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