By the numbers: Authorhouse vs Createspace

I was recently engaged in a conversation with an opponent of self publishing who possessed an obvious hatred of Amazon, and had little understanding of self publishing in general. I thought I'd post my final response here as it contains some interesting comparisons for anyone considering the self publishing route.

Names have been deleted to protect the innocent.

Thank you for your responses to my inquires., I engaged you in this conversation to get a little insight from the other side of the aisle. To understand why, aside from the obvious factors of sub par execution, many people are so down on self publishing.

The biggest thing that jumps out at me while reading your two articles and your responses is that you really don’t know as much about self publishing as you believe you do. Your views are also shaded by your obvious hatred of Amazon.

As one who has first hand experience with self publishing in the present, and the past, I can tell you from experience that your beliefs are misguided. For starters you confuse self publishing with Vanity publishing. They are two entirely different animals. You lump Amazon in with S and S and Vanguard as those publishers who rip off aspiring writers.

Let me give you an example of this. With S and S to have your book published in print and as an e-book there is an upfront fee for everyone that starts at $749.00. For that you get a custom color cover, interior design, ISBN assignment, a complimentary copy, author support via a free subscription to their self publishing learning center. as well as digital formatting and distribution.
Take your pick of any of the vanity publishers listed, the packages will be similar.

While you’re there check out the list prices of books already published in their bookstore. For a 332 page book prices start at 19.99 for perfect bound soft cover. A royalty of $2.53 is paid to the author for each copy sold. Authors can purchase up to 24 copies for a discount of  30%, with the discount increasing to 60% for orders in excess of 1000 copies. Let’s see that’s 19.99 minus 30% ($5.99) equals  14.00. Shipping charges are not included. All of this info is available via the FAQ’s

Doing it myself through Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing and Create space, their print on demand division, I can get a similar package for $10.00 if I want a custom isbn that lists the imprint of my choice as the publisher, $0.00 if I opt to list Create space as the print publisher. Granted I will have to do the formatting so my book files print properly, and design a cover, but they have a community of freelance professionals who can format a book for print for as low as $50.00. I can get a professional cover design for a couple of hundred bucks. Using these option I’m  $260.00 into the project, with $10.00 of it going to Amazon, if I choose that. The finished print product will be listed at all major online retailers, not just Amazon, imagine that, Amazon sharing with Barnes & Noble.

Another point to consider is pricing. A 332 page perfect bound soft cover can be listed for as low as 9.99 with the author still making  2.29 on each copy sold through Amazon, and $4.29 on each copy sold through the Create Space book store. This same 332 page book can be purchased by the author for $3.40 each,  plus shipping and handling.

Everything I just showed you can be found here.

If you honestly compare the two, who is ripping off the writer?


  1. Thanks for this interesting post! My 504 pg. novel won a writing competition and my prize was a publishing package through Author House. Can't say that I'm terribly impressed, especially with the cost of this book for me to purchase. As it's a young adult book, the idea of a $36.00 retail price keeps it out of my target market's hands! Perhaps I'll reformat it when the sequel is done and publish both through Create Space instead!

  2. Thanks for stopping by. Make sure all of your rights revert back to you and get it in writing. Seems the way these places operate once they get their hooks into you they don't want to let go. My very fist venture into self publishing, in 2001, is still available from the publishing company even though the rights have reverted back to me. I've repeatedly requested that it be listed as out of print but it still shows up as available in all of the online stores.

  3. Who is ripping-off the author?

    Both, although Amazon not so much. Lulu is a better deal, and Smashwords better yet. Further, with Smashwords the process and sales results are entirely transparent.

    Only problem? Huge competition, including from free offerings. You get lost in the crowd.

    1. Sorry I disagree with you about Lulu being a better deal. Just went to their site and used their cost calculator to price out a book using the same info as on Createspace.

      Lulu wants $8.78 per unit to manufacture my 238 page book. I do get a little break for quantity. They'll sell me 20 copies at $8.44 each. This doesn't factor in shipping charges. So to make the 80% royalty they tout I'd have to set the price of my 238 page book at $15.19 each.

      The same book would cost me $3.70 per unit at Createspace. plus shipping of course. Which comes out to over 50% less than Lulu.

      Who is ripping off who?

      I do agree with your statement about Smashwords.

  4. Thank you for sharing your opinions and information about the self-publishing sites - AuthorHouse, Createspace, Lulu and Smashwords. We just published our first children's book through AuthorHouse and have been extremely disappointed for all the reasons already mentioned. In fact it led us to break ties with them for the publishing of the second book in the series. We'd initially looked into using Createspace but felt we would need more support as first time authors. Unfortunately we've received very little support from AuthorHouse and have been extremely frustrated throughout the process. Your comments have given us an incentive to re-review the benefits of using Createspace or Smashwords for our next publication. Thanks so much!

    1. Isn't it amazing how once payment is made all of that promised support dries up? Says a lot about where their priorities lie. Check the user forums at create space, there are numerous individuals willing to help, both paid and unpaid. Good luck.

  5. Excellent post, Richard. I would add that if you are aspiring author and can't figure all of this ask one of us. ALWAYS ASK BEFORE YOU PAY anything to anyone. I've helped people format their books. I've helped them create covers. And I've never charged them anything. The bottom line in this brave new world is that if you want to pay for professional art, do it. If you can afford to pay an editor, fantastic! But if you can't, don't let it stop you, because if you're paying more than $10 to be holding a paperback proof of your work in your own hands, you're paying too much! Thanks for posting this Richard!
    Buzz Malone

  6. Thank for stopping by Buzz. Thoroughly enjoyed your post.

  7. Thanks for writing this, Richard. So many unsuspecting writers are still being sucked into these bad "self-publishing" deals. Your article lays it out by the numbers, and I hope it convinces many writers to avoid scams posing as publishers. There's never been a better time, in terms of choice and opportunity and sheer power, to be a writer.

    1. Thank you Bridget, I'm in the process of cleaning the post up and rewriting it to be submitted to the major websites devoted to indie publishing to get the word out.

  8. I would like publish my first book and had been taking a long hard look at authorhouse. However, after reading many blogs, I feel like I am back to square one. If I would like to publish my book and receive marketing assistance, what are the best options?

    1. Thanks for stopping by Carlie. Your best option is the one that works best for you, there is no one size fits all solution.

      If you are a complete novice to publishing and marketing but you're willing to take the time to learn there are tons of resources on the web to get you headed in the right direction. A search for "indie book marketing" will return pages of helpful resources. But be careful, indie publishing's growth has sparked a feeding frenzy as small companies open daily with empty promises to make your book a best seller, all with the sole aim of separating the author from his hard earned cash.

      If you're more inclined to let someone else handle most of the heavy lifting beyond the actual writing there are companies that can handle that as well. But again, research any company you contact, don't be afraid to ask for references, and take the time to contact the references.

      Join Facebook and join book marketing groups. There you will find a lot of individuals willing to offer advice to new writers.

      The biggest thing to remember is to take your time. Don't rush into anything until you've checked it out completely. Another thing, don't expect the world to beat a path to you door once you've published your book. There are rare instances but in most cases it takes time to build an audience.

  9. dear Richard, its a pleasure reading your article. As someone planning to publish his book, l was almost tempted to go the authorhouse way, however your article and experience of others is showing me the reality on ground. thanks for the mail and l will surely weigh my options.

  10. Thanks for stopping by O'Daley, I'm glad my article saved you from making a mistake. Good luck with your book.

  11. Hi - I am new to publishing. I plan to use Createspace but have heard that you may not get credit for all the sales they actually make. Some have had their friends purchase their book and Createspace never showed the sale occurred and therefore no royalties.

    Have you heard about this? Is it worth avoiding Createspace? Should I be using Smashwords?


    1. Hi JA, thanks for stopping by.

      Welcome to your newest nightmare, just kidding, self publishing has become a viable option. Though there are those who still view it as nothing more than one step above vanity publishing.

      I've heard the stories of lost sales via createspace, as well as the stories of lost sales through every other publishing platform out there. I have my feelings about what is going on in these instances, but I will keep that to myself.

      Createspace is a print on demand distributor for your print books. They do offer an option to set up the files for you for kindle but I prefer to do that myself as I've heard stories about how the formatting may be off. The reason I mention this is only because you asked if you should be using Smashwords.

      I've used createspace for all of my full length novels that now total seven. For me though I don't view them as a revenue stream, they give me the ability to keep a supply of print books handy for marketing use. And of course for book signings at my two local independent booksellers when I have a new release. I've only been doing this for a little more than five years so I'm still a relative newcomer to the field, and as such I'm feeling my way along just like everyone else. But I personally have never had a problem with createspace.

      Smashwords is strictly an e-book distributor that can get your title listed at most of the major online retailers as well as via the distribution sites public libraries use.

      So yes you should be using smashwords if for no other reason than to make your titles available to libraries across the country.

      For self publishers Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and its subsidiary Createspace, is the 800 pound gorilla in the self publishing world. In my mind it's wise to use all three, each for it's own reason.

      I hope this helps. And Good luck with your novel.

    2. Thanks for the info. I will do exactly what you have suggested. After doing a lot of internet research on complaints I too have found that smashwords seems to be a good company. As I have found out Createspace and Kindle are so large that the exposure is worth any problems. Since I found so very few complaints for the years 2016 and 2017 perhaps Amazon is playing (more) fairly.

      I am formatting my chapters to comply with Createspace's demands. Once again thank you for being so quick to respond.

      When I get my book in print can I contact you again and tell you the name of the book or is that no allowed?

      Have a good day. JA Wicks

    3. If you suspect royalties and sales are not being tracked accurately or that it is standard practice to have "missing sales" this is where you need to report it.
      Bureau of Consumer Protection As the nation’s consumer protection agency, the FTC takes complaints about businesses that don’t make good on their promises or cheat people out of money. They share these complaints with law enforcement partners and use them to investigate fraud and eliminate unfair business practices.

    4. Hi JA.

      If your book falls within the horror, speculative fiction, genre I'd be delighted to share the news of your new release with my visitors. Otherwise good luck with your release and don't hesitate to start work on your next book. Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint. So don't get discouraged if the world doesn't beat a path yo your door when you do release.

      If your release falls within my areas of interest drop me a line and please include pertinent links to your release and your website if you have one. Also include an author bio, synopsis of your new release, an author photo and an image of your book cover. Send it to my email, which you can find on my contact page.

      Thanks again for stopping by.

    5. Hi Richard - Sorry but my book is non-fiction. It is about "Social Security Offset Penalties" - mainly WEP, GPO and Dual Entitlement - I guess it would fit in the category of "horror."
      When it is finally in print I will send you a copy of the cover. I plan to use Createspace for the soft cover print book and smashwords for the digital. I also plan to use Ebay as my "web" page and let them handle the sales through Pay Pal. I saw that Barnes and Noble are selling "new" books on Ebay - so I guess I will too.

      I have been two years researching and writing - so I know it is not a sprint! I will then start a marketing and advertising blitz when I am ready.

      Thanks for your advice and sugestions. JA Wicks