createspaceUpdate: Marcus reports that CreateSpace subsequently apologized and said this warning should not have been sent.

On Tuesday, writer Michael N. Marcus submitted the manuscript of his latest book, The Brainy Beginner’s Guide to Self-Publishing, to the CreateSpace print-on-demand service for printing. As one might expect, Amazon came in for some mentions—indeed, given the effect they’ve had on the self-publishing landscape, it would be surprising to see any treatise on self-publishing in the present-day that didn’t mention them. Marcus said that the mentions were “approximately 99% positive.”

CreateSpace sent him the following response:

The interior file submitted for this title contains text referencing Please remove all text and/or logos which reference

This is made all the weirder by the fact that CreateSpace is an Amazon subsidiary.

Given that Marcus is a writer and a blogger, this is perhaps not the wisest thing that CreateSpace could have done, since now the word is going to go out that CreateSpace will choose not to print books for the flimsiest of reasons. Of course, it’s their right to do that if they want, but it’s not going to endear them to authors who might otherwise be thinking of using them.

As for Marcus, he’s going to have his book printed by Lightning Source instead.


  1. Perhaps the error could have been more explicit, but that looks an awful lot like a computer generated error message stating that there is a hypertext reference to Amazon’s website in the file to be printed, and the document needs to be self contained.

  2. Is it possible that this message wasn’t even generated by a real person? It could’ve been sent out by the type of vetting app that Smashwords uses to scan for formatting (and copyright) discrepancies. It’s possible that they don’t want mentioned as a publisher of the actual book or in the copyright info since Michael N. Marcus is the publisher and not CreateSpace or Amazon. The computer program may have scanned the book, picked up the working and kicked it out. He should contact customer service and speak a real person about this.

  3. Whatever the real rationale for this rejection proves to be, it does illustrate the dangers that come with a vertical monopoly. Amazon the retail store reached back through the the distribution chain (also Amazon), and the publisher (Amazon’s CreateSpace) to play an editorial role dictating what particular words an author could or could not use. Whether a computerized robot did that or a live person, that’s what happened.

    Compare that with traditional publishing. When an editor doesn’t like something you say, you find another editor or publisher. When one distributor doesn’t want to handle your book, you find another. And when one retail store refuses to place it on your shelves, other stores do and reap the profit. But Amazon plays all those roles and, even more important, it so dominates the market that some people think that if a book isn’t on Amazon, it isn’t in print.

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