An attempt to declare the Glory of God for what He has chosen to do with our lives. A legacy to leave to my children in the telling of it.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

West Bow Press versus CreateSpace

A while back I was asked by a blog friend about my thoughts on self publishing, so thought I'd post my response for others who may be curious. It has been just over a year since my book, How My Savior Leads Me, was first published. We chose to use WestBow Press for our first publisher, but after much frustration and over all disappointment, we soon decided to make another investment and have the book reprinted with CreateSpace.

It is a big book world out there, and it would be easy to get ate up in it! Before self publishing I did quite a bit of research and looked into different venues for printing my book. I researched literary agents and big house publishers, but soon realized that I knew I wasn't emotionally strong enough to handle the rigorous process of submissions and rejections. I did submit to one agency, and sent books to the big publishers, but only received a few form letters saying they were not accepting new projects or no reply at all.

Since I was confident that writing and sharing Trent's story was of God, and many doors appeared to be opening in that direction, we went ahead with self publishing.

Our first edition was printed with WestBow Press. I don't have alot of good things to say about WestBow. My gripes: you feel like just a number and soon find that you are treated as such. I bought into their advertising that you could be the next big author and picked up by Thomas Nelson, and also thought (due to their advertisiements) that they would be very helpful in promoting my Christian view. In the end, I found very little personal help as a newbie author, and soon became very frustrated by the lack of communication as well as the cost of every service that seemed should have been covered in the package price.

I purchased their Pro Format package, which included amongst other things, Interior Book Design and Page Layout, plus Standard Cover Design Including Personalized Back Cover. The promises soon became tarnished when I learned that my options were limited to 1-3 choices and then a fee of $150+ was added to change anything (fonts, etc.). Which meant that I could submit an idea (choice 1) for the cover and they would come up with their own design (choice 2), if there was a font or color change requested to either of those designs that would be choice three. At that point you would be required to pay the additional fee to see any other options. The same for interior fonts, details, designs. Even to request changing the size of the book required an additional fee.

I also had several problems with getting the book printed on the correct color of paper (more than 500 books in multiple orders were printed on the wrong color), and wasn't all that impressed with the final printing quality.

My book representative was very quick to reply to both phone calls and emails, but the communication was very poor between him and the team that actually did the work on my book. Soon, there was a turn over in personnel and my file seemed to be laid by the curbside with no personal contact representative.

After several months I ended up with a book that I really didn't like, was very disappointed in their cover options and art work and would be unable to financially consider any changes, besides looking at $700+ more to correct new-found typo's (after already investing over $2,000 initially with them, besides out-sourced editor fees).

Maybe my expectations were too high: I expected that we would work together to create a quality book, but found that they mostly turned out to just be a very expensive printer.

Which all led us to choose CreateSpace to reprint the book only three months later.

What I liked about CreateSpace:

(If Blogger would let me upload images I would attempt to place a photo of the book cover and interior here, but since it won't, you'll have to check out the Amazon page to see an example- and while you're there, if you want to leave a review or a "like" Amazon appreciates that, and so do I:))

They were half the price of WestBow for a better quality book. I could have attempted to format the whole book myself, but I knew that I wasn't capable, nor did I want to try. For $900 I purchased their interior and cover formatting option and they did all the work. They were much more flexible with actually designing a book that I liked, instead of giving me a couple of options and then charging to change anything.

Example: For the cover design I filled out a questionnaire, they designed two mock up covers,
and then allowed me to choose one to start creating with. If you don't like either option, they redesign, or allow the choice of making changes to color, font, etc., until the author is happy with the result. The interior also received royal treatment and design work continued until it met my satisfaction, with no further charges.

With CreateSpace they worked with me until I actually liked the book. Their design team was fabulous, they replied and worked very fast, and the quality and printing of the book was so much better. The option of fonts and layout was superior to WestBow, and the design team was particular to attention and seemed to want to meet your desired expectations. Printing with WestBow took about six months, and with CreateSpace about four months to publish the books.

Actual book printing cost with CreateSpace is also half price: about $3.50 per book compared to about $6.50 with WestBow, which means higher author royalties with CreateSpace, or the ability to charge less for the book. Both companies offered similar options as far as ISBN numbers, availability of additional services (marketing, editors, etc.), retaining author rights, and distribution.

If you are computer savvy, and are willing to do the research and work yourself, you can format and design your entire book for no cost at all with CreateSpace and only pay for the cost of printing the books. I have done this for a little booklet that we had printed for some fishing scholarships in honor of Trent in our community, as well as a children's book that Alexis wrote.

One consideration with CreateSpaces' Self Publishing is that you have no publisher to list. One option is that you can open your own publishing enterprise (you'd have to check into local legal requirements). We chose to print under the name of More Glory Ministries for our CreateSpace books. We applied for a non-profit status for all of the donations after Trent's death and have committed to using all book proceeds and funds as well for sharing the gospel. Having the More Glory Ministries name on the book directs people back to our blog where the books are advertised as well as Trent's story and the gospel is shared.

So how is the book doing?

After being available for fourteen months between the two publishers, we have distributed over 1,000 books. Nearly two-thirds of those have been given away as gifts. God has continued to provide the resources through book sales and donations to make it possible to share the gospel and the hope of eternity with many hurting souls.Nearly weekly we receive emails or notes about how God is using Trent's story for His glory.

For our family, personally, the book is a huge comfort and encouragement as well on those days when we can't quite see past the pain of missing a son. I can't recall how many times I have been convicted by my own words, or had my eyes turned back to the cross through it - so even if it never makes the best seller list, that is enough of a reason to have wrote it.

So... there's my ramblings about self publishing. If there are any other specific questions I can answer, let me know.


For cover work, I would highly recommend Design Crowd
who did an awesome job to create the books final cover.


Brenda said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences with the books. It's good to have an honest review of the self-publishers.

Dicky Bird said...

I too am interested in this subject, thanks for sharing.

A Primitive Homestead said...

As I read your words It was as if I was hearing a voice, not just reading empty words on a page. In reading likes of Trent's hunting fishing and just how you described his personality my son was in some ways like him. As I read I cried for you and cried for myself. Many times I would read something and think she knows for real. I wish that no one would suffer the loss of a child. The strength it took to have shared your story and the main reason to lead lost souls to salvation is amazing. So many writers want the credit for there work. The many souls reached for Gods glory is far more worth than credit. I have read the book threw as I could. At times I had to close in reading and let myself catch up. I want to reread. At times I remember thinking this is something I should make a note of. Thank you for reaching out to me. May this ministry grow and expand reach many souls for God. Blessings!

OurCrazyFarm said...

Thanks Brenda and DickyBird~ you are constant encouragers to me:))

Lara~ still praying for you. It has been a pleasure to get to know you, I am only sorry that it was because of a common pain of loss.

Pete Nikolai said...

Thanks for your feedback regarding your experience with WestBow. We will use it to improve...

Pete Nikolai
Director of Publishing Services

the Lord NEVER Fails said...

GOD bless you so much for sharing this testimony with the world. I have been very blessed my it on many angles. I fell on this because I was searching for an honest review on Self Publishing especially with WestBow. You have opened my eyes. On the other side, I am always thrilled to meet anyone who has given their life and are using their challenges for the growth of the Kingdom. I LOVE GOD, I do not have a perfect or EASY life but I know that I have a FRIEND who is ALWAYS by my side. I know that even in my darkest moments, I am not alone. THANKS for allowing GOD to use you in this amazing way. I will be PRAYING for your MINISTRY. that GOD will open MORE doors and take you to higher heights for HIS GLORY. Please also PRAY for me as I am seeking GOD'S WISDOM and guidance concerning my future. I would like to serve HIM. I have many voices in my head and I want to know which one is HIS VOICE. THANKS for your prayers. I would like to know more about you if possible. I live in Germany. I am married with 3 kids. Originally from Cameroon. I left my country 17 years ago (age 19) to travel to Germany. It has not been easy but GOD has been so FAITHFUL and has brought me this far. Please extend my LOVE to your LOVELY family.


Professor Joe Bucci said...

I am sorry about your loss. Thank you for sharing your comments on self-publishing. I am pursuing this path as well, and have spoken to he WestBow people. I did not know about CreateSpace. Very good insights.

April Cassidy said...

I am very sorry to hear about your son - and I can definitely understand your passion to tell his story for God's glory!

Thank you very much for sharing your story with Westbow. You may have just saved me a lot of grief!!!

Laurie Jalbert said...

Thank you for your blog post! I'm researching self publishing for my pastor and we've been really interested in WestBow Press.

Your information was really helpful!

Maxine said...

I have been in contact with WestBow and have been having some misgivings--feeling pressured after just wanting info and then it's like submit after a little back and forth communication without their contact even knowing what my story is about. Your info here about the experience you had with them has been very helpful; speaking to and answering my misgivings. Do you have a website that I can contact you at? I have questions about CreateSpace.

OurCrazyFarm said...

Helga~ I would be happy to try to help you with CreateSpace publishing. You can contact me at

Chris said...

Thank you for your heads up about your self-publishing experiences. I am another author who has tremendous misgivings about having chosen WestBow Press to publish my book. I agree with everything you said, except that I love the quality of the paper and printing of my offset print book, which has about 90 color photos. But I have further disappointments and frustrations besides those you mention. Personnel changes, failure to respond to emails, misleading communications, and financial issues seem more the norm than the exception in our dealings. I'm so sorry to say this because I, too, felt that since the Lord directed me to write this book and opened what seemed like doors to WestBow, I expected it all to go much more smoothly than it has.

Ariel J said...

Hello, I just wanted to thank you for this post! I am glad to hear your Create Space experience was so good as I am leaning toward them. Blessings to you and yours!

Sue A Allen said...

Thank you for sharing your experience with WestBow! I am trying to make a decision for the reprinting of my book since my publisher went out of business. This was very insightful!

Scott LaPierre said...

Just wanted to say thank you for the post and sharing your family's story. I was considering WestBow and CreateSpace so this was great to read.