I know I’ve mentioned here and there that I self-publish with CreateSpace, Amazon’s publishing arm, but so far I have not really talked much about the company itself. It’s time to do that. I’m guessing it would be self-evident that I love the company, since I have now self-published 15 books through them (10 of my own, 5 by and about my parents) in just over three years. I’m currently awaiting the proof for my new book about my father’s artwork (see last blog), which precipitated a surprising back-and-forth with customer service.
The book of my father’s art needed to be in landscape mode, since most of his paintings are done that way. This is one of the few areas where Create Space and other self-publishers are limited; the traditional portrait-style book sizes are plentiful, but the landscape-style sizes are few. I get it; the vast majority of books published are portrait mode, but it would be nice to have more choices. At any rate, I chose the largest landscape mode available, 8.5” wide by 6” high. I also chose to do this book in full color so as to show off my dad’s artwork in the best possible way. I knew color would be more expensive, but in this case it was necessary and justified.
In choosing the distribution channels, I saw that because the book is not a “standard” size, it was not eligible for all expanded distribution channels (EDC) like bookstores and other online retailers. Ok, that’s fine. I’m not expecting this book to go viral or be a NYTBS; I just want my dad’s artwork out in the world where it can be seen and appreciated. But some of the extended distribution channels were available for my size book, like libraries and academic institutions. I purchased the $25 extended distribution option to take advantage of those, going for the broadest distribution possible, even if it wasn’t everything in the whole wide world. (I have always bought the EDC for every other one of my books and thought it was well worth the price.)
After I’d processed that order, I went to the pricing page and realized that, because I had selected the EDC, the base cost of the book had gone up sharply and I would have to increase my retail price more than I wanted. This is a small book; it’s slightly over 100 pages and just over half the size of a sheet of paper. I could not see charging $20 or more for it. In order to keep the costs down as much as I could (without sacrificing the color), I unselected the EDC options.
Then I realized that I had just paid $25 for something that I was not going to use. Ok, where’s the cancel button? I looked at my order and could not see any way to cancel it. Hoping against hope, not at all sure Create Space would humor me, I sent off a note via their customer service interface explaining the issue, asking for a refund. After all, there really was no way to see how the EDC option would affect the price of the book before I purchased it.
Any time I send in a question via the customer service interface, I immediately get back an automatic response just to let me know they have received my note. While this isn’t terribly personal, it does at least confirm that my note was received and will be dealt with. I knew I’d have an answer back within 24 hours from a real person.
And I did. To my pleasant surprise, I got an e-mail from a woman the next day. She was polite, friendly and to the point.
As a courtesy, I processed a full refund of order xxxx in the amount of $25.00. This accounts for your purchase of Expanded Distribution on July 20. You should see the refund credited to your card within approximately one to two weeks.
All well and good; glad my request didn’t fall on deaf ears. However, she went on.
We really appreciate your business here at CreateSpace, and we strive to make your experience with us as seamless and helpful as possible. As always, please feel free to contact us with any additional questions or concerns you might have.
I decided then that, because she had taken the time to be so pleasant and so helpful, I needed to take a few minutes and give some positive feedback. I sent back just a short note about how easy they were to do business with, how much I appreciated not only the services they offered (the self-publishing) but the services they provided as well—the quick responses, the quick resolutions, the willingness to correct whatever it was without grilling me or treating me like I was making stupid mistakes or asking for outlandish favors. I told her I absolutely loved Create Space, but they could probably tell that by the amount of books I’d published through them.
The next day I got another response back.
It is because of comments like yours that we strive to be the very best. Thank you for your very kind feedback! Without customers like you, we could not continue to provide the service you have come to expect from us. Your comments are greatly appreciated, and I sincerely thank you for choosing us for your self-publishing needs.
Made my day! If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life it’s that people like to be appreciated, yours truly included. How often, instead, do we get a dry, impersonal response to an inadvertent error, i.e.: Dear customer, we were unable to comply ..., our policy clearly states …, blah, blah, blah. Create Space, obviously, understands that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, something many other companies should take to heart. These days it seems as if most places are more willing to lose a customer than rectify an inexpensive error, winning the battle perhaps, but losing the war.
In all my earlier dealings with Create Space over the years, I have only run into two small glitches that were immediately resolved. One time I ordered some books and received one that had the pages completely out of order. It looked like someone had dropped all the pages on the floor, picked them up and bound them without putting them back in order. The other problem was when I received a proof copy of another book; the top of the book had been trimmed about a half inch more than it should have. I knew it was a mistake and was not worried about it happening en masse, but when I sent off a note to Create Space about these two issues, I was gratified to have them immediately send me replacement copies of both books (which I had not requested) —no questions asked. They didn’t ask me to send back the bad copies, just replaced them, shipping the same day as my note. That’s pretty darn good service.
So when people ask me why I self-publish with Create Space, it’s not just about the ease of the process, the affordable pricing, the quality product (although all of those things are there); it’s about the spirit of the company.
I love Create Space!