May 22, 2013

The Art Of Overpromising and Underdelivering Or The Nerve-Racking Process Of Getting Self-Published


So, as you may or may not be aware, I’m self-publishing my first book (Blood of the Fey, Morgana Trilogy Book I) via CreateSpace.  This post is, therefore, more targeted towards anyone contemplating going the same route, as I’m going to give my two ten thousand cents on this particular adventure.


I first picked CreateSpace because, with Amazon as a parent, I automatically assumed it meant they would be extremely professional.  My first call with them was actually really good—the representative explained how everything worked, answered all my questions, and gave me an estimated time of how long each process takes.

The initial phase, which consisted of setting up the project with them then hiring an editor went by pretty smoothly.  I was actually pretty impressed with the attention to detail the editor showcased, though I strongly encourage you to reread your work afterward, out loud, and several times to catch anything that might have been missed.

The difficulties started when it came time to design the interior of my book.  Because I’d never done anything like it and wanted a bunch of different fonts to be used, I figured I’d hire the true pros instead. 

I had an initial call with a couple of people from the CreateSpace team, during which time I explained what I wanted while at the same time deferring to them for some aspects (again, relying on the fact that they’re pros).   I was therefore greatly surprised when I was given the initial template of what my book would look like: the document looked like what a mid-grader would come up with (I’m only saying that in reference to my own work at that age, and believe most mid-graders are actually way better than I was then). 

But that wasn’t all, over the course of the next few weeks, I realized that half of the things I’d mentioned in my initial conversation with the CreateSpace team had been completely ignored.  



What really rankled me in this ordeal (as someone who has experience in the business world) is how unprofessional this team has been.  I like to get an estimated time of when services  are to be completed (especially as I had to time my marketing around the completion of the book), so that is one question I always asked when talking to them.  The problem was that 8 times out of 10, when I was given a finishing date (and that despite confirming with them on multiple occasions), I found out that the work wasn’t complete.  What is worse, is that rarely was I actually forewarned of the delay and had to find out about it the hard way:
The day would arrive, and I’d be so happy thinking about getting my book back until…I’d notice that nothing was forthcoming, and tadaaa, the evening arrived and still nothing had been returned. 

Of course, that would prompt a call from me to them, at which point they’d tell me that the due date was later (no apologies and, worse, they’d talk condescendingly to me as if I was the one in the wrong).

As I write these words, I’m still waiting to hear back from CreateSpace concerning their latest delay.  I understand that my book wasn’t easy (because of the multiple fonts), but I wouldn’t have written any of this (OK, let’s be honest and call it a rant) if they’d shown a smidgeon of professionalism—meaning:  if you mess up, then own up to it, and don’t continuously let your (paying) client hang without knowing what’s going on. 

This whole process has left me with a very bitter aftertaste, and many tears of frustration.  Hopefully this article will have provided anyone about to embark on this adventure with a tool to avoid the many nail-biting and hair-tearing moments that I’ve had to endure.
 
City Hunter
PS: For those of you who wish to work with CreateSpace and don’t want to do the designing (aka laying the pages out in book form) yourselves, here’s what I recommend you do:
  1. Expect 2-3 months’ delay (it's always nice to actually have books available before a book signing, after all).
  2. Tell them EXACTLY what you want, where.  For me, this entailed:
    1. Giving them the fonts I wanted (in a zip file)
    2. Telling them where to apply them (passages highlighted and the page numbers given).
  3. Verify the work’s been done correctly (even with all the instructions from part 2 there might still be some mistakes).
  4. Don’t be fooled when they sound nice on the phone and tell you “it’s going to be all right, it’ll be done by then,” they’re just placating you for now, but they’ll proceed at their own time, no discussion.  Period. What I’ve read elsewhere about these services is turning out to be true (to my deepest regret):  these companies don’t care about you or your book, except when it comes to pocketing your money (or their share of your royalties).  Unfortunately for me, I keep falling for it.
  5. Note:  the fancier you want to get, the more delays you should expect.

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