Distribution Channels on Amazon’s CreateSpace

One of the most attractive features offered by CreateSpace, an Amazon.com company and print publishing platform, is its distribution channels. There are six channels and they are all free.

Standard distribution

Selecting Amazon.com “makes your book available to millions of customers on Amazon.com.” Activating Amazon Europe enables you to target websites belonging to Amazon in Europe, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Spain. And, you can choose to place your book in the CreateSpace online e-store.

Expanded distribution

By selecting Bookstores and Online Retailers, your books will become available to “thousands of major online and offline bookstores and retailers.” Choosing Libraries and Academic institutions will enable you to increase your book’s exposure to “public libraries, elementary and secondary school libraries, and libraries and other academic institutions.” Selecting CreateSpace direct will “make your books available to certified resellers such as independent bookstores and book resellers.”

The more the merrier

Having recently uploaded a third book to CreateSpace, I gladly selected all the distribution channels available. This is because the more distribution channels you choose, the more readers are exposed to your books, and the greater your chance of selling them and earning more royalties.

Networking

According to an article posted by CreateSpaceResources, “Book Marketing: Have you Tapped your Network?” by Maria Murnane, every author has a network that includes: where we went to school, who we share a favorite hobby with, our heritage, and where we’ve worked. It’s important to reach out to our network and tell them that we’ve written a book or books since this is newsworthy, according to Murnane.

From my marketing experience with Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, I can assure you that there is a natural progression to exposure; that a fan base will develop; that readers share with other readers; and that your reading audience will become more and more familiar with your brand.

When readers comment favorably about you or your work, include their comments in the About section on your website called, ‘What people say about [put your name here.]’

In my opinion, it’s not a matter of throwing a lot of money into your efforts. Remember, CreateSpace offers absolutely free distribution channels. It is, rather, a matter of systematically exposing your work and what you’re about to readers. It’s something that you must do every day.

If you select the distribution channels that are made available to you at no cost by CreateSpace and you do your part by networking and marketing appropriately on social media, you will significantly increase book sales, royalties and become known.

Book distribution

Image credit: The Cadence Group, Book Distribution

How to Use Amazon’s Createspace

If you’ve written a book in, say, Microsoft Word and have proofread it, properly formatted it, and have a title page, copyright page, introduction, table of contents and distinct chapters, you are essentially ready to roll for Createspace.

Although a variety of trim sizes (i.e., book sizes) are available, I recommend selecting the 6” x 9” setting, B & W. Why this trim size?, you may ask. Choosing a 6” x 9” trim size will ensure that your book is fit for most distribution channels. Your title will be exposed to more potential customers hence increasing your chance of being discovered and read.

Once your book is in its most perfect form possible and you have zero spelling and grammar errors, go to the Createspace website and, if you haven’t already done so, open an account. Select the “add new title” option. You don’t need to worry about buying an ISBN; Createspace will automatically assign one for you if that’s what you choose.

The secret is, once logged on and moving through the process, to find the link that leads to Createspace’s interior templates. Download the 6” x 9” template to your computer. Copy and paste your ready book into the template. Visually check that the pages are numbered sequentially; that your chapters are correctly numbered; that your headers alternate between your name and book’s title appropriately; and that you are completely satisfied with how the book appears. The template will ensure that your book’s margins, fonts, pagination and other settings satisfy Createspace requirements. If you’re careful, patient and thorough, this will save you time later. Export the file as a PDF and upload to Createspace.

After you’ve inputed the book’s title, have selected an ISBN, category, and successfully uploaded the book’s interior to Createspace, you’re now ready to create the cover.

In the same way that Createspace offers the right template for your book’s interior, Createspace has a cover creator. The creator comes with a variety of styles to choose from as well as images. If you choose an image from Createspace, make sure to read the fine print about what doing so entails. Alternatively, you can upload one of your own images. The steps you’ll need to complete while using the cover creator are: Theme, Title, Subtitle (if applicable), Author, Front Cover Image (yours or one offered by Createspace), Author Photo (optional), Publisher Logo (optional), Back Cover Text and Background Color. Createspace will take care of the bar code for you.

I enjoyed uploading my own image and experimenting with different styles and colors offered by the cover creator.

After completing the above, Createspace will suggest that you use its interior reviewer. I highly recommend that you do so. If you haven’t embedded your text, do not worry. Createspace will do it for you.

Createspace offers a range of distribution channels. The more channels you select, the more exposure your title will receive. I personally selected the minimum price threshold for my book (generated by Createspace) since this guarantees the lowest possible price for my readers.

Once you’ve finished, you’ll be prompted to submit your file for review. You’ll receive an e-mail within 24 hours with further instructions. In my case, I was congratulated, told that my file was printable, and asked to do a final review which I did.

Interactive, Touch Reading

One of the great advantages to publishing digital media, in this case books, is the reading experience.  Unlike traditional, print books, readers are presented with a dynamic platform that can be controlled.

A “click” can take us, for example, from chapter one to forty-seven in an instant whereas in traditional books, we’d have to turn many pages to get there and would need a bookmark to remember where we were.

In electronic publications, readers are given a kind of control they previously did not have.  They are able to interact with the e-publication in a non-static manner.  In a way, the book almost becomes “alive” in their hands.  No longer a series of pages that one must manually turn in order to advance in the story, the book is transformed into one “fluid image of words” whose appearance can instantly change.

The screen

Unlike a print book that we hold in our hands and whose pages we must turn to delve deeper into the story, the e-book is presented on a screen.  It could be found on any one of a series of mobile or stationary devices (e.g., Amazon’s Kindle), yet will needs be a screen.  This means that whereas in print media we come into direct contact with the book in our hands, in the digital version, we are separated by a screen.  The screen, in a way, is therefore both the facilitator of our reading experience as well as its moderator.  It is the medium through or by which we reach our chosen medium (i.e., e-book).

That which prevents us from “touching,” so to speak, the object of our curiosity in the same breath enables us to see it in an unconventional and enhanced manner.  A combination of the screen and touch pad or mouse allows us to read the end of the story before we’ve read the beginning.  Alternatively, we can also instantly hop to the middle and go back to the beginning or end.  The point is that we no longer have to wait to get the information we want.  We can have it effortlessly now.  Past, present and future are seemingly melded into one.

In California, a group of school children were taken to see some older model telephones on display.  One of them finally said, “Oh, I get it!  You have to stick your finger in the hole and turn.”  He was, of course, referring to the plastic, rotating dial on the front of rotary-dial telephones that needed to be turned in order to compose a number.

Although we may read this and chuckle, most of us would never dream of giving up our touch pads or buttons (stationary or mobile), not to speak of our Skype connection.

A certain order

There is a certain order in the evolution of things including things technological.  There is a certain adaptation, too, a certain willingness to evolve along with it that is required on our part.  If we want the effortless ease of the seamless and interactive reading experience, we must adapt to the new model.

400px-Rotarydial

By Dhscommtech at English Wikipedia

Electronic Publishing in the Digital Age

When I first started writing, I pursued traditional methodologies for getting published.  Grosso modo, these are:  Write a quality book that is between eighty and one hundred thousand words long to satisfy market requirements, edit it, have friends read it, religiously go through Writer’s Market looking for select publishers, write a query letter and wait between one and three months for a reply.  However, as an author once said, Why should I wait for the acceptance of my book when the book could already be published with me on a beach drinking tequila?  This leads to several questions:  Is it reasonable to expect that writers wait between one and three months for a response?  Why have publishers framed this expectation and do they have the right to monopolize writers’ time?  After all, time is a precious commodity of which we appear to have less and less.

The definition of publishing has changed

My experience with Amazon and Facebook(R) has shown me that the definition of publishing has changed.  Writers don’t have to wait between one and three months or more to determine the value of their writings.  Publication can happen sooner.

What is publication?

According to the Penguin Dictionary (Robert Allen, consultant ed.), publication is ‘the act or process of publishing’ and to publish is to ‘produce (a book…) or release (it) for sale or distribution to the public.’

With the advent of social media and self-publishing methodologies such as Amazon, the very meaning of what publication is and who controls the distribution process have forever changed.

Why is it advantageous to publish electronic books as opposed to print books?

Control

The first advantage is that writers can take control of the process.  On the surface, this may appear marvelous.  You may think, I can say whatever I want, click ‘post’ and the world will embrace me.  Not so fast pussycat.  Just because we have the means to bypass traditional book publishers and market our personal brand doesn’t mean that we can produce poor writing and win.  In fact, the freedom afforded by the likes of Facebook(R) and Amazon should make us doubly careful about what we say and how we say it.  Controlling the distribution process doesn’t equate with producing quality products.  This is because whether we produce electronic or print titles, the old adage, ‘content is king,’ still applies.  And I would add quality content.

Practicality

‘There are undoubtable benefits to being able to take entire libraries with you when travelling [including] the ability to access information at any time, and search that information quickly….(Bailey, Sarah. ‘Digital Rights Management in Publishing.’ reallybluebooks.com/downloads/Digital-Rights-Management-Essay.pdf, 20 June, 2011, p. 6)  I can’t take my physical library of books with me when traveling; but I can have access to all of my e-books at any time and in any place.

Durability

Unlike traditional, print books, e-books cannot degrade.  Their digital as opposed to analog composition is virtually everlasting.

Instant access

Many people own electronic reading tablets such as Kindle.  For them, ordering an e-book online gives them virtually instant access to the product.  Amazon, for example, offers free, wireless delivery in about two minutes.  This is a far cry from getting in your car, driving to the bookstore, locating the book, purchasing it, driving home and starting to read it.  Even if you order a print book online, you’ll have to wait several days to a week for delivery, depending.

Reduced cost

Offering my readers electronic versions of my books enables them to get the same value (if not higher) at a reduced cost.  For example, one of my books is 385 pages long with 84 color illustrations.  It sells for $19.19 in print (black & white) versus $0.99 on Amazon (color).  This means that should readers desire to hold a print version of my book in their hands, they’ll have to pay roughly twenty times more without getting the full effect since my illustrations won’t be in color!

With the advent of cloud computing, big data and novel ideas about sharing and storing data, we are living the ‘communication revolution.’  In order to maximize our potential–publishing our works sooner than what is traditionally accepted, developing and marketing our personal brand without necessarily being pressured by publishers, and offering our quality products at an affordable price and in a durable manner–today’s writers should seriously consider publishing their titles electronically.

ELECTRONIC PUBLISHING IN THE DIGITAL AGE Copyright © 2013 Luba Rascheff