Thursday, March 31, 2016

Publishing With Amazon's CreateSpace

Following our Amazon theme this month, I’m talking with critique partner John J. Rust about his experiences publishing with CreateSpace.

Welcome to the Blood Red Pencil, John. When you were first ready to publish a book, did you explore other avenues before you came to CreateSpace? (If so, why did you veer away from those choices?)

I did go to an ebook self-publishing site for my alien invasion novel Dark Wings. I’ve heard other people have had success with it. The publishing process was not very difficult, but I found I wasn’t making the sort of sales I expected. From that point on, all my ebooks have been done on the Createspace site via the link to Kindle.

Was there a substantial learning curve the first time you published? Is this something the average writer can do or does it take some knowledge of layout and formatting? What about cover design?

Oh yes, there was a learning curve for the first couple of novels. A lot of it is due to the formatting of the interior, mainly making sure all the margins are aligned and the words aren’t going off the page. I can’t tell you how many times I had to tweek and experiment and upload again and again until I got it right. It does get easier after you’ve published a few books, and now I've published five through Createspace, the latest, my invasion of America novel Fallen Eagle: Alaska Front.

One thing I really need to emphasize. Read the directions. Createspace does have an easy to follow page that shows you how to format your novel properly before uploading it, and sparing yourself some headaches.

As for the cover design, Createspace has a very easy to follow cover creator page. They also have about 25 different cover formats, and you do have to play around with them to see which one is the best fit for your cover design. I also imagine there are a few authors out there who, like me, have no artistic ability whatsoever. I can’t even draw a decent stick figure. Thankfully, that is no longer a major problem. You can find royalty free images to use for book covers on sites like Dreamstime and Shutterstock that are not very expensive, or for royalty free, professionally designed covers for between $70 - $80, there is That’s the site where I found the cover for Fallen Eagle: Alaska Front.

What are the Pros of using CreateSpace over other self-publishing venues? Over traditional publishing routes?

The big thing is the cost. There are some self-publishing sites that charge quite a bit of money to publish your book. The only cost you incur with Createspace is purchasing a proof of your novel, which only costs a few bucks, including shipping and handling. You also get to sit there and design the cover the way you want it and get a chance to preview the layout of the book online before you order your proof. The royalty you get is also higher than some traditional publishing routes. And being self-published, you have total control of the content of your book.

What would you consider the Cons to this method?

One is the stigma that still exists--that self-published books are not as, for lack of a better word, ”polished” as those from traditional publishers. It is also difficult to get these books in major bookstores.

Does this program offer marketing opportunities for its authors?

They do. Createspace offers professionally made marketing copy as well as the ability to purchase book reviews from Kirkus.

What is your advice to writers who think they are ready to be published?

Try to contact other people who have published through Createspace to get their thoughts about the process. Using a critique group, be it in person or online, is a very good idea in order to discover any grammar or spelling mistakes, or to get advice on improving plotlines or character development. Show your cover design and back cover blurb to others and get their reactions to it, to see if it works or if it needs improvement. Above all, don’t be afraid. Putting your work out for the entire world to see can make some nervous. But take the leap and see where it goes.

John J. Rust is the author of five novels, the sports-themed books The Best Phillies Team Ever and Arizona’s All-Time Baseball Team, the sci-fi action thrillers Sea Raptor and Dark Wings, and his latest one, the action/adventure novel Fallen Eagle: Alaska Front, which deals with a group of Alaska residents battling an invasion by UN forces. All his books are available on Amazon. Rust grew up in New Jersey, and moved to Arizona in 1996. He works for KYCA Radio as sports director, play-by-play man for Prescott High School football, and is the host of “The Tri-City Sports Round-Up” show.

Interview by Heidi M. Thomas. Heidi is a native Montanan who now lives in North-central Arizona where she blogs, teaches writing, and edits. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreamsis based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, won the national WILLA Award. The next book in the series is Dare to Dream, and a non-fiction book Cowgirl Up! A History of Rodeo Women, is also available. Heidi has a degree in journalism and a certificate in fiction writing.


  1. Great, helpful suggestions! It's been a while since I published with Createspace. I remember having a little trouble getting the front and back covers just right, but the biggest problem was lining up the print at the bottom of the pages. One thing I had to do was turn off widows and orphans. Still, I had to go through each page and see if I should add or subtract a line.

  2. Yes, indeed, Createspace makes it easy to get published these days ... the bad news is that getting published is just the tip of ol' iceberg ... 90% is still about marketing and that lands squarely on the author. Some folks take to that challenge like ducks to ... er, an iceberg? ... maybe we better make that penguins ... while some folks just drown when the iceberg rolls over on them ... hope I haven't beaten that metaphor to death ... but you get my ... wait, glug .... glug ...

    1. LOL, always enjoy your comments, Christopher! But it's true!

  3. I have produced 8 books through Create Space and feel like I finally mastered the process. They keep making it easier and easier. I truly encourage anyone with a novel-length e-book (or an anthology of shorter stories) to offer a print version as well as the e-book. A larger percentage of readers still prefer paper over plastic.

  4. Good stuff. Thanks for all the info!

  5. These are all excellent suggestions. I particularly appreciate them because I'm about to go the CreateSpace route. Thank you for sharing, Heidi and John.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. If a glitch is preventing you from commenting, visit our Facebook page and drop your wise words there: Blood-Red Pencil on Facebook