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Group Questions? > Advice on self-publishing in print?

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message 1: by Katheryn (new)

Katheryn Avila (katheryn_avila) Hi! I recently published in eBook format (mainly because vanity presses ask for your soul and eBook publishing is free), but I do want to eventually publish via print. My plan was to see how my book does, sales-wise, in the eMarket, and then use whatever earnings come in to contribute to my print-publishing fund.

My question is this: for those of you self-published in print, what places offer the best services? Any red flags a noob should look out for? I've done a bit of research on it, but I want to hear what you guys think.


message 2: by E.G. (new)

E.G. Manetti (thornraven) I use 'Createspace,' it's Amazon's POD (print-on-demand arm) and it works pretty well here in the US. They default to a 6X9 trade paperback format and the instructions for formatting the interior are pretty easy. Uploading your cover can be a bigger deal. My designer went ~ 6 rounds before he figured out how to meet their requirements.

Basically, they automatically place in the Amazon store. I find to price competitively, I don't make much on each paperback, but I'm not paying either. I can also order directly at wholesale price for book signings etc.

If you want to try to push into bookstores and have them order directly from Createspace, that becomes a problem because of the various mark-ups. For that kind distribution I would need to price over what I think the market will pay for romantic sci-fi from an unknown author.

message 3: by Maron (new)

Maron Anrow (maronanrow) | 117 comments I've been very happy with CreateSpace. It's easy, cheap if you want to order copies for yourself (buying my own book is $3.85 + shipping), and the books are automatically sold on Amazon.

However, if you want to eventually get bookstores to sell your book (Jason of "Chains of Prophecy" got his local B&N to have a release party and sell his book), you'll have to use another company (like IngramSpark) because CreateSpace is an Amazon company and bookstores hate Amazon (understandably, as they are competitors). I looked into IngramSpark and it seems similar to CreateSpace, but it's a little more expensive to buy copies of your own book as the author (because the printing costs are a little higher, it also means that if you charge the same price for your book, you'll get a little less royalty for it).

CreateSpace will give you an ISBN instead of requiring you to purchase one separately. (ISBNs are expensive.) If you think you might ever sell in bookstores (e.g., start with CreateSpace, then use IngramSpark later), I recommend buying an ISBN and using that one at both CreateSpace and IngramSpark (otherwise you'll have different ISBNs for the two print companies).

message 4: by Maron (new)

Maron Anrow (maronanrow) | 117 comments A quick follow-up: If you want to sell through Amazon, I'd use CreateSpace. However, if you want to keep the doors open for selling at bookstores in the future, then buy an ISBN for your book and use that one at CreateSpace (instead of letting them assign you their own ISBN) so your paperback will be tagged with the same ISBN at both Amazon (CreateSpace) and bookstores (IngramSpark or some other company).

message 5: by Katheryn (new)

Katheryn Avila (katheryn_avila) Thanks guys! I'll definitely keep all of this in mind when I eventually reach this stage. :)

message 6: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Roberts | 616 comments I used Createspace as well. The books are really good quality and they offer matte and glossy covers.

message 7: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Marie Gabriel (lisamariegabriel) | 46 comments I like Createspace. It is not all that hard to use, the end product is good and order speed via Amazon is phenomenal. In fact yesterday morning I woke up to the good news that I had sold some copies via Expanded Distribution which is most likely to mean a shop has them in stock. (I don't anticipate my novel being read in schools or universities.)

message 8: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Everson (authorthomaseverson) I use CreateSpace currently, however at some point I will be switching to IngramSpark.

CreateSpace is great for beginning because the formatting and process is quite user friendly. However I've had a few problems with them. Their cover print quality varies greatly. One batch of books will come out looking decent, another will come out really dark. Their consistency isn't that great. And it's extremely difficult to get into Barnes and Noble. You have a couple options to do so (talk to the Community Relations Manager or submit your book for consideration through their website)

IngramSpark from what I've heard is a bit less user friendly. It's apparently a little more complicated and, as was mentioned above, it costs a little bit more to purchase author copies. The trade off is that it's not nearly as hard to get into big name stores like Barnes and Noble.

message 9: by Shari (new)

Shari Sakurai (shari_sakurai) | 87 comments I looked into Createspace but I didn't like the quality of the books that were produced so I decided to go to a local printing firm. The print quality and paper used was so much better and it didn't work out any more expensive either!

message 10: by Virginia (new)

Virginia | 125 comments Shari wrote: "I looked into Createspace but I didn't like the quality of the books that were produced so I decided to go to a local printing firm. The print quality and paper used was so much better and it didn'..."

Really? I found the print quality at createspace to be excellent. What kind of paper/printing options did you select? Everyone I've talked to who has looked into a local printing firm has reported much higher costs, but that's strictly anecdotal. I'm curious as to how the pricing worked out, if you don't mind sharing.

message 11: by Jason (new)

Jason Crawford (jasonpatrickcrawford) | 591 comments Hi!

To weigh in, as Maron said, I work through both. On books that sell through Amazon (via CreateSpace), I get about $2.45 or so. For books that sell from Barnes and Noble (through IngramSpark) I get...


Fifty-one cents. It's because of the wholesaler discount that bookstores get - it's like 55%.

Is it worth it? Damn striaght it is! Being able to tell people that your book is "in Barnes and Noble" is like showing them a medical degree.

The main problem I have with IS is that, if you need to submit a file revision, you have to cough up about $25 for it. So there's that - make sure you've checked your CS version through and through before making your IS version.

message 12: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 1398 comments Mod
I normally don't like agreeing with a crowd but Createspace is definitely the place to go. They offer quite a lot and do a wonderful job and if yo have any questions they have 24/7 assistance.

Also, I get that you wanted to test the waters with an ebook and don't trust most publishers( I don't blame you) however always remember a book is physical and an ebook should be considered a second option. That's just my opinion.

message 13: by Shari (new)

Shari Sakurai (shari_sakurai) | 87 comments Virginia wrote: "Shari wrote: "I looked into Createspace but I didn't like the quality of the books that were produced so I decided to go to a local printing firm. The print quality and paper used was so much bette..."

I got a free print when I won NaNoWriMo one year so I thought I'd use it to see what they looked like. It looked cheap and I didn't like the white paper it was printed on. It may have been because it was free but it really put me off.

I'd prefer not to state actual costs but it worked out with literally a few pence difference but a much better product was produced by my local firm.

message 14: by Virginia (new)

Virginia | 125 comments Shari wrote: "Virginia wrote: "Shari wrote: "I looked into Createspace but I didn't like the quality of the books that were produced so I decided to go to a local printing firm. The print quality and paper used ..."

Interesting. That hasn't been my experience with them. They do have an option to print on white paper, but you can also select cream, and I've found the paper quality to be even higher than that of an average paperback. Anyway, I'm sorry to hear that your experience with createspace wasn't what you'd hoped, but glad that you wound up with a printer that worked for you.

message 15: by Shari (new)

Shari Sakurai (shari_sakurai) | 87 comments Virginia wrote: "Shari wrote: "Virginia wrote: "Shari wrote: "I looked into Createspace but I didn't like the quality of the books that were produced so I decided to go to a local printing firm. The print quality a..."

I'm glad you had a positive experience with createspace :) I think maybe I had a poorer copy as it was free?

Thanks! Yeah it worked really well for me!

message 16: by James (new)

James Corkill | 33 comments I use CreateSpace as well, and I'm happy with the results. However, I noticed you're from Columbia and I'm not sure if their expanded distribution includes your country. I just sent Createspace and e-mail to find out, and I'll let you know what they say.

message 17: by Becky (new)

Becky Johnson | 108 comments I have been thinking of publishing with CreateSpace. Great to hear all of the experiences other have had. I will definitely look into it. I know Smashwords will provide an ISBN as well, but I haven't had a chance to read all the fine print.

message 18: by F.W. (new)

F.W. Pinkerton (FWPinkerton) | 28 comments I have used Createspace and have found their customer service to be excellent when I had a few minor queries. From the five Createspace books I have seen in the flesh I found the quality very good. They were white paper, but I have just formatted a book for a friend and we went with the cream option - so I shall be interested to see it in the flesh.

I did look at a few of the other POD companies, but am glad I stuck with Createspace. I think the fact it's part of the Amazon empire certainly helps.

message 19: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Scott | 25 comments I first tried CreateSpace as a freebie through NaNo Write and I've just finished printing my 11th book with them. I had one quality issue on a print run, and sent them mail with a photo of the problem. CreateSpace responded immediately by running it again, shipping it overnight, and supplying a return label for the bad products. They've been very responsive.

My designer learned on the first cover to spend the extra time tweaking the image load to make sure the cover is properly centered. Now he's got it down and says they're the easiest of PODs places to work with. I'm happy with the quality and the customer service.

message 20: by W. (new)

W. (wlen) | 23 comments Hi everyone,
for those who have printed in hard copy, what percentage of your sales are hard copies versus e-books?

Also, what percentage of your hard-copy sales are Amazon versus other retailers?

Trying to figure out whether it's worthwhile to get a hard copy version out and which service to use if I do. Any data/feedback would be much appreciated. Thank you!

message 21: by Maron (new)

Maron Anrow (maronanrow) | 117 comments To W: Less than 5% of my sales are print copies. However, I think it's worth creating a print copy so you can give it away to interested readers for review. You can only do a Goodreads giveaway if you have print copies, and many readers I've approached for reviews don't have ereaders. About 40% of my reviews are from readers who read the book in print (I mailed it to them for free), so I think it was worth it.

Lastly, I think having a print version available for purchase makes the book and writer look more professional, even if you don't make many sales from it. Like others have said here, there's no monetary cost to you for having a print version on Createspace (unless you want to buy copies for yourself).

message 22: by W. (new)

W. (wlen) | 23 comments @Maron, thank you for sharing. This is very helpful information.

message 23: by K.P. (last edited Aug 17, 2014 11:02AM) (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 519 comments Createspace is the cheapest. I used Lulu before and though they're about the same, the cost of printing was too high. However, it's up to you to make it awesome professional looking, from layout to cover design.

I had to do a lot of work to make sure the covers appeared correctly. publishing programs are your friends!

Printers do have offests, so depending on the run, the colors will be slightly off. I had two runs of The Most Unlikely Beginnings and the cover either appeared purple or navy (the original is indigo). I'm not too concerned, as long as its legible and pro looking.

I haven't made much in sales in either print or ebook form, even after lowering the price of ebooks (they were originally half of print price). it depends on market value, marketability, and if people just find your stuff interesting enough to buy.

message 24: by Becky (new)

Becky Johnson | 108 comments Any advice on getting an ISBN number? Do you need to get a barcode as well? I have seen several websites with different pricing options. I just want to make sure I am going with the right one!

message 25: by Maron (last edited Aug 17, 2014 12:34PM) (new)

Maron Anrow (maronanrow) | 117 comments Becky: If you use Createspace, they will give you a free ISBN that can only be used for the Createspace version of your book. That's fine if you only want to sell via Amazon and Createspace, which is what I'm doing right now.

However, if you want to simultaneously use Createspace and another print company (like IngramSpark) to distribute your book through bookstores (bookstores don't like to distribute Createspace books--even though they can--because Amazon is their competitor), then you should buy your own ISBN. You can then use that same ISBN regardless of which company is actually printing your book (which is a good thing. Different ISBNs usually reflect different editions, and if they're printing the same interior and cover, you probably want to use the same ISBN). ISBNs are a bit expensive, which is why I just used Createspace's free one because I'm only selling there for now. You can buy an ISBN from Bowker:

Note that once you create your book project in Createspace and choose to use their ISBN, you can't go back and undo this. Createspace will always use that ISBN unless you start a whole new book/project with them.

message 26: by Maron (new)

Maron Anrow (maronanrow) | 117 comments Oh, I forgot about your second question (barcodes). As far as I know, you don't need to get a barcode. Createspace automatically inserts one on your backcover, and I think the other print companies do the same (although I'm not sure, as I haven't used them).

message 27: by K.P. (last edited Aug 17, 2014 12:34PM) (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 519 comments I buy my isbns from createspace 10$ a peice, as an imprint of Createspace. I still count as my own publisher and bookstores can carry my work. it's a lot cheaper than buying a block from Bowker.

message 28: by Maron (new)

Maron Anrow (maronanrow) | 117 comments Here's Createspace's info on ISBNs:

message 29: by Becky (new)

Becky Johnson | 108 comments Thanks so much for the info. So far I have just sold my book as an ebook, but I am thinking I should have a print option as well. I will definitely be looking into this today. :-)

message 30: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Just to provide more info, ISBN's are entirely dependent on where the author lives (and where they do business and taxes). ISBN's are free for Canadian resisdents because the number is registered with a department in the government. Bear in mind, smaller population, etc, so we can afford to do it for free.

My understanding, for American residents, and by all means correct me if I'm wrong, the average cost for ISBN is 125$. I've also seen the advice many times to by packs of ISBN's as a worthwhile investment if you plan on more than one book for sale at multiple retailers. The packs provide a discount, like buying in bulk. Again, this is just further info if you plan on selling in multiple retailers.

Barcodes are only needed for print books, and mostly depends on the retailer.

message 31: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) I double checked my info, just in case, and yeah, pretty damn close. The 125$ is actually from Bowker and how they handle digital books.

Here's an article with a lot of good info and also good points about owning an ISBN vs. free.

message 32: by W. (new)

W. (wlen) | 23 comments Hmm...$125 is pretty expensive. Once you add up these fees (cover, ISBN, marketing, editing), I wonder how many self-publised authors will ever cover their costs...

@Maron, the article in bookdesigner mentioned one of the key advantages of buying your own ISBN is control over the metadata. When you use a free Createspace-issued ISBN, do you get to control the metadata and edit it as needed?

message 33: by Maron (last edited Aug 17, 2014 04:12PM) (new)

Maron Anrow (maronanrow) | 117 comments @W: With Createspace, you do have a say in the original metadata creation (here are some links about it: and, but you can't edit it afterward.

My decision to use a Createspace-assigned ISBN was a financial one. I'd already spent so much money on an editor, cover, domain name, etc., and I didn't feel like dropping $125 for an ISBN. For where I am right now, I'm happy with that decision. However, if all goes well, when I release a sequel to the book, I'll probably get a new cover for the first book and an expensive ISBN to mark it as a separate edition. So, in sum, right now I don't regret going with a Createspace ISBN, but in the future I'll probably buy my own (although the huge pricetag still makes me queasy). I hope this info is helpful.

Also, thanks for the link about ISBNs, Lily. That page was informative!

message 34: by Nathan (new)

Nathan Rhodes (nathanrhodes) | 7 comments Self publishing seems to be a expensive avenue. I keep reading the pros and cons on self publishing and it is a hard decision to make.

message 35: by Becky (new)

Becky Johnson | 108 comments The cost does get scary. It seems to keep adding up! This first book has definitely been a learning experience!

message 36: by Nathan (new)

Nathan Rhodes (nathanrhodes) | 7 comments what was the biggest issue that you had with this Becky?

message 37: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) No prob, Maron, and you also make good points. I'm sure ultimately all the financial costs are personal choices and we all do the best we can.

message 38: by Nathan (new)

Nathan Rhodes (nathanrhodes) | 7 comments Does self publishing ever get to a break even point or is it a big dark hole?

message 39: by Becky (last edited Aug 17, 2014 04:58PM) (new)

Becky Johnson | 108 comments When I published my first book I didn't know anything about marketing, cover design, book trailers, blurb writing, bio writing, or ISBN numbers. I think every day I learn something new. But my book now is better, and I am better prepared for the next book. So far I have not broken even, but I am more focused on building a fan base for future books than on making money off of this one. Goodreads and this group have been a godsend. I honestly do not think I would have made it this far without the support I found here.

message 40: by Nathan (new)

Nathan Rhodes (nathanrhodes) | 7 comments Wow! Thanks Becky! I love your candor and honesty. Like you I have got a lot of good support and advice here and I really hope that it keeps coming. I am new at this and I really appreciate everyone in this group that contributes. It really helps more than they realize.

message 41: by Jason (new)

Jason Crawford (jasonpatrickcrawford) | 591 comments I bought 10 ISBNs for $250 or something like that because I expect to print several editions (paperback, hardcover) and want to supply my ePubs with an ISBN as well across all platforms.

message 42: by Nathan (new)

Nathan Rhodes (nathanrhodes) | 7 comments how did that turn out Jason? Please I don't mean to pry but just trying to figure this whole thing out.

message 43: by Jason (new)

Jason Crawford (jasonpatrickcrawford) | 591 comments Fine. The ISBNs are best bought in bulk, so buying 1 is silly but buying 10 makes them $25/apiece. It lets the various systems that do that track the sales in databases for ranking purposes.

It also lets me put my own company as publisher (we created a small press) and that goes into the systems as well.

message 44: by Nathan (new)

Nathan Rhodes (nathanrhodes) | 7 comments Thanks J..

message 45: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Hey, Nathan, I worked in publishing, marketing and advertising for seven years. Is it all a black hole? Yes.

But the results can be incredible :)

Glad to see this group helping authors.

In regrds to the topic, personally, I've chosen to only focus on ebooks, and maybe consider print at a later date. One step at a time.

message 46: by W. (new)

W. (wlen) | 23 comments @Nathan, not sure where you are in the process, but shop around before you pay anyone for services. Don't be afraid to DIY as well. Take cover design, if you DIY, it can cost as little as $1 to get a stock photo's rights and a few hours to gain some photo-editing savvy. Some freelance designers will do a standard cover design for $5. Others will do it for $200. There's a whole range of options, and cost is not always correlated with quality, so do your research.

message 47: by Amber (new)

Amber Foxx (amberfoxx) | 287 comments There are people who only read paper. And the cover can be seen in their hands. The book can be seen on their table in a coffee shop. I give away promotional paperbacks to people I think will like my books and talk about them. That book will circulate, and people who like it will get hooked on the series. I don't sell a lot of paperbacks, but they're still worth doing. I price them for extended distribution so people can special order them in bookstores if they want. Draft2Digital (the competitor to Smashwords) makes putting a book on CreateSpace as easy as doing an e-book. I have my cover artist do a paperback version of the cover, which does cost more than an e-book version, but I see it as a long-term investment in my writing career to have those books out there.

message 48: by James (new)

James Corkill | 33 comments I wish I would have bought a block of ISBNs when I published my first novel, but I couldn't afford it at the time. I'm keeping the ISBNs for the CreateSpace and Smashwords editions, but I just recently purchased a 10 block so I can release new editions with my own numbers as well. It will open up another area for marketing.
As far a sales through Createspace in both distribution packages, only a few were purchased over the past year. Like Amber, I've given away a bunch of copies to people who are interested. Word of mouth is a big factor for Indie Authors.

message 49: by Yolanda (new)

Yolanda Ramos (yramosseventhsentinel) I have an e book and also Createspace. I've just ordered some print books from a local printer so that I can do a giveaway and some people have requested print books from me.

As for breaking even (haha) - from what I've read so far you only really begin to make money when you have several books out.

message 50: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Scott | 25 comments Paperbacks are one of the best promotional items I have. Giving away a Kindle copy is fine for some things, but our local newspaper reviewer prefers a paperback. A signed copy of my book sent to a beta reader will 9 times out of 10 show up as a pic with great comments on their facebook page and generate talk from their friends.

And as much as I loved putting out my first ebook - nothing matched up to holding that glossy cover paperback in my hands.

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