Tag Archives: self-publishing

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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Top Writing Challenges

Here’s my list of top challenges, at least as of today:

1) Finding / making the time
2) Mentally rewriting in the middle of the night
3) Indecision about future plot points
4) One word causes havoc with breaks, alignment, illustrations
5) Typos, typos, typos
6) Fonts that disappear with Apple upgrades (too bad for you!)
7) Selling and marketing
8) Remembering to write for myself
9) Having a real job (see #1)

What are yours?

Phil Reebius

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Maybe Something Good, Maybe Something Bad

Years ago I worked in magazine publishing, trade magazines to be specific. I really liked how we had complete creative control over what we produced, but note I said “we.” The workload was shared, and we had people who were very good at layout, editing, sales, etc. You could specialize and thrive if you were really good at something. Despite all of the hands working to create an issue, I swear to you, no matter how many times you edited, read, corrected and scanned your work for errors, the first time you’d pick up the magazine after it had been printed, you’d find a typo. Boy did that suck!

In the digital world, we can have complete control over everything. That’s good. And that’s bad. If you’re doing it for yourself, as I did, you’ll find that the freedom you gain with the new technologies can also become a burden. You don’t have any experts in layout, editing, sales, etc. Now the hundreds of decisions that must be made in order to bring a publication to fruition are all on you. And it can be exhausting sometimes, especially when you’ve hit the point at which you’ve read your own words so many times that you fill in the missing words, autocorrect transpositions in your mind, and completely miss the extra period at the end of that one sentence on page 3. Page 3! You’ve seen that one a thousand times! Trust me, you’ll do this.

This is where patience comes in. You’ve got to have patience with yourself and you’ve got to find someone you trust to read for you. Once you get the book in pretty good shape, it is very rewarding.  – 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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