Consider this an entry into the “blogger details treatment by a company on their blog” genre – the one that’s usually done in order to gin up outrage at some customer service nightmare. Except for the bit about the customer service nightmare, because instead we have the opposite – a case where the company takes care of a problem really well and mildly saves my ass, and I decide to say nice things about them.
So, I use Createspace for my print books. It’s a print on demand service, which is key because it means I don’t have to worry about inventory. It’s got its disadvantages – it basically means I have no distribution to bricks and mortar bookstores or retailers that aren’t Amazon (you can technically buy my books in bricks and mortar stores, but I get functionally zero royalty when you do and so I don’t really advertise the option). And it’s owned by Amazon, a company that anyone involved in writing (or any other creative pursuit) ought have, at the very least, reservations about.
They can also be a pain in the ass – James and I have a variety of entertaining war stories about beating their submission requirements into, well, submission. We still speak of the Week of the Evil Bar Code Sticker in hushed and haunted tones.
Nevertheless, they make pretty books and are on the whole easy to work with. Your books get automatically sent to most Amazon stores, they print very fast, and they pay quickly. (This last point is key – I get my print royalties the month after the book sells, whereas digital royalties pay two months after. I like print royalties.)
But more to the point, they’re helpful. As evidenced when I managed to screw up to the tune of several hundred dollars last week and they bailed me out. Long story short, I was ordering books for Kickstarter rewards, shipping direct from CreateSpace because it’s largely cheaper, and, a couple hundred dollars of orders into it, realized I had read the list of titles wrong and had been ordering the first Tom Baker book instead of the Hartnell book.
Unfortunately, when I say that Createspace prints very fast, I mean that they print very fast. As in, orders from ten minutes before I realized the problem were already in production and couldn’t be cancelled. Which meant that there was a massive error I couldn’t do anything about. Which is, in turn, where Createspace’s customer service stepped in and saved my ass by managing to, while not cancelling the orders, change their shipping so that all the books would send to me, thus giving me my necessary stock of Tom Baker books to fulfill orders and letting me get on with other orders. This was no small task, and involved a day of calls back and forth to Createspace, but getting it done saved me from a several hundred dollar screwup that I really couldn’t have afforded that week.
So, yes. A simple note of praise. Because as a freelancer and self-employed writer, having a company that will do what they can to save your ass when you completely and utterly fuck the kitty matters. And Createspace does, and should be praised for that. Because it’s worth using a soapbox, every once in a while, for something other than complaining and shaming.
Next week: Why UPS is a lovely company and how I greatly appreciate them not murdering me over the day in which twenty-five separate book-sized packages arrived at my door.