The 4-1-1 on Indie Distribution
I have had a lot of questions about marketing (basically how I did it with UNDERTOW). I will answer those at a later date (not because I am trying to be sneaky – I am just literally crushed for time).
Instead, I wanted to convey how I released the title, because when it comes to ISBNs and rights, the publishing world has some wild waters to navigate. Please note that I do all layout and cover graphics MYSELF (which saves me a sizable fortune).
So, I learned early on that I needed to own my ISBNs and buy them DIRECTLY from Bowker. DO NOT BUY FROM ANYWHERE ELSE. Places that sell “discount identifiers” will list themselves as publisher and then you end up in a sticky-wicket in regards to rights. Suck it up and cough out the dough. I bought 10 at $250.00 plus a bar code for $25.00
So, once I owned my ISBN, I went to CreateSpace and uploaded my cover art and interior file and ordered a proof ($35.00 I think). I used MY ISBN (they will say “for extended distribution, we will use OUR CreateSpace assigned ISBN”). DON’T DO IT – DO NOT CHOOSE EXTENDED DIST. That Createspace ISBN will not be able to be used ANYWHERE else and therefore titles that are published by Lightning Source won’t take the book title and you will need a new ISBN. You asks, “Well that’s okay, right?” WRONG. You want all your paperback books of that edition to have the same ISBN for sales recording. Extended distribution will be handled by Lightning Source (keep reading . . .).
Once Createspace (aka AMAZON) had the Print-On-Demand copy set for UNDERTOW, I also went into Kindle Direct and set the file up as an ebook (.mobi file). I had KDP do this for $80. It was worth it – trust me. I chose NOT to do the Premier package and get 5 days to set my book for “free” because I wouldn’t be allowed to sell it anywhere else as an ebook for 90 days. Not happening. Plus, I could drop it to $.99 without being in the premier program. I have learned that .99 is basically the same as free in the eyes of consumers.
THEN I went to Lightning Source (this is not for the faint of heart). After a LONG road, they set up the title for POD (Print on Demand) into the world-wide Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and Books in Print catalogs. PAIN IN THE ASS. Why do it then? Because bookstores (large and small), libraries, and schools do not buy through Amazon and CreateSpace – they buy through Ingram. And the only way to get into Ingram without stocking in their warehouse is to set up a POD. You can pay a fortune to Author House to do this (and Lulu) OR torment yourself and save a few thousand and do it yourself. I did it myself. I spent around $150 so far with them (versus $1000 + through Author House).
While LS was SLOWLY loading my title (and it is still loading I think), I also needed an ebook distributer. I was handling Amazon myself (long story on why I chose to do this). I found BookBaby to be a great resource for distribution. They converted the book and uploaded it to all the channels I requested (listed on the top of this blog in the header). For $350 (I think) they set up everything and take nothing for royalties. I highly recommend them.
I also set up UNDERTOW as print for small off-set runs with a local printer, COUNTRY PRESS, in Lakeville. I have been very pleased with them. I did this to get the book circulating into small stores, libraries, giveaways, etc. I could have used CreateSpace, but they charge quite a fee for shipping books. Country Press charges me about $5.05 a book and I pick them up – no one can touch that. I have run 140 books with them so far. I will let you calculate THAT total.
So, in sum, consumers can buy a print copy of UNDERTOW from any number of local books sellers (large and small) and online through the big players (Barnes & Noble and Amazon).
They can buy an ebook everywhere as well, including walking right into Barnes and Noble, paying the cashier and it will upload instantly to their Nook (or Nook account, which is now readable on iPad – SEE? There’s an App for that!).
Plus, B&N has a Starbucks . . .