I have looked into printing many times over the years, considering Lightning Source as a potential printer. The prices are good, the products are first rate, but it’s so complicated. To begin with you need an ISBN. Call me chicken, but I found the formality of getting a block of ISBNs scary, not to mention the cost was prohibitive. I simply couldn’t afford to spend £100 plus on a block of ten ISBN’s and then turn around and spend £200-300 on a print run. So I sat back while I watched indie author friends take leaps without me.
Over the past few years I have printed the odd copy using Lulu. I didn’t put my works on the open market, the books were for personal use only (gifts for my mum and sister primarily!). But I have seen many people using Createspace lately, so I decided that was the way for me as they are an Amazon-owned company.
I took what I hoped to be the two best examples of my work and formatted them for Createspace. This was a surprisingly easy process. Time consuming, but simple. I downloaded the example book in the size I wanted and simply copied all the parameters. My covers have been professionally made, so I requested a wrap around from the creator of Plague’s cover – JD Smith ( http://www.jdsmith-design.co.uk) – and uploaded the pdf. Everything went so smoothly I had to wonder what would go wrong. I paid my $25 for expanded distribution. This apparently makes the book available for regular bookshops. In theory, I could get my book on the shelf in Waterstones in Liverpool in six-eight weeks. Exciting stuff.
My two books, Plague and My Demon appeared on the shelf in Amazon.com within a few days. I then waited patiently for the books to appear in the UK. I had published them in late April, but by the first week of May I was getting very impatient. I emailed Createspace and asked. To my astonishment, the said they didn’t feed to Amazon.co.uk. I had to spend money on some membership at £26 a year or so to get the book out there. Outraged is not a strong enough word to use for how I felt at that moment. I am English. I want my books available here, as this is where I can primarily sell them! As much as I would love to do book tours in the US, I can’t see me affording that anytime this decade.
On top of that discovery, I realised that when ordering author copies at my cheap rate, I could only order from the States. So my cheap book gets whacked with a huge sum for postage. I gritted my teeth and ordered five copies of each only to be told I would have to wait six weeks for them to arrive. More gritting of teeth.
At this point I started asking around to see how others had gone into print. My wonderful editor John Hudspith (http://www.johnhudspith.co.uk ) had gone a different route but had to do a large print run. Was it any better? He had his print book available everywhere. I couldn’t afford to start all over again, so I decided to take a mental step to the side and take a break.
This is where things began to get better. Firstly I got an email from Createspace announcing that books could now go directly to Amazon.co.uk as well as other European Amazon shops. Thank bloody God. Should always have gone there. I didn’t waste time grumbling, I logged on and made the changes. Three days later (not the week they threatened) my books were available in the UK. Yay! They aren’t linked to the Kindle editions, and therefore don’t have the existing reviews attached, but I’ve emailed and hopefully this won’t be an issue.
Then to my surprise two packages arrived. Createspace said the estimated delivery date was mid-June for my books. They arrived on the 15th and 16th of May, almost a month earlier than expected. I decide to forgive Creatspace just a little.
I am now crossing my fingers that they start letting authors order their discounted copies from Europe. Then I will be a very happy customer.