How to publish your book on CreateSpace

How do I publish my book on CreateSpace?” I get asked this question a lot so I’m writing the info here so that it’s hopefully helpful to lots of people.

Before I answer the question, let me just say that CreateSpace is not the only place to publish your book but in my experience it’s the best place to do so right now. Although CreateSpace isn’t perfect, nothing is and the benefits outweigh the challenges (in my opinion).

Before CreateSpace was even an option, I was thinking about publishing through Lulu.com but CreateSpace provides easier access to Amazon, which is a buyer’s marketplace and THE place to go when you want to sell your book.

So, assuming that you want to publish on CreateSpace instead of anywhere else, this blog post is for you.

I’m also going to assume that your book is written. You can do step 1 (below) without having written the book but I think you should write your book first. It’s the hardest part. That’s all I’m going to say about book writing — anything else is outside of the scope of this blog post.

HOW TO PUBLISH YOUR BOOK ON CREATESPACE

Go to http://www.createspace.com and sign up for a free account. Your Amazon account won’t work there; you’ll need to create a new one.

Once signed in, click Add New Title and you’ll basically work your way through CreateSpace’s following workflow to publish your book:

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So let’s look at the first one (on the left)…

CREATE

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Ignore this step. Well, you can do it if you want but it doesn’t really directly contribute to the publishing of your book. I’m sure it’s helpful but I’ve never done it.

SETUP

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In this step, you’ll add the basic info for your book. You can change up the title and author name as you refine those. Note: The title and author name need to exactly match the book cover! (Your subtitle does not need to appear on the cover).

You can also choose from a variety of methods of obtaining your ISBN but the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way is just to get CreateSpace to issue you one.

You can do a lot of the work ahead of time, even advancing to some of the later workflow steps, but it’s still in this Setup step when you upload your book’s content (in the Interior step) and design your cover.

When you click on the Interior link, you can download a pre-formatted Microsoft Word template that you should copy and paste your book into. The template is very convenient to set up but I’ve noticed one frustrating problem: It’s a GIGANTIC filesize and can be a resource hog and is really inconvenient to email when you’re collaborating. So I suggest to people that they create their down document to write their book, and then, when they’re ready to publish, convert it.

Once formatted, I also suggest that you convert it to PDF and then upload the PDF version. You can upload the Word version (and I have for some books) but I’ve found that CreateSpace sometimes makes slight formatting adjustments and they messed up my Word version of the document. But if I upload a PDF that problem (of course) doesn’t exist.

When you upload your book, CreateSpace will automatically scan your book and let you know if it detects any problems and you can always upload other versions if you make corrections.

Also in the Setup step is creating the cover. Amazon has their own cover creator which is okay but not great. I used it for my Sales Funnel Bible book because I was fine with the simple cover but it’s not a great cover. You can get one designed by a designer (note: The cover has some very exacting standards when it comes to the size of the spine so make sure you know exactly how many pages are in your book before you get your cover created!)

When you’ve uploaded a version of the interior that you’re happy with, and when you’ve created the cover, then you complete the set-up.

CreateSpace will check your file — I think by a human. (They say it usually takes less than 24 hours and indeed they are pretty quick… I think 18 hours is the most I’ve had to wait).

After they check your file then you’re ready to move on to the next step…

REVIEW

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In this section you can get a printed copy shipped to yourself or you can review the book digitally. If this is your very first published book, I recommend shipping yourself a copy. It doesn’t cost much and it’s really informative to see it in print. I made a lot of changes once I’d seen my physical copy. I made the changes and had the option to ship myself another copy (although my subsequent reviews have all been digital). I also love how fast CreateSpace is at sending out review copies. Seriously, it’s amazingly fast.

You can continue through the following sections (below) while you review your book. But once you’ve reviewed your book and are happy with it, then you go back to CreateSpace and click on Proof Your Book (see below) and you’ll have a chance to review it again or approve it.

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You can continue with the following steps before, during, and after you review and approve your book.

DISTRIBUTE

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You can set a lot of this stuff up while you are waiting for your book to be reviewed or a review copy shipped to you.

Channels are the places that CreateSpace will sell your books. They have 3 default channels: Amazon, Amazon Europe, and CreateSpace estore. I sell books through the first two but I suspect the third one is kind of a filler channel; I don’t make sales through here nor do I ever point someone to this channel.

They have 3 other channels you can select for something called “Expanded distribution” and they include bookstores, libraries and academic institutions, and CreateSpace direct. Again, I’ve sold books through the first two and the last one seems kind of pointless to me.

A note about distribution to Canada: As a Canadian, I have a lot of Canadian friends and family and clients (but mostly friends and family!) who want to buy the book from Amazon.ca. And after publishing my book on CreateSpace I tried to figure out how to get it distributed to Amazon.ca. I did some research and basically discovered that Amazon.com and Amazon.ca operate very differently and publishing from CreateSpace will automatically publish to Amazon.com but not necessary to Amazon.ca. There isn’t really a way to easily get your books to Amazon.ca, you just have to hope that it happens. (Well, I guess there is a workaround: If you become your own book distributor but this requires you to get the books printed from CreateSpace and sent to you and then you send them out — not a very efficient or cost-effective process, in my opinion). That said, my wife and I have both published booked on CreateSpace and they appeared on Amazon.ca in under a month. So either they are not automatically pushing over everyone’s books or they somehow determine that ours are to be sold in Canada.

Next is price. Price is pretty straightforward. You need to set the price for your book. This is the hardest part because — hey — you want to make some money on your book but you also want it to be affordable for people to buy. Fortunately, you can change this easily (the price isn’t printed on your book cover unless you put it there). I do a lot of writing and thinking about price and pricing strategies on this blog so you might want to do some reading about that here, although this is generic (for any product or service) and not specific to book publishing.

Amazon sets a minimum price you HAVE to sell your book at (and I presume they’re building in some basic printing costs as well as profit into that price). This is the retail price you’re setting — you can buy your own books at a lower cost (I believe it’s Amazon’s minimum, although I might be wrong).

Cover Finish is a funny step because all you do is select whether you want glossy or matte, although I’m not sure why you don’t do that in the cover step during set-up. (shrug)

Description is where you write the book’s description and your author bio, as well as select some other sorting/finding tools like the BISAC code (you can only choose one) and search keywords for the book.

Publish on Kindle is an optional step. If you choose to publish on Kindle, your CreateSpace ID won’t work. You’ll need to sign in at kdp.amazon.com with your Amazon ID and you can connect those two accounts here. They will try to convert your book for your although you might want to re-upload your own version with some adjustments (which is what I had to do because their conversion looked weird).

SALES AND MARKETING

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I never use this tab. Partly because the Sales Tracking can be done on the page you get to when you first sign in, and partly because Marketing Resources is okay but not as robust as one might like, while Get Ideas has some potential but it links you to the CreateSpace Community forums.

YOU’RE DONE!

Just follow through step-by-step and you’re done. Your book publishes on Amazon! Of course there are more steps in the follow-up to market your book and make sales, plus (depending on where you live) there might be some payment/taxation information you’ll need to share with Amazon but that’s all outside of the scope of this post.

Follow these steps and publish that book!

Case study: Ghostwriting a best-selling book

A book is more than just a couple hundred pages that you might sell for twenty bucks on Amazon. Writing a book SHOULD BE on your list of things to do to grow your business. It’s a document that helps to position you as an expert in your field. It has the potential to provide ongoing income for you — just sweat through the hard work of writing it once and then you’ll earn ongoing income from it for as long as you sell it. A book is also a marketing tool; it constantly promotes you even when you’re sleeping. Books open doors — to new business opportunities, new marketing opportunities, speaking engagements, clients, and more.

As a former ghostwriter (I really don’t do ghostwriting at all anymore) I had the privilege of working with a few clients on their books. They’d tell me what they wanted to write about, I’d put together a table of contents and a project plan (to keep the project moving forward because it’s SO easy to let your book falter) and then I’d write the content for them. Unlike some ghostwriters who write almost all the content exclusively, I tried to adopt a more collaborative approach with my clients because I felt that it better captured their brand and “voice”, and it ensured that I didn’t too long on a rabbit-trail digression that wasn’t helping the client.

Some books I wrote for some clients turned out okay. We were both happy with the end result but the books didn’t deliver all that was hoped. But for one client, with whom I wrote nearly half a dozen books, they all became Amazon best-sellers, achieving #1 seller status in different Amazon categories.

So what was the difference between some of my clients whose books were okay and my one client whose books all became best-sellers?

Here are a few things that helped my best-selling-book client do so well:

  • We wrote good-sized print books (250+ pages) of high quality, high value information
  • We created a website to help promote the book
  • We cross-sold the book on my client’s other channels (his site plus in the backs of other books)
  • We wrote sales letters and autoresponders to help generate sales

These all helped; they all played a part… and I would love to point entirely to myself as the most significant reason that these books did so well. However, what really made a huge difference was that my client had a HUGE audience with whom he had nurtured a very deep and trusting relationship.

Whenever we wrote something, he put it on Amazon and his readers would rush out and buy it. (That might sound bad but don’t worry, I made sure we wrote GREAT content!).

Although I played a part, it was really my client’s relationship with his list that made all the difference, turning a great product into an in-demand product.

So what should you do if you’re a business owner who aspires to write a book and use it as a tool for your business? I think your first priority should be to build an audience and nurture a relationship with them.

How to be the “celebrity chef” of your niche

I am secretly addicted to the Food Network. (Okay, not so secretly anymore).

I love cooking competitions and restaurant makeover shows. My PVR is set up to automatically record shows like “Opening Soon”, “Kitchen Nightmares”, and “Restaurant Impossible”.

Many of these shows have one thing in common: A celebrity chef who seems to be equal parts chef and diva.

You don’t really see this level of celebrity in other niches. (Well, there are some celebrity real estate agents and celebrity home renovation people but we don’t attach the word “celebrity” to their title in the same way that we throw around the word “celebrity chef”.)

I was thinking about this the other day while watching some cooking show or another. I wondered: “Why don’t we see more celebrity real estate agents or celebrity real estate investors or celebrity financial advisors or celebrity accountants?

That idea sort of seems strange. After all, “celebrity accountant” or “celebrity actuary” or “celebrity insurance broker” doesn’t seem to have the same ring as “celebrity chef”… but why not?

Why can’t YOU be the celebrity in your niche? There is plenty of room for celebrities in a number of niches – real estate, investing, insurance, accounting, even collections.

The benefit is there: As a celebrity, you attract people to you who want to orbit your shining star and your constant cross-promotion helps to increase your income.

So what does it take to be a celebrity? Well, let’s look at the six factors that put the “celebrity” into “celebrity chef” and see if we can identify some lessons for you to apply to your practice:

6 FACTORS TO HELP YOU BECOME A CELEBRITY IN YOUR NICHE

  1. You need to be skilled. No hacks allowed. We may not always like the celebrity personality of a celebrity chef but the chef-skills always deliver. Great cooking every time. And it’s not just skill, I think, but also mastery, and a dedication to exacting excellence. How can you become a skilled master who is dedicated to exacting excellence in your market? You need to be able to rise above and consistently out-shine your peers. So what skills can you hone to consistently out-shine your peers? For a related post, check out: What the drunk uncle from Family Ties can teach us about success.
  2. Success. Some celebrity chefs seem to come out of nowhere to skyrocket to fame and fortune. But “nowhere” usually means that they were slogging it out in a hot kitchen, working their way up from lowly dishwasher to become the head chef at top-name restaurants. In your practice, don’t expect celebrity to suddenly appear out of nowhere. You need to put in the time, grind it out, and build a portfolio of success. (Fortunately, you can do this as the same time as you develop your skills).
  3. You need to have some flair. I don’t think there is such a thing as a bland celebrity chef. All celebrity chefs bring something extra to the equation. They’re skilled (see above) but they are more than just skilled. For some, it’s a personality – funny, obnoxious, in-your-face. For others, it’s a particular style or approach – hands-on, innovative, social. (For celebrity chefs it might be fast meals for families or Italian peasant food). To develop your own flair, consider what aspects of your personality are the strongest, or think about your interests and how other people connect with them. This flair or unique approach really becomes the crux of your brand. (Think: Gordon Ramsay’s In-Your-Face approach or Jamie Oliver’s casual approach to delicious, healthy food). I’ve talked a bit about this in the past but I’ve only scratched the surface. For a related post, check out: What is your brand’s personality.
  4. A book. Every celebrity chef seems to have at least one book. Probably a cookbook. Probably a dozen cookbooks. A book on its own isn’t the answer but it’s part of the celebrity equation. The good news is, you don’t need to sit down and write a huge novel. What you need is something that you can highlight as an accomplishment and that readers will find helpful. Start with a 100 to 200 page book. They aren’t that hard to write! (Hey, give me a call if you want to talk about writing a book). If you’re really not sure where to start, why not think about an ebook – something smallish at around 50 pages – and test it in the marketplace. Expanding it will be easy and it’s simple to turn into a print book (which still carries plenty of credibility).
  5. TV show. Every celebrity chef has a TV show. Or three. They have a cooking show and guest appearances, an I’m-starting-a-restaurant show, and a traveling-the-world-to-taste-food show. Why don’t you have a show? You can. It’s easier than you probably think it is. Start with your own YouTube channel and instead of just filming random thoughts into the camera (as I do from time to time on my YouTube channel), actually treat it like your own show. I think this is a cool idea that is under-used (especially in the financial or real estate space). There are plenty of ideas to draw from (and I’ll give you some ideas in a future blog post).
  6. PR Campaign. Celebrity chefs seem to be magnets for fans. Sure, it’s their charisma and great dishes but don’t overlook the fact that they are a brand and they probably have a serious PR engine chugging away in the background. When they are not cooking they are promoting, promoting, promoting, promoting, promoting. For most of you, you’re already doing some promoting already (good!) but if you want to achieve celebrity status, you need to tie together several things (a book, a show, etc.) and promote the heck out of it.

Notice something about these six things? Chefs who move out of the kitchen and into the limelight do so by leveraging their skills into a brand and then leveraging that brand into a media empire.

You can do the same! Celebrity doesn’t have to be limited to chefs. There is A LOT of room for celebrities in your market. You already have the skills and you probably have a brand (or the makings of one). Next, build a media empire to skyrocket your practice to celebrity status.