Hi. Today I’m going to try to share some of the information I’ve learned through webinars and so forth. This is the last thing I’m going to be doing on self-publishing, I have to tell you, because self-publishing has turned into such a racket now that I can’t even keep up.
This continues our series from the end of Part Five.
The distribution part
As a POD published author and a self-published author, the biggest hurdle you face to getting your product placed in bookstores is the infeasibility of allowing your books to be returned for a complete refund if they aren’t sold. Not to mention the penalty you as the publisher get socked with for shipping costs. The alternative is for the bookseller to destroy the books. Both a financial waste and hardly an eco-conscious approach. But it’s been standard practice for a long, long time. Unfortunately, booksellers continue to insist upon doing this and traditional publishers continue to follow this practice, cranking out large print runs instead of finding ways to use modern technology to create new solutions.
Picking up from where we left off at the end of Part Three.
Indie Publishing is Project Management
Becoming an indie author means you become an indie publisher, which means you’re taking on the responsibilities a publisher would perform for you. Essentially, to do this successfully requires a certain amount of organizational skill. Anyone who’s successfully run any kind of project can do this. Anything at all, whether it be in a corporate setting or at home. Even if you just organized a book club or local charity drive.
You’ll be responsible for finding someone to format your book (as a PDF file) to meet the publication requirements. Unless you choose to go DIY on that, which totally can be done. If you don’t want to, it’s easy enough to use fiverr.com or another service like UpWork.com to hire a freelancer to provide the following services:
- develop the cover art;
- format the print and ebook versions
- edit the book’s content; and
- copyedit and/or proofread the book.
Keep in mind, your mileage with freelancers found through Fiverr or UpWork may vary widely. For instance, be prepared to spend more for a well-designed book cover and good editing. I have used these services occasionally, but as a general rule, I hire freelancers I’ve found through networking to work on my fiction.
I can’t speak to how “hybrid publishers” or whatever they’re called handle business transactions with their authors, but I can tell you what Lulu used to do when I was with them. Lulu paid for my ISBN and was the publisher of record. But they published on a non-exclusive basis, i.e., the rights were still mine. I received some royalties from sales, just like under a traditional publishing contract.
Essentially, if you’re only planning to publish one or two titles or you feel like you need help with price setting and getting an ISBN, an author services company like Lulu could be the right option for you. I’ll add here that I haven’t done business with Lulu for years, so things there may have changed.
However, if you publish directly through a POD publisher like IngramSpark, you are entirely your own publisher. You establish your own account. You register your own trade name or d/b/a. You are responsible for buying your own ISBN. You keep all the profits. In other words, you skip the middleman between you and your print distributor.
And in order to have the appearance of professionalism, you should have a trade name under which you publish your books, which is your own imprint.
My own trade name, Renegade Press, is registered with my own State Department of Assessments and Taxation. To find out where to register in your own state, do a search on the terms “dba” and your state name. The proper agency will likely come up in the top hit or very close to it. In my state, the fee for a sole proprietorship is relatively low. I’ve registered as such, even though there are other options, such as forming a limited liability corporation or LLC. That’s an entity that may possibly limit your liability in the event your publishing efforts result in litigation. I’m not in the position to give legal advice, so if you’re thinking of doing more than registering a trade name, I’d consult a legal advisor first.
I haven’t even touched on using IngramSpark versus KDP Print. Search on “IngramSpark versus KDP Print” and see what you get. And check the dates. You may be pulling up old information.
There are opinions all over the place about why you should or shouldn’t be on KDP Print and IngramSpark. I’m not using KDP Print. I’m not interested in knowing about them. I can’t offer any insights, but there’s a small crowd of self-appointed experts on the subject that’ll let you know what you need. Or at least their opinion.
However, if you want bookstores to carry your books, you absolutely should go through IngramSpark. As an indie author, most of your bookstore sales will probably be made by taking the effort to contact local booksellers directly. If they hear that you use an Amazon-owned company to publish and distribute your print books, I can almost guarantee you’ll get a frosty reception. These days, Amazon is acting as publisher, bookseller, movie studio, streaming service, and retailer in numerous other sectors, among other things. They may even have a brick-and-mortar store competing with indie bookstores in your area. Small booksellers can hardly be blamed for not wanting to carry your book if it’s being published by their biggest and most formidable competitor.
On top of which, I’m under the impression that KDP Print or whatever Amazon calls it now places itself as middleman between you and IngramSpark. If that’s so, Amazon will want its cut of the earnings. Need I spell out what a bad choice that is?
In short, you’ll make more per book sale with less taken away by middlemen, if you publish your print books directly through IngramSpark.
However, being your own publisher entails responsibility and work. The decision to do this depends on how much time, effort and money you’re willing to invest in it.
Next Up: Let’s Talk ISBNs!