April 28, 2010
CreateSpace Complaints | printable version
NOTE: A few months ago, the name BookSurge was retired, and that business was rolled under the CreateSpace name.
We've been getting more inquiries from disgruntled CreateSpace/BookSurge authors lately. From what we can tell, a service claiming to be "free" (if you follow all their rules and specs to the letter) can sure be expensive. Some authors are spending hundreds to thousands of dollars to get their books published there. Here are some comments from recent CreateSpace / BookSurge authors who have approached us about moving their books to BookLocker:
"Total Design Freedom Custom - $349 (with discount), Pro Plan for Titles - $349, Review Summary - $349. For that $1098, they said (my file) was unacceptable because I didn't indent paragraphs with tabs, instead of space bar, and there was some objection about chapter headings and the front page. I sent it in like I always did. Told them I expected them to do all formatting for the fee I paid, but so far they say no, no."
"I sent a novel to CreateSpace, formerly BookSurge, but they rejected it because of something about page breaks, indentions, etc. I've never encountered the problem and asked them to send it back with the fee I paid."
"They do not do hardcover."
"Createspace is charging me $1100 right now and not helping me at all. They have 'Submission Requirements' that would boggle the mind. Nothing they do, or iUniverse did, makes sense to me. I'm sure there's a lot I don't understand about the printing process, but, like IUniverse, they just refer you to more high-tech (to me) instruction sheets that my mind gives up on before it starts."
"I have also officially terminated with Createspace and will get my money back in 4 to 6 weeks. I'll tell you, nothing is simple with them. (Name removed)--the gal I worked with in marketing there--did not seem surprised when I told her I wanted out. "
"A year ago I allowed myself to be persuaded into going to Createspace to publish my book even though I've been very happy with your handling of (my other) book. So, with tail between my legs and my head held high I wish to revise my book and submit it to Booklocker."
"I was planning on publishing it with CreateSpace until I found you. Their price was a problem for me. Frankly I am on Social Security Disability and cost is a big factor for me, and even the lowest CreateSpace package is a bit high."
"Createspace assures me it has been 'removed' not 'retired' from their holdings. As per the comment, this book has been withdrawn from publication for the moment. Who, I wonder then, is going to miraculously produce my book for those who 'sign up to be notified when this item becomes available'?"
One author alerted us to this post on the CreateSpace forum itself:
"Just having opened my second box of 40 books, I'd say that quality control and consistency isn't something CS (CreateSpace) has figured out yet. Oh my, these book covers look like crap. There are spots all over them, very visible considering my book cover is black." https://www.createspace.com/en/community/message/14245
Also on the page above (but from different authors):
"I recently received a proof that had the cover so messed up that anyone would notice."
"I've been reading posts here voraciously as well as other sites and am concerned about CS quality control. Apparently it's spotty at best. If no-one checks for defective units at CS, how do we assure end-users are getting a quality product?"
We thought we'd check out CreateSpace's own message board to see what else has been going on. Here's what we found:
FORMATTING HEADACHES REPORTED ON THE CREATESPACE FORUM - If you can't figure out their specs, they upsell you on their expensive services.
"Okay, I went through this for 19 days with 15 rejections. I think you have a way to go. (My problem was an interior 2 page spread of an illegible chart reduced from about 4' X 6' to about 5" x 7.5", it was illegible at the original size, but there were a couple of letters by the inside margin . . . )."
"My problem was that I hadn't set the optimize parameters for greyscale images in Acrobat so when it maximized the file it lowered the resolution of some of the images."
"My cover, which I reduced to a single 300dpi layer was rejected (so far) twice with a statement from Createspace. 'The cover contains a live element that may be trimmed on the front cover. Please make sure that the text appears .375" away from the outer edges...'"
"How do I get drawings to 300dpi?"
"Please help! My file is 94.1MB and CreateSpace's automatic email spitback keeps telling me that 'The interior file contains images that range from 147 to 177 DPI, which may appear blurry and pixelated...'"
"I just want to shrink my picture so that I don't go over the margins. I thought it would be easy but I can't figure it out."
"How do I reduce the page content size in Adobe Acrobat Professional 8?"
"I think I am getting there by using 'Scaling'."
"I've made my pdfs 3 different ways. Sometimes I get the error and sometimes not. Have you experienced the spine type not centered? The trim is crooked? I've gotten 4 proofs already. The first proof, an image was missing off the back cover and the drop shadows (transparencies) were missing from the cover."
"...what is TOC? What is a half title page? Is it true that however many pages you type within your manuscript in print it would double?"
"I need help creating a 5.5 c 8.5 full color book in Adobe INDESIGN CS4. I looked into changing the document size but it shows 49p1 as width and I have no idea what that means."
"To make sure that the page numbers for each section do not continue -- make sure you leave unclicked the "link to previous' box in the toolbox>header and footer section."
"HELP!!! I am not sure as to what an interior is, and how to create/upload them."
"I keep getting the same complaint from CS, wrong orientation of pages, how do I adjust this and I really thought I corrected it!!"
"My cover, which I reduced to a single 300dpi layer was rejected (so far) twice with a statement from Createspace: 'The cover contains a live element that may be trimmed on the front cover.'"
QUALITY PROBLEMS REPORTED ON THE CREATESPACE FORUM
This is just a sampling of what appears on the CreateSpace forum. There are many more complaints posted as well. We ordered some of their books in 2009 to see if things have gotten any better in the past two years. One book arrived looking so bad that Amazon inserted an apology note into the book itself, saying it was the best they could get from their "distributor." (Amazon owns them! They ARE their own distributor!!) Another arrived with the inside pages appearing upside-down.
Here are quality comments from their own forum:
"Every time I receive an order of books from CreateSpace, I stare anxiously at the box. My latest order is the worst yet."
"We ordered our first proof copy and received a few days later. I have had our book one week. The film they use to print the cover is separating from the card stock used for the cover."
"The book is 8 x 10 and one of the two books he received was 7 1/2 by 9 1/2. It looks very unprofessional with the cover art off-center and the inside margins squished. In addition, much of the black and white art work looked 'dirty' or 'pixilated.'"
"We have had a few quality problems, all with the covers. On a few copies, there was a white line down the side or across the top where the cover was cut wrong and pasted on anyway."
"However, on my last order I got four of the twenty books bound together in groups of two--basically two books inside one cover, twice over."
"On a few copies, there was a white line down the side or across the top where the cover was cut wrong and pasted on anyway."
"In our second (also newest) order, we received 25 copies, 8 of which had poorly cut covers. They didn't have the white edge; instead, they looked like they had been roughly cut with a knife."
"I've been begging CS to implement better quality control processes for the last 18 months or so."
"However, on my first order of 20 copies, 3 were unsalable, 9 would have to be sold as seconds, and 8 were ready to sell. We've been shipping self-published books for over 30 years, and know a little about packing, and the packing of this box was completely unacceptable."
"CreateSpace needs better quality control."
"Mickey, what you describe is what I had to deal with -- the bottom end of the spine was square, while the top was more rounded/pinched so that the front and back cover, and pages, puffed up a little. Horrible to look at."
"This second picture also shows how wonky the spine text is. Totally unacceptable. These pictures also show every knock and scrape, and the ugly glue-job."
"However, after I distributed the proofs for editing purposes, I noticed that the covers will peel off even with the greatest of care."
"It's really gotten to the point of Hoping For the Best and Crossing Fingers when placing orders anymore."
"I am now on my third day of trying to contact Createspace about an order I placed 10 days ago. So far nobody would contact me. I'm going out of my mind since all the books I ordered have been paid by the customers. Today, I sent over 6 emails and no one response...."
"We are losing now approx. between $40 and $100 per DAY! Thanks a lot Amazon and Createspace. I feel quite p***** off."
"Also, could you please make my listing active too? I've waited for quite some time now and didn't get a response to my e-mail inquiry."
"CS has canceled my listing from Amazon just in time for X-mas sales! I'm extremely disappointed to say the least. In the coming weeks I have multiple film festivals my movie will be appearing in. Too bad nobody will be able to buy my DVD! Thanks CreateSpace, you guys really screwed me."
"After a few weeks waiting I got a support message to say it was returned to them as there was no country specified. Where do I live... I reply AUSTRALIA (I mean really how clear is it? It is all over the show, my billing addresses, my shipping ones,... all the ones I tried to use when my card was not accepted...)."
"What a useless process this has been..."
"pssst off with shipping...not at all happy with CS one bit!!!"
"I had a shipment of books that had a delivery date of 10/10... now why is it that it is just now being shipped out today with a delivery date of 10/12??? I didn't pay for a delivery date of 10/12... I paid for it to be here by 10/10... I had a huge commitment for 10/10 and now I have lost a lot of money, not only with the late arrival of my books, and the sale of those books for the event, but the money that I paid to even rent the booth for the event that I am scheduled to participate in!!!"
COMPLAINTS FROM FOREIGN AUTHORS ABOUT SHIPPING COSTS
"I am now a little peeved. I was charged $175 freight for 25 books and when it arrived it clearly said it had $55 postage on it. Why does CS have to charge almost 4x what it actually costs???"
"When I try to order my proof copies, the shipping costs for Economy fare is $30.15. Also this value doesn't change even if I order more books, it doesn't seem correct to pay 30.15 for a single proof copy of a 22 page paperback book, when I have ordered in the past (few weeks ago) other books for $6 or $9 for two books."
"I received my first proof copy here in Spain last week, shipping cost $18.00. I just ordered my second proof copy and the price is now $33.00. The first book had 534 pages and the second 450 pages."
"For ten books to the UK CS charges $60 ish in shipping, that is the only way I can sell them in the UK at a normal profit. For one book they charge either $25 or $40 but the item takes the same time to arrive give or take a day."
"I needed to change my book price in order to turn a profit for Expanded Distribution. "
"I just added (title) to the expanded dist. plan. I had to raise the price by $5."
"The 60% discount pricing looks off to me, and some of my books won't be eligible (my $29.95 full colour book would need to be priced over $40 to break even)."
"Ikthalion Press, an independent publisher of science fantasy adventure and nonfiction books, has withdrawn ten titles from San Jose, California Amazon company Createspace, Inc., due to irreconcilable differences in fulfillment models and nonpayment of residuals due from the sale of IP books in 2008."
"I've noticed a few people in this forum saying their royalties are not showing up as expected..."
COMPARE P.O.D. PUBLISHERS
BookLocker - $675
Trafford - $1,424
CreateSpace - $1,486
Lulu - $1,536
iUniverse - $1,599
AuthorHouse - $1,993
Xlibris - $2,621
Includes print and ebook publication. Prices above are based on the least expensive publishing services package offered by each publisher on similar offers targeting U.S. authors.