From Manuscript to (e)Book: Your Self-Publishing Adventure Guide

CreateSpace – My Experience, Part 3

CreateSpace offers a number of distribution options, but you can treat it as just a printer, too. You can publish a book under the standard plan, or upgrade it to the pro plan. You can also pick and choose which distribution channels you want to use. You’re never forced to distribute your book anywhere.

You have to choose the plan for each book. You can’t upgrade to the pro plan on an account-wide basis, because books have to meet specific requirements to qualify.

What distribution channels does each plan provide?

Standard Plan This one’s self-explanatory. Your book will appear on, but not on any other Amazon sites.

eStore: This provides a one page store for your book that can hang off your website. Users can add your book to a cart and pay for it right there and then. However, if you sell more than one book from your site, this isn’t an ideal solution, since each eStore can only handle one book. So you’ll end up with a bunch of pages, and that’s not a good experience for users. If you have one website per book, an eStore could work well.

An eStore offers the highest royalty per book sold, since CreateSpace only takes 20% on each sale. So you might consider driving traffic to your eStore, rather than to your book’s Amazon page, where CreateSpace will take a 40% cut.

Pro Plan

In addition to more distribution options, upgrading a title to the pro plan reduces the cost to print each book. In other words, you’ll make more on each sale, whether through, your eStore, or a pro plan distribution channel.

In addition to the two channels offered by the standard plan, the pro plan offers:

Direct: Certified resellers can buy your book through CreateSpace’s wholesale website. Is this an effective channel? Who knows? I haven’t seen any talk about it around the net, and it’s not why most people upgrade to the pro plan.

Bookstores and Online Retailers: Lightning Source (LSI) used to be the automatic first choice because it got your book into Ingram and into all sorts of online bookstores. Now CreateSpace can do the same, but it takes a larger chunk of each sale (60%!), doesn’t get your book into all the Amazon sites, and your book has to meet certain requirements (trim size, number of pages).

Libraries and Academic Institutions: Here’s a distribution channel not offered by LSI, but there’s a catch. You have to use a CreateSpace ISBN, which means you won’t be the publisher of record. This option is best for non-fiction.

Both Plans

You can, of course, order books for yourself, no matter which plan you have. But if you’ve upgraded to the pro plan, ordering the books will be cheaper.

So what’s the best way to go? Upgrading to the pro plan will reduce the cost of every book printed, which means it will eventually pay for itself. If you’ve decided to offer your book through CreateSpace, the only reasons not to upgrade are if you can’t afford it, or if you’re planning to keep your book private and order only a small number of copies.


At this point, my posts have covered setting up your title, getting your files ready, and choosing your distribution options. Once you’ve done all that, you have to order a proof of the book, so you can make sure it looks all right and do a final proofread before publishing it. That’s the stage I’m at now. I’ll write a final post about CreateSpace when I’ve approved my book for publication.

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About Sarah Ettritch

Canadian author Sarah Ettritch writes science fiction, fantasy, and mystery books. She's also the author of Self-Publishing for Canadians, a comprehensive guide that teaches Canadians how to publish print and ebooks. Visit her at


  1. As a long time writer who is only now getting into the publishing options offered by places like Amazon and Lightening Source, I have to say that I am having a blast! (At least over all…truth be told I think I have pulled out more than a few hairs trying to learn all that I need to know to get started in these various venues…But overall, it’s been very neat.)

    In just over a month I’ve uploaded 19 of my titles to Create Space and 11 of those for the Kindle. Honesty, I prefer formatting for Create Space; it seems much more straightforward to me. However, my Kindle sales are out pacing the Create Space sales at a phenomenal rate right now, so I will keep at those conversions anyway. (Why I was so excited to find Smashwords!)

    As far as the Pro Plan, I agree that for someone who only had a few titles, it is a great way to go. Putting up so many titles in such a short time, I’ve not been able to afford to do it on all of mine right away, but I’m adding it little by little, starting with the titles that I’m ordering the most copies of. It will definitely pay for itself in savings over time.

  2. Wow, you’ve been busy! I’d like to upload 19 titles, but I have to write them first!

    I don’t find much of a difference between formatting interiors for CreateSpace and LSI. The only potential problem with LSI is that you have to produce PDFs that meet the PDF-X:1a-2001 standard. Not all software will do that. So the only difference I really see is at the PDF generation stage, not the typesetting stage itself.

    Covers are a different story. CreateSpace is definitely easier.

    The only drawback to the Pro Plan is that if you go with extended distribution, CreateSpace offers a 40% discount to the booksellers. Through LSI, you can set the discount as low as 20%.

  3. I have almost 150 titles on! But many of those are only a few pages long. I’ve been writing for more than 10 years (not counting the one book I wrote 20 years ago!) — and just now getting into the on-line publishing options! Needless to say I feel like there is so much to learn and that I’m so far behind. Sometimes I feel like my head will explode trying to figure it all out, but then I step back and look at how far I’ve come since February! I figure if I just keep at it, little by little I will figure things out. And when I stumble upon great resources like your blog, it helps move me forward even faster.

  4. Depending on who you are, we’re going through exciting times (indies) or scary times (traditional publishers). Indie authors have never had a greater opportunity to get their work in front of readers. So you’ve entered the fray at a good time, and I’m glad my blog has helped you move forward!