Amazon self-publishing, part II : a final guest post by Ned Rozell

In my last post, I promised another on the pros and cons of my self-publishing experience. I published Alaska Tracks with an Amazon company called createspace. I liked both elements of that compound word, so I gave them a try.

First, what I didn’t like so much: I never once spoke to a human being. All e-mail contact, and even that in a robotic format. You create pdfs of your cover and your book’s innards, two pdfs in all for a book like mine, and send them to createspace. They whip them together and send you a proof copy. I really wanted to talk with someone at the company, but ended up typing all my questions into this form-letter format and sending it off to them.

But, someone always seemed to hear my pleas, because my proofs were always changed, and never offered for sale until I gave the thumbs-up. And when I’ve had other minor issues, like shipping to the wrong address once, they gave me a few free books.

I also haven’t cracked the distribution nut with createspace. It’s available on Amazon and my own site, but I haven’t gotten it into the stream of Alaska distribution or distribution elsewhere. (But having it on Amazon alone ain’t too bad, as Deb said).

I’ve set up accounts with a few booksellers where I send them to the createspace website with a discount code that’s easy to set up. That has kept the books out of my garage, which is one of my goals. The book, however, has appeared on the shelves of very few bookstores. If you want it in yours, give me a jingle.

Now, on to what I really like about this method: I chose my title, the book’s photos, and the general look and feel of it. It’s my baby and I’ve not yet complained about my publisher to another writer. I check every night to see the sales, and point to the ceiling like Big Papi when I sell one (like tonight!). Createspace deposits my profits right into my checking account, and sends me an account summary every week.

Mostly, I just like that someone in Des Moines can order my book when I’m sleeping on a gravel bar. Amazon ships it off and deposits $7.50 in my account, and that’s that. The books are printed on demand and shipped off, no extras. I like the feel of it all.

This method, of course, is something you’ll never touch if you have an agent and big publisher to muscle your book out there. And I’m working with University of Alaska Press on another book (and am enjoying that human touch). But for some projects, like Alaska Tracks, it’s a nice option that wasn’t this easy five years ago.

If you have questions about the process and you don’t want to clog the comments section (but I’ll check there too), I’ll answer them at Finally, I’ll stop yakkin here with a thanks to Deb and Andromeda for inventing this site and creating a community, pulling together we isolationists and others who choose to write.

14 thoughts on “Amazon self-publishing, part II : a final guest post by Ned Rozell”

  1. Wonderful to have these details, Ned. Though I haven't tried Createspace (yet), I think you're exactly right – it's a matter of matching the platform with the right projects. Two questions: Do you have much trouble getting booksellers to order from CreateSpace? I'm sure it's easier for them to work through their regular jobbers. Also, do they offer many options in terms of the book dimensions and paper type? One of my beefs with self-pubbed books is that so many of them look the same. I'm sure that's easier for the publisher, but it makes the title scream "self-pubbed," which is still something of a stigma – in the short term anyhow.

  2. Thanks for this post (and Part I). The other positive aspect of print-on-demand is that because you don't have stacks of books in your garage, you won't have that feeling of wasting resources as your book becomes dated and revision time approaches – more critical for guide books.

    I hope that more bookstores will decide to order through this service. They will probably make a better margin than when they use a conventional distributor and the bookstore browsers like me will be able to buy local.

  3. Hey Deb;

    A few booksellers in Fairbanks have ordered Alaska Tracks through createspace so far. Booksellers have to register with the createspace site, so that's probably a bit of hesitation on their part, but it only takes a few minutes. Bottom line: I really haven't tried to get the book out there much. Those booksellers came to me.

    As for book dimensions, you have several choices on those. Paper choices, not so much. But since I've been doing it, I've noticed that they are evolving, and suspect there is a company out there with all the paper choices you'd want.

  4. Good to know on both counts. Stores, authors – all of us are going to have to be flexible as the industry adapts to (hopefully) a more sensible model.

  5. Todd Rutherford, Vice-President, Yorkshire Publishing

    If you set your book up with (owned by Ingram) in addition to, Ingram will make your book available POD to 25,000 bookstores and libraries. Then I can help you with promotion.

  6. Tell us more, Todd. What would LightningSource do for the self-published that he/she couldn't do?

  7. A friend pointed me to this site today and I already see a lot to like here!

    We've used both LightningSource and CreateSpace since they were respectively begun (30+ years in publishing), and we find benefits to both for different reasons. We make more on LSource books, and their connection with the book industry is a huge plus, but's hard to beat the pretty much automatic service with CSpace, which we've been using for two years now for our first DVD. Best bet is to study both companies and ask questions galore. I can help answer a few of those, but if they get too tricky I'll have to refer to my husband Mark, who handles the technical end of our operation.

  8. Todd Rutherford, Vice-President, Yorkshire Publishing is a print on demand company owned by Ingram. They have both US and UK plants that are integrated with the I-page system used by 25K bookstores and libraries. I recommend them to all my clients. Once you have your book set up with them, you have the broadest scope of POD distribution available. We take care of the editing, design, and marketing.

  9. Andromeda Romano-Lax

    Ned and others have been kind enough to keep this conversation going, so I have one last question: Is it hard to include lots of photos in a CreateSpace book? (Not necessarily high quality coffee-table-book art photos, but just general small photos, maps, illustrations or anything else besides text.) Any other explanations of how flexible the formatting/design is?

  10. Todd Rutherford, Vice-President, Yorkshire Publishing


    You can put whatever you want in your book at CreateSpace or Lightning Source. They are going to print whatever you upload. (As long as the PDF is according to their specs)

    Let me know if you need any help with layout or marketing.

  11. Reproduction of photos is not a strong point of createspace, Andromeda. Quality varies, though the last batch I ordered looks pretty good.

    And thanks, Todd and Helen; I'll study up a bit on Lightning Source.

  12. I'm glad to know that you had a fine experience in self-publishing. But i would have to agree with you that plain email communications can be rough sometimes. After all, it's more human when you get to talk to someone over the phone.

    In case you want to advertise your book for free, please follow this link:

    You have the book…We have the Marketing Resources.

  13. Does anyone have any experience with Amazons Book Surge? I have heard mixed reviews especially regarding marketing of the book. I have heard they are only in it to get your book and then do very little according to what they promise as far as marketing.
    How is Lightingsource as far a marketing is concerned?

    Also once you self publish does that take you off the market for a larger publisher to put up?

  14. Todd Rutherford, Vice-President, Yorkshire Publishing

    Book Surge and Create Space have been merged into only Create Space now. Create Space is an Amazon company. They own their own presses, but only provide distribution through They claim to provide distribution through Baker and Taylor also, but it is only if bookstore special orders it from Baker and Taylor on back order. It doesn't work. I speak from experience.

    If you want broadest scope of availability, is the way to go. They are owned by Ingram, so you get great POD pricing and distribution through,, and Ingram.

    If you need help with editing, design, LSI file prep, or marketing, let me know.

    Todd Rutherford

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