbacks at CreateSpace: don’t do it unless you already know how to perfectly format a CreateSpace PDF. And if that’s the case, why not upload your PDF directly to CS? What D2D sends to CS is pretty much a joke from what I’ve seen.)

Small Victories

Another bonus with D2D is monthly payments compared to quarterly payments from SW. D2D also doesn’t stamp their edition with their name as SW does (Smashwords Edition), making it a more attractive copyright page for those who feel the self-publishing stigma is a factor. I’ve also checked my titles at B&N online and noticed the D2D book description displays entirely while the SW description is limited to the short version. Small advantages to D2D.

Leveled Playing Field: Sales Reports, Speed, Preorders

In recent times D2D had much faster sales reporting and speed of uploading to retailers, especially after updates were made (price change, newer version, metadata, etc.), but SW has evolved and caught up in both regards. I believe the speed for updates taking effect at retailers still leans to D2D, but the new sales data from SW is more detailed and appealing.

Another SW special has been setting up a book for preorders before publishing. The benefit: on the day of release the retailers will count all of the preorder sales as if they happened in one day, which can result in your book showing up at the top of popular charts, thus resulting in even more sales. Recently D2D set up preorders too, and it works in the same way. Just publish your book with a firm future date listed for release.

Price Points

At SW you can create coupons to make your book available at any discount, even for 100% off. This is handy in case you’d like to advertise specials for things like gifting copies or generating reviews. At both vendors you can set your price to always be free, but the coupon option is a bonus for authors who would prefer to charge most of the time. Advantage here to SW.

The Future

Expansion is an important element. SW has been expanding its distribution channels since they began. In the past year SW has added OverDrive, txtr, Scribd, Flipkart and Oyster. Just recently D2D added Scribd and Page Foundry and mentions they have plans in the works to expand. D2D has also seen its titles briefly removed from B&N and Kobo shelves, though they were replaced and that was largely due to retailers taking a stand on adult material. Hopefully that won’t happen again.

I like betting on proven winners, and since Mark Coker has such established history and ongoing presence in the publishing community, my choice is to stick with SW and plan for more expansion.

Decisions

There are a few options that make sense. I recommend always directly uploading to KDP Amazon of course (plus B&N, Kobo and Google Play if you want to).

Option A: Use SW exclusively. Bottom line: it has the most retailers under its belt, and learning basic formatting is good for you and not really that bad, just like eating spinach.

Option B: Use D2D exclusively. It gets you into the most important biggies like SW does, plus it can make CS paperbacks. And it’s as simple as sending them whatever you have.

Option C: Use a combination. Decide which one for Apple, B&N, Kobo, Scribd and Page Foundry based on the personal preferences. Consider D2D for CS paperbacks and rest assured that Smashwords will get you into FlipKart, Oyster, txrt, Baker & Taylor, the library channels and the new set of retailers destined to join the field.

Ultimately it boils down to your skill sets, your time and your needs.

Have a comment? Please share them in the comments section.


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Amazon Kindle MatchBook Ebook-Paperback Package Deal

Buy and Save

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Buy the print-digital bundle and save, save, save!

Amazon Kindle MatchBook is for authors with both ebooks and paper books. The concept is smart, allowing buyers of the print versions to get a dramatically reduced rate on the ebook sale to go with their purchase. Reader gets paperback and ebook. Author sells paperback and reduced ebook together. Amazon sells both print and digital copies of the same book. Cha-ching! Sounds like a free bag of chips with a sandwich order.

The idea offers price incentive to purchase a new paperback or hardcover, which typically cost quite a bit more than their ebook counterparts. The idea also encourages digital reading to people who are used to buying print. Could it be aimed at converting traditionalists?

From the official announcement:

We are excited to introduce Kindle MatchBook, an innovative new program which enables you to offer your Kindle book at a discount when readers purchase your print book, so you can sell more books. It’s easy to enroll.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Select your Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) title on your KDP Bookshelf and check the Enroll box for Kindle MatchBook on the “Rights & Pricing” page.
  2. Set the discount for your book by choosing a promotional list price of $2.99 or less.
  3. Save your Kindle MatchBook preferences.

By enrolling your book, you will be among the first to be able to take advantage of this new program. The Kindle MatchBook discount you select will not appear on Amazon.com until the program is fully launched in the coming weeks. We will notify you by e-mail as soon as your Kindle MatchBook discount is live. Your readers will soon have an easy and affordable way to read your book in both print and digital formats.

Bundling sales, a good idea to sell more books? What do you think?

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