Everything you need to publish
Just over a decade ago, self-publishing was prohibitively expensive for a lot of writers. Print-on-demand has been a game-changer for writers and the industry alike. Not only does it mean that publishers can keep specialist titles in print and up-to-date easily without committing to huge print runs, it means that writers can take control of their own work in an affordable way.
Print-on-demand means that when someone orders a copy of your book a single copy is printed speedily and delivered to them. And it is done at a price that allows both printer, distributor and writer to take a cut. It isn’t perfect and there are things that large scale printers can do in terms of special treatments that POD simply can’t but it is nevertheless the most affordable and flexible way of bringing your paperback book to an audience.
There are a few print-on-demand paperback platforms: Kindle Direct (Amazon), IngramSpark and Lulu being some of the main players. It’s worth exploring these websites as part of your research. You can note what they offer, what they charge and weigh up which one is right for you. Most have royalty and print price calculators you can play with to see what sort of retail price you might be selling at and how much royalty you might expect per copy. These calculators are based on the physical size of your book so you will have to estimate your page extent but it is useful to explore these tools and familiarise yourself with them.
It’s worth remembering that these platforms are printers and not publishers so (unless you sign an exclusive agreement with any of them (Kindle Select asks for this with eBooks when you opt in) you can use two or more in tandem. They also differ in the distribution reach they have. IngramSpark opens up avenues for distribution to bookshops and therefore requires your book to have a Nielsen ISBN (more on this in the next post). This allows readers to walk into a physical bookstore and order your book. However, IngramSpark do not actively market your book to bookstores, so this benefit might be minimal if your readers are more likely to buy through online retailers and you don’t feel like negotiating discounts and returns with bookstores. Kindle offer an enhanced distribution option but again, this has its limitations. I am happy to discuss with clients what the best platform or platforms are in terms of their strategy both short and long term. When we published fiction through our indie press, we fulfilled our Amazon orders via Kindle Direct and our bookshop orders through IngramSpark to meet the needs of both online and offline buyers.
The eBook market is huge and you definitely want to make sure your book is available digitally.
There are number of platforms you can use: Kindle (Amazon); Kobo and iBooks being some of the main players. The IngramSpark platform offers eBook distribution to these platforms but you can secure more royalty per sale for yourself if you are happy to open accounts directly with the retailers and upload your files to them yourself. After the initial work of uploading, managing your accounts is quite easy and it gives you direct access to your sales in real-time and maximum flexibility on your pricing and marketing copy. Again, the choice is up to you and that’s why it’s worth spending some time researching which platform/s are the best fit for you and your book.
Now let’s move onto the business of ISBNs and the all important metadata.