Tag Archives: CreateSpace

CreateSpace: My Experience

In my last post I noted that it took me a couple of years to finally get The Randy Scuffle Papers published using the CreateSpace publishing platform. I want to be clear that it didn’t take me two years to do it because of CreateSpace. No, that delay was completely due to my constant re-editing of the book. CreateSpace was easy to use with minor exceptions, which I’ll get to. Seriously, The Randy Scuffle Papers is kind of weird because it was written A, as a series of letters from the main character to his doctor (and a few companies) and B, because it wasn’t written with any particular sequence in mind. I just pulled this stuff out of my darkest places and wrote. In putting it together as a book, it was completely chaotic, as it had been written over a period of years and using many different pieces of software. Ugh. Talk about a formatting nightmare. But I’ll get to that. Today I wanted to clear up any suspicion you might have that CreateSpace sucked. It didn’t.

I actually thought it was preposterously easy to use. Remember, I’ve done publishing the old fashioned way, with typewriters, typesetters, galleys, wax, pasteup and blue-lines. Yes, the whole thing. And I’ve lived through the transition from that to what we have today. It is amazingly easy compared to how it used to be done. Now, if you have your book in shape, and you can convert it to a pdf file, CreateSpace is happy to turn it into a book for you. Aside from formatting issues that would keep their machines from producing a halfway decent publication, they’ll take anything you churn out. If you meet their technical requirements, they’ll print it. It’s a bit of a shared responsibility.

I used the cover creator, which offers very limited selections, but you can modify within those themes. It’s a bit like using WordPress. I did my own photography for the cover. This was the only place where I had a bit of a problem. At one point, the cover creator tool refused to accept a simple change to my title and the way I wanted the lines to break. I went back and forth with their help desk and was able to resolve the issue. It took some doing, and they had to revert my cover to a previous version in order for me to work through the issue. Generally speaking, I thought their customer service was pretty good. Again, you have to be patient with the entire process. Over the years, I’ve dealt with some real idiots who can only read from their scripts. I found the CreateSpace team to be more empowered and more thoughtful about the product, and with how their tools and the process works.

The only other issue I’ve ever had has been with the review process itself, where the automated internal reviewer insisted that there was some kind of content outside of the page print area on every page. Nothing seemed out of place, and I triple checked everything. I just said hell with it and told it to ignore the warnings. Nothing ever came of it; my proofs and final copies have always printed just fine despite this warning which was received every time I uploaded a new pdf for the interior.

The first version of the book had a glossy cover; in subsequent versions I’ve used matte, as I like the feel better. I’ve had one book get trashed in shipping due to something puncturing the side of the box. For me, it wasn’t worth it to pursue this and I absorbed the loss as part of the cost of getting my author copies. But that’s me. – Phil Reebius



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A Short History: “The Randy Scuffle Papers”

I have always imagined writers of serious books to be the kind of people who sit down at the computer (or typewriter, back in the day) and just start writing. The book flows out as a nourishing gift to the world, someone does all the hard work of the printing and marketing, and the author starts on the next book. And every time I have ever tried to write anything remotely serious, I get bored with my own ideas long before it becomes anything beyond a quick essay. I have also found that I cannot write anything without being tempted to address the absurdities within the idea, or that come along as my mind wanders about, looking for the next important thing to say. So I end up, almost always, writing from an angle that I find amusing. Hopefully funny.

The Randy Scuffle Papers has, at its root, characters that go back a long way. One thing I used to do to fend off boredom at work was to write letters to my own company, complaining about something I saw in one of their publications. I thought it was hilarious to send a letter to the editor of a sister publication, knowing that the editor, who sat right next to me, would be reading it and wondering how to respond, if at all. Frequently, I’d use the name “Phyllis Scuffle” as the signatory, and it was her voice, sent through letters, that would form the basis of what eventually became The Randy Scuffle Papers. Of course, it evolved into more than that, as the primary character (and her son) Randy, began to communicate using that medium.

Over the years, I started writing these more for myself, and started keeping a collection. I think that the letters used in The Randy Scuffle Papers were written over at least a 10-year period. Actually, probably more like 12 or 13 years. At some point I thought these may be worth putting together as some sort of book, but I never made the time to do it. Then I had an opportunity to participate in open mic readings at The Tamale Hut Cafe Reading Series. I thought “what the hell” and started showing up with the letters. While my wife has always encouraged me to do something more serious with the stuff I write, I had always hesitated because, well, quite frankly, there’s a lot of stupid ideas in my writing. It’s just my style! Well, people did seem to enjoy them, and after a few readings, I was asked if I intended to publish any of my work. Here’s the thing: once you say “Yeah, I’ve thought about it…I really should do something…” you’re committed.

That “something” ended up as The Randy Scuffle Papers. I won’t lie to you. It took a couple of years to edit, format and finally publish the thing through CreateSpace, but I did it. More about that another time. – Phil Reebius


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I chose to self-publish my first book, The Randy Scuffle Papers, because I couldn’t stand the idea of throwing my work into the ocean of agents and publishers to see what would happen. At least this way I have more control of the look and feel of the publication, as well as my destiny. Self-publishing allows me to work on my own schedule, and I can continually work on the content, while managing the marketing. To me, that’s more productive than waiting around for an acceptance letter, the inevitable delays, the promised publishing date, and the painful “sorry, we decided not to publish after all.” I’ve heard all of these stories before. There’s also something rewarding about taking a project from an idea through publishing. You learn a lot and then get started on the next project.

After looking at most of the other self-publishing platforms, I selected CreateSpace. The process was pretty straightforward. It wasn’t without problems however, and I had to make a few adjustments. Actually, I thought turning the book into an e-book was more challenging than publishing through CreateSpace. I spent my last vacation figuring out how to do that. I know it should be simple but there were circumstances that added some level of challenge to this task. – Phil Reebius

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