...or how I made my first poetry and photography collection.
Now, I don't know if anyone else from Slovenia published through CreateSpace, but here is my experience with it. CreateSpace is a part of Amazon (US), and offers POD services (publish on demand). There are many POD services, but I decided to go with CS, because you can sell your books through Amazon and if you upgrade the title to their Pro plan, then you can see through more channels and it’s cheaper. The only thing I don’t like though, is that you can’t sell through UK Amazon. So it’s a bit difficult for your European buyers. All in all, I think this way is easier. It’s hard enough to find a publisher, if your work hasn’t been published anywhere and if it didn’t get any awards. And it’s that harder to find a publisher who would publish your work in foreign language, so I didn’t even bother going on that road.
Once you create your account you’ll be connected with someone from CS to help you. Also member support will help you with your questions, and also CS forum is useful.
Making the manuscript and cover
CS itself offers some services for designing your interior and exterior, but if you don’t have enough money, you can easily make it yourself. You do have to follow their recommendations. As for interior you can get word templates of different trim sizes on CS page. If you add your photos to the MS Word 2007 they will be compressed to 220 ppi, or even more, but for printing your photographs need to be at 300 ppi. You can achieve this by cropping your photographs in Photoshop at 300 ppi and at the exact same size that you want it in your script. In order to print you need to submit a print ready PDF. If you save your file as .pdf through MS Word 2007, then photographs will be still compressed, even more than before; so you need some other program. I used PDF995, you can download it online, it’s for free, just follow their instructions and you’ll have yourself a print ready PDF with 300 ppi. I had a hard time with this, I was actually thinking I’ll have to make my book photoless. You can make your cover with their cover creator, which offers a lot of different styles. You can also add your own photograph for the cover. This way it still looks good any you keep all your nerves.
Anyone from outside of USA needs to apply for a ITIN number (W-7 form). IRS takes 30% taxes of your royalties unless you provide this number. Slovenia has a treaty with the USA (article 12), in which it is agreed, that USA takes 5% taxes of your royalties, so it really is preferable to do this. In order to apply you need to send your passport or state ID, which will be returned to you in 8 weeks or send a notarized colour copy of you passport or state ID. If you decide to send a notarized copy: you can get it notarized at the USA embassy or at any notary public person. If you decide to get your copy notarized by a notary public person, then you’ll need Apostille (you can apply for it at court; it’s a signature saying, that this document was actually verified by a notary public person) and also you’ll need a translation of the notary signature (since it’s in Slovenian, and the IRS won’t understand it). If you get it notarized at the embassy, I think you don’t need to go through all this trouble, which is just a waste of your time and money. So, it’s easier to send a state ID and hope that you’ll get it back (I got it back in 6 weeks). Then you also need to send a W-8BEN form with your CS member ID provided on top to CS. Also, you should write to CS member support, so they can send you a commitment letter, in which they explain why you need a ITIN number and you send this letter with your W-7 form. They will also give you all the address you need.
But my application was denied, saying that USA doesn’t have a treaty with Slovenia. So another way is to start selling and then apply for tax return and at the same time apply for the ITIN number. Whole lot of trouble with these papers, that make this experience a bit less pleasant.
First I’d recommend to upgrade your title to Pro plan (39$ or 28,62€), which offers more distribution and your book will cost less. Every year you can prolong this by paying another 5$ (3,63€). When your interior and exterior meet CS recommendations you have to order a proof read copy of the book. My book has 140 pages and its trim size is 6”x9” (15,24 x 22,86 cm) and its full colour without bleed. The cost of a proof read was 18,55$ (13,48€) and economy shipping (7-11 days) cost me 9,05$ (6,61€); the standard shipping was set at 33$ (24€). So all in all, it cost me a bit less than 50€. I ordered my proof read on Friday, 18.02.2011, next day I got an email, saying the book is printed and waiting to be shipped, on Monday 21.02. it was shipped. I received it on 02.03., so it took 8 work days to come from California to Slovenia. It’s hard to wait for it, but this was really fast. Book was in great condition. Once you receive your proof read you can make changes and submit another interior/exterior and order your proof read once more. I made changes to the interior file of the book, so I had to order a second proof read copy. I ordered it on 20.04. and it was shipped on 25.04. and it got into my hands on 05.05. (on international day of midwives), making it in 7 work days, but this time with expedited shipping (it cost 10.28$ or around 6€, and the estimated date was 10th of May).
If you’re satisfied you can set your price and start selling right away. It takes about 7 days for your book to be on Amazon shelves (it took two days for me). You can also make your book available on Amazon Kindle. CS offers a converting service for 69$ (50,14€). CS will take 20% of your share, Amazon takes 40% and other stores take 60%. If you don’t have an US bank number, your money will be given to you through a check; it’s minimum value is set at 20$, but they also take 8$, because they have to sent it to you. And also your bank will charge you with converting services (converting US dollars to EUR). Basically, it’s really hard to earn anything, especially if you’re not an USA resident. I didn’t even put my book available through other stores, even though I could, since my title is on Pro plan, but then the price of the book would have to be set above 27$. And I was thinking that it’s a bit too much. So I made my book available only on CreateSpace estore and Amazon, at 18.75$.
I hope this helps if you’re an European resident and have decided to publish with CreateSpace. Getting your book published is not so hard, selling it however, that’s another story.