Self-publishing a book with CreateSpace and Amazon

Recently, I finished a book publishing project I started around last Christmas. The book is titled “12 Partitions pour Xylophone & Métallophone à 8 Barres” and contains sheet music of French children songs that can be played on toy metallophones (aka glockenspiel) or xylophones. To self-publish the book, I used CreateSpace, a subsidiary of Amazon. It is now for sale via Print-on-Demand on all North-American and European Amazon stores (for example Amazon.com or Amazon.fr).

Above, the front cover, with a matte finish.

Animambo Metallophone

Some background about the project: I had offered a toy metallophone (Animambo, above) as a Christmas gift to my 3 year-old niece. It came bundled with a couple of scores that represented notes using the colors of the bars on the instrument. However those songs were not the kind that would be known to a young French child so I started to put together a dozen classics of the French children songbook, based on scores I found online (mainly Wikisource Partitions).

I had to adapt the scores so they could be played on the instrument: It is limited to 1 octave and the C major scale. I also added hints of which bar to play under each note, a bit like with the Animambo scores. Since the various models of xylophones / metallophones have different color schemes for the bars, it made sense to let the end user color the hints depending on their instrument and therefore I left them blank.

The book was created using LilyPond, for typesetting the sheet music, and Latex, for the book interior and covers. The Latex book embeds the PDF’s generated by LilyPond to make the final, printable book. The full source code of the book is available on Github.

I thought the whole publishing process was quick and quite painless:

  • CreateSpace offers the ISBN so it is free to publish the book: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform is credited as the publisher however. Above, the attributed ISBN on the back cover.
  • There is a 24h delay after submission of the book PDF + covers where they check the book for technical issues.
  • After that, you are supposed to order a proof copy: It is possible to buy one for the cost of material but it is sent from the USA. Therefore, it takes either 6 weeks to arrive in France or 1 week with an additional $12 fee for priority mail. Instead, I didn’t do any check and waited for the book to show up on Amazon.fr to order a normal copy.
  • After confirmation of the proof copy, the book was listed almost right away on Amazon.com, Amazon.fr and the other Amazon stores, although it took an additional ~48h to be able to actually purchase the book on the French Amazon store (listed as Unavailable until then).

At first, I was not sure of the quality I should expect with a Print-on-Demand book but now that I got hold of a physical copy, I am quite pleased with the result. I may be biased but I think it looks pretty good!

Above, score for Il court, il court, le furet, a song written in the 18th century.

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