POD Self-Publishing with CreateSpace: A Timeline


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.’
Mousetrapped by Catherine Ryan Howard

The proof copy is here! Now I must gaze at it adoringly…

Tuesday 16th March 2010

  • Proof copy arrived from CS – that was just 3 business days! (They said it would take up to 7.)
Mousetrapped by Catherine Ryan Howard

Mousetrapped on my CreateSpace e-store.

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.
Mousetrapped by Catherine Ryan Howard

The listing as of 23.03.10 – it’s first appearance

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.’

As of 24.03.10, both Kindle edition and print edition show up on Search.

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!

23.03.10 at 11:30pm: According to Amazon, The Doors movie is more me than me.

  • 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.

The Doors movie is still there, but at least my author page is now above 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?

Mousetrapped appears on Barnes and Noble

Tuesday 30th March 2010

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!

The Kindle edition is no. 1 in a completely irrelevant category – woo-hoo!

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?

Mousetrapped’s first appearance on Amazon.co.uk

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.

Mousetrapped in Japanese!

  • 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

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

Thursday 13th May 2010

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!)

Read all my self-printing posts or read about the book I self-printed.

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23 thoughts on “POD Self-Publishing with CreateSpace: A Timeline

  1. Tina Smith-Brown says:

    Damn! And I’m not a cusser. This is great stuff. As I read your comments I pulled up the sites you recommended and said Damn! again. Greatly appreciate your sharing and enjoyed your journey. Getting ready to publish my 1st novel Fish and Grits and feel so much better now about the process. Hope it’s okay to email you with questions.


  2. JBBC says:

    Hi Catherine, found your site via your Aunt’s blog, and just want to congratulate you on self publishing your first book. I have only just logged on here, so I looking forward to learning more. This blog looks like it is a great resource for anyone considering this route.

    The book looks fantastic and I am very interested in the subject, having been a regular visitor to Florida over the past 10 years …in fact off there next month again..so this book would be a great thing to read on the plane 🙂 Very best of luck with your sales and well done again. Marie

  3. catherineryanhoward says:

    Hi Tina,

    Thanks so much for stopping by – glad you found the blog useful! It’s perfectly fine to email me with questions but I’d recommend you read the whole self-printing series first (only because people have a habit of emailing me with questions already answered by it!) and if you can, write it as a comment on the blog so everyone benefits. However I totally understand if you need to email so feel free.

    Best of luck with your book. Self-publishing is a lot of work but it’s all worth it when you hold that book of yours in your hands!

    C x

  4. catherineryanhoward says:

    Hi Marie,

    Oooh, I’m so jealous!! I would LOVE to be off to Florida next month (or any month!) Especially when the days are so grey and dull here. I miss my poolside mornings! I went back in April last year and hope to spend a couple of weeks there this September. I need my annual Fl fix. 😉

    Thanks so much for stopping by. Really appreciate you taking the time to comment. 🙂

    Best wishes,
    (and enjoy Florida!!)

  5. Milz says:

    Thanks for your timeline catherine, it has helped calm me so far for my book.

    I too day-dream of an EB-1 Green Card sitting here voluntarily unemployed in India!

  6. Piper says:

    What a brilliant blog and congratulations on publishing your book! It looks fantastic. I hope it is doing well. Thank you so much for going into so much detail on your blog about publishing on CreateSpace.

    I’ve just published my debut crime novel as an ebook on Smashwords and am about to publish the paperback, so this has been enormously helpful. Self-publishing is so difficult in terms of the IT learning curve that this is a great help. Thank you.

  7. Ronnica says:

    I’m strongly considering using Create Space to publish my novel, so I appreciate how you laid all this out. I want to have copies in hand to give to my family next Christmas, so the timing is important!

    Looking into your book. =)

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      No problem – glad you found it helpful. It’s hard to find info like this on the Createspace website so I decided to take note of my own experience so others could see what the schedule is really like.

      Good luck with your book! 🙂

  8. Sean Walsh says:

    Hello and well done on all your good work on here. I am about to go the CreateSpace road to epublish my first book – my background is drama, script-writing – I have never attempted a book before. The technical end of things drives me round the twist and I am apprehensive of the charge/cost/dollars mounting up once I “sign on.” The more I don’t do, the more they have to do – right? Please cry Stop! if you reckon I’m headed for the rapids!.. Anyway, I thought I’d email you – because you’re worth it…

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Hi Sean,

      I recommend you have a good read through my ‘self-printing’ category posts – or even just the 5 DAY POD series – because you really don’t have to spend very much money at all, and you don’t have to spend any money to publish an e-book. All the POD websites will try to get you to buy things like publishing packages, editing services, designers, etc. but you don’t need any of them. I had my book proofread and my cover professionally designed, but other than that I just paid for one proof copy (about $12) and paid $39 for Createspace’s Pro Plan. You shouldn’t have to pay for more than that.

      Good luck!

  9. Melissa Kyeyune says:

    Awesome! This was a great site-by-step process you took us through!

    I have just self-published my first romance novel, Miguel and Grace with CreateSpace. It is now listed on Amazon.

    My cover is not yet updated as to what I changed it to (fron red to black). And I do not yet see any product description. Basically, my Amazon page looks pretty dull. This is it however (still un-updated cover):


    This is the correct version, on CreateSpace:

    According to your lovely timeline, within a few days from now all these amazing things should start happening to my page, so I’ll be patient!!

    This blog post was amazingly informative.

    – Melissa

  10. Stephen Cornelius says:

    I’d be interested in how it compares to the Kindle Direct Publishing timeline.

    My own book is through its second draft, so I’m soon going to send it out to see if someone else will publish it, but as I know that even if it’s fantastic the odds are long I am…

    – Steve (probable future user of Self-Printed… as a guide for my own self-publishing endeavors)

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Doing a KDP timeline would be a very short post, because it all happens within about 12-24 hours: you upload, it gets published and then you have a full Amazon listing. Much more straightforward.

  11. Preeti says:

    awwww..i love the part where you talk about gazing at your book adoringly. that is EXACTLY what i did the first time i saw my book! i didn’t get anything else done that day, i had it propped up where i could constantly eye it no matter what i was doing, and every 1 minute or so i would do just that. did the same thing with my amazon listing too! :0

  12. Dave says:

    Hi Catherine from Dublin.

    Just to thank you for your advise. I am also about to publish my first book and think I will try Createspace. I have interest from a traditional publisher but don’t want to make changes, after all it’s my book. I have also been approached for a screenplay to be written about my book so early days but still happy days. I wish you the very best and thanks again. Dave

  13. Jen Greyson | Author (@JenGreyson) says:

    Great info! I’m curious about the “volume 1” issue. Is that because you listed it as part of a series? I’ve just selected that option, but now I’m worried about how it will show up in the title.

    Much thanks in advance. (Also wondering how much has changed with CreateSpace since you did this post)

  14. Gina says:

    Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular post!
    It’s the little changes that produce the biggest changes.
    Many thanks for sharing!

Comments are closed.