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logo2xI’ve been slowly shifting the distribution of my books from CreateSpace to IngramSpark. Both services make physical copies of books available through Ingram. However, I discovered that CreateSpace apparently doesn’t offer the typical 40 percent discount to bookstores. This makes it a deterrent to bookstores to carry CreateSpace books.

While IngramSpark offers a better discount to booksellers, it costs more to print books with IngramSpark. Also, books printed with IngramSpark apparently show with a shipping delay on Amazon.com.

You can have the advantages of both, though. You accomplish this by listing your book with IngramSpark and CreateSpace (without choosing the expanded distribution options). Doing this, you have your book listed on Amazon.com with no shipping delays, and you can order physical copies at the better price from CreateSpace. At the same time, bookstores can order your books with the typical discounts from IngramSparklogo-csp-no-tm

The other advantage you get with using IngramSpark is that you can publish your book in hardback format. I don’t expect many hardback sales, but I like that I can offer the book. I have two books that I’ve always been disappointed that I couldn’t publish as hardback because they are designed to be more like a tabletop book. They were the first two hardbacks that I set up on CreateSpace, and I was happy with the finished product.

Now, I’m not saying having your book in IngramSpark will get your book into stores, but it will help. Barnes & Noble still doesn’t like stocking print-on-demand books, but I have found other chains willing to offer my books (at least at a local level) when they can get a standard discount. This actually confuses me because I was willing to offer those stores a better deal than they could get through Ingram if they dealt with me directly. Corporate policy wouldn’t allow it, though. Go figure.

For now, take a look at IngramSpark. Get your account set up and familiarize yourself with what’s on the site.

Next week, I’ll talk about the hiccups that I’ve run into and how I’m working around them.

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My two-table set up for weekend festivals.

Having a strong backlist of books is great for a writer. When I sell books at festivals, I am able to have a large display of different covers, genres, and sizes of books to attract readers. In fact, last year my show display grew from one table to two tables. A backlist also means that I have multiple ways to attract readers. Each title gives me a new opportunity to catch a reader’s eye.

 

That’s all great.

However, I’ve run into a drawback with having a library of 18 books, and it has been driving me crazy this past month.

Grammarly Review

I have started running all of my books through Grammarly to catch any mistakes my editors, readers, and I missed when the book was originally published. Surprisingly, given how many eyes were on the manuscripts, I have found too many. Running 18 books and a half a dozen e-books through the program takes times. I started doing this in December, and it could very well continue until next December.

Review Request

Since I  was reviewing each book, I also decided to make sure that all of the electronic editions had a review request at the back. I haven’t worried up until not about getting readers to post reviews of my books online. That delay has come back to bite me recently as I have tried to expand some of my marketing efforts. Some places that I have wanted to use to market my books want to see more reviews of the books. So I’ve had to detour some of my marketing in order to increase my Amazon.com reviews.

Book Descriptions

Last month, I learned some new techniques for writing book descriptions that I have also started applying to my book pages as I update them. This is not a single update. I need to make changes to a book on four different websites (Amazon, KDP, Smashwords, and Bowkers) to make sure the descriptions are all the same.

Hardback Editions

I recently discovered a way to accomplish two things that I have wanted to do for years. When I switched from doing offset printing to print-on-demand through Createspace, I stopped being able to get my books into physical chain bookstores. The three reason I heard for this were that the stores couldn’t get their typical discount when purchasing the books, they didn’t want to support Amazon.com, and stores can’t return print-on-demand books.

Up until now, I haven’t worried too much about it. I  have been making most of my sales through other channels. However, as my marketing efforts expand, I have started running into this roadblock more often.

I have discovered a way to use Ingram Spark and Createspace together. I can still get the books that I sell through Createspace, and customers purchasing books on Amazon will still see the books always in stock. Meanwhile, I can use Ingram Spark to get my books into the chain stores and offer a hardback edition.

I have wanted to offer hardbacks since I wrote No North, No South… It is an oversized book, which is typically printed as a hardback.  Since that time, I’ve written another tabletop book and a couple novels that I would have like to offer as hardbacks.

All of these are useful things for me to do. They each will have benefits to help me continue moving my career forwards. I recommend authors do all of these things. It’s just that having to do all of these things for all of my books is very, very time-consuming.

It’s happening, albeit slowly, but I’m excited to see the results.

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Here’s a draft cover for an upcoming novel. It’s exciting to have my words coming to life, but sometimes the author needs help to make it happen.

Certainly one of the benefits of independent publishing is control. You, in your role as publisher, get the final approval on everything. That’s nice when you are trying to create the book that you envision in your mind. You don’t have that kind of control with mainstream publishing, and sometimes the result is a book you barely recognize as your own.

Publishing isn’t the only place where this happens. It happens when books are made into movies, too. I remember a story about the western, Bend of the Snake by Bill Gulick. The book was made into the James Stewart movie, Bend of the River. Apparently, it was changed so much between book and movie that Gulick took out a large ad that said that the only thing that the movie had in common with his novel was the first three words of the title.

Independent publishing gives an author control over a book that he or she has poured blood, sweat, tears, and a little bit of their soul into.

However, in the immortal words of Dirty Harry, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

Writers write, but they can’t always edit, do layout, or create a cover. In those instances, you need to recognize where your talents fall short and find someone who can do the job you envision.

I’ve designed some of my book covers and the results have been mixed. I have one book that I definitely want to create a new cover for at some point.

To make up for my lack of ability with graphic design, I have also hired designers to help out cover design. What has never failed to amaze me in working with cover designers is that they can take my initial ideas and turn them into something so much better than I even envisioned. I’ve also discovered that the covers I hear comments on the most are the ones that I’ve had a cover designer put together for me.

Right now, I have covers being worked on for three different books. I needed original art work for one book and found a young designer named Kate Shepherd. She posted some of her art on her Facebook page. I liked the style and thought it would work well for the cover of a book I was formatting. I’ve seen the ideas that she came up with and she hasn’t disappointed. She has actually been able to create pictures of my characters from my words.

The second book cover is from a different designer named Grace Eyler. It’s the one showing above. What do you think of it? The designer still has some small tweaks that she wants to do it, but I think she captured the essence of the story I’m telling? What does this cover make you think of?

I haven’t seen anything for the third cover yet, but I am excited to see what the designer comes up with. Mainly because with the two previous covers, not only have I been pleased with the result, but I doubt that I could have created either of the covers. I’m not only talking about just the technical aspects, but both of these ladies have a lot of creativity that expresses itself in a different way than my creativity does.

While I’m all for stepping outside the box as you write and publish, know when you’re taking too big a step and get help. Then keep working to improve your own abilities.

I had an e-mail in my inbox this morning about a new program at Amazon called Kindle Scout. It is being billed as “a new reader-powered publishing program where readers help discover the next great books.”

The book is posted as part of the program and readers nominate the ones they like. Readers can nominate a book a month. The books that receive the most nominations will be published by Amazon.

Those who nominate the winning books receive a free, early copy to review and talk about to create some pre-publication momentum. The book will also receive some Amazon promotional help. It will be enrolled into the Kindle Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited as well as be eligible for targeted email campaigns and promotions.

Have any of you heard of it? It sounds interesting to me and I am considering submitting a book to the program just to see if it is accepted and how it will do.

According to the e-mail a new never-before-published novel is submitted as a Kindle book to be considered for a publishing contract with Kindle Press.  One drawback for me that I saw is that the program is for romance, mystery, thriller, science fiction, fantasy, and mainstream fiction. So my historical fiction and nonfiction is apparently out of the running.

I’ve been working on expanding into new genres with a pen name, though. So I am thinking about submitting one of those manuscripts.

At first, I was going to pass on trying for the program because I can already get a Kindle book published and keep the 70 percent royalty myself. Kindle Scout offers only a 50 percent royalty. However, Kindle Scout offers a $1,500 advance.

I also don’t like too much that Kindle Scout gets worldwide publication rights for eBook and audio formats in all languages. I could sell print rights, but I don’t sell a lot of print books internationally. Although I sell most of my ebooks on Amazon, other platforms tend to be stronger internationally and I won’t be able to list my book on Kobo and Apple, for instance.

Amazon is also asking for these rights for five years. That’s a long time. Now, there is a caveat that if the author doesn’t get at least $25,000 ($5,000 a year on average) from that agreement, then the author can cancel the contract. Otherwise, Amazon can renew the contract under the same conditions in five year increments.

On the low end, if Amazon totally fails to be able to market the book, then the author can get his or her rights back in two years. A failure would be the book garnering less than $500 in royalties in the preceding 12 months. I think that’s a good deal.

Find out more information about the program here.

So what do you think about the program? It seems like it’s a relatively good deal to me unless I’m missing something big. Authors give up some things that I would like to keep, but in giving up those things, I think authors get something better.

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