CreateSpace Proofs: Ordering Multiple Copies of Your Novel for Beta-Readers

Here’s some information that might be helpful to others when ordering proofs (sample copies of your novel) from CreateSpace. I used to send manuscripts to beta-readers by printing the document off on 9 x 11 sheets, three-hole punching, and inserting into a black three-ring binder before mailing. That method has some advantages; for instance, it provides beta-readers plenty of space to write comments in the margins. However, working with a binder is unwieldly and less portable which may slow the beta-reader’s progress down.

The last beta-read I did, J.B. Simmons’s Clothed with the Sun, I received a proof of the novel to mark up. I was easily able to mark up the manuscript with comments, although sometimes I had to turn the book at awkward angles to make the best use of the margins, but I was able to work on it during my commute on the subway). Ultimately, I think it was easier for me to beta-read this copy.

Now I’ve reached the beta-read phase for my second novel, The Civility Code. This time, I decided to send my beta-readers proofs from CreateSpace as the mark-up copy.  I did this because:

  1. most beta-readers prefer to see the actual book in their hands since it simulates a more realistic reading experience,
  2. the convenience I mentioned above,
  3. it is cost-efficient. Printing off an entire novel on 9×11  sheets can be many times more expensive than ordering a proof copy from CreateSpace (around $5); and
  4. it helps with catching formatting errors, cutting out an additional step in the editing process.

When I placed my order for proofs, I wanted to avoid getting charged twice for shipping: once to my home address, and once to my beta-readers. I decided to send my proofs directly to my beta-readers by entering their addresses in the "Send To". I sent the first proof with no problem. When I went to send the second, the option to send was grayed out. It turns out that CreateSpace allows you one shipment of proofs, up to five (5) books. But you can’t order five separate shipments of books for a total of five books; you’ve got to order all of the books in one shipment. So if you want five proofs to hand out, you need to have them ordered in one shipment to your address and then pass them out/mail them out after that. It’s a little bit of an inconvenience, but one that is worth it since you will have impressive and easy to handle copies of your novel to pass out.

There is a work around if you still want to send individual copies directly to your beta-readers. If you revise the file that you uploaded to CreateSpace, then you are eligible to ship proofs of the second version. So I made some minor tweaks to the About the Author section and uploaded a new file. The problem with this method is that it can take up to 48 hours for CreateSpace to approve your file, although mine was approved in about 9 hours. As soon as it was approved, I ordered a shipment of five books to my house and handed the books out to people who live close to me, and mailed copies to those who live a long way away.