If all your books are published on the CreateSpace platform (which is dissolving very soon), we have good news, old news, and …well, the potential bad news still lurks in the future.
First some bottom-line good news for nearly all of you:
- If Vila Designs did your print book cover, it will look great in KDP print when it is automatically migrated.
- If your print book is available for sale on Amazon through CreateSpace, it will remain available on Amazon without interruption when it is automatically migrated.
If you did your own book cover, or if you did not choose “Amazon” as one of your sales channels, you have between six and ten days to fix the problem. Maybe more, but don’t count on it.
“What if I baked my own book cover, or used a cheap template algorithm like CreateSpace Cover Creator?”
The quickest and surest fix will cost a little money, but it is the easiest solution too: send your current book cover to Tatiana at Vila Designs and have her fix it. If she has to redo the cover completely, it will cost $125 for both the ebook image and the print cover. If she can just tweak it to make it work with KDP, or if she just checks it and says that it’s okay, then she will charge you less. Contact her directly and work it out. You can trust her to charge you a fair price. Plenty of other graphic designers will charge five times as much and botch the job.
You can always go to the KDP Print page and figure out how to do it yourself, of course; take a moment now to schedule the necessary time into this coming week.
“What if I’m using CreateSpace to distribute my book to retailers and libraries but not Amazon?”
If for some strange reason you decided this was a good idea, the fix is easy. It will take five minutes, less if your ‘net is fast. Simply:
- sign into your CreateSpace account,
- click on the “Title Name” of the book that isn’t listed on Amazon,
- then click on the “Channels” button and make sure the arrow next to “Amazon.com” is not grey.
- If it is, click on that big arrow once, and it will turn blue with a little check-mark in it, and it will say “Selected.” Now you’re good.
I’m happy to do this for you at no cost if this fix makes no sense to you.
“Why is this important?”
Because any book on CreateSpace that has other channels selected (like “Books & Online Retailers” or “CreateSpace Direct” or “Libraries & Academic Institutions”) but NOT Amazon will be frozen indefinitely after the migration to KDP. It will no longer be available through any sales channel if it is not available on Amazon as well.
Of course the KDP team will fix that issue at some point, but it might take weeks or months, and meanwhile, no one can buy your book. So be proactive and take care of this now (or ask me to do it for you).
Okay, now that I’ve given you the most important information first, here’s some background on what happened to CreateSpace.
Most people in the print-on-demand industry saw this coming. I didn’t. I guess I just got comfortable with the way things worked already: it was a good system, sometimes balky, but it served us well and we all understood it.
Partly that’s because I didn’t know the history of CreateSpace. It used to be a smaller company called _ which specialized in print-on-demand and DVD-on-demand publishing. Amazon acquired it in __ and scaled up its operations to match the global reach of Amazon. The Kindle ebook platform was already established, so from a supply-chain point of view, it was the best of both worlds: Kindle handles ebook distribution, CreateSpace handles print-on-demand books.
The difficulty, of course, was with us authors and illustrators and imprint publishers, the creatives who were just as much Amazon’s clients as the consumers who bought the products. For a content-creator, working with two very different platforms in order to publish and distribute one product was …unwieldy, at best. It added fuel to the blazing conflict between print publishing and ebook publishing, an obviously false dichotomy if there ever was one. Many creators felt like they had to choose sides, at least for practical hassle-management reasons, between the ebook market (Kindle) and the print book market (CreateSpace). For years, CreateSpace has had an “easy-to-use” option to use your accepted CreateSpace digital file to create a Kindle ebook automatically so that you could simultaneously publish on Kindle; it worked quite well for some books, made others look kinda wonky, and was a disaster for some. Still, it was an option that worked for many authors… except that it made life more complex on the back end, as Kindle was treated as a Createspace distribution channel for those authors but was a publishing engine in its own right for authors who began with ebook editions. Things like sales data and royalty reporting/payments became unnecessarily complicated for Amazon to provide cross-platform.
Kindle is where innovation thrived: subscription publishing (KDP), various marketing tools, working more closely with the Amazon site, Amazon Author pages, etc. CreateSpace seemed to barely keep up with industry trends and basic services. The writing has been on the wall for years now, especially since July 2016 when KDP Print was launched: it offered Kindle-branded paperback print-on-demand services to a limited number of established Kindle authors. Services were limited at first, even when KDP Print was opened to all in February 2017 (no print proofs for authors, no color printing), but KDP Print continued to improve, incorporating more and more of the high-quality print production resources and distribution networks of CreateSpace, while the CreateSpace user interface and service was allowed to stagnate.
Earlier this year (2018), CreateSpace as a brand began to visibly contract: they stopped offering editorial services (such as they were) in July, for instance. The time has finally come for the husk to fall away and allow the sleek, unified publishing interface of Kindle Direct Publishing to emerge as it ought to be… hopefully combining all the strengths of both Kindle and CreateSpace, and shedding all of their weaknesses.
That’s the shining dream we’re being sold, anyway. It is only reasonable to give Kindle Direct Publishing the benefit of the doubt while it goes through this final migration/transition process, emerging from the chrysalis and fanning its wings dry, so to speak. And by the time the 2018 holiday season rolls around, we’ll know from personal experience exactly how wonderful or awful (or both!) this new unified publishing platform will be.
Stay tuned, I’ll email about this again in December or January.
And please let me know your own experiences during and after this transition!
If you want to get yourself up to speed on this new platform directly, Kirkus reports that KDP University Webinars “are free and frequent throughout September. They will offer an interactive tour of the website and discuss title requirements and best practices.” You’ll need Adobe Connect to participate (not my favorite webinar app), but if you’re interested, register here for free.
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