Without reviewing all the pay-first programs, I’d like to bypass the crap and talk directly about Amazon’s CreateSpace. So far it’s the only option I’ve found that I would consider a reasonable set-up. You are not required to pay hundreds of dollars and your book becomes part of the inventory, is eligible for amazon prime and basically guarantees if a person looks for your book online he can find it.

The last figure I read claimed internet sales only account for 20% of book sales in the US. I doubt it’s that small, but either way that number is bound to rise and I’m willing to bet amazon will continue to account for the largest chunk. Being a part of their system, and letting them worry about shipping and handling is a very big plus.

How does it work?

In essence. You determine the price and the print size of the book. (It will be in Trade Paperback format) Your Royalties depend on the price you set, how it’s sold the size of the book in dimensions and the size of the book in number of pages. CreateSpace has a nifty calculator to help you decide.

There are no required set-up fees, though you do have to buy your galley copy*, but with a very good discount. If you wish to join their ProPlan, which you can do at anytime. Per year, you pay $39 the first time and $5 a year after that. If you believe you’re going to sell a large number of books, or if you want to be available to bookstores through amazon’s distribution this would be the way to go as you earn more per book, and it’s the only way to get the book in a bricks and mortar building unless it’s independent and you sell it to the sales manager yourself.

Methods to sell your book are, your own storefront. (Which they host and help you set up) or what they call expanded distribution. (getting it into a bookstore, provided the bookstore wants it) Each of these has a different royalty rate. Of course you can also sell a kindle version. Which I highly recommend.

You essentially maintain copyright. But you license certain rights which can be found under the membership terms of agreement.

The full DYI route means you take the information they provide you with and create a pdf that meets the requirements. I.E you embed the fonts, you leave appropriate margins as instructed. You handle all layout issues etc. You can create your own cover and are given precise instructions on what they need including how to calculate the width of the spine.

Amazon may inset blank pages at the back, this is common in some trade paperbacks and due to the binding style. It’s not something to worry about unless you don’t want a few blank white/cream pages.

If you have a Mac, and you have Pages, (Apple’s answer to Microsoft Word) you can easily set everything up and fiddle with it in Preview to get the pdf part exactly as you want it. I don’t know if Word can or cannot do anything remotely similar, if Windows has a Preview equivalent, or really anything else Microsoft related. If I find out I’ll be sure to update this article.

After you have reviewed the galley copy and approved the book to become available it’s up to you promote your work via a whole host of methods. From websites dedicated to getting the word out to hiring your own publicist. I will be offering more resources at a later date.

That is the full, pay nothing up front version. (with the afore mentioned exception)

This may seem like too much work to you, formatting is not your thing; you can’t find an editor; you have an editor but no copy editor, etc. If so amazon does have a whole range of services which they do charge for. From a glance the prices look reasonable and most things are tiered so some of them fall into a more affordable range.

The important thing to remember is you control how much you spend and on what.

*A galley copy is what CreateSpace refers to as a proof copy which pretty much explains it all. This is your last chance to make sure everything is as it should be before your book goes public.

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