Although it may seem like on-demand videos have only served in the past to distract and hinder most authors in reaching their goal of a completed manuscript, ironically, one of the most successful self-publishing web sites was originally formed out of the company CustomFlix, a DVD on-demand service for independent filmmakers. After being acquired by Amazon.com, the site transformed its name and scope to become CreateSpace. By 2007 it took full form as a website dedicated to authors searching to self-publish and assist them with the numerous tasks involved with on-demand printing and online distribution services.
Control of Your Content
Of course, CreateSpace hasn’t gone unchallenged by providing this service. Numerous sites including Lulu, Barnes and Noble’s PubIt!, Google Books, Smashwords, and many others are in competition to gather as many aspiring writers as possible for a little share of the next independent best-seller. None are mutually exclusive, allowing each author to have complete control over their own content and distribution, which is to say the only limitation is the time and money invested with each publisher.
While self publishing sites are valuable in printing and distribution, the markets for each of them generally funnel into the major sites such as Amazon.com, the Mac App Store, and BarnesandNoble.com. As an example, Lulu features it’s own separate market to showcase the latest self-published titles in both epub and paperback formats. It’s a nice addition, however this limits sales to primarily other self-publishing authors, unless the link to each title is posted by the author themselves and shared via social networks.
Immediately Available to Amazon Worldwide
Apart from featuring a handful of authors through a charming (but mostly hidden) member spotlight, CreateSpace mostly skips the step of an exclusive marketplace and focuses on Amazon.com as the primary book seller. This allows any title to become immediately available to Amazon users across the globe through Amazon.com, Amazon Europe, and eStore channels at no additional cost to the writer.
But as part of the Amazon umbrella this does make the markets of their competitors, primarily Barnes and Noble, come at a minor disadvantage of being part of an “Expanded Distribution” program available at the cost of $25. It may seem like a drop-in-the-hat considering production costs, but for the starving author it’s just another example of the hidden costs associated with every self-publishing service.
These costs associated with publishing can easily mount depending on the needs of each author. Not design inclined? Professional cover artists are available to provide their services for layout, formatting, and even original illustrations. The price for this service can range from $149 up to $949, quite daunting for some first-timers, but nonetheless it is inherently valuable and a nice option to guarantee a unique cover for browsing shoppers.
Professional designers and editors are also made available for interior design, layout, illustrations, text editing, and more. All these services do come at a cost if not performed by the author themselves, and it might be a task that could be performed at much smaller price if outsourced to local artists and editors the author may already know or find in the phonebook. For that matter this process could even be free if the writer just so happens to have a talented friend to lend their services and expand their portfolio.
Flexible Royalty Model
Despite the costs involved with design services, CreateSpace offers a flexible royalty model that is comparable, and in many cases even better, than most other publishers. Through the use of a simple pricing system, CreateSpace calculates the royalty amount to be provided to the author after taking a percentage of the list price, plus a fixed charge, and in certain cases a per-page charge. the initial percentage varies depending on the sales channel, with standard print distribution being a minimum of 40% and ebooks a solid 20%.
After calculation, the royalty received on a single sold copy may not seem like very much, however the mere fact that the book can be purchased in large quantities on the Amazon marketplace more than makes up for this in the long-run. Of course, there is the option of having the book printed and shipped in large quantities directly to your home for distribution to local sellers.
CreateSpace carries an advantage over Lulu by offering a lower price per copy for larger quantities purchased by the author themselves, making it a better choice for in-store promotions.
Depending on the author and how comfortable they feel handling the associated tasks of publishing a novel on their own, CreateSpace could easily be an expensive process if the challenges of design and editing require a professional. On the other hand, the cost for production and distribution is remarkably low.
The entire Amazon market is incredibly valuable as a resource, in fact it’s practically a must-have, and the royalty rates associated with CreateSpace are easily comparable to most other self-publishing sites. Writing a book is an achievement to be proud of, and while it might not always be cheap, CreateSpace understands the need for adequate distribution and marketing of each and every work. Just make sure those on-demand videos don’t distract you before sharing your latest opus with the world.