At the end of 2009, the name BookSurge was retired, 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. You can see our past findings (they’re not pretty!) HERE.
We have continued to receive complaints about CreateSpace since that time and, this week, we decided to revisit their forum to see if things have improved. We weren’t terribly surprised by what we found. The complaints below were posted in just the past 12 months.
CreateSpace claims to be “free” (if you follow all their rules and specs to the letter) but they sure can sure 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 cost is $517 at BookLocker.com but $1022 at CreateSpace.
Here are some comments we have received directly from CreateSpace / BookSurge authors:
“I did an earlier book (a technical manual) with Createspace, and had a wholesaler ready to carry it, but Createspace did not have a wholesale system in place, and they backed out. After going through Createspace last time, this time I actually did my home work.”
“I’m getting upset with CreateSpace. The old saying, ‘one step forward, two back’. I saw where you have the disgruntled author’s discount. I’m there.”
“I went to CreateSpace thinking it would be a slam dunk since I had the whole text designed already. However, they wanted different specs– not that there was anything unusual about the way my book was produced. And, they didn’t tell me of the requirements that would be expected for each next phase. I couldn’t foresee the obstacles that would be placed in my path. I spent three months diddling around with them.”
“Another friend is going through Createspace but had to shell out a lot of money in advance.”
“I really wanted to work with your company and do not want to pay outrageous fees at Createspace.”
“I registered with CreateSpace, but felt very insignificant and lost there: I couldn’t even figure out their fees. As a small business owner, I want to support small business owners, and give them my business.”
“CreateSpace replied that it would charge $758 to convert it for Kindle. I feel stymied.”
(NOTE: BookLocker’s flat fees for converting a book for the Kindle, the Nook AND the iPad start at $99.)
“After previous experiences with CreateSpace where every bit of marketing help had a price attached, I’d prefer working with you as you offer a commitment to quality writing with fast turnaround time at a reasonable price.”
As we did in April, 2010, we checked out CreateSpace’s own message board to see if their authors are still posting complaints about them. Here’s what we found:
FORMATTING HEADACHES REPORTED ON THE CREATESPACE FORUM
If you can’t figure out their specs, they will upsell you on their expensive services. This is what happens when you publish a book with a firm that offers little support for its so-called “free” services. You can see how some authors may get frustrated enough to give up and pay hundreds or thousands to CreateSpace to do it for them:
“No one really addressed my issue regarding InDesign pdf uploads wherein some text was gray, resulting in heavy pixellation.”
“Is there some way that I could determine if there’s an image mask embedded in the PDF to mask the white areas around the actual cover? I have the MS Publisher .pub file and the PDF, but I’m not sure how I could check that. I used ‘Insert/Picture’ to bring in the cover .jpg, have “wrapping style’ as ‘square, both sides,’ no cropping, and the cover graphic is sized at 100%. The graphic is centered on the page using ‘Arrange/Align/align center & align middle.’ The cover graphic looks properly centered in the PDF on a 19″ x 13″ canvas, when measured on screen.”
“Except there are 24 pages of the 241 page book which I cannot possibly figure out how to remove the headers and/or page numbers from without affecting the whole document. I have been all over this forum and tried everything suggested for similar issues, no luck.”
“If the font were not embedded at all, a red X should be shown instead of the yellow triangle and the message should be ‘Font is not embedded.’ I created my book using MS Word 2010, then converted it to Adobe PDF using Adobe 8 Pro, then I followed some instructions on this PDF file so it has no problem, then I ran Preflight on the PDF file and I got this message with a yellow triangle: Warning: Font is embedded (completely or as a subset) (627 matches on 24 pages)…”
“I am trying to access the preview gallery but every time I click on it, it takes me to the category page. When I click on a category all it does is refresh the category page, and won’t let me move on. It’s been doing this for a couple of days.”
PRINT QUALITY PROBLEMS REPORTED ON THE CREATESPACE FORUM
This is just a sampling of what appears on the CreateSpace forum. There are many more complaints posted as well. We ordered some of their books in 2009 to see if things had improved in the years since we terminated our relationship with BookSurge (now called CreateSpace). One book arrived looking so bad that Amazon inserted an apology note into the book itself, saying it was the best they could get from their “distributor.” (Amazon owns them! They ARE their own distributor!!) Another arrived with the inside pages appearing upside-down. There are similar complaints about CreateSpace posted to their own forum just in the past 12 months –
“All in all, the books from Amazon are of really poor quality. Not only are all the covers delaminating (both along the edge where they are cut but also along the two creases near the spine), but the covers are all curling up as well.”
“There are many people on this discussion board who are complaining about badly printed books they receive as proofs and as final copies…”
“Quality of CS Books has diminished lately below any reasonable level. Ladies and gentlemen at CS! Also, little robots you often use!
The quality of your work lately sucks! While you always had some banding in solid grey areas of the book’s illustrations, recently it got really, really bad.”
“So I have received yet another proof with flaws, not little teeny tiny ones either.”
“Some of the books I receive are well done, but over half have had issues.”
“I recently ordered four proof copies for myself and others to review. On three of the proofs, wrinkles are on both the front and back covers along the spine. On inspection, it appears that the glue squeezed out from the binding area and wrapped the book, forming a ridge when dry. Additionally, one cover also has an accepted ‘production variance of .125″ that means the placement and measurements of a single title may shift up to .125″ during the production process’. The shift caused the front cover to wrap onto the spine, part of the spine is on the back cover, and the spine is no longer centered. I have had my proof copy for just over a week. Within a few days, the lamination on the non-spine side on both the front and the back covers began delaminating along the edges. Only one book was a ‘clean’ copy and, for example, I feel that three of the four proofs would have been returned by a bookstore for poor quality.”
“HOWEVER the print job of Proof #2 looks quite poor. In the second half of the book, there is a vertical smudge in the middle of most of the left-handed pages.” – and – “My very first ever proof had red ink smears over several pages.” – and – “Unfortunately they rarely say anything to alleviate our concerns about customer copies.” – and – “In my own experience with bulk orders (over 1200 copies across 7 titles over the last 4 years, delivered internationally) I can say I haven’t had the ink smear problem again, but I have seen some sloppy trimming and incredibly sloppy packaging.”
THEIR FEE-BASED EDITING SERVICES
“A friend of mine here in town went with the editing services offered by CS and was sadly disappointed. He sent them a digital copy of his manuscript with a few errors (misspellings, comma placement, etc.) and got back a proof copy that had well over 100 errors that were NOT in the original manuscript. When he listed them for the CS editorial staff, they insisted he pay $5 per correction – even for the ones that were not there to begin with.”
“I ordered my proof 2 weeks ago and still haven’t received it , I contacted Customer Service and they still haven’t got back to me. If you can’t print a book and send it to a customer in less than 2 weeks I doubt you’re going to sell many books after people discover the enormous delay and poor customer service. What gives?”
“Cover Review Horrors! My current book had the cover approved, but the interior was ‘supposedly’ wrong. The problem? I had chosen bleed to the edge for my artwork in the interior. Some CS staffer misinterpreted my image running to the edge as choosing a different format. Finally after a week of going back and forth and me finally calling and getting another CS customer service staffer to actually look at it, guess what? I was correct. I had chosen bleed to the edge and they should have approved the book to begin with. Now guess what, we resubmitted and the cover that had been approved through all of my interior file debacle has suddenly been rejected!!!!!”
“If you’ve never used createspace and you’re planning to do it yourself, be forewarned that if you don’t use their pay services you will be treated like someone in an accident who doesn’t have health insurance.”
“Have any of you ever had problems getting customer service to pay attention to shipping problems? I called UPS today since I was expecting my order delivery and they said it was delivered last Friday and after a look around at all the doors, I determined it wasn’t. UPS said since (CreateSpace) was the shipper they had to file a complaint, and put a trace on the package. CS gave me the royal runaround about how they didn’t have any ‘proof’ that the package wasn’t delivered, and proceeded to insinuate that I was lying about the order not being delivered properly.”
“6 weeks for proof delivery is disgusting! I mean seriously, there is absolutely no excuse for the ludicrous freight services we are expected to put up with. Createspace, get your stuff in order! To not allow me to select a faster delivery on a proof? What – so I read the proof, find a problem and I have to wait ANOTHER 6 weeks? It is SO UNNACCEPTABLE IT’S INSANE! POD?”
AND PLENTY OF COMPLAINTS ABOUT ROYALTIES
“What’s the latest on the suspected ‘unreported sales’ issue? Like myself, many of you have expressed suspicion of unreported book sales and therefore, unpaid royalties. I continue to suspect this is the case with my book…”
Several authors are questioning CreateSpace’s royalty reporting HERE.
Awhile back, CreateSpace (allegedly) admitted sending out incorrect 1099s to some authors. Several authors reported receiving numerous 1099s listing FAR more money than they actually earned.
AND, WHAT ABOUT THE QUALITY OF THE FORUM ITSELF?
While there are some people posting genuinely helpful comments, there is also a lot of bickering. It appears CreateSpace rarely (if ever) chimes in to respond to complaints. Instead, you see a LOT of authors telling other authors they need to contact CreateSpace’s customer service.
Worse, it doesn’t appear CreateSpace effectively monitors their own forum. Here’s a CreateSpace author teaching others how to post fake book reviews –
“You don’t need to obtain Amazon reviews, just write them yourself, and make sure you include the odd 4-star one with some petty and insignificant complaint.”
CreateSpace was rated “Just OK” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing. See a comparison of POD publishers HERE.