Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is pretty easy to use, and I have put out eight books with it. CreateSpace is the name of their print self-publishing platform, and I have used it only once for my latest book Saronna's Gift. CreateSpace is possible because of print on demand (POD) technology; the book is uploaded to a database, and when someone shopping on Amazon orders a copy, that copy is printed individually and mailed to the customer. Authors can also order multiple copies directly from CreateSpace to sell themselves, or to give to reviewers.
The two platforms have separate set-up requirements, although you can publish a CreateSpace book to Kindle, with no additional set-up, if you're willing to convert the PDF. I don't recommend that, by the way. PDFs are difficult to convert reliably. For one thing, you can end up with excess hyphenation. Also, using the print PDF doesn't allow for a a difference in the elements in the ebook. Because ebooks can't be flipped through in the same way print books are, it's important to offer a clickable table of contents as a navigation aid, whereas in print, it's not that big a deal for novels—especially if the chapters only have numbers and not titles. Also, because of the free sample feature, you might want acknowledgements, blurbs, and lists of your other books in the back of the ebook, instead of in the front.
My Amazon wish list:
- Add a way to connect KDP and CreateSpace so that the author can specify that the two books are the same thing. This would not have to be automated. It could just notify Amazon to do whatever linking up they do, but at least it would save having to send an email, and hopefully it could happen faster than it does now. Alternatively, the CreateSpace set-up could let you load the digital file that KDP currently uses, instead of using the PDF.
- Stop requiring ebook exclusivity for almost every marketing benefit (making a Kindle book free or on sale, participating in Kindle Unlimited, etc.)
- Add a button to the CreateSpace set-up pages to include the “Look Inside the Book” feature; Amazon already gets the PDF, so this should be easy to do
- Change the set-up protocol for CreateSpace so that you can switch between glossy and matte covers without having to upload the PDF again.
- Add X-Ray to KDP. I know from having had it happen to The Sixth Discipline that Amazon can create the file needed for the X-Ray feature to work by using the Book Extras information (lists of characters names and descriptions, places, etc). Currently, this info is entered via Shelfari (accessible from each author's Author Central pages). It would be nice if the author could create the X-Ray file info this way and click a button to submit it. The X-Ray feature is something only Kindle has, so it would make sense to do this.
What I liked about Amazon:
Conversion: In the past, when I had a day job, and time was more of an issue than money, I relied on paying a conversion house to create the ebook digital file, and didn't bother with print at all. Now that the time/money equation is reversed, I decided to try print, and to experiment with creating my own ebook file. I tried using Scrivener and Calibre to convert the MS Word file, and was not happy with either result. Scrivner offers the advantage of being able to keep the book elements (title page, contents, dedication, chapters, etc) as separate things and assemble them different ways, but I didn't like the look of the resulting ebook file. Calibre creates valid files, but it doesn't translate any of the print style features. Imagine my suprise when I tried loading the MS Word file directly to KDP, and found that their conversion had radically improved!
Kindle Bookmatch: Finally, a feature that doesn't require Kindle exclusivity! If you publish your print book via CreateSpace and have the same book in the Kindle store, you can opt to have the Kindle version be free or very, very cheap to anyone who buys a print copy. As soon as they order the print, they get a button to download the ebook.
No DRM: Some people seem to think that all Kindle books have DRM because Amazon requires it, but in fact, they don't all have DRM. It's a publisher's option, not a requirement. All KDP authors have the option to leave the DRM off.
So you see, I love that Amazon makes it possible to publish my books, and to reach readers, I just don't like everything about Amazon.