Tag Archives: CreateSpace

CreateSpace ruins the day!

Up until now my experience with Createspace had been a fairly positive one. Now I have to report an extremely unpleasant experience: I was in Mexico, and I needed some copies of my books in a hurry, so I placed an order and paid for priority shipping, which was ridiculously expensive (as in 150% of the cost of the books themselves!). I was told that the books would be there within a week. That felt a bit too long in light of what I was being charged, but seeing how I had ten days, I figured I could live with it. The order was placed on March 11, the books were ready to ship by the 13… and there they sat, neglected until the 17, when I finally got a notice letting me know that my order had shipped… and would arrive by the 23 (and that 23 has now been changed to a 24). That’s thirteen days for priority shipping, and long after the time those books will do me any good. I wrote back to them to ask what was going on, and I had my shipping fee refunded.

That was something, though there was nothing remotely resembling an explanation, and the truth is that it didn’t really do me one lick of good, as what I needed were the books, not the refund, that was why I had paid that outrageous shipping rate in the first place… and then I began poking around. It was then that I realized that they had sent an international shipment that had been billed as priority, and for which they had charged the same rate they would have charged if they had been sending the books all the way down to Argentina (there’s a flat rate for Latin America), using UPS’s Standard service, which the company itself lists as “economical ground delivery for your less-urgent shipments”.

Ground delivery? On an international shipment? And how do they reconcile the word ‘priority’ (as in priority shipping) with UPS’s   ‘less-urgent’ wording? Quick, someone get these folks a dictionary.

In short, buyer beware, when it comes to international orders CreateSpace’s ‘priority shipping’ is a mess, one that can leave you looking like a fool if you dare rely upon it, and no refund is ever going to fix that.

UPDATE: Okay, so the books won’t be here on time, there’s nothing anyone can do to change that, but I just got a call from a representative from CreateSpace, acknowledging their mistake in shipping via UPS Standard, and doing his best to find a way to make things right. Unfortunately there were some elements of this particular mess that made finding a real solution impossible, but I realize that those are not CreateSpace’s fault. Yes, they screwed up, but they owned up to their mistake, and I definitely appreciate it.

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Published by CreateSpace, printed by… someone else

Today I got the  copies of my books. At first I was really excited… then I saw them, and I knew right away that something wasn’t right. From the look of things, I suspect that they were not printed by CreateSpace, but rather by someone else (the copies I received today don’t even have a product id, something that is in itself a pretty big no-no). Anyway, the yellows seem to be MIA from the covers, while the reds are  much stronger than they were in the proof. The end result is that in two instances my name is almost completely unreadable, the contrast is shot in all of them, and all the covers look downright grotesque. As for the quality of paper, it is clearly of a different grade than the one that was used for the proofs. Its quality is not necessarily lower, but the paper is noticeably thinner (meaning that, for a book that is well over 400 pages, the spine winds up looking kind of funny). In addition to that there is the fact that the trim size itself seems to be something like 0.1 inch shorter than the one in the proof in all of the books, and that fraction of an inch was taken entirely from the bottom (the book’s width too is a little narrower, but the difference is not so apparent). That means that the pages are clearly off-center. It may sound like I am  nitpicking here, but the truth is that all these details do make a significant difference that results in a far less professional look. No, the books I received today are not entirely unusable, but I have to say that the end result leaves much to be desired.

On the positive side, when it come to the interior graphics, I have to say that the print quality seems a little better. As for the durability of the binding, well, the jury is still out on that one.

The thing is that if you have paid for the external distribution option you should probably be aware of the fact that, even if your copy looks fine, the quality of the end product is bound to be something of a Russian roulette, because no matter how you set your books up, the fact that there are two printing companies using what are clearly two very different  standards to produce the books basically means that the copies printed by one of them are bound to look like  crap no matter what you do. A serious problem that is well worth considering before you add that external distribution option… especially if CreateSpace is going to resort to that secondary printer to fulfill its own orders (or even those that are placed via amazon).

Now, to be fair, I have to say that most of the books I have seen  that are printed by CreateSpace have an acceptable quality (not great, but certainly good enough), and the same goes for those printed by Lightning Source (though I’m not even sure if these books were printed by Lightning Source… that lack of product id again). The problem is that there are clearly some differences in the way the companies that are printing books for CreateSpace work, but given that you are stuck using a single set of files the quality is bound to suffer.

UPDATE: I have contacted CreateSpace regarding these issues and they are currently being investigated. I don’t know what’s going to come out of this, but so far I am extremely satisfied with their response. This is a relief, as one of the things I had fretted the most over when I switched publishers last year was precisely the question of what would happen when something went wrong (what can I say, I am enough of a realist to know that it was a matter of when, not if).

I’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE #2: okay, apparently some measures have been taken to avoid future issues (here’s hoping they will work).

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CreateSpace, an update

Almost a year ago, as I was getting ready to release Soulless, Laira, and Citlalli on the Edge of the Wind, I wrote a post in which I tried to explain my decision to switch from Vitrual Bookworm to CreateSpace.  I admit that at the time I was somewhat worried about how that one was going to turn out. Now, as I prepare to release the next batch of titles, I am happy to say that for the most part my experience with CreateSpace has been a positive one.

Yes, I still feel that if you don’t know what you are getting into, have never had anything to do with the publishing business before, and you want to have the comfort of knowing that there is someone in charge you can talk to, who will listen to your concerns, know your name, take care of the details, and who will actually be in a position to help you out if you run into trouble,  you may well be better off with a well-established, small to mid sized publisher that charges a reasonable fee, even if the they can’t match what CreateSpace  has to offer in terms of royalties. Of course, the key words in that statement are ‘well-established’ and ‘reasonable fee’ because this is one field in which there are way too many scam artists. In fact I would go so far as to say that this is one instance in which the belief that ‘you get what you pay for’ will probably come back to bite you. Remember that if your setup fee is more than five hundred times your royalties per copy sold via external channels chances are seriously against you ever breaking even.

Anyway, and getting back to the subject of CreateSpace,  I have to say that, in addition to the fact that you don’t get as much support as you would with a (good) smaller outfit,  I also remain convinced that the issues with CreateSpace‘s TOS (namely the fact that they reserve the right to make any changes they see fit) are a problem. In spite of that, at least for experienced authors who can supply their own cover and their own interior layout (and who are not above playing a round or two of contractual Russian roulette), they offer what is by far the best deal out there. They provide a very efficient service, and a finished product that has a reasonable quality (thought there may be some minor issues with curling covers under certain condition, and with the printing of interior images).  I can also say that, for the most part, the system works as advertised.

BTW, while I mentioned above that a personalized customer support is one of the big advantages of a more traditional publisher, that doesn’t mean that you have no recourse when dealing with CreateSpace. Their customer support is pretty reliable (for the most part), and they will (usually) do their best to help you if you run into trouble, so you are not entirely on your own. It’s just that you don’t have a specific contact you can address your concerns to, and that precisely because they have a such a large staff, you never know what you are going to get.

And finally, in the comparison I gave CreateSpace three stars out of four, but that was based on how they compared to other the other publishers, and it did include their layout and cover design packages, which may have distorted things a bit. If I were to evaluate CreateSpace based only the company’s own merits, without the design extras, and using a one to five scale, I would probably give it four stars for experienced authors, and three for newbies who are at least somewhat familiar with the basics of the publishing business.

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