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You’ve uploaded your files to the CreateSpace website, ordered and approved your proof and your title is officially available. But what happens now? How long does it take your book to appear on Amazon? What should you be doing while you wait? (Hint: not just gazing adoringly at things.) And after all this time, effort, money, blood, sweat and tears, will anyone even buy it?
Nanoseconds after you click ‘Approve Proof’ your book becomes available on your own CreateSpace e-store. Anyone can purchase from here but most won’t want to; shipping costs are high – for non-US customers, they are downright ridiculous – and you have to create a CreateSpace account before purchasing. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can create your own discount codes (like 20% off or $2 off) to pass around to friends or fans for use in your CS e-store and you stand to earn your highest royalties from e-store sales. It also gives you the opportunity to gaze at a listing of your book – your book! – adoringly.
As I live in Ireland and expect a significant portion of my sales to come from Ireland, the UK and Europe, I decided to sell my book direct from my website. (More on this in a later post.) This meant that I had to order stock for myself, i.e. a box of my own books. Again, CreateSpace’s shipping costs are high – along with its abysmal Cover Creator, that’s one of its greatest flaws – and only it’s economy (up to 21 days) and standard (up to 14 days) shipping methods make economical sense. Order your stock as soon as possible so you never have to force your profits to disappear by forking out for express shipping.
Officially CreateSpace says it can take up to two weeks for your listing to appear on Amazon.com and that it will appear in stages, but generally it seems to take much less time than that. While you wait, consider using the time to publish in e-book format, which was not a pleasant experience by any stretch of the imagination; look out for my e-book post in the coming week.
By following this sequence, you’ll be where I was yesterday. My stock arrived (enabling me to start selling on my website), my listing was live on Amazon along with my Author Page and I could also offer e-book editions from Smashwords and Amazon’s Kindle store. Timing is everything!
I just have to say this about CreateSpace: when I started out this project/adventure/craziness, I read as much as I could about CreateSpace, especially on the site’s own forums. A lot of it was bad and as I result, I had low expectations. I wouldn’t have been surprised if something went horribly wrong. Now, I’m just starting out selling so I can’t speak for their royalty payment system or anything like that, but I have to tell you that:
- My book looks fantastic
- Every single one of the books I ordered for myself are perfect copies of my proof
- Every process (like listing on Amazon) and every delivery has completed or arrived faster than promised, much faster in some cases
- When I contacted their support department, I was contacted within 24 hours and the issue I wanted corrected was corrected in less than 72.
- Even though shipping costs are high – I paid as much for my shipping as I did for my books – I still have a much healthier profit margin with CS than I would have had with Lulu or any comparable service. And having paid a very reasonable $39 to go ‘ProPlan’ I get cheaper books and higher royalties.
I have to say I highly recommend their service, and can only hope – CreateSpace, are you listening??!?! – that they do something about their god awful CoverCreator and international shipping charges.
What follows is my own CreateSpace Self-Publishing Timeline.
Thursday 11th March 2010
- Uploaded interior and cover files to CreateSpace
- CS approved files (i.e. format, size, etc. okay)
- Ordered proof copy
- Proof copy shipped (priority at cost of $30-odd dollars for one book)
- CS e-store goes live; product info says ‘This title is being prepared for sale but should be available shortly.’
Tuesday 16th March 2010
- Proof copy arrived from CS – that was just 3 business days! (They said it would take up to 7.)
Friday 19th March 2010
- Approved proof; title now becomes ‘Available’ to me (on my CS account, as owner)
- Book available to buy on CreateSpace e-store
- Placed personal order stock (standard shipping.)
Monday 22nd March 2010
- Personal stock order ships.
Tuesday 23rd March 2010
- Woo-hoo! Listing appears on Amazon.com, albeit only when using Advanced Search and ISBN. No description or About the Author and for some reason there’s a gigantic ‘Volume 1′ after the title (I find out this was my mistake) but the cover image is up and looks good. Offering customers notification by e-mail when title becomes available.
- Now that my book is listed, I can sign up for an Author Page. Am able to load Author bio, photo and video, but it will take 7 days to build.
- Helpful peeps on CreateSpace’s forums tell me to complain via Author Central re: ‘Volume 1.’ I amend the description but am warned it can take ages.
- A few hours later, availability changes to ‘In Stock.’
Wednesday 24th March 2010
- Product Description and About the Author appears on Amazon listing under ‘Editorial Reviews’
- Both Kindle and print edition now show up when searching for ‘Mousetrapped’ and/or ‘Catherine Ryan Howard’ but the pages aren’t yet linked
- CreateSpace e-mail to say (re: my ‘Volume 1′ query) that my request has been passed on to Technical Support
- Amazon.com e-mails to say my title description change (removal of ‘Volume 1′) has been accepted and will appear online within 2-3 business days. Woo-hoo!
- CreateSpace tech department e-mails to say that too have removed ‘Vol 1′ from my title description. Check and check!
- Around 11pm, my name on the paperback listing turns blue and is underlined, leaving me to believe my Author Page has gone live. Um, not quite. When I click on it, I land on what looks like a random page of search results. Amazon claims it’s for ‘Catherine Ryan Howard’ but since the top item is The Doors video-on-demand, I’m not inclined to believe them.
Thursday 25th March 2010
- Wake up to an e-mail from Amazon.com saying my Author Page has now gone live; indeed it has.
- Author page only linked (i.e accessible) from paperback page, although Kindle is listed on it.
- Strange search results still there for ‘Catherine Ryan Howard’ – how am I related to a Doors movie?! – but now my author page is at the top of them.
Friday 26th March 2010
- Personal stock order arrives and is PERFECT
- ‘Volume 1′ disappears from Amazon.
- Mousetrapped appears in GoodReads search results, enabling me to create a GoodReads author profile
- We are go for launch!
Saturday 27th March 2010
- Third party sellers (a1 Books of NJ and The Book Depository.com) are now offering Mousetrapped via Amazon
- A sales rank appears on the print edition for the first time (#73, 334 – don’t give up the day job yet, eh? Oh, wait. I don’t have a day job…) I presume this means I’ve sold a copy. For one heady moment during the week, the Kindle edition was #1 in – wait for it – Kindle -> Kindle Books -> Travel -> United States -> South -> South Atlantic. Put that in your irrelevant pipe and smoke it! ;)
- The sale appears in my ‘Reports’ on CreateSpace.com; it seems Amazon.com sales show up immediately.
Monday 29th March 2010
- Mousetrapped officially launches (online)
- For one brief moment, both my print edition and Kindle edition are in the Top 10 of Books -> Travel -> United States -> Florida -> Orlando. You gotta take what you can get, right?
Tuesday 30th March 2010
- Mousetrapped is now for sale on Barnes and Noble’s online store – at only $10.86 for members, it’s a bargain!
Wednesday 31st March 2010
- ‘Mousetrapped’ and ‘Catherine Ryan Howard’ now appear as drop-down options in Amazon.com’s search bar
- Oddly, a Marketplace Seller is offering a ‘used’ edition of my book for $17 – $3 more than a brand new copy. Although their copy must also be new – even though condition is listed as ‘Used – Good’ because the book’s only been out 3 days!
Thursday 1st April 2010
- Mousetrapped is on sale at Amazon. Price slashed by 28% – just $10.76!
- It’s happened again and this time I got photographic evidence. (And this is not an April Fool’s joke. If it was, don’t you think I’d target a slightly less than completely irrelevant category?) Mousetrapped is currently – and by currently, I mean this 60 minute period – no. 1 in – wait for it! – Kindle -> Kindle Books -> Travel -> United States -> Regions -> South -> South Atlantic. Pop those champagne corks! Or…well, it at least deserves a cup of tea, doesn’t it? No?
Friday 2nd April 2010
- An advanced search with my ISBN on Amazon.co.uk returns – oh my God! A bare bones listing for Mousetrapped! Prolonged, high-pitched squeal! This is totally unexpected; I had no guarantee that it would be listed on there and am shocked that it’s up exactly two weeks after I clicked the ‘Approve Proof’ button. It’s listed as ‘Temporarily Out of Stock.’ NB: It could have been up there for a while but today was the first day I checked.
- I sign up for an Amazon.co.uk Author Page but it’s a bit of a let down. With no blog posting capabilities or video upload (like its Amazon.com’s equivalent), is there really a point? If you only have one book, not really.
- An ISBN search also turns out bare bones Mousetrapped listings on Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.jp, Amazon.fr and Amazon.de. That $39 I paid for extended distribution was definitely worth it! (All listings show ‘Out of Stock’ – or at least I think they do!)
Friday 9th April 2010
- All international Amazons are now showing variations on ‘Dispatched within 1-3 weeks.’
- I also find Mousetrapped on Books a Million but the listing is terrible and doesn’t even include a cover image. Have contacted BAM regarding uploading files but no response yet.
- Having signed up for Author Central (.co.uk) I upload my product description and about the author; it appears on the listing 3-5 days later.
Saturday 10th April 2010
- Search Inside feature appears on Amazon.com listing.
Saturday 19th April 2010
- Amazon.co.uk listing changes to ‘In Stock. Order soon – 5 left remaining. More on the way.’
- Books a Million listing gets a cover image. Woo-hoo!
- An extended distribution sale appears in my CreateSpace reports for the first time; there appears to be a delay but it’s impossible to tell how much of one.
Thursday 6th May 2010
- My first royalty cheque arrives from CreateSpace (Mousetrapped went on sale there on March 19th).
- Amazon.com is now offering a ‘Frequently Bought Together…’ deal with a (also self-published; Lulu, I believe) Disney college program memoir called Mousecatraz. (Do Disney-themed memoirs have the best names or what?)
Thursday 13th May 2010
- After an idle search for Mousetrapped on Waterstones.com, I discovered that although Waterstones doesn’t list it, you can purchase it through its ‘Marketplace sellers.’ Oddly, two of their three options cost more than €70, or seven times the actual price.
Friday 14th May 2010
- A group of sales from Extended Distribution Channel (EDC) show up in my sales report. As it can take up to 60 days after the sale for these to appear and when they do, they only have today’s date on them, I have no way of knowing when these were sold. However thanks to my obsessive stalking of my Amazon UK sales rank, I have a good idea. I also suspect that since my Barnes and Noble listing has a ‘Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought…’ thingy, at least one of them must be from there. (I think this was the sole EDC sale that appeared a while back.) To reiterate: when you sell through the EDC, you get no information other than the number of books that were sold. I don’t know when, I don’t know from where. There is no way of knowing. That kinda blows.
- I think I’ve figured out my Amazon UK stock thingy. When it first went live, it showed ‘In Stock.’ Almost immediately, it changed to ‘Only 5 left in stock’ and then it went down (as books were sold, presumably) until it showed only 1 left. Then it popped back up to 2. Last night, it went down to 1 again and yet this morning we have, again, 2. I think ’2′ is the status quo, the stock level it will always be kept at. I suppose I can live with that. (I’ll have to!)