Beetle named after you? Moresby phonebook method
Just what is happening with those PNG fruit pickers?

For a change, here is some good news for writers


Create Space LogoPUBLISHING A BOOK in Australia is getting harder and harder.  In Papua New Guinea it is well-nigh impossible.

In Australia the small boutique publishers are crumbling before the onslaught of digital publishing and ebooks, while the big publishers are surviving by amalgamating and running with their established stable of saleable authors.

The same trends are evident globally. My own publisher finally gave up the game last year.

The only alternatives in the past have been self-publishing, using companies set up for the purpose, or printing your own books and trying to market them.  Both are expensive options.

All very bleak, yes, but there is a light on the horizon.  It is called Create Space.

Create Space is a company owned by Amazon, the gargantuan online bookseller.

You can now upload a text and cover on Create Space for nothing or you can use their very cheap guided services. Your book then goes on the Amazon site and is available for purchase as a print-on-demand hardcopy or as an ebook.

Create Space offers a high rate of royalty which you get paid every time you accumulate $100 credit.  Because Create Space and Amazon are American companies you get slugged 30% withholding tax.

But if you take the time to get an American Tax Identification Number (TIN), Australia has an agreement which reduces the withholding tax to 5%.  Unfortunately, as far as I am aware, PNG doesn’t have such an arrangement yet.

The other important thing is that you can purchase wholesale copies of your books for resale.  These cost around $5-6 each compared to about $15 a copy which self-publishing companies charge on top of their normal fee. 

In PNG most book sales will probably be made using this system so the 30% withholding tax is largely irrelevant.  If your book takes off internationally you’d need to rethink.

I’ve just been through the process of uploading a book via Create Space and am awaiting a proof hardcopy in the mail before giving the okay for it to go on sale.

If a computer illiterate like me can do it anyone can do it.

First of all I opened an account with Create Space, which didn’t cost anything and took about three minutes.  You just provide your email address and a password. 

Then I downloaded one of their text templates for a 5” x 8” book.  Being Americans they still operate using imperial measures.  They have a big range of sizes with 6” x 9” being the most popular.

The templates come in a form where you just transfer the whole text of your manuscript in a form with pre-placed title, contents page, acknowledgements, dedication, author profile and chapters. I opted for this version.

You can either supply your own ISBN or they will provide one free.  I had some to spare and used them.  I also attached my own publishing logo to the back cover.

When I had the text right, I submitted it for review and received an email saying it was all go.  Then I got on to the cover, spine and back cover design. 

My cover didn’t quite fit so I went back and simply uploaded a PDF that I had made up myself.  Create Space tweaked it all nicely to make it fit.  Next time I’ll stick with their online cover designer because it is so simple.

The cover design template has spaces to drop in all of the relevant components. First you do the lettering on the spine. The width of the spine is based on the number of pages in the book

Next you do the cover, which has space to drop in an illustration or photograph and a title and author name. Then you go to the back cover and insert an author photograph if you want one and a blurb about the book. Create Space automatically adds a bar code to the back cover.

You can log in and out of Create Space at your leisure. Simply take up the process where you left off.  There are simple stages clearly marked for you to follow.

I then reviewed the finished product online. In this process you simply flip through your book on your computer screen to make sure it’s okay. You can also download a PDF version to do the same thing.

Create Space recommends that people using the service for the first time order a hard copy proof before giving the final go ahead.  I decided this was wise and have ordered a copy.  In my case a proof of 324 pages cost me $4.73.

I order quite a few books from Amazon because I generally get them earlier and for much less than I pay in Australia. It generally takes about two weeks to receive copies and so far I’ve had no problems. I can’t see that ordering wholesale copies of my own book will be any different.

This might be a new dawn for writers, especially if Google and the big publishers also take up the idea. Hopefully publishers in Australia will join the trend.

If you would like to check out Create Space the link is  They also offer services to general publishers, trade publishers and libraries. If your book is long out of print they’ll even produce a print-on-demand version from a scan.

Isn’t technology wonderful?


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Phil Fitzpatrick

If Allen and Unwin would like to publish our books I'm sure we can come to some sort of compromise Tim.

There's still time to save your post-pension lunch.

Tim Ashton

Steady on, you lot.

My youngest has recently completed her post grad Masters in Publishing and has a job she loves at Allen & Unwin
A wonderful Australian publisher (yes Aussie) and you lot are.....

I was counting on her to fund my attendance at the occasional lunches when I am on the pension :)

David Wall

Phil, thanks for the information about CreateSpace.

I have tried Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing: which is certainly worth a look at.

CreateSpace sounds very promising.

Keith Jackson

After receiving Phil's article a couple of days ago, I decided to give this self-publishing system a trial.

I had a little pot boiler (technical book entitled 'The strategic management of communications') which was close to being publication-ready.

So I began to use CreateSpace to publish the book, revising as I went.

It required an investment of time, but no financial commitment up front. Very attractive. The only money you need spend is the cost of buying a book.

It's a neat system. Not as easy to use as falling off a log but a lot more straightforward than getting back on to that slippery old tree trunk.

As I reached the the end of the exercise with a submission to Kindle this morning, I concluded - like Phil - that this is a wonderful addition to publishing.

Michael Dom

Thanks Phil.

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