I’m a big fan of CreateSpace for many reasons. Print on demand sales on Amazon rock, as does the ability to buy one’s POD book at a reasonable price. CS’s phone customer service is fantastic, too. I love that they don’t charge change fees, so I can upload corrections to my books anytime I please.

What I don’t love is their shoddy, unpredictable printing quality. Two years ago, CS replaced a large order of multiple titles for us because of print issues that rendered the books unreadable. They explained that their books are printed at many different locations, and that some are better than others. That didn’t give us a lot of comfort. However, we soldiered on since print sales on Amazon are a trifle compared to our Kindle sales. (Most of our print book sales go through Lightning Source/Ingram, straight to the bookstores.)

Well, CS quality reared its ugly head again last week. I had submitted a 9×6 book, my new release Finding Harmony, and the proofs came back great. Not as good as the LSI/Ingram copies, but still perfectly fine. We approved the proof and my husband placed an order for one book, just to test quality.

Here’s what we got, side by side with the good quality proof on your right:

First, notice that the book on the left is not 9×6. It was cut to 8-3/4 x 6. That caused it to cut off the lower half of the G in Fagan in my name.

Net, notice that the colors aren’t true. The colors are much hotter in the book on the left. Distractingly so.

Now, here’s the inside:

While on the cover the bottom was truncated due to the decreased physical size to which the book was cut, on the inside it was the top. Notice the insufficient, crowded top margin? We all know that’s now how a book should look, and it isn’t how the book we submitted and proofed looked.

The really disturbing thing here is that we received this book as a pre-release order, something only placed by our biggest fans, and CS/Amazon didn’t know who we were. Anyone could have gotten –and probably did get– this crappy quality.

If, like us, they cared enough to call and ask for a replacement, they probably got one. Probably. I assume Amazon’s customer service didn’t/wouldn’t try to blame it on us, but I don’t know that for certain.

I do believe that it is highly likely most customers would chalk it up to indie publishing and decide we had submitted crap.

Well, we didn’t. We don’t. We will never.

So we talked to the great CS phone customer service staff. They offered to replace our book, we accepted, but explained that wasn’t the problem. The problem was how many other people received books produced at that same facility in the same shoddy manner? Could all of those people be sent new books?

No, there was no way to know who received bad books and who didn’t, they said.

Could we figure out who printed them and they get a do-better talk?

Probably. They’d pass along the information.

Meh. Not very satisfactory.

Has this ever happened to you? What were you able to do about it?


Pamela Fagan Hutchins is an employment attorney and workplace investigator by day who writes award-winning and bestselling mysterious women’s fiction (Saving Grace) and humorous nonfiction (How to Screw Up Your Kids) by night. She is passionate about great writing and smart author-preneurship. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound, if she gets a good running start.


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3 Responses to Epic CreateSpace Fail

  1. We will soon find out. I just ordered 30 copies without ordering a proof of Deadly Thyme.

  2. Eric Hutchins says:

    This is such a significant problem for Independents. For those customers that would not know otherwise, it suggests that the publisher/author has done a poor job, and that this is the quality that you should expect for something not done by the “big guys”.
    If we (SkipJack) have already caught it multiple times (and we are very meticulous and suspicious), how many times do you think that this has happened to other authors reinforcing the negative stereotypes that are so difficult for all of us to overcome.
    I agree with you that CreateSpace customer service is awesome, However, their awe shucks attitude about the flaws is unnerving.