CreateSpace is Amazon’s print-on-demand division that lets you upload a manuscript stored in a Microsoft Word or PDF file. Then if people order your book, CreateSpace prints one copy and ships it to the customer, paying you a royalty so you don’t have to do anything. If you’re somewhat tech-savvy, you can submit and format your book through CreateSpace for free. If you have little computer and graphics knowledge, you’ll probably feel more comfortable paying CreateSpace for help in editing and designing your book cover and manuscript.
First, let’s go over the advantages. CreateSpace takes care of all the physical details of taking orders and shipping them, so you just have to collect a royalty check. You can have the money deposited into your account electronically or paid by check as soon as your total royalty exceeds $100. CreateSpace is far simpler than printing hundreds of copies of your book and trying to sell them yourself.
Now let’s go over the drawbacks. First, you need to format your manuscript to fit within the physical size of your book, such as 6 inches by 9 inches, which is standard for a paperback book. That means you’ll need to download and use one of CreateSpace’s templates for Microsoft Word. If you’re not using Microsoft Word, then you’ll have the harder task of setting up your word processor file to fit within the necessary dimensions to print your book.
Now you have to layout the pages of your book. Make sure your chapters always begin on an odd page, which is always the right-hand page of a book. That means you may need to insert blank pages at the ends of several of your chapters.
More serious is that you need to go through your manuscript to avoid widows and orphans, which are single lines of text that either appear all alone at the top or bottom of a page. This isn’t hard work, just annoying. After you’ve formatted your manuscript, you have to design a cover. You can use CreateSpace’s free cover designer or design your own book cover from scratch, taking care to fit within the dimensions of your book, which means if you’re not comfortable using graphics programs like Photoshop, you probably don’t want to design your own book cover.
Finally when you get done formatting your manuscript and designing your book cover, you’re ready. CreateSpace can sell your paperback (not hard covers) to libraries and bookstores, although the chances of selling many copies this way is close to nil. Most likely, people will browse through Amazon’s listings and purchase your book through CreateSpace. The royalty rate is much less through CreateSpace because they have to cover the costs of printing your book and shipping it, which means you earn far lower royalties than just selling an e-book through Kindle Direct Publishing.
So is all the hassle worth it to prepare a manuscript for CreateSpace? If you have an e-book that’s proven to sell, then submitting it to a print-on-demand publisher like CreateSpace can generate additional income from people who want a printed book. However, if you’re not tech-savvy, you’ll probably need to pay for editing and formatting help from CreateSpace, so that could cost you several hundred dollars right there. Unless your book is already selling well as an e-book, you may not make back your initial investment through CreateSpace.
My advice is to use CreateSpace only after your e-book is selling and do as much work on formatting and designing your book cover yourself to reduce costs. Then the royalties you make through CreateSpace will be much less than the royalties you’ll make selling an e-book, but you can still make additional sales. For the additional work you have to go through and the lower royalty rate you earn, CreateSpace is worth using after you’ve been selling your e-books successfully. If you try to sell your first book through CreateSpace without knowing much about marketing, chances are good you won’t see much of a return.
Start with e-books for the lower cost, high royalty rate, and lower hassle that eliminates the need to worry about formatting your pages correctly. Given a choice between selling an e-book through Kindle Direct Publishing for less work and higher royalties, or selling a printed book through CreateSpace for more work and lower royalties, it’s your choice where you want to put your energy and effort.