Occasionally I'll get questions from readers about the basics of self-publishing. I thought I'd start posting some of those here. That way there will be a searchable archive. Here is one from Nadia in the UK.
Firstly, I've heard rumours that the quality of the books is not all that it could be. The website itself describes its books as "library quality". As I've seen library books quite literally falling apart at the seams, that wasn't very reassuring. What is your experience?
I've seen different levels of library quality. When I think library, I think hardback book with the think sewn binding. Honestly, you don't see that very often anymore. Mostly, you just see the paperbacks with glued binding. That is what Createspace does. The quality is fine, but if you're looking for really nice, you might want to go with Lulu or Lightening Source. I haven't used them, but I here that they are really good. I would compare Createspace quality to that of the type of books you would pick up at the airport.
I was also under the impression that you had to pay to publish your books with Create Space but the website claims there are no set-up fees and the only paid services seem to be marketing, editing etc
Publishing with Createspace is completely free. You can list your book at Amazon.com and at the Createspace estore. However, if you want expanded distribution, you have to pay $25. Expanded distribution gets your books listed at libraries and other bookstores. For example, all the books that I have in expanded distribution can be bought at Barnes and Noble. I think it's worth the $25. Beware that to be listed in library catalogs, you have to use a Createspace ISBN. This is fine, but Createspace will be listed as the publisher. If you want to list your own publisher, you have to pay $10. Most people just make up a name for their publisher and pay the $10 so their book doesn't seem self published. I do both. I really want my Priscilla the Great books in libraries so I use the Createspace ISBN. All the books under my pen name, Leslie DuBois, have my company as the publisher.
Finally, if you have to buy lots of copies to distribute to bookshops, isn't that really expensive?
It depends. If you're giving your books to bookshops on consignment, then yes, you have to buy the books and personally deliver them to the shop and make out a contract with them for how much you get paid per book. But since your book is listed with Createspace, the bookshops can order them themselves. Honestly, though, you get a great price from Createspace so it is worth it to order a bunch of copies and sell them yourself. You make more money. For example, I can buy copies of my book Priscilla the Great for about $4 per book from Createspace. The book retails for $12. I can offer the bookstore a discount of $2,sell it to them for $10 each and I'll still make a profit of $6. If they order the book themselves from Amazon, I'll only make $4 in royalties from Createspace.
If you have questions, send me a tweet @sybilnelson.