The one thing an author wants is to get her work into as many venues as possible. While an online presence is mandatory, I also crave having my books in bookstores and libraries. Here’s my journey so far, and I’m sorry if it seems technical and perhaps boring (history is sooo much more interesting), but I thought you might want to see what it’s like to be an independent author. In other words, feel my pain!
I put my smaller works out through Lulu. I like working on the site and, although the print copies cost a bit more, it’s worth it to work with a smaller organization that seems to interface with all distributions channels.
For longer books, though, I used Amazon’s CreateSpace, because the print cost was much lower. I put out two books through it: A Time to Heal and Seeing the Elephant. The trouble with going through CreateSpace is that, even though I purchase my own ISBN numbers, a book gets classified as a “CreateSpace” product (CS) – and some libraries and bookstores shy away from that because it’s a clear indicator that the book was authored by an independent writer (someone whose work is not published through an established publishing house).
Indie authors must find people to do the editing, formatting, and cover design for them – or do it themselves. Also, it’s stupidly easy to put something out through CreateSpace, which is user-friendly. So, CreateSpace has a downside in that poorly edited, formatted, and designed material can get published. Hence, the bias against indie authors. We’re sort of the Wild West of publishing: we can do anything and there’s no real oversight. You can find some excellent indie authors out there and some terrifyingly bad ones.
Enter Ingram, which distributes to libraries, booksellers, online sellers, and so on. It’s good to get your work in the Ingram catalog because more sellers and distributors are likely to see it and maybe purchase it. I’m not sure if CreateSpace titles get listed in the Ingram catalog, but I do know that I may reach more people through Ingram than CreateSpace. So, I took a big step and “retired” my titles on Create Space and am in the process of putting them out through IngramSpark (Ingram’s a platform for indie authors).
However, I also learned that, although my work will be listed on Amazon, a potential buyer may receive a “there will be a delay” notice about their purchase, as Amazon is less likely to keep a few copies of my book on hand. That means it will need to be printed through Ingram and either sent to Amazon or the purchaser directly. In our world of instant gratification, this might be a problem.
The good news is that I can always “un-retire” my work on CreateSpace, which I very well might do later if I find I’m not getting sales through Ingram alone. My action won’t create a conflict because each book then will have two ISBN numbers: one for CreateSpace, which they already have, and one for Ingram, which I now have. I usually purchase 10 ISBN numbers at a time because in the end it is much cheaper, and you never know when you’ll need one!
Are your eyes crossing yet? Welcome to my world.
Long story short, A Time to Heal, with a slightly-tweaked cover (see above), soon will be available through Ingram’s distribution listings. It will be followed by Seeing the Elephant, the cover of which I quite like.
This has been a very technical blog, but I think it’s helpful for readers to know what authors, especially indie authors, do to get their work out there.
One last thought. I’d like to put the older copies of A Time to Heal up for sale at the Squeaking Pips Store and give a percentage of the proceeds to our church’s youth group. You see, we’re raising funds to travel to Houston, so we can help repair houses damaged by last summer’s hurricanes. Yes, buildings still need repair! Just because you don’t hear about something on the news doesn’t mean it’s not there. After all, Superstorm Sandy struck New Jersey in 2012 and some people still aren’t in their homes.
Check in tomorrow. I’ll be posting some pictures from our youth group's latest fundraiser: cleaning people’s yards up, now that spring is finally here (we think!).
Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder