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Say so long to Amazon’s CreateSpace

History of CreateSpace

 

Like it or not, current and future authors, CreateSpace, the self-publishing platform that was acquired by Amazon over ten years ago, is merging with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Program.

If you are already publishing with CreateSpace, you have probably received an email telling you how to move your account. As KDP’s information page notes, you can expect some differences if you decide to publish with KDP.

Differences: KDP and CreateSpace

Apparently, phone service will not be available at KDP (as it was with CreateSpace) if you have problems or questions. (If that is something that is important to you, you may wish to consider one of the other author publishing services, such as IngramSpark. You may, however, have to pay title setup fees, and you may also incur additional charges if you make changes to your files after they have been submitted to IngramSpark.)

 

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Oxford comma makes news

Most of the time, we communicate in order to be understood. Sometimes, we—or our characters—intentionally seek to mislead, deceive, or confuse others, but, by and large, when we speak and write, we hope our meaning will not be misconstrued.

Clarity is especially important in the contracts we sign and the laws we must follow. Ambiguity creates opportunities for differing interpretations. In the event of a dispute, those ambiguities can be costly. In 2014, three truck drivers sued their employer, a Maine dairy, for overtime pay they claimed they were due under state law. An appellate court recently ruled that the law was unclear. Why? A comma was missing.

Jobs relating to the packaging and shipment of perishable foods are exempt from Maine’s overtime requirement. (I worked briefly at a salmon cannery* in Alaska the summer after I graduated from college. At the time, those jobs were popular among college students because of the overtime pay. When the fish arrived, they had to be cleaned up and shipped out quickly, and that meant days of long hours until the job was done. A lot of tuition money could be earned in a short time.)

According to an article in the New York Times, Maine’s exemption applied to the “canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of” perishable foods.

Does that mean:
a) the packing for shipment or distribution is exempt, or
b) the packing for shipment is exempt, and the distribution of perishable foods is also exempt?
(Truck drivers don’t pack, but they do “distribute.” If the exemption applies to them, then they are not eligible for overtime pay.)

What is the Oxford comma?

I’m a fan of the serial comma (also known as the Oxford comma because, according to the Oxford Dictionary, the comma was traditionally used by the Oxford University Press). In a list of three or more items that are separated by commas, style manuals differ over whether the final comma is required:

Chicago Manual of Style (yes): She stopped at the beauty salon before buying a gun, driving home, and shooting her husband.

Associated Press Stylebook (no): “Give me a cheeseburger, chocolate shake and a side of fries.”

AP allows for the use of an additional comma when necessary to avoid ambiguity, but I prefer the consistency achieved by following a simple rule—and not all the rules of spelling, grammar, and punctuation are logical, straightforward, or simple.

An earlier Times article noted that Maine’s Legislative Drafting Manual requires omitting the final comma and opines that commas are “the most misused and misunderstood puncutation marks in legal drafting and, perhaps, the English language.”

I think that distinction goes to the semicolon—which is what a Maine legislator used when revising the disputed law. The new version exempts the “canning; processing; preserving; freezing; drying; marketing; storing; packing for shipment; or distributing of” perishable foods.

As for the truck drivers, the dairy agreed to pay them $5 million.

*Though the cleaned fish were frozen rather than canned, the traditional reference to “canneries” often continues to be used.

Amazon’s CreateSpace will no longer offer editing services

Do you, like many other would-be authors today, want to write a book?

Many steps are involved in publishing a book, and you should familiarize yourself with the process, especially if you plan to self-publish. Print-on-demand (POD) has become a viable (and sensible) option for many, as bookstores close and online retailers flourish. With POD, books are printed and shipped after they are ordered, eliminating the need for storing boxes of unsold books and for destroying returned books that bookstores ordered but did not sell.

Self-publishing need not mean that you are completely on your own in unfamiliar territory. A number of companies offer packages to help you with ISBNs, e-book conversion, distribution, and design. Amazon’s CreateSpace has been an important player in the POD marketplace, however, as reported recently by Charleston’s Post and Courier, CreateSpace “is laying off workers in its editing, marketing and design division in July because the company is getting out of the business of offering services to writers.” (CreateSpace will continue to print books.)

The packaged deal is a good choice for many, but it may not be the best option for writers who want to maintain greater control over the process and handpick the individuals they will be working with on important matters such as editing and book design. Most designers have websites and post samples of their work. The name of the person or company that designed the cover and/or interior is often printed on a book’s copyright page or back cover. If you find a look you like, you may wish to contact the designer to discuss your project. If your budget is tight, you might find a freelancer on a site such as fiverr.com.

Whether you are planning to submit a manuscript to an agent or publisher or publish a book yourself, having your work reviewed by a competent editor is an important step in the publication process. Finding an editor who is familiar with your subject matter is a big plus, but if you are writing for a general audience, you want to ensure that your work is clear and comprehensible, and specialized knowledge may not be important.

You are very familiar with your ideas, and your words make sense to you. You may not realize that you are using terms in a way that others will find confusing, or that you are making erroneous assumptions about what a reader is likely to know or infer. You may believe that you need to explain every detail when, in fact, you need to trust that your reader will understand that something important just happened without being told. Your characters don’t need to shout to be heard. The overuse of exclamation points and bolded capital letters is distracting and irritating. While choices about what to cut and what to keep are always somewhat subjective, a new writer can benefit from the experience of a wise guide.

I’ll have more to say about the writer-editor relationship in the future, but I wanted to share the news about the upcoming changes in the services offered by CreateSpace.