Welcome to the eighth installment of Year One – you can access the previous entries right here!
That’s what I was saying to the manager at Barnes and Noble when he told me they’d love to have me do an in-store signing, but not with my book being only available to them via Createspace.
Come back when your books are returnable kid.
I’m paraphrasing, but that was the gist of the statement. There was more to it than that, of course…but that’s what I heard.
How do you pick where to publish your book? Hire a printer and just have them at your house or office? Setup with a print on demand outfit like Createspace, LuLu, or Ingram Spark? The copy shop down the street (please don’t do this, pretty pretty please)?
After I did a lot of research on just how to get my book out there, I settled on Createspace, because, well, it was easy!
You upload your book, fix the mistakes, hit publish and bam! There it is on Amazon, Kindle, and if you selected the expanded distribution all the other online retailers and even in major retailers like Barnes and Noble if someone chooses to order it!
It was awesome. I found my book on every different store I could think for order.
I also went into the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select program so anyone with Kindle Unlimited could read Shady Place as part of their subscription and I got paid a page rate. (this is a 90-day commitment to only sell your ebook on Kindle)
Like I said. It was AWESOME! My book was everywhere.
Re-wind back to the beginning. I went in to Barnes and Noble and asked for a manager, asked if I could do a signing, and was flat out rejected.
As it turns out, stores like Barnes and Noble don’t like Amazon – crazy right? Well not really, since Amazon is their sworn enemy. Furthermore, Createspace is print on demand and does not allow retailers to return unsold copies. Strike two.
I got the proverbial pat on the butt and sent on my way, but with the caveat, if you can make it so your books are returnable, we can talk…
This opened a whole new educational opportunity – that’s right opportunity, because every setback is an opportunity. My research led me to Ingram Spark, who I was familiar with, but decided not to use previously because it’s more complicated (see Year One: Part Seven for more on this).
When you create a book through Createspace you are given the option to provide your own ISBN (that number above the barcode on books) or use one of theirs. If you chose to use their ISBN, Createspace shows as the publisher of your work, if you provide your own, you can dictate the name of the publisher. Ingram Spark requires you to provide your own.
A book must have an ISBN and a barcode to be sold in stores.
My back to the drawing board moment meant figuring out how to get an ISBN and what to do with it. Also, what to do with my already published book on Createspace.
In retrospect, I made a mistake taking the easy route. I should have done more research before publishing through Createspace.
What should I have done?
When I decided I did indeed want the ability to have a book signing at Barnes and Noble, I had to take a step back and basically start over.
I purchased a 10 pack of ISBNs from Bowker.com (you need a separate ISBN for each edition, hardcover, softcover, ebook, second editions, etc.). I bought 10 because I intended and still intend to have more titles and it’s much much cheaper. (This is a UPC for comics and still an ISBN for collected trade paperbacks/graphic novels)
Next, I assigned Shady Place soft cover and ebook separate IBSNs.
My Shady Place version on Createspace was considered published by them, so I actually pulled it from the site and created a new version with my ISBN and W.i.N. Pictures as the publisher. This time, I did not include expanded distribution. So, through Createspace, Shady Place was available as a print on demand through Amazon only. (on a side note, I was able to get Amazon to migrate my already existing reviews to the new version)
Then, with the same ISBN, I created a version for Ingram Spark (also print on demand) for the distribution to other retail channels. Keep in mind, this method means if a store orders copies and doesn’t sell them, you are on the hook for those copies financially; you can have the returned copies mailed to you or destroyed, but they become your responsibility.
From there, I uploaded to KDP directly with a new ISBN and also used this for Smashwords (another digital book distributor) and Apple iBooks.
Once it became available through the Ingram Spark distribution channels, I returned to Barnes and Noble and they welcomed me with open arms! Voila! Easy, ha, yeah, so easy:)…
Make a decision before you hit publish or you’re in for double work if you want to make changes.
Bonus: The Audio Book
I like to run before I crawl. So of course, when I put Shady Place, my first novel, into the world, I wanted it available every which way possible. In steps the audio book.
I knew Audible was the biggest audio book distributor, and once again, part of the Amazon family.
To get your book on Audible, you need to use a service called ACX. This service allows you to either upload your completed audio book or even hire, through their site at no additional cost a narrator to produce your audio book.
This process was really cool. I sent Shady Place out for producers to read for through ACX and got over 30 auditions within two days, people vying for the opportunity to read my book. It was fun going through and narrowing down, then selecting Nik Magill to narrate the book, a decision I’m so glad I made. He did a fantastic job.
ACX gives you several options when publishing. You can go exclusive for seven years (!) at 50/50 split of 40% royalties with your narrator or 40% royalties while paying your narrator separately. Or you can sign a non-exclusive deal (still seven years) at 25% and provide your own audio or pay your narrator out of pocket.
When you get there it’s a really worthwhile experience for a creator. Honestly, it was superfluous for a first book, but it will be there for another six years at least.
I went on longer than usual on this one, but hopefully it’s useful information to someone out there. Stay tuned for what should be the final installment next week when I give my feeble take on marketing.