Createspace announced recently that it has stopped providing author services. The platform offered editing, formatting and cover design, but they have discontinued these services, and while they still offer plenty of free resources, you can no longer submit your manuscript and use their editing and layout services for interior and cover.

I don’t think this it’s a huge loss to the publishing world.

I like Createspace, and I work with them a lot, but I have always cautioned authors not to use their paid layout and design services. The few results I saw from authors who had were sub-standard. Really sub-standard. I’m talking ragged right edges, insufficient margins, text centered from top to bottom on the page, so that if a chapter ended before the bottom of the page, there was equal white space on top and bottom. Very bizarre work coming from a company whose business is books.

It made me wonder if book layout can or should be automated. Years ago, a self-published author told me, as they were embarking on the project, “It’s simple! You send a manuscript, and you get a book in a couple of days!” I voiced skepticism, and sadly (for that author, at least) I was right. You simply cannot turn a manuscript into a book overnight, at least not a professional looking one. Someone has to clean up the manuscript, understand the layout process, apply correct text styling and pay attention to hundreds of little details that make a polished book.

I’m sure there are ways to use templates effectively, but I think having hands and eyes on the layout is crucial for a professional look. And for whatever reason, Createspace was not able to do that, at least not consistently.

But here’s what they are good at: they offer a huge number of free resources, from how-to articles to public forums; their site is author friendly and straightforward; their customer service department is easy to reach (put in your phone number and someone will call right away); they are good at taking files that have been properly prepared and printing books from them. Like Ingram Spark, the other well-known print-on-demand company, they print books at a reasonable price, and have wide distribution options.

If you want to use Createspace for print-on-demand and distribution, either use their resources to teach yourself how to make a professional file, or, better yet, contact a professional to create files for you – you’ll save yourself time and effort and have a truly outstanding book in the end.