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CreateSpace!

 
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Encifer



Joined: 21 Dec 2007
Posts: 150
Location: Portland, OR

PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2014 10:51 pm    Post subject: CreateSpace! Reply with quote

I always see questions on print-on-demand services, especially concerning Amazon's CreateSpace, so here's my thoughts!

I've printed all of my books with CreateSpace. Here's my most recent one:



Not a perfect picture, but you can see how colors look on their pages

This book is 220 pages, full color, and costs me $16.25 to print. My previous book is 102 pages and costs $7.99 each, also full color.

The quality is probably as good as you'll get with print on demand. Not to say that's it's the best, but you can only get so much quality out of this kind of service. The covers are really nice and glossy and the paper is a good thickness. It doesn't feel flimsy and cheap at all.

Anyway, I chose CreateSpace for my first book at the time (years and years ago) mostly because it was cheapest. The only real alternative at the time was LuLu. CreateSpace also automatically puts your book for sale on Amazon, which is pretty neat. I've never had any problems with their service. PDF approval times can take as long as 24 hours, but I've found that they've become much quicker in recent years. Shipping times are good and I've never had any issues with the 100 or so books I've ordered from them.

As for e-books, I've republished my first book as an e-book but I'm not an expert on it. You push the "Publish this book of Kindle" button and that's it! I don't think I even had to make any changes to the PDF. It links up with a separate service called "Kindle Direct Publishing." I've only sold, like, one e-book and I don't have a Kindle myself, so I can't really say anything more about it.

Here's what they're store front looks like, and here's a little video showing my CreateSpace books.

Hope this helped!
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MindChimera



Joined: 03 Feb 2013
Posts: 313

PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2014 11:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is really helpful, thanks for sharing. They look really good from the photos.

I'm not ready to print my book yet, but I've been looking at Ka-blam. I actually used their page sizes when I was first deciding dimensions for my comic. I've never printed so I don't know much about this, but do you know how flexible their page sizes are?
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Encifer



Joined: 21 Dec 2007
Posts: 150
Location: Portland, OR

PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2014 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's the full-color book sizes from their site (https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/ > Printing Options)

5 x 8 inches
5.06 x 7.81 inches
5.25 x 8 inches
5.5 x 8.5 inches
6 x 9 inches
6.14 x 9.21 inches
6.69 x 9.61 inches
7 x 10 inches
7.44 x 9.69 inches
7.5 x 9.25 inches
8 x 10 inches
8.25 x 6 inches
8.25 x 8.25 inches
8.5 x 8.5 inches
8.5 x 11 inches

Some of the sizes are listed as "industry standard." You can even use a custom size!

I forget which one mine is... 7.5 x 9.25 I think.
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fluffy
is not a fish.


Joined: 22 Jul 2008
Posts: 107
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2014 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I usually print my books in a run of 100 from keness.com - their quality is comparable but they're WAY cheaper (usually around $6/copy for my stuff). They also let you use whatever trim size you want.

The downside is that it's a small business mostly run by one dude who isn't always the most responsive (I get the impression it's at that awkward spot where they get too much business for it being the size it is but not enough business to justify growing).

Well, also, it means not having automatic fulfillment by Amazon, and Amazon's sales support for small-time publishers is abysmal (I really should write a rant about that how many different ways they've screwed me over someday, now that I no longer work for them and don't worry about getting fired).
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Varethane



Joined: 18 Apr 2008
Posts: 559

PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 5:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Huh! I've heard of Keness before and was intrigued. So their printing quality was decent? When you say they weren't responsive, did it impact how long it took to fulfil your order, or was the actual printing fairly prompt?
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amaryllis



Joined: 09 Feb 2013
Posts: 31

PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

huh! I've never heard of that before. Thanks for posting, that's really interesting, something to keep in mind.
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fluffy
is not a fish.


Joined: 22 Jul 2008
Posts: 107
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oops, I really need to remember to subscribe to topics I'm participating in.

The actual printing was really quick, once I got my assets delivered to them and got onto their printing schedule. The problem is that sometimes getting a response regarding asset delivery can take a while. I get the impression that Ken has an overactive spam filter that silently discards a lot of email.

Also, in my experience, whenever he handles a print job himself it goes well, but when he hands it off to one of his assistants, everything that can go wrong does, and they don't know how to respond correctly (and that response is usually "convert it until it works" instead of "contact the author with the error that's occurring"). That's a big part of why the first proof for book 2 of Unity came back with everything converted into composite black (which looks TERRIBLE) and the color gamut was all screwed up.

Back when Ken and I were both in San Francisco it was much easier to get rapid turnaround on color correction, but now that we're on opposite ends of the country that gets hard too. Also, for whatever reason he won't provide an ICC profile for his printers, and feels that profiles cause more trouble than they're worth. Which seems kind of crazy to me. Sure, ICC can't make the printer output look exactly like on the monitor, but it gets you a lot closer and limits the amount of fiddling you have to do...

Oh well. Mainly I stick with them because of the custom trim size. After I wrap up Unity I'll probably start designing my comics around a standard trim size, probably 5x8, because that opens up way more cheap printing possibilities.
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Zoe Robinson
Resident Diet Lawyer


Joined: 02 Jul 2007
Posts: 1867
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 1:35 pm    Post subject: Re: CreateSpace! Reply with quote

Encifer wrote:
As for e-books, I've republished my first book as an e-book but I'm not an expert on it. You push the "Publish this book of Kindle" button and that's it! I don't think I even had to make any changes to the PDF. It links up with a separate service called "Kindle Direct Publishing." I've only sold, like, one e-book and I don't have a Kindle myself, so I can't really say anything more about it.


When publishing on Kindle, it's well worth downloading a copy of Amazon's Kindle Previewer (third program down on the page). It's a pretty nice piece of software that emulates how your books will look on the various Kindle tablets, so you can see exactly what your customers are getting.

I've published a load of eBooks through Amazon and always use the Previewer first because there is always a problem that crops up on one of their various Kindle versions (it's usually something to do with formatting on the older Kindles) and it's nice to be able to sort that early rather than after a customer complains.
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fluffy
is not a fish.


Joined: 22 Jul 2008
Posts: 107
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 7:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Note also that formatting comics for Kindle is a huge pain in the butt, and they only seem to want to support the mainstream comics publishers (DC, Marvel, etc.). Getting an indie comic even listed as a comic is a challenge.

Unless you're going to have a huge audience, gumroad is probably a better option than KDP. They also let you set up bundles with digital+physical goods. I'm pretty happy with my Gumroad store for that reason.
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Zoe Robinson
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Joined: 02 Jul 2007
Posts: 1867
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 10:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While Kindle is cumbersome for comics, it is well worth it in terms of the audience share Kindle enjoys.

As for suggesting Gumroad is a better option, I'll reserve judgement on that until someone explains what Gumroad is, since this is the first I've heard of it. Also, bear in mind that my reaction is going to be the same as the vast majority of comics readers - putting your eggs in one nigh-invisible basket is not a sound plan.
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fluffy
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Joined: 22 Jul 2008
Posts: 107
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of course there's nothing wrong with putting something on both Kindle and Gumroad. I'm just offering alternatives. Never did I say to put something on Gumroad exclusively.

Just because you have a large potential audience doesn't mean you'll necessarily be discovered on it. The chances of being randomly found via the Kindle store are infinitesimally small, and so you're going to be doing your own marketing to drive people over to it anyway - so why not use a storefront that's designed around the creator, rather than around the distributors?

Gumroad is a self-service digital goods storefront, which allows you to sell any DRM-free digital good you want (and you can also offer physical goods as well). It's gotten quite popular with lots of comic creators, such as Ryan Estrada, who has used it to great effect (including selling serialized content such as Broken Telephone).

You can also do pay-what-you-want pricing (setting a minimum amount that people can add on to, including $0), and customers get a library of everything they purchased so they can redownload it whenever they want - same as on Kindle.

Basically, Kindle takes a pretty large cut of your sales and provides you no marketing support and traps you into a specific distribution channel that isn't particularly consumer-friendly. Gumroad takes a tiny cut and is way better for both the creator and the consumer, and you're going to have to do your own marketing anyway so why not do it on the nicer platform? Putting something on Kindle isn't a magical thing that ensures that everyone who would enjoy your content would find it. Just because the Kindle platform is more visible doesn't mean your content will be.

Or, looking at it another way: why NOT put it on Gumroad if you're going to put it on Kindle anyway?
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