Thinking of using CreateSpace to publish your book? You might want to read these authors’ complaints first. They discuss interior and cover problems, poor print quality, bad customer service, making authors pay for CreateSpace’s mistakes, CreateSpace getting backed up, and listing books as “unavailable” during the Christmas buying season, which hurt authors’ sales, and more.
At the end of 2009, the name BookSurge was retired (after previously being called Digitz, and then GreatUnpublished) and that business was rolled under the CreateSpace name. Since there were so many complaints about BookSurge posted online (we were a previous victim as well), we investigated CreateSpace’s forum in April, 2010 to see if things had gotten better. Changing a name doesn’t make a business instantly better! You can see our 2010 findings (they’re not pretty!) HERE. We checked again in 2011 and there were, once again, plenty of new complaints.
We have continued to receive complaints from authors about CreateSpace since that time and, this week, we decided to revisit their forum to see if things have improved. We weren’t surprised by what we found.
CreateSpace claims to be “free” (if you follow all their rules and specs to the letter) but they sure can be expensive! If you attempt their “free” service, they try to upsell you on their expensive services along the way. Some authors are spending hundreds to thousands of dollars to get their books published at CreateSpace. In fact, for comparable services, the price is $675 at BookLocker.com vs. $1,486.00 (OUCH!) at CreateSpace. For the record, BookLocker also offers a D.I.Y. program.
Here are some comments we have received directly from CreateSpace authors via email:
“My publishers (CreateSpace) are nearly impossible to communicate with and miscommunication abounds. They cost me money when trying to make changes. I just went through my third fiasco with them trying to add a new afterword. I was also originally sold a package by an intelligent, articulate man, then passed over to a group of teenagers who are unprofessional and sloppy. All the work I paid for, such as interior design and cover design, I ended up doing myself. I’d like to work with a more professional company that communicates clearly and states fees upfront.”
“…the price CreateSpace wants is pushing us to sell out of the ballpark for paperback children’s books.”
“I like the idea of a POD publisher that will only print a book with at least a little merit.” EDITOR’S NOTE: (CreateSpace publishes pretty much anything and everything. A librarian we know says he refuses to order CreateSpace books because the ones he’s seen are so bad.)
“My manuscript was virtually fully formatted. In the Interior Concept they (CreateSpace) sent me, there were several errors, which I duly pointed out. Some remained in the Proofs, and now they want to charge me additional fees to make the changes (the changes that I had already requested!). They do not seem very professional and I am getting frustrated.”
“I am very disappointed with the lack of distribution support.”
“I have had a book published by CreateSpace but am not happy with them. I want to withdraw it from them and would like someone else to reprint it.”
If CreateSpace actually vetted manuscripts before publishing them, authors’ time and money would not be wasted, like with the two samples below.
“I felt I was scammed by createspace. I went through all their steps to include ordering a proof of my book. They approved the book and even listed it for sale. However, days later they sent me a message stating that they were going to discontinue it because it contains general information that was available on the internet…”
“One of my books was already published by CreateSpace and was recently BANNED on amazon.com.”
As we did in April, 2010 and 2011, we recently checked out CreateSpace’s own message board to see if their authors are still posting complaints about them. They are! Here’s what we found (and there are plenty more where these came from):
WHAT?! CREATESPACE BOOKS “OUT OF STOCK” OR DELIVERY TIMES TOO LONG FOR CHRISTMAS?! SOME AUTHORS PAID FOR ADVERTISING FOR CHRISTMAS! – Of course, this hurts authors’ sales! Isn’t this a violation of CreateSpace’s contract with authors?!
“Re: Temporarily Out of Stock. Hi. The same thing happened to us. We learned about it when somebody sent us a message that they couldn’t buy our book.” and “According to Amazon’s response, their printers got too backed up during the holidays, forcing them to list titles as ‘out of stock.'”
“I am very upset about this same issue with my book, which I just advertised online to about 100,000 people through various social media, only to discover through their replies that my book was suddenly showing ‘Out of Stock.’ I have lost an untold number of sales and have been offered nothing but an apology due to ‘high holiday volume’ – mind you – which none of us is profiting from… This is called overpromising and under delivering… I expected the Amazon channel to be fully functional to sell my book, above all during the holiday season! And from this thread I understand there is a pattern here? That CreateSpace/Amazon has a history of doing this over the most important sales season of the year?? Is this not a breach of contract with serious damages?”
“We got the same canned response.”
“I received the same exact message from CreateSpace. Absolutely unacceptable.”
“…now, just as our book sales pick up for the holidays, our book is showing 3-5 weeks for availability! This completely kills our typical Christmas sales! December is our biggest month!!”
“I have 8 books in print. 6 of them are now listed as being out of stock. I am heartbroken. I’ve received the same email response as everyone else from CreateSpace and Author Central.”
“I find no rhyme or reason to this at all. 2 of my books are good sellers. One says 2 day delay the other says out of stock. The out of stock one seems to have dropped off the face of the earth, when this book sells regularly. My Christmas related book (out of stock) has sold very little during the year which is understandable, however, that is the one I paid for advertising purposefully for the holidays.”
NOTE: BookLocker.com has NEVER listed their books as unavailable in this manner. All active books are for sale year-’round. CreateSpace’s practice of making their own books unavailable due to high holiday demand is inexcusable and unprofessional!”
“VERY POOR PRINT BOOK QUALITY”
“Replacement orders of replacement orders of replacement orders. I have had it with CreateSpace and their poor printing quality! The first order of 11 copies of my book, (title removed), had printing that was alternately dark and light. CreateSpace sent a replacement order. These had bowed pages caused by something in the binding — it made it look like the book had a hole when looking at it from the top, and wavy pages from the side. They looked horrible stacked. CreateSpace send a replacement order again — it was just as bad. This time, they said they would (put) “quality measures” into the process. Last week, I received a replacement order of the replacement order of the replacement order — these books were the worst yet….they look split right through the middle…”
“Upon closer examination it turns out that the entire book is printed, text included, in half-tone, i.e. like a B&W photograph. Every letter is made up of tiny dots with gaps between. Even supposedly solid lines are actually dashed. I checked the proof and it is fine, all solid lettering, no half-tone.”
Another author responded:
“This happens occasionally. I’ve seen it once in a while with some of my books and have seen other members discussing this here recently.”
“But the lines of type themselves on interior pages seem faded.”
“I was saddened to see that several books in the shipment contained text that was very light. This was not a problem with all of the books, but a good number of them.” and “What a headache. I have submitted product ID numbers and photos several times by email, which (a CreateSpace employee) told me today they have not received.”
“I recently ordered 3 copies of one of my books direct from Amazon.co.uk. When they arrived, I realised they had the wrong interior i.e. not the latest version I had uploaded (a month earlier). According to the code in the back of the book, they were all printed back in July (my order was placed on 23rd September) in the USA! I contacted Createspace about it and they initially tried to imply I had ordered from a third party seller (which of course I did not).”
“POOR COVERS AND BACKS?”
“Since I ordered a dozen or so copies of my book, I noticed something odd. The covers and backs once opened stay open at almost a 90-degree angle.” and “Well, if that’s the product that createspace is giving our customers, it’s a pretty lame job. Today I called them and some guy said to give ID #’s and photos of the book. I did that and later this evening I got a msg saying they don’t answer the email (that createspace gave me).”
“My 8.5 x 11 color book (270 pages) fell apart upon opening.” and “I found a post (2010) describing the identical issue I am talking about now (2013)… That means (CreateSpace) did not do anything for the past 3 years… I do not have any hope that they will do anything now.”
INTERIOR ERRORS, NON-NATIVE-ENGLISH-SPEAKING CREATESPACE EMPLOYEES, & AUTHORS GIVING UP
In a letter addressed to Createspace:
“…your adjustments are wrong and make my book look stupid. I do not like them. Please stop.” and “I emailed you for help but the answer I received was written by someone who not only seemed to be a non-native English speaker, but also seemingly hadn’t even read my question at all.” and “This tiny snafu is delaying that process and after days of struggling with it I am DONE.”
A forum response from a different author:
“As for the non-English reply. I’ve had a few of those, too.”
“I gave up on the 8.25×6 landscape size when (after seven months and eight rounds of replacements) I still hadn’t received enough usable/sellable books to complete the original order. I know of two other members who had similar problems with that size, and two who had/have trim and binding problems with 4×6 books.”
THINK YOU CAN MEET THEIR D.I.Y. SPECS WITH NO PROBLEMS? YOU MIGHT WANT TO TEAR OUT YOUR HAIR INSTEAD!
If you can’t figure out their specs, CreateSpace will be VERY happy to upsell you on their expensive services!
“But I had to make a change in the interior? Text changes only that had no influence on the settings of the pdf files. When I resubmitted the file it was rejected, stating that the gutter needed to be increased to .75. I called Customer Service and told them that this problem had occurred in the past where a second submission of essentially the same files resulted in rejected files. She said to resubmit and that I might get lucky and get someone different who would approve the files.”
“The instructions here at Create Space call for a margin on the bind side, and then on the other side, but when pages are laid side by side it’s confusing to me, as I don’t get it. The left margin of the left page would NOT be the bind side, but the opposing page on the right’s left margain WOULD be the bind side. So??”
“The interior contains the placeholder header text present in the template. Please remove this header in the native program and recreate the PDF for publishing.”
“So I figured out how to embed the fonts (clicked the box) and whenever I reopen the file it’s still telling me the fonts are embedded, but when I upload it to the interior reviewer it is saying my font has not been embedded.”
“Formatting bleed. I’ve formatted my book to the specification of the template. On my screen, the text looks justified on the page. However, in the Launch Interior Reviewer and on the physical proof, the text is too close to the edges, and too far away from the gutter. Please help!”
“Proof cover looks blurry? Vector objects such as text and the barcode are crisp and look great, but the rest looks terrible; it’s blurry and pixelated.” and “After the book arrived, I decided to print the cover myself; I flattened the raster images myself (the PDF has now only one raster layer, the rest layers are vectors) and went to a photo studio shop where they printed it perfectly, at high resolution.”
“Pre-flight conversion in Acrobat X Pro making text soft/blurred-HELP.” and “Just what the title says (and it’s driving me crazy): the PDF export from InDesign looks crisp and great (screen and print); pre-flighting it for PDF x 1-a gets me a version with soft, smudgy text, no matter what I do.”
“I used the CS template, uploading only my photo for the back cover and get the following rejection: ‘.. a live element may be trimmed on the front cover that is part of the image that was uploaded. Be sure that the text appears .5 inches away from the outer edges of the image that you uploaded.'”
“First of all IGNORE THE INTERNAL REVIEWER – IT IS FLAWED.”
“In Word, I am not clear what the margin setup specs are that I need to set before converting to a .pdf for upload to Create Space.”
“I’m struggling to get a useable pdf. It’s been a long road of difficulties. The current rub is this: I have used the font Andy, which is a true text font, for chapter headlines, photo captions and breakout boxes. The rest of the text is Times New Roman. I have embedded the font. I used Adobe Acrobat 9.0 for the pdf and it changed all the embedded Andy to something else and greatly increased the font size of that.”
“Preflight (provided by Create Space) says: Warning, Font is embedded (completely or as a subset) (627 matches on 24 pages).”
“I have ordered my client’s book set at a different price just to test if the sale comes through. I waited until the book was printed and dispatched and NO sale was reported. I am missing around 40 sales over the past few days alone.”
“I’ve had the same problem, made 2 inquiries and still no update on sales that I know were made.”
“I have made several enquiries but unfortunately nobody who works at CreateSpace can be bothered to check the Amazon sales reflecting the reports.”
“I just barely published my book about a month ago through CreateSpace and I have all the expanded distribution channels selected. I’ve been told by a few of my friends that they have bought the book on the Amazon website. (They aren’t from Europe either, by the way.) I’m entering month 2 of hiatus for royalties or sales reports, and I don’t understand what’s taking so long!”
CREATESPACE CUSTOMER SERVICE COMPLAINTS
“I am astounded with such irresponsible communications. The same matter has continued in about 10 communications but it seems the helpdesk people are blind to the previous communications. This is really shocking.”
“No idea what’s changed but I am getting heartily stick (sic) of both CreateSpace AND Amazon.”
“…it sounds impressive when you receive an automated mail from CreateSpace that ‘your mail will be replied in 24 hours’. But very often I get an irrelevant reply and the communication lingers back and forth for 24 days.” and “It is unfortunate to see that every time a different person replies to my emails without going through the previous correspondence. The communication lingers on strange irrelevant directions very often like deaf people talking each other.”
“CreateSpace review letters, complaint responses, technical support advice, etc. are written in a form of early Babylonian cuneiform . . . and are difficult to translate (Google Translate won’t help!).”
“Just got off the phone with CreateSpace. Talk about the run around. The first lady said she had never heard this complaint.” and ” I asked to be transferred, next guy on the food chain said he had never heard this complaint either and that he would log the feedback. Complete bullsH%$.”
“This is the third such complaint in two days.”
“I’ve got to admit that I’m relieved to see it is not just ME who has been singled out by Amazon/CS! Obviously, not happy that others are also suffering though and yes, it DOES affect sales, absolutely. It makes absolutely no sense with print-on-demand either unless their equipment has somehow broken or caught fire (as someone said!).”
“I read in another post recently that Amazon is also limiting availability (one copy per title per customer) of some CS titles, despite the notion that POD means limitless supply.”
“Will they respond? I doubt it. I wrote to Amazon about it and got a standard reply which I won’t bore you with but essentially they told me (despite it being emailed through Author Central and me making it clear I was the author) that authors sometimes limit their books and authors do this and that (all utter rubbish since, of COURSE I do not and cannot limit print-on-demand books!) In a nutshell though, they are implying it is the ‘author’s’ fault! I wrote back in fury!”
AUTHOR WAS CHARGED FOR CREATESPACE’S MISTAKE!
“I recently received a shipment of textbooks from Createspace which was addressed to me in error. Because these books crossed the Canadian border, customs duties were added and collected COD from me on delivery. I paid the COD fee thinking the box was part of my own order. When I brought this to the attention of the “support” desk, I was informed that that even though I had not ordered the textbooks, I was expected to pay the customs duties out of my own pocket. Their mistake, my expense. The reasons offered were completely irrelevant to the situation.” and ” Very surprising that Createspace doesn’t take responsibility for fixing their mistakes.” and “I asked for the name of someone higher and they, of course, refused to give it to me.” and “It may be time to change companies.”
“…it means I have to go to double the expense to replace them because OF CREATESPACE’S MISTAKE.”
There are numerous complaints like these on CreateSpace’s own forum. More complaints about CreateSpace appear in our previous edition of this piece HERE.
About The Author
Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).
WritersWeekly.com - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.
BookLocker.com - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."
Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors.
PubPreppers.com - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!
Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.
Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)
See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.
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Ask Angela About Self-Publishing
Angela Hoy is not only publisher of WritersWeekly.com, she's also co-owner of self-publishing services firm BookLocker.com and works directly with each author. That's right, you work directly with the owner of BookLocker. No revolving customer service reps, no layers of bureaucracy to navigate, and absolutely no outsourcing to low-paying overseas call centers. We don't use call centers or telemarketing at all. You will never be shuffled from one "customer service rep" to another because we don't have any of those. You will communicate directly with Angela about any needs you have at all, as well as Richard (book marketing advice), Brian (ebooks and technical issues), Ali (print formatting), Gwen (color-interior books) and Todd or Nancy (our awesome cover designers).
Since we are selective about which books we publish, we are able to work with every author one-on-one. In the past 18 years, BookLocker has published more than 9,000 titles.
Angela's been in the print-on-demand and self-publishing business for nearly two decades. She's seen it all, and is a great source of information. To ask her anything click here.