An Amazon Company That Rips Off Authors

Createspace penalises international self-publishing authors.

If you are a self-published author, who has the misfortune to reside outside the US or the UK, or a small handful of selected European countries, and publish paperbacks on Createspace, you will know that Createspace treats international authors in general like, well, there’s no other word, so why should I censor this? Createspace treats most of their international authors like shit, as they have ripped them off for a very long time.

If you live for example in Ireland, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, India or like me in Switzerland, Createspace does not offer electronic payment of royalties (EFT), and will only pay by check for royalty balances over US$100, £100 or Euro 100. This is archaic, discriminatory and close to predatory. For EFT, where it is offered, the minimum payments are US$10! (Update: There is now no limit, so all balances are paid in full each month by EFT.) Not only are these balances uneven, as US$100 is only worth about half of £100, paying by check means that authors suffer from bank clearance fees, so they lose a lot on the deal. In my case, every US$100 check I receive costs me $10 to clear. With EFT, there are no charges whatsoever. This is UNFAIR!

Createspace has done nothing in six years, except to make false promises.

Now, if this were a new problem it wouldn’t be so bad, but Createspace has been promising to address this issue for over six years, as their Community message boards on this subject prove. But nothing has been done, except for Createspace to keep making as yet unfulfilled promises. I sent yet another message only yesterday about this unfair situation, and received the same stock standard reply I have been receiving for years, in that Createspace value their customers and are working on it! Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Let’s get something clear. Createspace is an Amazon company. Amazon KDP has no problem at all in paying by EFT to authors in most countries, but for some unfathomable reason, Createspace can’t manage to do it. Worse still is that Createspace is sitting on a huge pile of unpaid royalties that have not managed to get to the minimum amounts payable by check. So how many books do I sell in France, Spain and Germany? A few, but at my current balance of around Euro 20, I’ll be waiting ten years to see a check.

I imagine a hell of a lot of authors have similar outstanding balances. But if EFT were available, I would have been paid already. Theft? Hoarding? Stupidity? Ineptitude? Whichever, it amounts to a lot of money Createspace is sitting on that should be paid to authors!

This is not an isolated problem either, as I have written before about International Self-Publishing Hurdles, and Is Self-Publishing Only For Americans?. If you are not American, you are almost always at a disadvantage in one way or another with Amazon.

If you are an Amazon Associates member for example, there is the same $100 minimum problem for non-US residents, but at least Amazon Associates offer an Amazon Gift card for balances over $10. Not a fantastic solution, but it is more than Createspace can manage to do.

If you are an international self-published author, who is suffering from the reluctance of Createspace to change their discriminatory payment options, all I can suggest is hitting them with a message every month, complaining about the unfairness of their payment system. Mind you, on their Community Boards; this topic has been hit by the same complaints since two thousand and nine! That’s only 7 years!

Amazon is a company that started with books, and still owes a lot of their success to books and ebooks. But isn’t it high time that it treated (all) their authors with a little more fairness?

Footnote: Since writing this post, Createspace has finally acted after six years and now offers EFT payments to a few more countries

This page was last updated on March 11th, 2017

15 thoughts on “An Amazon Company That Fails Authors

  • June 9, 2015 at 3:00 pm
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    Oh I wish you all the luck with this. I hope they will rectify it for you, I did RT it so maybe if more people see it Createspace will try harder to make things work for people outside the US. Are there any other options for you to use beside Createspace, like Lulu? Not saying to give up, but if they are such a horrible company, maybe there is a better alternative?

    Reply
  • June 9, 2015 at 3:13 pm
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    Thanks Gillian! Yes, there are alternatives such as Lulu, but with my books already published, it would be a long process to re-publish with say, Lulu. And Createspace IS and Amazon company, so listings are easy to link with ebooks. There are workarounds for payment also, but it involves using a service such as Payoneer, who charge you to get one of their debit cards, which can then be used as a US bank account, but they don’t have a brilliant reputation as I understand. I have read of a number of people losing money from their Payoneer accounts.

    I have to say though, that Amazon are a wonderful company and have supported self publishers extremely well. It is only Createspace that is so stubborn. Hopefully, one day they will finally address this issue.

    Reply
  • June 9, 2015 at 3:26 pm
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    I have been reading about this, and agree with you wholeheartedly. I am from Australia, so have read up about royalty payments from Amazon having to reach over $100 USD before they’ll pay me. As you so eloquently pointed out, this is shit. However, I will admit that for anything less than that, a cheque is not worth it. The AUD is so terrible, plus the bank fees, it would be useless to bank a cheque less than $100. But if there was EFT, then that would be great. I really don’t see what’s so hard about paying to an international bank… do you think it comes down to the conversion fees? I’ve seen authors recommend a Citibank or HSBC account, as these are international banks, so should be accepted by Amazon to put their USD payments into. The fees on these accounts though are quite substantial. Lots to think about (still in the midst of writing my first book, so I have a way to go before I worry about this too much though ).

    Reply
    • June 9, 2015 at 3:37 pm
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      I know Australia is one country that is not looked after very well by Amazon, but at least as I understand, EFT is available for Australian authors from KDP. But one tip I would give, is that you can change the setting in Createspace to increase the minimum payment by check. So if by chance your book does sell well in paperback, change the setting to say US$500.00 and then at least the bank fees for clearance won’t chew away at your royalties too much.

      I doubt if the problem is conversion fees, as Amazon probably pay a small service fee to their bank to make EFT payments. But these fees would be a lot less that the cost of raising and posting checks, so this is were the whole logic gets lost on me. It would be cheaper for Createspace to use EFT for all.

      Reply
      • June 10, 2015 at 3:37 am
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        Unfortunately not, Amazon will only pay us via EFT for royalties earned in the AUS Amazon store. Every other store we still need to wait for a cheque to be posted (and each store’s royalties have to be over $/£/€100 before they’ll pay – they don’t add up $ and £ sales to make $100). It’s very disappointing.
        I agree with your point of the fee of a cheque has to be more than EFT transfers so I have no idea why they’re in the dark ages. I didn’t know people still used cheques haha.

        Reply
        • June 10, 2015 at 8:30 am
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          I sympathise with you then. As an Aussie too, I suppose I’m lucky to at least have EFT here in Switzerland for KDP. The only option you may wish to consider is Payoneer. I have seen a few Aussies authors online who are using the service to overcome the problem. The other option is if you have a friend in the US, who you can trust, and use their bank account to collect your royalties. Both not ideal though. So much for a globalised economy huh?

          Reply
  • June 15, 2015 at 12:43 pm
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    At first, I believed this was a very old post.

    I live in France, I also use Createspace. I receive direct deposit to my bank account for any amount of dollars, no minimum. Createspace pays monthly whatever the sales.

    Set that in your Account Setting, enter your Tax information (and tax treaty for your country of fiscal residence) and forget about the cheques.

    Cheers,

    Reply
    • June 15, 2015 at 12:44 pm
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      PS
      I never received a cheque from Createspace. Using direct deposit from day one, sometime in late 2011.

      Reply
    • June 15, 2015 at 1:12 pm
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      Thanks for your comment Massimo. Yes, EFT is available in France, but still not for me here in Switzerland. Go figure! Createspace offer EFT in very few countries, and they haven’t added any in years.

      Reply
      • June 15, 2015 at 1:22 pm
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        Wow, that’s incredible. Is that related to whether there’s a tax treaty in place or not with the country of fiscal residence?

        Createspace is losing money in not using direct deposit. Might be an issue of legal constraints/agreements with specific countries rather than a deliberate choice from CS.

        Reply
        • June 15, 2015 at 3:36 pm
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          It’s just Createspace, Massimo. I have been receiving EFT payments from KDP and Google for years, no problem. I have no idea why Createspace are being, well … jerks! They are an Amazon company, so if KDP can do it, there is no legal problem whatsoever.

          Reply
  • June 19, 2015 at 10:36 am
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    I live in the UK so thankfully things are a bit easier, but the check thing was going on even here when I first published with Amazon (I didn’t try Create Space until much later). Although it’s the same company, it’s run quite differently, evidently. It’s like the tax information, when I submitted it they insisted on a paper copy and the address is a different one. Then there was a mistake in the listing of one of my paperbooks and after sending messages and spending a whole week trying to sort it out I had to go a different way (common sense doesn’t seem to apply with create Space). I pointed out the same issue to KDP and it was sorted within hours.
    At the moment, as my formatting skills aren’t great, I’m using Draft2Digital that gives you the option to submit your book for paper version with Create Space. They do pay directly when you get $10 worth of sales in any place you publish through with them, so that could be an option if the frustration gets to people. Or perhaps raising it with the big boss, Jeff Bezos… jeff@amazon.com

    Reply
  • June 19, 2015 at 12:13 pm
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    Hello Derek,
    Email or phone won’t work, but imagine if hundreds or better thousands of authors send a registered letter to CreateSpace, addressed directly to their CEO’s, that might get their attention.
    And additionally several articles in Forbes, NYT, BusinessInsider, LinkedIn and all the social media sites where CreateSpace is present…

    Did you check with your Swiss banks if you can open an additional account with them in the USA in order to receive electronic transfers?

    Alles Gute,

    Doris

    Reply
  • June 22, 2015 at 5:45 am
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    Glad to hear it said yet again. I wrote about this bogus issue over a year ago. I sent them numerous emails numerous times. Still nothing. I’m Canadian, part of North America and treated as though I’m from a third world country.

    Reply
    • June 22, 2015 at 7:35 am
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      I have heard that Canada gets a rough deal from Createspace too, as well as some parts of Amazon KDP, like Kindle Scout. Crazy. So much for a globalised economy huh?

      Reply

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