Books written by Ray Sullivan

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Createspace Paperbacks Don't Export Too Well

If you've followed my earlier blogs on the Createspace paperback Print On Demand (POD) process you'll know that I've sung their praises several times.  The process of uploading the text files, designing the covers and setting the prices have all seemed to be fairly straightforward, and the finished product is good.

And you'll also know that I was very quick to jump onto the news that Createspace had set up UK and EU printing facilities, enabling European authors the opportunity to get their books listed in paperback form in their home country.  Obviously it also provides an opportunity for US and Canadian Createspace authors to be listed in the EU.  The production costs appear similar across all the locations, incredibly given the turbulence in Europe right now, but the postage cost advantages are significant.

But not all is peachy in the Createspace UK and EU world.

When I uploaded my books to the US site I jumped through some hoops - formatting for paperbacks was a learning curve I've harked on about before, what with wrestling with page numbers, headers and footers.  However, once I proofed each book - now much easier and cheaper with electronic proofing - I ended up with a product that was perfectly acceptable.  When I was satisfied with the end result I pushed the go button and a day or so later the book, the image, the blurb and the price all popped up on Amazon's US site.

Then the nice people at Createspace launched the UK and EU printing presses and invited us to make our books available over this side of the pond.  It sounded like a fair proposition, I didn't have to do any more formatting, the blurb was written, the cover decided on.  All I had to do was agree to let them make it available on the UK and EU Amazon sites and set the prices.

So I checked the UK site eagerly to see if the books appeared and, to be fair, they did in quick succession.  However they were built up over a ten day period, so anyone looking for new releases on the various sites would have seen the title but no image, then the image popped up, then a few days later the links to the Kindle versions.  They even found the few reviews that are linked to the Kindle versions and added them to the page.

Which is all very good, but they didn't attach the blurb, the part of the page that tells you what the book is about, that hopefully draws you in and makes you think about reading the story.  So I contacted Createspace, who investigated and within a week had strong-armed the UK site to upload the blurb to Digital Life Form to help any prospective purchasers to decide on whether they wanted to read the book or not.  But in flagging the problem I sent links to the US and UK Amazon Digital Life Form pages for comparison and the Createspace Guys and Gals obviously missed the general point because Skin, The Journeymen and The Last Simple remained blurb-less.  I'd noticed that this appeared to be the case with the EU sites with the exception of - with typical Germanic efficiency the German site had uploaded everything including the blurb.  The French, however, left the blurb out but decided to discount the books - thanks for asking, guys!

So I went back to Createspace and pointed out the problem, not just about my books but the more general problem.  The way I look at it, there's a certain opportunity presented when a book first hits the listing, one that's been squandered in my case, but there you go.  Ultimately, though, if casual browsers keep running into books listed without descriptive blurb and they are predominantly Createspace published titles then they will draw a reasonable but negative conclusion about Createspace books.

I have recommended to Createspace that they should do the book building off-line, ensure all components are in place, then launch the new title.  OK, if it must take ten days to upload something over here that appeared within thirty hours in the US, so be it - but let's make sure it's fully formed and operational so that UK and EU consumers don't get a jaundiced view of the product.

I'll interrupt my summer off blogging again if and when Createspace sort out the blurb on my books.


I can be followed on Twitter too - @RayASullivan
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To find out more about my ancestors visit my sister’s website

Visit my books on Amazon (for Kindle owners) and Smashwords (for access to all other formats and access to Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Sony, WH Smith, Kobo and many other good ebookstores.

Digital Life Form is available on in paperback for $7.99
The Last Simple is available on in paperback for $5.99

The Journeymen is available for $8.99

Skin is available for $9.99

For quick access to the various Kindle, Kobo, WH Smith and Smashword links please use the table below to view my books.

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