Tag Archives: problems

Createspace and Me: An Essay

logo-csp-no-tm

I was going to save this topic for a guest post when all was said and done, but I am about to explode and I really must get this off my chest.  My bra is too tight and there is really no room for it. (I hate bras.)

Createspace is a wonderful thing.  They make it possible to do fantastic things like self-publish an ebook and prepare a print-on–demand paperback.  For the Indie author, this is a Godsend.  I know there are a few, like lightning source and lulu that will do the same thing and they are wonderful, too, I am sure, but today I have to talk about my personal experience with Createspace.  This is the company I chose to go with for the creation of my paperback version of “Red Clay and Roses”.

First, I should tell you about my experience publishing my eversion.  Not having any skills for formatting or translations errors or any of that other technical stuff that is supposed to create a better product, I opted to go with an Independent small press publisher, Elderberry Press.

David St. John was quite affordable, and the contract terms were delightful.  David and I developed a very good rapport.  I sent him my manuscript and within 72 hours my first book was up and live on smashwords.  By that third day, I had a file that I could easily upload to Amazon’s KDP.  All done.  Now there was nothing to do but wait for the royalties to come in right? (hahaha…I hear you laughing).

Second, I did not have a professional cover design, and some WordPress friends gave me some really good info, advice and insight on how to proceed with that and I contacted a gentleman in England (Paul Beekly at create-imaginations.com) who also had really good work and really good rates, most professional.  He read my book, viewed my original photograph, and we shared some thoughts.

Within days, I had a fantastic cover image.  He went on to provide a Facebook banner, imprint logo, bookmark design, and several other book shots and a paperback design for extremely reasonable rates. To sum things up, that whole process went very smoothly, and I was quite satisfied.

This cover image, also, was easily uploaded to Amazon via KDP, live within hours, and my publisher uploaded to smashwords and thus it went on out to various retail distributors over time.  In the end, this whole process took less than a month and would have taken less, had I been better prepared.  Being a newbie, but with a little experience, I thought working with Createspace would be a breeze.  Their price for their top of the line assisted service was as reasonable as Elderberry’s had been for the eversion.

NOW FOR THE DIRT

I am about madder than a wet hen at Createspace.

I started with them on June 6th to get this paperback accomplished.  I was told it would take approximately 8 weeks from start to finish.  I thought, “Great, I should have my paperbook live by August 6th, right?  WRONG!  NOT TODAY EVEN, A MONTH LATER!

Let me say, I don’t believe I went into this with unrealistic expectations.  I knew, being a paperback, this was probably going to be a more complex project.  I also knew that I wanted to submit some revisions to a completely well edited manuscript.  After all, this was going down in ink on paper. I also knew that Createspace was a much larger company than Elderberry Press, and I would most likely not get the individualized, one:one service that I had received from David.  Yet, I had heard wonderful things about their customer service, so I thought I was going down a well-traveled pathway to progress.

One thing that worried me was the possibility of delays, because I have had my book nominated for a very prestigious award by a Reader’s Group…but that is a subject for another post.  The point is I had an October 1st deadline with them.  That is to say, I have to submit four bound manuscripts to this organization by Oct. 1st to be considered in the 2013 publication phase.  So I had some concerns.  Yet, August 6th as a deadline with Createspace seemed reasonable, and should give me plenty of time. NOT!

First, after paying the money and not hearing from them about ANYTHING to do with progress after THREE WEEKS, I gave them a call.  The very polite girl in CS (Customer Service) told me that they were “backed up” and had not started with me.  Shit, I thought!  I am sure I said it out loud.  She assured me that they would be starting with me very soon, and once under way, things should move quickly, BUT my eight weeks would not start until they contacted me.  So a week later, we are already talking about July 6th, I was contacted…a full month after my purchase.  Eight weeks, let’s see Sept. 6th, right?  If things had worked out well, my paperback would be live today and my copies would be in the mail to the Reader’s Group Organization.  Things have not worked out well.

Second, I want you to know that I am not blameless here!  I am a perfectionist and I want things done right.  I also want to assure that I am putting a quality product out there for the reader to enjoy.  I don’t want there to be any distraction, errors, or other such nonsense to make the reader feel like crap for having had enough faith to invest in me.  I gave my eversion away for free for two full weeks to get enough reader feedback to hopefully get my revisions accomplished, have a copyeditor review and advise, get my line editing done, and proof the final MS.  So, all of this was taking place between waiting periods with Createspace.

Waiting periods, that brings me to my third challenge.  I thought I had done my research with Createspace.  Their upgraded plan included the special features that I wanted for my book.  I wasn’t told how complicated and time consuming “special features” could be.  I had some handwritten letters in my book that would need different fonts.  I also had a black and white image of my book imprint logo that I wanted in the front matter, so I was being particular.  I don’t mind being candid here.  That’s why I included “Me” in the title to this post.  I had a lot to do with what went wrong, so try to learn something here, okay?

Quickly, let me give you the low down on how my upgraded plan with createspace works/includes: 1) A personalized consultation with a team project specialist, 2) Mock ups phase, up to three mockups are sent to the purchaser to make changes (They don’t do this part anymore, more about that later.), 3) Digital or paper proof available to be mailed, 4) Final manuscript submission, 5) Interior Text approval, 6) Cover image uploaded and approved, 7) Final complimentary author proof mailed for review, 8) Approved and ready to go live.  Sounds simple enough?

Here is a list of what all went wrong, (this is just the Create and Set-Up), what was involved, and how long it took to make repairs:

1.       My initial challenge was learning how to navigate the Createspace site- I had to learn the icons and emblems and what they stood for in my member dashboard.  I learned about my message box, project tool box (where downloadable files are stored), and explored all of the steps in the process; Create, Set-Up, Review, Distribute and Sales & Marketing.  Each of these steps has sub steps.  This took a couple of days.  I don’t claim to be real tech savvy.

2.        Next was the consultation- Now we are starting July 6th- The gentleman assisting me was very professional and assured me that they could accomplish all of my special features.  He took notes and told me that they would be both prudent in selecting fonts and fleuron, and in embedding images.  I was instructed that all I needed to do was upload my Manuscript so they could get started, I would be allowed to upload another manuscript later with any text changes I needed, and the three mock ups would give me the opportunity to assure that things were coming along as I planned for the book.  I would be allowed to make changes in the design lay-out, front matter, fonts, fleuron, and images during the mock up phases.  I was figuring on a couple of days turnaround between mock ups, after all, they told me I was allowed up to three and I was expecting an 8 week process with these included.  Erroneous Assumption.  After submission of the manuscript, it took another week to get the first mock up (we are now looking at August 27th   having this ready).

3.       The Mock up phases, where things went terribly wrong- There is a reason that they are not doing these anymore, and my experience is probably part of why they have decided to omit the mock up phases. First mock up- They had the front matter acceptable but had left out the Book Imprint logo I had uploaded.  They had switched the title header and author headers to the wrong sides.  The page numbers needed to be in the top right corner, not at the bottom.  The handwriting fonts for the letters were a nice choice, but very small, and the same for both characters writing letters.  That simply could not be.  Two characters would not use the same handwriting now, would they? The fleuron that they had selected was way off.  I had asked for something linear and curved, simple.  Just a little something to indicate a change in thought/construct in the middle of a chapter.  What I got was a highly embellished round swirl.  They were small details, but important to me. Another week passed.  I uploaded my request for revisions, and some fleuron images that were acceptable to me, and the logo image, again.  It is now July 11th.Second Mock up– By some fluke of fate, and not a very kind one, my cover artist sent me an image of my logo, an Ark, with a silly looking giraffe in in it.  It was a joke.  It was hilarious and very juvenile.  I thought it quite funny.  I didn’t realize that I had even downloaded it.  Guess which one I uploaded to createspace?  Not the original logo of the Ark that is posted on my website, bit this one:stupid girraffe

This is no children’s book. Not even a respectable giraffe. A huge image of this giraffe logo, not the thumbnail sized plain ark image I had requested. The front matter looked good with the dedication and quote, but something was missing.  There needed to be a nice fleuron between them.  The headers were swapped out, the letters had different handwriting, the page numbers were in the right place, the fleuron they selected for the text was acceptable, but the handwriting font for the letters had been grossly enlarged and looked ridiculously silly.  I resubmitted my changes.  It is now July 31st when I get the second mock up back.  I wasn’t totally satisfied with the handwriting size when they reduced it in this 2nd mock up, feeling like they may have gone too small, but I didn’t want to wait another two weeks for them to correct it.  I couldn’t handle a 3rd mock up!

4.       I accepted the material as it was and awaited my first proof copy to be mailed. – And waited, and waited, and waited.  After two weeks with no copy received in my mailbox I gave them a call, on August 14th.  They were just fixing to mail out my copy!  I begged them to let me change it to a digital copy.  I had so wanted to hold a paper copy in hand, because I am, after all, creating a paperback, right?  But no, we must submit ourselves to the travesty of time.  A few days later, I get my digital copy. It is August 19thwhen the digital copy is received.  Imagine what it would have been to wait on a mailed paper copy!

5.       After having so much time to prepare my manuscript, I thought, “Great!  This thing is as close to perfect as it is going to get!  Time to upload it! – Well, herein lies the problem.  Although I had made changes on two manuscripts, my RCAR file for KDP, and my manuscript.docx file that I had originally submitted to Createspace….sound easy enough? ….after weeks of editing 2 copies side by side, I am told that my text changes have to be submitted on the downloadable manuscript file that is in the project tool box on the web site, NOT on the original manuscript.  The formatting won’t be right (or something technical like that, I still don’t understand). The changes have to be made on THEIR service file MS copy. Silly me, I didn’t even know I had a manuscript file from Createspace in my project toolbox!  Yet another week to sit these two files down side by side and line edit precisely between the two. August 26th is upon us when I resubmit my final manuscript.

6.       I am waiting for final text approval, and have yet to upload my cover image (which I need an exact page count for) and I did get some good news yesterday.  They can send me five proof copies when they send my author proof copy in the mail for final review, so I can send those in for my contest (it doesn’t have to be published yet, but must be provided in bound manuscript).  God hope all goes well and it is acceptable to me.  Then I can hit the approved button, and go live!

August 6th was my original date planned go live. It is now September 6th, the day that my book was tentatively rescheduled to go live.  I am impatiently awaiting final approval of my text changes, my cover uploaded and approved, and the final proof copies to be mailed to me.  I am hoping this can all be accomplished at least a few days before my October 1st deadline so that I have time to mail in my four copies for my nomination.  I think Fedex still does an overnight delivery.  I know that I am pushing the wire and I am sitting on the edge of my seat biting my nails.

My advice to anyone using Createspace, especially if you have special features:

  • Expect it to take longer than expected.
  • Be very clear in your initial phone consultation.
  • As they no longer do Mock Ups, make absolutely certain that you have your manuscript one hundred percent ready to go with the first submission, including any fonts or fleuron that you can upload images for or provide samples.  Try to not have any need to make changes.
  • Trash any old MSs or images that you don’t want to accidently upload.
  • If you think there may be a demand for a paperback, do your ebook and paperback at the same time through the same company.  I wasn’t expecting to do a paperback.
  • Thank God that they don’t do time consuming mock ups anymore, but be 100% certain that you are prepared on the first run.

I will get to “Review, Distribute and Sales & Marketing,” in due time.  I hope your experience runs smoother than mine and your book gets published without a hitch.  Good Luck!!!

Daisy, the Incredibly Determined Dog

daisyMy husband is a very kind man who likes adopting pets.  He would come home with birds, lizards, geckos, and animals as exotic as the Chinese water dragon.  We had a special room for all the animals that he felt would have a better home with us than where they were found.

One day, he called me on the phone as I was coming home from my night job and he told me that a new smiling face with big brown eyes would be greeting me as I came in the door.  I told him jokingly, “Okay, as long as it isn’t a kid named Julio with hearty appetite!”  After all, we already had twenty parakeets, a couple of sun conures, a cockatiel, a few lizards, a Tokay gecko, a Chinese water dragon, two dogs, and a cat…what harm would one more critter be?

I wondered what my surprise would be.  When I opened the front door, I was greeted by the smiling face of Daisy.  What a pretty dog she was, with her happy wagging tail.  She is an Australian cattle dog mixed breed, with the personality of an angel, a white mid-sized dog with reddish spots.

Daisy was adopted from the parking lot of Petco where the adoption dog service had many salvaged doggies up for adoption.  Her big brown eyes and gentle smile had won my husband’s heart.  He got her history from them and decided we could make a good loving home for her.

When people keep dogs as pets, they must remember that dogs are inbred with certain characteristics.  Daisy was a herding dog.  It was her job to see to it that the flock was safe.  Her history was one of a runaway, digging tunnels and jumping fences.  The original family that had owned her had given her up because they were tired of chasing her down.  She had such a habit of digging out of the back yard and running away, that they had put her on a chain. She had scars on her neck where the heavy chain had rubbed away the hair and marked her deeply.

During Hurricane Charley, homes were trashed, roofs were torn off, huge trees and other debris were hurled across streets and thunderstorms raged.  Lightening crashed and the wind blew hard at more than 75 miles per hour.  The devastation was horrible.  Poor Daisy, being frightened and chained in the yard, broke free and ran away; perhaps, to check on her herd.

Fortunately, she was found by her original family several days later.  It is amazing that she survived the storm and did not get hit by a car as we live in a part of Orlando with busy intersections and 5 and 6 lane through streets.  The original owners felt that they could no longer keep her and they took her to the adoption agency.  She had subsequently been adopted by several owners who had always brought her back to the agency with the same complaints.  Daisy needed a safe home.  My husband was certain that he could build a better mousetrap.

Daisy was already a full grown dog when we got her.  Her habits were deeply ingrained.  She had been a yard dog. My husband saw these habits as a challenge and decided that we would make a house dog of her like the other two doggies that live with us.  They have a doggie door and come and go at liberty.  Daisy seemed to instinctively know what the doggie door was for and followed the others in and out.  No training required.  She was a smart dog.

The next morning, after my husband had gone to work, I noticed the boards from the privacy fence had been pushed out.  Daisy was gone.  I searched the neighborhood and found her down the street.  Promptly, we put a tag on her with our phone numbers.  My husband took plastic twist ties and went around each and every panel on the privacy fence securing them into place so they could not be pushed out.

Not long after, we moved to a new neighborhood nearby.  We had a chain-linked fence at this new house, but found quickly that she could jump over it.  Neighbors were constantly calling or bringing her back home.  My husband went out and bought an electric invisible fence, surely she could be trained to stay in.  He installed the wire around the perimeter of the back yard.  Then we noticed that she was only running away during thunderstorms.

Here in Florida during the summer months, our rainy season, there are thunderstorms almost daily.  Daisy would begin to pant as the barometric pressure dropped.  By the time a storm hit, she would be in a full blown panic, pacing and checking from room to room for her flock.  Most doggies with thunderstorm anxiety will simply hide under a bed and whimper, not Daisy; she was a doggie on a mission.  Even the electric fence would not stop her.

We wanted the least restrictive method to keep her contained.  We tried the Thunder Shirt™ to no avail.  It calmed her, but that did not last long.  She found a spot that she could push under the chain-linked fence and escape from.  We fixed that, but it did not stop her from trying.  We decided to invest in a $3000.00, 8 foot high, full panel vinyl privacy fence, surely that could keep her in.  No, she found a way to push the gate open at its base.  She was found by a family nearly three miles away.  My husband added another latch down below.  She was being contained, but would tremble and pant and pace until she wore herself out, and then lay at our feet, exhausted.  Her anxiety still troubled us.  When we weren’t home, we worried about what fear she might be experiencing in our absence.

Finally we took her to the vet and explained the problem.  The vet gave us sedatives to calm her that we were supposed to give her at the beginning of a storm.  Again, if we weren’t home, we weren’t there to halt her anxiety.  We also found that the sedatives would knock her out for two days.  Sometimes the thunderstorms would last only minutes and be gone, other times hours, but poor Daisy was out for the count for days.  We tried reducing the dose, but often, by the time the storm passed, the sedative would just be starting to kick in.  It wasn’t working out well.

Then we went on vacation for two weeks and had a friend coming by to feed and tend to the critters.  He did not seem to see anything amiss when he came by, so we thought that she must be coping with our absence quite well.  We came home, and within days discovered that she had a place by the gate that she had been digging with all of her might.  Her nails were bleeding and her paws were filthy.  Her face stayed black from the mud as she would go out during the worst of the weather to dig.  My husband filled the hole and poured concrete around the threshold of the gate so she would have nowhere to dig.  Again, without much success with the sedatives, we went back to the vet.

This time, the vet had us try Prozac.  It seemed an odd choice in that she did not seem like a very depressed animal.  Except during storms, she was a quite well adjusted, happy doggie.   But we decided to give it a try.  The 20 mg dose seemed to make her lethargic and far too drowsy to suit her normally spunky personality, so the vet did a dose adjustment and we went down to 10 mgs.  Perfect!!!

Daisy is now a perfectly well adjusted, loving, calm and very happy dog, despite her determination.  She still checks on us during a storm, just to make sure that all are okay, but no more panic, no more trembling and shaking, no panting or pacing.  There is no more digging, and her paws have healed.  There are no more phone calls from neighbors.  She will go from room to room to see if the members of her flock are okay and then she will return to her bed under my husband’s computer desk and nap through the storms.  She is one peacefully happy determined dog who has finally found a home with a kind and loving, equally determined daddy.