Learning how to self publish a book is much easier than you think, especially with the modern day option of self publishing on Amazon.
It’s much harder to get an agent or a traditional publishing deal. Most literary agents receive around 5,000 manuscripts a year and only take on 5 or 6 authors.
But Rand is an exception. He’s well known (famous within the digital marketing industry) so he already has an audience to sell to. He has a good agent. And the deal he’s been offered sounds highly lucrative.
Most of us are not that well known and will find it difficult to get a good deal (or any deal) from an agent and/or publisher. So what should we do?
Learn how to self publish a book using Amazon CreateSpace.
CreateSpace offers an easy and cost-effective route to market.
What You Will Learn
- How to self publish a book
- How to write a book for your target market
- The pros and cons of self publishing on Amazon
- How much money you can make by selling your book
Who Am I To Talk About Self Publishing?
I run a humorous short story competition called To Hull & Back that offers the greatest literary prize in the known macrocosm. It does. Honestly. I’m not biased at all.
Every year, I publish a short story anthology of the best competition entries.
I’ve also recently published a book called ‘How to Write a Short Story, Get Published & Make Money’. I use CreateSpace to make the books in print and electronic Kindle format and sell them through Amazon.
Until the end of February 2016, I was Operations Director at Fat Media, an award winning digital agency in the UK. I left so I could work full time on my blog, writing fiction and publishing books.
First Things First – Write A Book
Hmm… easier said than done. But it is doable. You just have to plan it and be disciplined about writing and editing it.
Here’s the most important question to answer:
- What should I write?
The answer is:
This won’t necessarily be relevant for fiction writers, although I would still advise fully understanding your target audience. But if you plan to write an informative, helpful ‘how to’ style book, it’s essential to understand what your audience want.
I receive hundreds of queries about writing tips and publishing advice from my blog’s users.
As I’ve had a lot of short stories published through competitions and in magazines, I decided to write a book, using my own short stories as case-studies so that readers could clearly see how I used the tips and advice in practice to achieve success.
I invited competition judges and magazine editors to contribute to the book so readers gained more insight into why the stories were accepted for publication. In the book I talk openly about how much I’ve been paid for each published story.
This deals with my audience’s number 1 problem and offers them helpful advice. No one else (that I’m aware of) has used published stories as case-studies, making my offering unique and valuable to my audience.
This principal could be applied to any market or niche. You have to become an authority in your area of expertise. You have to understand what your audience wants. Then you have to give it to them.
To do this, you need to undertake thorough research.
Researching Your Book
I knew this book would work because I’d been running my blog for three years before I wrote it. On average, in 2015, the site attracted 16,000 visits a month, mainly via organic search.
Below is a table containing more detailed traffic figures for the last 3 months:
This graph shows traffic growth since the site was launched in October 2011:
My audience is a decent size. I engaged with them. I thoroughly researched what they wanted, mainly through exchanges with users via blog comments and email.
I also looked at Facebook writing groups, Twitter, LinkedIn and writing forums to see what writers talk about. I attended local events and talked to people who like to read and write. I wrote the book, confident it would offer value to my audience – it would be something they might buy.
The book is approximately 84,000 words in length. It contains lots of advice. It has helped writers become published short story authors. My head is swelling. I need a lie down.
Seriously though, my point is that this simple approach works:
- Research what your audience wants by engaging with them – ask them what would help them
- Write something that they will find valuable by-
- Researching their number 1 problem
- Suggesting solutions
- Give them actionable advice
- Be realistic and positive in your approach
- Writing the book like you would a blog post
Regarding the last point; here’s why. As an example, Matthew asks for a certain format for blog post submission for a reason. It’s engaging and gives the reader clear, actionable advice.
People like reading information presented in this format. They find it valuable.
For these reasons, the same format works well for a book. When writing my ‘how to’ book, I looked on it like a long, informative blog post. I’d advise you do the same. It works.
To prove the point, I will produce this blog post as a book while I go through the self publishing process on CreateSpace.
How To Self Publish A Book On CreateSpace
Once you’ve written a masterpiece, you need to make it available for purchase. One of the easiest ways of doing this is by self publishing a book using CreateSpace.
You can sign up and use CreateSpace for free.
Once signed up, you can create paperback books, Audio CDs and DVDs. For this example, I’m concentrating on books.
When completed and published, CreateSpace will print your book on demand, producing a single book each time one is ordered online. This means you can sell your book easily without having to invest in any stock.
Now you might be wondering “how much does it cost to self publish a book on createspace?” but don’t worry about that now, I will cover that later on in great detail but in essence it only costs money when people actually buy your book.
Creating Your Book
The first thing we need to do when self publishing on Amazon is to create the book itself.
This is very easy to do and I have broken down all of the steps for you below.
Step 1 – Add A New Title
Login to CreateSpace and select ‘Add New Title’ from your member dashboard.
You start by naming your project and selecting the type of project you want to create.
In this example I’ve named the project ‘How To Self Publish A Book On CreateSpace & Amazon’.
Then I’ve selected ‘Paperback’ to make a book.
I would recommend selecting the ‘Guided’ option the first time you use CreateSpace – it educates you on the creation process. When you’ve created one book, you can use the ‘Expert’ option as you’ll be familiar with it.
It’s worth noting that it is easy to create an electronic Kindle version of the book after you have created the physical version for print. I will talk about that in more detail later.
Click ‘Get Started’ on the guided option to get started.
Step 2 – Title Information
It’s important to make sure the title information you apply is informative and accurate.
There are lots of fields to fill out here so I am going to break them down for you step by step.
By default, the title is the same as the name of your project. You can alter it here if you want to. I always make the project title the same as my book title.
So in this example, my title is: ‘How To Self Publish A Book On CreateSpace & Amazon’.
This is optional, but I’d recommend using it. It will appear when you sell your book on CreateSpace or Amazon.
The subtitle is a second opportunity to entice users to buy your book. The maximum length of the subtitle is 255 characters, including spaces.
Here is the subtitle I have used in this example:
This book contains easy to follow instructions that show you how to self publish a book on Amazon using CreateSpace. Author Chris Fielden has self published many books. He walks you through the setup process giving lots of practical advice along the way.
This subtitle is 254 characters (41 words) long.
The book can have one primary author. It should be the person who wrote the book, or put the book together. The name has the following fields:
- Forename or initial
- Middle name or initial
The only mandatory field is ‘surname’.
In this case I have used my name: ‘Christopher Fielden’. I left the prefix, middle name and suffix blank (although I was tempted to put ‘Warlock’ in the suffix field…).
Here you can add details of anyone who has contributed to the book. This can include illustrators, translators, writers etc. There is a list of around 70 options in the dropdown menu. Just pick the most relevant.
In this example I’ve added ‘From an idea by Matthew Woodward’. This is because I originally approached Matthew about writing a post regarding how I grew the audience on my blog.
Given my background, he suggested writing a post about self publishing on Amazon instead. So I did.
There is a tick-box option to indicate if this book belongs to a series. You might use this if you were writing a series of ‘how to’ books or a series of novels, like J. K. Rowling did with Harry Potter.
If you do select the tick-box you can give the series a title and then give this book a volume number. Volume numbers must be numerical (EG, 1, 2, 3 etc.). This can help readers find the next book in the series if they don’t know its name.
I have not filled in this section, as my book is not part of a series.
The first time you release a book, it will be a first edition.
Therefore the edition number should be 1.
Later, if you make substantial updates to the content, the edition number should be changed accordingly. This means readers know if they are buying the book in its original format or whether it is a later version with edits.
In this example I have entered the number ‘1’ as it is the first time the book has been published.
This simply indicates the primary language the book is written in.
For this example I have selected ‘English’ from the dropdown menu.
This indicates the date the book was first published. For new books, you should leave this field blank. The publication date will then be assigned automatically on the date you approve the book for publication.
If you are creating a printed book, the publication date is highly unlikely to be the same date that you go through the setup process. It is advisable to order a printed proof to review, prior to publication and this takes about a week. I will talk about this in more detail later.
If you are re-publishing a book, you can enter the book’s original publication date.
In this example I have left the publication date blank as this is the first time this book will be published, so it will be assigned automatically.
Save & Continue
Once you are happy with all the title information, click ‘Save & Continue’.
Step 3 – Assigning An ISBN (International Standard Book Number)
Put simply, an ISBN is a unique stock keeping identifier that allows your book to be distributed and sold.
There are four ISBN options when using CreateSpace. These are:
- CreateSpace-Assigned ISBN
- Custom ISBN
- Custom Universal ISBN
- Provide Your Own ISBN
I always use the free ISBNs provided by CreateSpace as they are quick, simple and FREE. Sold to the man who has quit his job to follow a dream and is working with the limited budget of £0…
You can go on and create your book without assigning an ISBN at this stage if you want to. But you will need to assign one before you can publish your book.
If you want to undertake further research on ISBNs, there are links to lots of helpful resources at the bottom of the ISBN page on CreateSpace.
In this example I’ve selected the free option.
Once you assign the ISBN it cannot be changed.
Click ‘Assign Free ISBN’. Two ISBNs will be created for your book – an ISBN-13 and ISBN-10. You can learn why two different ISBNs are generated on Wikipedia.
The ISBNs for this example are:
- ISBN-13: 978-1530743346
- ISBN-10: 1530743346
Step 4 – Creating Your Book’s Interior
Next you need to setup your book’s interior.
This means creating everything apart from the cover.
There are quite a few options here so let me break them down for you below.
There are two choices – black and white and full colour.
I always use black and white, despite featuring author photos in my short story anthologies. This is because full-colour interiors can be way more expensive to print.
In this example on the CreateSpace forum, a full colour version of a 330 page book costs the creator $23.95. The same book in black and white costs $4.81. This is the base cost of printing, before any profit is factored in.
So, I’d strongly recommend using the black and white option to make your book affordable. You can still have a full-colour cover at no extra cost.
You can choose white or cream. There isn’t a right or wrong choice – this is completely subjective.
If you can’t decide, you can order samples. Or you could just create two versions of your book and order a copy with white paper and a copy with cream to compare.
Personally, I don’t think it’s worth the extra hassle and cost.
I’ve always used white. It looks great.
This is where you select the dimensions of your book when it’s printed. The default option is 6” by 9”, but there are lots of other sizes to choose from. Just click ‘Choose a Different Size’.
Again, this is subjective. If you want to know what size would suit your book best, I’d recommend going to a book shop with a tape measure and seeing what size of book appeals to you.
That’s what I did. You get some weird looks, but hey…
I have always used 5” by 8”. It’s popular. It fits on most bookshelves. It’s not so small that the page count becomes really high. I like it.
Page count is an important consideration. A book’s print cost includes a price per page. CreateSpace has a really useful book order calculator that can help you make decisions about all these different options.
As an example, my ‘how to’ writing book is 83,876 words long. Its trim size is 5” by 8”. The book has 364 pages. The print cost, for me as the book’s creator, is $5.21 per copy plus postage – the more copies you order, the cheaper the postage. So my cost per unit is around $6.
The book I am creating as an example is 11,514 words. The book has 90 pages. The print cost, for me as the book’s creator, is $2.15 plus postage.
On the ‘Creating Your Book’s Interior’ page you can download a Word template file for your book. I would strongly recommend doing this. There are two options:
- Blank template
- Formatted template
I always use the formatted template. The title page, copyright page, dedication, contents, acknowledgements, introduction, chapters, correct margins for print etc. are already setup.
It ensures your printed book will look its best, saving the faff and time of doing it yourself.
The only thing I change is the font. It’s Garamond in the template. I prefer Calibri. This is completely subjective.
Once setup, you can use your first book as a template for your second, which speeds the process up for your future books.
Choose How Want To Submit Your Interior
Here, you have 2 options:
- Upload your Book File
- Talk with us about Professional Design Services
I’ve always uploaded my own book file. Anyone who has basic knowledge of Microsoft Word can do this themselves using the templates that CreateSpace provide.
If you have the budget, you can pay CreateSpace to set the book up for you. Prices start at $199. I’ve never used this service as I haven’t found it necessary, so I can’t comment on how good it is.
In this example I have created the interior for the book myself. Therefore, I selected ‘Upload Your Book File’ and submitted the book’s interior as a Word document.
You now have the option to Launch the CreateSpace Interior Reviewer.
This allows you to see how your book will look when printed. Here is an example:
As you can see, the Interior Reviewer shows you print borders and accurately illustrates how the book will look on paper when printed. The reviewer also points out potential errors (EG, if your images are of low quality or your book’s formatting is incorrect).
I always go through the entire book using the reviewer and then make any edits that might be necessary and upload the file again.
At the end of this process, I strongly recommend ordering a printed proof of your book prior to publishing. The online reviewer is very good, but it’s still not the same as seeing the real book in your hands.
That is the only way to review the print quality accurately. I will cover this in more detail later.
Save & Continue
When you’re happy with the look of your book’s interior, click ‘Save & Continue’.
Step 5 – Creating Your Book Cover
I’m not particularly artistic, so I usually have my book covers designed by talented artists.
This is because a good cover makes your book look professional, it builds trust in your buying audience and good cover-art is appealing to the eye so it can aid sales.
CreateSpace offer a professional cover design service. At the time of writing the prices start from $399. I’ve never used these services so cannot comment on their quality.
There are some useful resources on CreateSpace to help you with cover creation, dimensions and formatting:
- The first is: Book Help > Artwork & Templates
- The second is: How to Create a Cover PDF for your Book
Remember – the spine dimensions are dictated by the number of pages in your book.
So, if you’re creating the cover independently, you need to complete the interior setup prior to creating the final version of your cover so you know how many pages will be in the book.
If you get this wrong, your spine will be off-centre and look unprofessional.
There is no limitation on the amount of colours for the cover – use as many as you want.
Select A Finish For Your Book Cover
There are two choices for the finish of the book’s cover. They are:
Again, this is subjective. I usually order 2 proof copies of a book to see if I prefer the matte or gloss finish.
To date, I have always published using a matte finish – I think the colours have more depth and the quality is better. But this is my personal opinion.
For this example I have used a matte finish.
Choose How To Submit The Cover Of Your Book
There are 3 options:
- Build Your Cover Online
- Professional Cover Design (starts at $399)
- Upload a Print-Ready PDF Cover
I would usually upload a print-ready cover, supplied by an artist. In this example I have used the ‘Build Your Cover Online’ option.
This is easy to use and CreateSpace provide some basic templates.
The templates are good (fine for this example), but in my opinion they look like templates and your options are limited.
Employing an artist to create a full cover can add a quality feel to your book and aid sales. You could also ask an artist to create the imagery and insert it into a cover template.
To make a cover, select ‘Build Your Cover Online’ and then click on ‘Launch Cover Creator’. You will be presented with self-explanatory options that allow you to select:
- Front Cover Image (and other images, depending on which theme you select)
- Back Cover Text
- Author Photo
- Publisher Logo
- Font Colour
- Box Colour
- Frame Colour
These options will differ, depending on what is included in your selected theme. You can deselect some of the options (like ‘Publisher Logo’ for example) if you don’t want them included.
There is a fairly extensive image resource in CreateSpace, so you can use their images on your cover for free. Or you can upload your own. In this example, I have uploaded an image I found on Pixabay that is free to use commercially with no attribution required.
I tend to use imagery that supports the subject matter of the book – hence an image of books on a shelf in this example. This can simply help browsing users identify your book as something they might be interested in and aid sales.
‘Back cover text’ is some blurb that appears on the back of the book and is used as a teaser to entice people to buy. This is the text I have used in this example:
This book contains a detailed, easy to understand guide that walks you through the entire process of using CreateSpace to make a book and self publish it on Amazon. It covers how to make printed books and eBooks for Kindle.
It is written by Christopher Fielden, an author who has published all his books through Amazon and CreateSpace: www.christopherfielden.com
Chris gives practical advice and talks candidly about his real-life experiences with self publishing. This includes details of how to price your book and how much money you can expect to make by selling it.
The book was originally written as a post for Matthew Woodward’s award winning internet marketing blog: www.matthewwoodward.co.uk
Once you are happy with your cover, click ‘Submit Cover’.
Then click ‘Complete Cover’ and on the next screen click ‘Save’. Job done.
Step 6 – Finalising Your Setup
You are now ready to complete the setup of your book and submit it for review.
The review process takes up to 24 hours. CreateSpace will check that your book’s interior and cover are formatted correctly for print.
You will be notified by email when the review process is complete. If there are any problems, they will be highlighted. You can then review them, make any necessary edits and resubmit the file.
Each time you resubmit files, it takes up to 24 hours for the files to be reviewed and approved.
Once you have completed the setup process, you need to proof your book before publishing it.
How To Proof Your Book Before Self Publishing On Amazon
Firstly, take note of any potential issues highlighted during the review process.
it is very important that you take care of these issues before self publishing on Amazon.
In the screenshot above, you can see that a warning about image quality was highlighted after my files were reviewed.
This is a fault I encounter regularly through the short story competition I run.
This is because I can’t always get decent quality photos from the winning authors featured in the anthology – sometimes they aren’t tech-savvy enough to give me what I need.
CreateSpace advise using images with at least 300 DPI (dots per inch) to make sure the pictures print clearly. I have found that even images under 200 DPI usually print well. I’d just advise using the highest quality images you can.
In this instance, some of the screenshots I used are below 200 DPI. I decided to order a printed proof of the book and review how they look before publishing. They will probably look fine in print.
Step 1 – View A Digital Proof
The Digital Proofer is the same as the Interior Reviewer described earlier.
This time, your cover will appear in the reviewer as part of the book.
This gives you an idea of how it will be trimmed during the printing process.
You can also download a PDF proof of the book. The PDF will not contain the cover, but allows you to review the rest of the interior.
Both the digital reviewer and the PDF proof are useful. They will help you spot errors.
However, as I mentioned before, I strongly recommend buying a printed proof to review before publishing your book.
Step 2 – Order A Printed Proof
This is very simple – it’s like using a shop. Well… it is using a shop.
I won’t insult readers’ intelligence by going through it step by step. Simply order a book.
In this example, the proof cost $2.15 plus postage.
OK, postage is worth a mention.
You will be presented with three options. Two of them are somewhat archaic and remind me of delivery times available in ancient history. You might as well strap the book to a raven and see what happens.
This order was being placed on 30th March 2016. Delivery mid-May? Blimey…
I always go for the fastest delivery time possible. OK, you have to pay extra postage costs, but I’m usually working to a deadline and need to get the job done.
Once you have received the book, read it. The whole thing.
You’ll be amazed how many errors you find.
For some reason, I always pick typos up better when reading words in print than I do on a computer screen.
I then fix typos and errors, resubmit the updated files and go through the review process a second time. Unless there were any major problems with the printed proof, I just use the digital proofer the second time round.
In this example, the book’s format was fine and the images looked OK. I simply fixed typos and resubmitted the book.
Step 3 – Approve The Proof Copy
This option approves your proof for publication.
In this example, the second time round I was happy so I approved the proof.
Step 4 – Make Any Changes
This option takes you back and allows you to make changes to the interior and cover.
If you click the ‘Change’ button, you HAVE to go through the review process again.
I used this option the first time I went through the process, after receiving a printed proof of the book.
How To Distribute & Sell Your Book
Once your book is setup, proofed and ready to release, you need to decide where to sell it.
You can set this up while your book is going through the review process to save time later.
Step 1 – Choose Your Channels (Self publishing on Amazon)
There are three main distribution channels. They are:
- Amazon Europe
- CreateSpace eStore
The Amazon options simply make the book available on all their country-specific websites (EG, Canada, France, Germany, India, USA etc.).
The CreateSpace eStore allows the book to be purchased on the CreateSpace website.
Beneath these distribution channels you will see three expanded distribution options:
- Libraries & Academic Institutions
- CreateSpace Direct
- Book Stores & Online Retailers
I always sell books through as many channels as possible.
To my mind, the more readily available your book is, the more exposure it receives. This creates more opportunity to generate sales.
However, it is worth noting that if you sell through expanded distribution, the minimum price threshold for your printed book will be higher.
This is because the printing and distribution costs increase when more companies are involved in a sale.
In this example:
- If I select all six sales channels, the minimum price I can sell at is $5.38
- If I only select the first three sales channels, the minimum price I can sell at is $3.59
This does not mean you can sell the book at a lower price through the first three sales channels and make more money per-unit.
It just means customers can buy the book at a lower price. I’ll talk about this more in the pricing section below.
- ‘Libraries & Academic Institutions’ is self-explanatory – it makes the book available through libraries, schools, universities etc.
- ‘CreateSpace Direct’ allows CreateSpace certified resellers, like independent bookshops, to sell your book.
To enable ‘Book Stores & Online Retailers’, you have to setup a BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications) code. This is a code that identifies your book’s subject matter and categorises it. You can learn more about BISAC codes here.
To set this up, click on ‘Select a BISAC code here’ or go to ‘Description’ in the left menu (both links take you to the same page).
I talk though this process in ‘BISAC Category’ below.
For some reason, CreateSpace seem to have the order of this part of the process a bit backwards, so you just have to do it in the wrong order. For the sake of consistency, I’m talking it through in the same order it appears in the main menu.
Once you have completed ‘4. Description’ simply select that channel and then click ‘Save & Continue’.
Discount Codes & eStore Setup
There are two links on the ‘Channels’ page that allow you to setup discount codes and your CreateSpace eStore.
The Discount Codes option is self-explanatory – you can create discount codes that can be applied to all your books on this page. You can read a recent resource about CreateSpace discount codes here.
The CreateSpace eStore allows you to setup an eStore on CreateSpace that you can direct your customers to. It’s very simple to use. You can learn a lot more about the eStore here.
You do NOT have to setup discount codes or create an eStore when self publishing on Amazon.
Step 2 – Setup Your Pricing
The pricing process is very straight forward.
CreateSpace tells you the minimum price you can sell a book for.
This is based on the selections you have made during the setup process and includes print and distribution costs. They then calculate your royalties in different currencies as you alter the sale price.
Far more detail can be found on the CreateSpace royalty advice page. This resource covers royalty splits with retailers and the costs of print in different formats and countries. You can also use the CreateSpace royalty calculator.
The minimum list price for this example book is $5.38. This includes printing and distribution costs.
If I set the price at $5.38, I would not make any profit when selling through Expanded Distribution channels.
I have set the price at $6.00. This means the royalties I will receive every time a customer buys a printed copy of this example book are as follows:
- $1.45 every time a printed book is sold on Amazon.com
- $2.65 every time a printed book is sold through the CreateSpace eStore
- $0.25 every time a printed book is sold through Expanded Distribution
- £1.34 ($1.96) every time a printed book is sold on Amazon.co.uk
- €2.02 ($2.29) every time a printed book is sold through Amazon in Europe
I have selected the tick boxes that suggest GPB and EUR prices based on the USD price. This means that the prices of books in different countries will alter as currency exchange rates fluctuate.
With my other books I do not do this. This is because I want to offer a set price for my books in the UK to match with my marketing efforts.
If the UK price changed every time the exchange rate altered, it would be very difficult to offer consistent pricing information and discounts when advertising.
So you can see a clear example, here is how I price my book ‘How to Write a Short Story, Get Published & Make Money’.
The royalties I receive every time a customer buys a book are as follows:
- $8.28 every time a printed book is sold on Amazon.com
- $12.78 every time a printed book is sold through the CreateSpace eStore
- $3.78 every time a printed book is sold through Expanded Distribution
- £4.34 ($6.34) every time a printed book is sold on Amazon.co.uk
- €7.32 ($8.30) every time a printed book is sold through Amazon in Europe
Amazon also makes the book available in many other countries, like Canada for example.
The price the book is sold for in other countries is based on the USD price of the book and, to the best of my knowledge, can’t be altered.
As an example, take a look at the page for my book on Amazon in Canada.
In my opinion, if you are offering a book that contains lots of information, value, entertainment, etc. you should not sell it too cheaply. It should be priced based on how much work went into it and how much the buyer will gain from it. Do NOT undervalue your product.
To put this into context, ‘How to Write a Short Story, Get Published & Make Money’ took me six years to write.
There was a lot of research involved. I needed to take time to gain the relevant experience to write the book in a way that would offer value. I dread to think how many hours went into it.
Therefore, I believe it is priced reasonably.
As the book in this example ‘How To Self Publish A Book On CreateSpace & Amazon’ was not written with profit in mind, I have kept the price low.
It’s just an example and the majority of the book’s content will be available for free online on Matthew’s blog, so it seems unreasonable to charge a high fee.
Expanded Distribution Price Differences
The distribution methods you select can alter the minimum price you can charge for a book.
If you only select the three main distribution channels – Amazon.com, Amazon Europe and CreateSpace eStore – the minimum list pricing works like this:
In this example, I can price the printed book from as low as $3.59.
However, I’d make next to $0 in royalties:
- $0.00 every time a printed book is sold on Amazon.com
- $0.72 every time a printed book is sold through the CreateSpace eStore
To sell the book in the UK and Europe, I would have to change the individual minimum pricing in those territories, like this:
By setting the GBP price to £2.75 and the EUR price to €3.30, I would receive:
- £0.45 ($0.66) every time a printed book is sold on Amazon.co.uk
- €0.78 ($0.89) every time a printed book is sold through Amazon in Europe
I’ll be worth millions in no time…
If I change the USD figure to $5.38 (the minimum list price available when using Expanded Distribution) and use this to calculate GBP and EUR prices, the royalty works out like this:
In this example I would make:
- $1.07 every time a printed book is sold on Amazon.com
- $2.15 every time a printed book is sold through the CreateSpace eStore
- £1.08 ($1.58) every time a printed book is sold on Amazon.co.uk
- €1.68 ($1.91) every time a printed book is sold through Amazon in Europe
If I now select and enable all the Expanded Distribution channels, the minimum list price for this example book would be $5.38.
If I price it at $5.38, the royalties work out like this:
In this example I would make:
- $1.07 every time a printed book is sold on Amazon.com
- $2.15 every time a printed book is sold through the CreateSpace eStore
- $0.00 every time a printed book is sold through Expanded Distribution
- £1.08 ($1.58) every time a printed book is sold on Amazon.co.uk
- €1.68 ($1.91) every time a printed book is sold through Amazon in Europe
The more astute among you will have noticed that this gives me exactly the same royalty amounts as not having Expanded Distribution channels selected.
This is why I always use all the distribution channels available.
Why would anyone not want to use all the Expanded Distribution channels?
Well, a writer might want to offer their book to family and friends at the cheapest price possible.
Or an author might have developed a marketing plan that offers the book at low rates to a huge email database, so they might want to concentrate all their efforts on selling directly to that audience at a low price/high volume.
There are lots of potential reasons.
Personally, I like to make my books as widely available as possible, so I use all the channels.
It’s worth noting that selecting ONLY the CreateSpace eStore channel is the cheapest way to sell your book. In this example, you could sell it for as little as $2.69 but you’d receive zero in royalties.
Step 3 – Cover Finish
I already selected the cover finish earlier in the process. In this example I selected matte.
This option appears here to make it easy to order proof copies of the book with a matte or gloss cover without having to go back through the review process.
Step 4 – Add Your Description
This part of the process sets up all the information for the sales page.
It allows you to add more detail for prospective customers to help them decide if they want to buy your book.
You can also add tags to help people find your book when searching on Amazon.
The description for your book can be up to 4,000 characters in length. It will appear on the sales page in online shops.
You could use the blurb from the back of the book, but this is your chance to give prospective customers more information and entice them to buy your book.
In this example, I have used the following description (it’s an extended version of the blurb from the back of the book):
This book contains a detailed, easy to understand guide that walks you through the entire process of using CreateSpace to make a book and self publish it on Amazon. It covers how to make printed books and eBooks in Kindle format and contains links to many useful online resources that can help you research the implications of choices made through the creation process.
It is written by Christopher Fielden, an author who has published all his books through Amazon and CreateSpace and runs a popular writing blog that offers lots of free resources for short story and fiction writers.
Chris gives practical advice and talks candidly about his real-life experiences with self publishing. He includes details of how to price your book, how much money you can expect to make by selling it and gives his expert opinion on the different decisions you will have to make while creating your book.
Chris also talks about the pros and cons of using Amazon and CreateSpace to publish and distribute your books.
The book was originally written as a post for Matthew Woodward’s award winning internet marketing blog.
Matthew asked Chris to write a post about publishing books on Amazon for his audience. To do this, Chris had to go through the publication process to create examples readers could learn from. So this book was created for that reason. It is sold at a cheap price as it was not originally created to make money – just to be an informative resource for other writers and entrepreneurs to learn from.
This example is 1,496 characters in length, which equates to 255 words.
Amazon and CreateSpace do not allow you to include URLs in descriptions, so I have not used any.
You can see all the rules for product descriptions here.
Selecting a BISAC category is easy – simply use the dropdown lists. There are 100s of them.
You will need to look through them and select the one that is most relevant to your book.
You can also enter a BISAC code, if you already know it.
In this example I have selected ‘Language Arts & Disciplines / Publishing’.
The author biography can be up to 2,500 characters in length and displays on your book’s sales pages.
I always try and use an author biography that is relevant to the book I am publishing.
In this example, I need to show that my expertise qualifies me to write about the subject matter of the book.
This is the biography I used:
I was born in the 70s, which is too long ago for my liking.
I played drums in a rock band for 15 years and was fortunate enough to tour all over the world.
After the band stopped being a profession and became a hobby, I worked as Operations Director at an award winning digital agency in the UK. During this time I started writing fiction. I self published my first book, Wicked Game, in 2010.
I used Lulu to create the printed book and CreateSpace to make the Kindle version of the book to sell and distribute on Amazon.
Since then I have had many short stories published through writing competitions and magazines.
HOW TO WRITE A SHORT STORY GET PUBLISHED & MAKE MONEY
Due to my success with short story writing, I recently wrote and released a book called How To Write A Short Story, Get Published & Make Money. It uses my published stories as case studies, so writers can see how all the different tips and advice in the book were used in practice to achieve publishing success.
I published both print and Kindle versions of the book on Amazon using CreateSpace.
TO HULL & BACK HUMOROUS SHORT STORY COMPETITION
I run the ‘To Hull & Back’ annual humorous short story competition, which offers the greatest prize in the known macrocosm. Part of it is cash (the top prize is currently £1,000), but there is more… much more. You’ll have to check my website for full details.
Every year I publish an anthology of the winning stories on Amazon, using CreateSpace.
I run a popular writing blog. My website contains many free resources to help authors develop their short story writing and see their words in print. All the advice I give is practical and based on real-life writing and publishing experience.
I have a lot of experience using different platforms to self publish my stories and books. I now publish all my books on Amazon using CreateSpace. This book was originally written as a post for Matthew Woodward’s award winning internet marketing blog. I wrote it as I thought other writers might find it helpful when considering self publishing their own work.
This example is 2,083 characters in length, which equates to 369 words. Again, I have not used any URLs.
Simply select the language your book is written in from the dropdown list.
In this example I have selected English.
Country Of Publication
Select the country you are publishing the book from.
I live in the UK, so in this example I have selected United Kingdom.
Search keywords are entered to help customers find your book when using Amazon’s search engine. So this is similar to old style meta-tags on websites.
You can add up to five comma-separated keywords or phrases that will help people find your book.
In this example, I have used the following:
self publishing, self publish, how to self publish, createspace, amazon
Contains Adult Content
This is a tick box that you should select if your book contains content that is not suitable for minors under the age of 18.
In this example I have not ticked the box as the book doesn’t contain anything that might not be suitable for children.
If your book is modified for the visually impaired (EG, the font size is over 16 point), you can tick this box.
I don’t generally use print that large – standard print is anywhere from 10 to 12 point – as using a large print size increases the amount of pages in a book and therefore the print cost.
In this example I have not ticked the box.
Save & Continue
Click the ‘Save & Continue’ button when you are happy with your description.
Your Book Is Now Ready to Publish
Your book is now complete and ready to publish. It can be made available for sale on:
- CreateSpace almost immediately
- on Amazon within 3 to 5 business days (often more quickly)
- via Expanded Distribution within 6 to 8 weeks
CONGRATULATIONS – you are now a self published author :-)
I told you self publishing on Amazon was easy once you know how!
How To Self Publish A Book On Amazon Kindle
It’s fairly easy to publish a book in Kindle format on Amazon.
CreateSpace offer this useful resource that talks you through the basics.
You don’t have to publish on Kindle. However, I recommend that you do. Authors who publish on Kindle as well as in print open themselves up to millions of Kindle customers.
If your book is on Kindle you are highly likely to make more money.
Step 1 – Convert Your Book To Kindle Format
So, click the ‘I want to publish my book on Kindle’ button.
Here you have two options:
- Transfer and convert CreateSpace interior file
- I will upload a separate interior file on KDP
I always choose the first option. Then hit ‘Continue’.
In theory, your book will look perfect on Kindle straight away. In practice, I’ve found it isn’t that simple.
It’s still worth trying the first option as Amazon do make updates that improve their KDP services. Once your CreateSpace file is converted, you get to review your book in Kindle format and, if you’re not happy with the way it looks, you can upload a different file.
So, I recommend trying this option first.
On the next screen you have to make two selections. The first selection is:
- Publishing rights status:
- This is a public domain work
- This is not a public domain work and I hold the necessary publishing rights
If you are publishing a book that is in the public domain (written by someone else but the Copyright has expired) you select the first option.
If you have written your own book then you own the Copyright (because you wrote it) so you should select the second option.
You should also select this option if you have purchased publishing rights for a book written by someone else. I have selected this option for this example.
If you want to learn more about copyright, Wikipedia is a good place to start. There is also a useful resource on the UK government website about the intellectual property office that has links to lots of information.
The second selection you need to make on this page is:
- Select a digital right management (DRM) option:
- Enable digital rights management
- Do not enable digital rights management
Put simply, if you enable DRM you stop Kindle customers giving your book to other Kindle users. If you do not enable DRM, then Kindle users can share your book freely.
Usually, I’d enable DRM. Kindle customers can still lend your book to other users for a short period of time (so they can see if they want to purchase it) or buy it as a gift for another user, but it stops your book being distributed for free.
In this example, because the majority of the content is available for free online, I haven’t enabled DRM. Authors might choose to select this option if they are trying to get exposure for themselves and want the book shared as widely as possible.
You must choose what suits you best. DRM options cannot be changed, so make sure you are happy with your decision before continuing.
To continue, click ‘Submit my files to KDP’.
At this point you will be asked to login to Amazon.
To publish on Kindle you need to setup a KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) account.
You can do this easily using your existing Amazon account (assuming you have one – most people seem to…). If you don’t have an Amazon account, set one up.
When you login, you will be taken to your bookshelf. Your book will be ready to review and edit. Click on ‘Continue setup’.
You will be given the option to enrol your book in KDP Select. You can learn more about KDP Select here – it allows you to reach more readers and make more money on Amazon.
If you choose to enrol your book in KDP Select, you cannot make it available in digital format anywhere else. I don’t enrol my books in KDP Select because I also sell the books in PDF format on my website.
You will just have to decide if KDP Select is right for your book by researching it.
Next, you need to check through your book details. A lot of this will be auto-populated from the information you entered in CreateSpace.
Step 2 – Entering Your Kindle Book Details
Most of the details for your Kindle book will be copied over from you have created on CreateSpace.
This field will be auto-populated from CreateSpace – do not change it. I have not changed the name in this example, so it reads ‘How To Self Publish A Book On CreateSpace & Amazon’.
This does not auto-populate as it is not the same as the subtitle option on CreateSpace. The subtitle and title of your book combined can only contain 200 characters.
You can learn more about KDP subtitles here.
In this instance I have added the following subtitle:
An easy to understand ‘how to’ guide by an experienced self published author.
The combined length of the title and subtitle in this example is 127 characters (21 words).
Part Of A Series
This self populates from CreateSpace.
I have left it blank as the book in this example is not part of a series.
Again, this self populates.
I have left the edition number as 1 as it is the first time the book has been published.
KDP is not a publisher – it’s a service that allows authors and publishers to sell their books on Amazon.
So in this example I have entered my name ‘Christopher Fielden’ as I am self publishing.
Again, this information is taken from CreateSpace so you don’t need to change it.
KDP does not support the same contributors list as CreateSpace – there are only nine options.
Simply look through the contributor options and see if any of them are relevant to your book.
As none of them were relevant for this example book, I did not add any contributors.
Auto-populated. ‘English’ in this example.
You cannot use your printed book’s ISBN for the digital version. KDP does not offer free ISBNs. You would have to purchase one.
I don’t usually purchase a separate ISBN for my eBooks. Amazon assign an ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) which allows your product to be found.
In this example I have left the field blank.
Step 3 – Verify Publishing Rights
This is Auto-populated from CreateSpace.
You should not change this to publish on Kindle.
Step 4 – Targeting Your Book To Customers
This section has some extra options in KDP that are not supported in CreateSpace.
The BISAC information auto-populates from CreateSpace.
Age Range (optional)
This can help potential customers understand if a book is aimed at children (or any other age group).
For this example I have left it blank as I don’t think it’s relevant.
US Grade Range (optional)
Again, this is primarily used for assessing reading ability in children.
In this example I have left it blank as it is not relevant to the example book.
This self populates from CreateSpace.
However, you can add up to seven search phrases in KDP, so in this example I have added a couple of extras:
self publishing, self publish, how to self publish, createspace, amazon, self publish a book, self publishing books
Step 5 – Select Your Book Release Option
You have two choices here.
You can make your book ready for release as soon as you have approved it.
Or you can make it available for sale prior to release. Some authors might choose to do this to help fund a writing project.
In this instance I have selected ‘I am ready to release my book now’ as it is complete.
Step 6 – Upload Or Create A Book Cover
This is auto-generated using the cover from CreateSpace.
I wouldn’t recommend changing it.
Step 7 – Upload Your Book File
This section is all auto-populated from CreateSpace. The DRM options you’ve chosen will have been transferred.
The book content file generated for CreateSpace will have been used to make a Kindle version of the book and it will have been spellchecked.
Step 8 – Preview Your Book
I strongly recommend previewing your entire book. Sometimes formatting errors occur when using the automated process from CreateSpace to KDP.
You have two options. You can use the Online Previewer, which is very similar to the one in CreateSpace. Or you can download the file and view it on your Kindle (if you have one).
I always use the Online Previewer.
In this example, I encountered quite a few formatting errors – one was on the first page.
My copyright information was appearing on my title page meaning the conversion process didn’t work correctly.
Unfortunately, I experience this problem every time I publish a book in this manner (sigh).
So, I made the following changes to my master Word file:
- Removed page numbers (from the footer of each page)
- Removed page titles (from the head section of each page)
- Replaced ‘End of Section’ formatting with ‘Page Break’ formatting
- Removed the contents page
- Put a carriage return in before each title that I wanted aligned centrally – if you don’t, it comes out aligned left for some reason
- Changed anything else that cocked up how the book looks in Kindle format
I resubmitted it. Second time round it was fine.
When you are happy with the way your book looks, click ‘Save & Continue’.
Step 9 – Verify Your Publishing Territories
Here you have two options:
- Worldwide rights – all territories
- Individual territories – select territories
If you have written the book you are publishing, you own worldwide rights, so select the first option.
If you have purchased rights for the book you are publishing you must select the territories for the rights you own.
In this example, I have selected ‘worldwide rights’ because I wrote the book.
Step 10 – Set Your Pricing & Royalty
Firstly, there are 2 options:
- 35% Royalty
- 70% Royalty
You can learn more about the two different royalty options here.
The 35% Royalty option allows you to sell the book for less, but you only receive a 35% royalty in most world territories. The minimum sale price in this example is $0.99. The maximum charge using this option is a whopping $200.
The 70% Royalty option means you receive more money each time an eBook is sold, but you have to charge more for your book. In this example, the minimum price is $2.99. The maximum charge is $9.99.
You have to decide what works best for you based on your circumstances. I usually use the 70% Royalty option as that works best for me and my price point.
In this example, I am using the 35% Royalty option as the book was not written with profit in mind and most of the content is available to read for free online.
Once you have made your royalty selection you can start playing with prices in a list of world territories.
I usually price the UK and Europe individually and then set all other world territory prices based on the USD list price.
In this example, for the sake of ease, I am basing all territories on the USD price. This means royalties work out like this:
These figures will change, based on current exchange rates and tax rates in different world territories.
There are lots of links to other resources on this page in KDP that will give information on pricing in different countries.
Step 11 – Kindle MatchBook
This option allows you to sell the Kindle version of your book to customers that have already purchased your printed book at a reduced price, or for free.
In this example, I have made the book available for free.
Step 12 – Kindle Book Lending
This option allows people who buy your book in Kindle format to lend it to family and friends for free for up to 14 days.
You can learn more about Kindle Book Lending here.
In this example, I have allowed lending.
Step 13 – Save & Publish
Once you have reviewed Amazon’s Terms & Conditions, tick the box and then click ‘Save & Publish’.
CONGRATULATIONS – not only are you a self published author, you have books available in print and in Kindle format – BOOM.
The Pros & Cons Of Self Publishing On Amazon & CreateSpace
The pros have probably been highlighted in this post already. But here is a quick overview:
- Free and easy to use
- Little or no monetary cost required to produce a book
- Distribution through a massive online global network
- Your book made available on Amazon – a brand most people trust and are comfortable buying from
- A print on demand service meaning you don’t invest in or hold any stock, so low risk
- The option to convert your printed book into eBook Kindle format quickly and easily
- Money paid direct into your bank account every month as sales are made
I think you can see why I use CreateSpace…
However, there are a couple of cons to be aware of.
Drawback #1 – Time
Self publishing requires a lot of hard work.
While the financial cost is negligible, the amount of time you have to sink into writing, editing, formatting, proofreading, marketing and sales is phenomenal.
Don’t let this put you off. Producing a book is immensely rewarding. Selling books even more so. I highly recommend it.
Drawback #2 – Selling Your Printed Books In Shops
Some bookshops refuse to stock CreateSpace books. This is because some people in the book-selling industry feel that Amazon is putting the traditional High Street bookshop out of business. I understand this viewpoint and am sympathetic to the situation.
Despite this, I’ve still chosen to use CreateSpace and Amazon for my books. This is because I run a website. The vast majority of my audience find me through the website and I need to offer an easy way for them to purchase books online.
Amazon and CreateSpace fulfil my business need. They allow my audience to purchase my books with ease from a trusted online shop.
A few bookshop workers I’ve talked with advised me to avoid Amazon and employ a publisher for self-funding authors (a vanity publisher) so bookshops are more likely to stock your book. They said the print quality and book cover quality tend to be better.
This is true, but it’s marginal. The quality of CreateSpace’s printed books is good. Also, while I’m sympathetic to bookshops, I feel those that dismiss Amazon are failing to fully understand the self publishing author’s point of view.
Using a professional publishing service costs money, anywhere from £750 to thousands of pounds for a run of books. You then have to sell them yourself or pay the publisher to help you market and distribute your book. You can learn loads more about vanity publishers here.
In contrast, using CreateSpace involves very little cost/investment, as you will have learned by reading this far.
From this, I think you can see why I choose to use Amazon. I’d love to be able to have my books stocked in bookshops, but if using Amazon means a bookshop might refuse to stock my book, then that’s a sacrifice I’ll have to make.
I would add that Foyles bookshop – in Bristol, UK – have been incredibly supportive to me as an author. While they won’t stock the books I publish through CreateSpace, they have allowed me to use their shop for book launch events and are very accommodating. They like to support local authors.
The last thing I want to do is paint a bad picture of shops, or online retailers for that matter. I simply wanted to make authors aware of the situation in the industry at the moment so they can decide what works best for them.
Due to my website, online retail is best for me. Physical books in shops might be better for other authors. You just have to decide what works best for you and your situation.
How Much Money Can You Make From Selling Books?
I believe the potential is huge, especially from electronic copies where the production cost is minimal.
How much do I make from selling books?
Not as much as I’d like. Yet.
Here are my revenue figures from book sales over the last six months.
- March 2016 = £72.12
- February 2016 = £32.68
- January 2016 = £67.62
- December 2015 = £101.46
- November 2015 = £87.01
- December 2015 = £59.96
As you can see, I’m not a rich man…
This is the amount I received in my bank account after all the Amazon and CreateSpace costs had been deducted. These royalties came from print and Kindle books. Income from all currencies had been converted into GBP prior to me receiving the payment.
Amazon pays royalties directly into my bank account at the end of each month. They usually come through in four to six separate payments, depending on which world territories the books were sold in.
Why don’t I make more money (yet)?
In my opinion, writing a book equates to around 20% of the work required to make money from writing. The other 80% of the work is marketing the book and selling it.
I’ve written a book aimed at my target market, published it and distributed it through CreateSpace and Amazon. So, that’s 20% of the work complete.
I have a website that has a lot of users that help me present myself in the marketplace as an expert and trusted brand. Through this I have:
- Developed an audience – my site currently receives about 18,000 visits a month
- Started an email list – my list currently has 1,331 subscribers – this grows by around 30 to 50 subscribers a month
- I have started to sell the book directly, in print and PDF format, through my website
- I offer a free PDF taster download so potential customers can read the first 12,000 words of the book to see if they like it
- I offer discounts to my email subscribers
Through these efforts, I reckon I’ve done another 10% of the work required (remember, I only left my day job at the end of February 2016).
So that means I still have another 70% of the work to do. This will involve all of the following activities (and more I’m yet to think of/research) on an ongoing basis:
- Paid advertising online (AdWords, Facebook, Bing and other ad platforms)
- Paid print advertising in publications relevant to my product (Writers’ Forum, Writing Magazine)
- Investigating the potential of Groupon and Wowcher campaigns
- Writing for other blogs (like I am here) to reach a wider audience
- Creating more free resources on my website to attract more visitors and grow my audience
- Continuing to grow my email list
- Engaging with writing groups, universities, magazine editors, website administrators, literary festivals etc. and seeing if I can do talks or presentations for them
- Undertaking some conversion rate optimisation work on my website
- Researching other marketing opportunities
As you can see, there is a lot of work still to do.
But I’m confident it will generate more sales and pay off in the long run. I currently sell books and those sales figures are increasing year on year. What I’m doing is working.
Maybe I’ll write about that in more detail at a later date, when I am further through the marketing process.
Wrapping It Up
Writing this post and creating the example book ‘How To Self Publish A Book On CreateSpace & Amazon’ took approximately 100 hours.
That’s about 2 weeks’ work. This does not include all the hands on expertise I have developed by publishing books for years of course…
The post and book are around 11,000 words in length. While the writing and creation process was fairly intense, this shows what you can achieve if you put your mind to it.
Most books would take longer to produce. In contrast, as I already mentioned, my book ‘How to Write a Short Story, Get Published & Make Money’ took six years to research and complete.
But the publication process offered by CreateSpace is quick and gives authors an easy route to market.
You can see the example book created while writing this post in the following places:
So now you know how to self publish a book on Amazon, what are you waiting for? Anyone can start self publishing on Amazon today!
Do You Have A Question?
I’ve tried to address all the potential questions writers might have along the way. I’m sure I’ve missed many… luckily there’s a comment form at the bottom of the post.
I will do my best to respond to any questions or comments in a timely manner.