Before I go on about Createspace, I must admit to a personal reason for writing this blog post. I’m looking for feedback from not only authors, but avid readers as well.
If you know a lot about Createspace or have used them in the past, you may wish to skip down to the section labeled My Dilemma where I discuss the reason for this post.
In the Beginning
One of the many reasons I chose self-publishing was the potential to sell books at such a discounted rate. I grew up in a family without much money, one where my parents provided for our needs, but we often went without extras and this often included books.
I couldn’t believe it was possible to sell eBooks for fewer than three dollars and still make a profit. An intriguing concept for those of us conscientious of our spending. I’d hoped to find a way to do the same with paperbacks, at least sell them cheaper than what we’d typically see in a bookstore, but I’m having a tough time deciding between the business aspects and what I wish to offer the reader.
Quick Overview of Createspace for Paperback Book Production
As many self-published authors have, I chose Createspace as a printing and distribution site for the paperback version of my book. The author uploads a PDF file, cover art, and a few other details. Createspace can then create a paperback copy of your book for low cost.
Probably the best aspect of Createspace is its ability to distribute your title to multiple sources. They’re affiliated with Amazon and quickly send out information regarding your title so it can be bought from their site.
There is also an option to spend $25 for expanded distribution. Your book becomes available to other online bookstores such as Barnes and Noble. If you choose an ISBN directly from Createspace they’ll also make your book available to libraries throughout the United States.
(Note: I bought my own ISBN for more control over my book’s future distribution.)
How Createspace Makes Money
Createspace doesn’t charge the author any money until a book is actually ordered. No longer must self-published authors purchase hundreds of their own books to sell from their house. Once a sale is made Createspace takes the production cost from the income, sends a cut to whichever site the book was bought from, and then takes their percentage from whatever is left.
This may seem like a lot at first, but compared to traditionally published books, I’ll still average more royalties per sale on Amazon for a $10 book.
How Much Does Createspace Charge for Each Book Printed?
There are a few factors I’m probably missing, but I know the basics. The price is dependent on the color of paper used (cream or white), page count, and a minimum base value. I’m not 100% on that last part, but that’s been my experience so far.
As I just mentioned above, Createspace charges according to page count. The more pages to print, the more I must charge as an author to bring in at least some royalties.
Right now, the minimum I can charge for a paperback copy of The Fall of Billy Hitchings is $10.99. This means that if my book sells through an expanded distribution site, I make somewhere around $0.12. Making bunches of money off paperback sales wasn’t my original goal, but my issue is with the pricing.
$10.99 for a newbie author’s book? While not exorbitant, I’m assuming sales would be better at a lower price point, at least for now, and I’m all about making books available at as low a price as possible.
Lowering the Page Count
The word count for The Fall of Billy Hitchings is around 80K words. If you’re not an author, you probably haven’t thought much about word count. Unless you’re an author, you’ve probably never thought about how you can change the page count of a book either.
When I tell people I wrote a book, one of their first questions is usually, “How many pages is it?” Without directing them to this blog post, it’s hard explaining that the more important number is word count.
To lower the word count you can increase the actual size of each page or lower the font size.
The Fall of Billy Hitchings as an Example
Without actually making the changes in my account, I’m not able to tell exactly how much I’d have to charge, but I can calculate how much it would cost to print each book. When I charge $10.99 per paperback book, the initial cost Createspace takes out is $4.23.
If I were to use another option, let’s say 6 inches by 9 inches, this would bring the page count down to 220 and the print cost to $3.49 giving us a savings of $.074 per book. This should mean I can charge that much less for my book as well, bringing it down to about $10.25.
If we took this even further and I went with an eight by ten inch book, this would bring the page count down to 142, the print cost to $2.55 each. I could technically charge $9.31 for a paperback copy and make as much on royalties as I do now at $10.99.
I’m looking at this from a reader’s perspective. If you go to Amazon to order a book (all things being equal), are you more likely to spend $10.99 on a 282 page book, or $9.31 for a 142 page book?
Even though both books have the exact same number of words, it appears as if you get a better deal with the $10.99 book.
This is my issue. I wish to give readers the best deal, but it doesn’t matter how big of a deal I give readers if they don’t buy my book because it doesn’t appear that good of a deal.
Your thoughts? How much do page counts matter? Do you pay attention to trim size when buying a book? Does the page count matter more for new authors than established authors?
Thanks for all your feedback!