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Why you need IngramSpark AND CreateSpace – UPDATED

 By Amy Collins (previously published at www.buildbookbuzz.com)

I have been asked one question more than any other: “Do I need IngramSpark if I have CreateSpace?”

I know it’s tempting to avoid the extra expense and hassle of taking on a second print on demand (POD) provider, but I want to take a moment and share some of the experiences we’ve had at New Shelves Books with our POD work.  I hope these statements help you determine if you need one or both.

So . . . do you need both?

Yes:

  • CreateSpace does a terrific job with Amazon.
  • CreateSpace charges less for printing and set up fees than IngramSpark.
  • CreateSpace does offer “extended distribution” for bookstores and libraries (sort of . . . more later).
  • IngramSpark charges set up fees and a lot more for proofs than CreateSpace does.

But:

  • CreateSpace’s “extended distribution” is only fully available to those books using a CreateSpace ISBN. (You should always buy your own ISBNs and have a direct relationship with your book’s brand and ISBNs.)
  • Even if your book has extended distribution and can be bought by bookstores, it most likely won’t be. Bookstores do not relish the idea of giving their biggest competitor money.
  • Books in extended distribution ARE listed at Ingram Wholesalers, but NON-RETURNABLE and at a lesser discount so bookstores and libraries do not get the good terms that they would if they could buy from YOU at IngramSpark.
  • In addition, the extended distribution offered by CreateSpace is actually IngramSpark! CreateSpace uses IngramSpark for the distribution. It does not, however, offer competitive discounts to the bookstores, further narrowing your chances of being stocked.
  • You will be instantly relegated to the pile of “self-published” books before the buyer has a chance to review the quality.
  • IngramSpark allows your book the chance to be ordered in many countries and formats that CreateSpace does not.

So:

  • Use CreateSpace for Amazon. It does a great job and takes less money for each sale.
  • Use IngramSpark in addition so that your book can be ordered by the bookstores and libraries from the large wholesalers with which they prefer doing business.
  • Use your own (Bowker-provided) ISBN so that you have the benefits of your publishing company’s brand on all databases.
  • Don’t cheap out. IngramSpark and CreateSpace are two different tools for two different markets. If you don’t want to be in the retail store and library market, then you don’t need IngramSpark. But if stores and libraries are your goal, then spend the money to provide the books to them in the manner that gives them the best chance of saying “yes.”

Finally

If you really cannot stand the thought of using more than one POD provider, go with IngramSpark. It will allow you access to more venues even if it makes you less money per unit.

IngramSpark and CreateSpace take all comers.

Library of Congress, Cataloging Data, and Bowker, Oh My…

Do you have questions about how to register your book with the Library of Congress?  Not sure where to go to register your book for Books in Print?

You can register your book with the Library of Congress if your publisher has more than 4 books published and registered.

However, there are ways around this rule. Library of Congress registration and a valid, properly formatted CIP block on your copyright page are some of the items that separate the “men from the boys” marketing-wise.

If you are a small press with fewer than 4 titles and want the benefits of a Library of Congress Registration and a Catalog-in-Publication block, the follow these steps:

1. Make sure your publisher name is not trademarked. It does not matter if you have a publisher with a similar or identical name as someone else UNLESS it is trademarked. Go here to find out: http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/index.jsp

There will be another article later on the benefits and detriments of similar or identical publisher names at a later date….

2. Register your publishing name and your TITLE information at Bowker. Go here: https://www.myidentifiers.com/

Libraries and Bookstores will look up your information on Bowker. Don’t skip or skimp this step. A fully fleshed out profile and title data listing on your ISBN log will make a good impression. A poorly executed profile or title data block will make a bad one.

3. Apply to the Library of Congress for a Preassigned Control Number. Go here: http://www.loc.gov/publish/pcn/
From the LOC website: A Library of Congress catalog control number is a unique identification number that the Library of Congress assigns to the catalog record created for each book in its cataloged collections. Librarians use it to locate a specific Library of Congress catalog record in the national databases and to order catalog cards from the Library of Congress or from commercial suppliers. The purpose of the Preassigned Control Number (PCN) program is to enable the Library of Congress to assign control numbers in advance of publication to those titles that may be added to the Library’s collections.

4. Once you have all of that done, it is time to get a CIP. A Cataloging in Publication record (aka CIP data) is a bibliographic record prepared by the Library of Congress or one of its vendors for a book that has not yet been published. When the book is published, the publisher includes the CIP data on the copyright page thereby facilitating book processing for libraries and book dealers.

It is not possible to get a CIP from the LOC if the book is Print on Demand, subsidized in any way by the author or published by a house that has published books by fewer than three separate authors.

Do not despair! You can get a CIP data block from a vendor. Libraries want the data in a specific way and you can hire someone to provide that to you. Check out these guys:http://www.dgiinc.com/pcip/

or these guys: http://www.quality-books.com/pcipintro.php

You are now on your way!

How To Do Your Own eBook Distribution – UPDATED

Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, Nook, Sony, Blio…. UPDATED FOR MARCH 2014

Here are some questions that keep authors up nights:

1. What is the best way to get my ebook up on all the major platforms?
2. How do I get set up?
3. What files do I use?
4. Do I use Smashwords? BookBaby?
5. Do I need to pay someone a cut or a fee to do my ebook distribution?

AAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!

Here are the answers:

1. The best way to get your ebook out up on all major platforms is to spend an hour setting up accounts with Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Googlebooks and iTunes. The rest can wait. Seriously. Kindle alone is over 90% of ebook sales; so with Nook, Kobo, Googlebooks and iTunes included? You are ALL SET.

 

2. How do I get set up? EASY! Here are the links you need to set up your own accounts:

KINDLE
https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin 

NOOK
http://pubit.barnesandnoble.com/ 

KOBO
https://secure.kobobooks.com/auth/Kobo/login 

iBOOKS
https://itunesconnect.apple.com/   (make sure you have a MAC for this one… they do not let PC’s upload files)

GOOGLEBOOKS
https://books.google.com/partner/add-books-form

 

3. The files you will need are .epub and .prc. Most ebook platforms use .epub, but Kindle needs a .prc (or .mobi) file to look really good.

If you don’t know anyone who can turn your word document or pdf into a .epub or .prc file, email me at info@newshelves.com and I will get you hooked up. DO NOT pay more than $1 a page for this service. Too many authors are paying WAY too much!

 

4. You CAN use Bookbaby and Smashwords to do your book. They are both great companies, but they take a cut of your sales and very often the look of your ebook is not as professional or as top line as it should be. If you don’t mind giving up a percentage of your sales, they are a good option.

 

5. For about an hour of your time as an investment, however, you can EASILY set up your own accounts.
(At this point, I want to remind you all of something we here at New Shelves OFFER EBOOK DISTRIBUTION. We do it every day. I am telling you, you DO NOT NEED US to do your eBook distribution…. You can do it yourselves and save yourself the 50 cents a unit we charge or the hefty percentage that our competition charges. You can do it.)

 

6. As for the AAAARRRRGGGGHHHHH portion of the process? Here is a eBook account set up worksheet that will allow you to pull all of the information you need into one place before you start and that way you can move easily through the set up process on each platform.

 

Call me if you need any help.

 

So You Think Your Book Belongs in a Store?

It is every writer’s dream to see his or her book in the front window of the local bookstore. It is fun to imagine tall, colorful stacks of your books surrounded by throngs of curious readers flipping through the pages while others rush to the cash register with their copy. Feel free to continue this fantasy as you pound the keyboard, but if you’re interested in turning the vision into reality, then stop writing for a moment and read on.

The Four Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before your Finish your Book:

1. At what retailers do your readers shop?
Are you SURE? (Don’t guess – go to those places and make sure.)

 
Too often, I find myself assuming that I know something to be true because I believe it to be true. Things that used to be fact a few years ago may not be anymore… but I forget to take that into account. I have learned the hard way that before I make any plan that involves other people or money, I need to CHECK to make sure that what I THINK is actually SO.

2. Do those retailers buy books like yours?
Are you SURE? (See above)

3. How many of your types of books sell each week?
If you are going to be looking for a publisher or publishing yourself, you need to know what books like yours sell for. You also need to know how many units sell each month. That data will be KEY when presenting your book to an agent, a publisher, or a retailer. “I want to sell a million copies” is not a sales plan.  It is a fantasy.  If I told you that business books helping managers become better leaders only sell 23 copies a month at one of the major airport bookstore chains, what does that do to your financial plan?  You NEED the facts to make a solid plan… data, not wishes makes for a successful book.

4. Is your book as good as the ones already there? (Be honest and really LOOK at what is on the shelves already)

  • Is your cover as good as the ones on the shelves?
  • Are your priced competitively?
  • Does your book offer something new to the market?
  • Do you have the amount of reviews and endorsements that the books on the shelves do?
  • Are you going to spend the same amount of money on promoting your book that their publisher did?
  • Do you KNOW what the author and publisher did to promote their book and are you able to give it a similar amount of time and energy?
  • Do you have several good reasons why a buyer should risk their profit margin on an unknown author or book when they have proven successes already on their shelves?

Do You Have a Book Distributor? Are You Sure?

I had so much fun talking with the authors and indy publishers at AuthorU earlier this month.  Here is a snippet that explains in detail the difference between Wholesalers, Distributors and Fulfillment Houses.

Too often I get calls from authors/small press owners who tell me that they “have a distributor”… then they mention Ingram or Baker & Taylor.  CLOSE!  But no…. check out this 2 minute video to see why:

Book Distribution vs. Book Wholesalers

 

 

 

Prepare and Budget for the ENTIRE Life of Your Book

Most authors budget their time,money, and energy for the life of their book, but they forget that the book’s life span does not end when the book is printed… that is when it starts. A book’s life starts at it’s birth (the launch) and needs to be budgeted for.

Here is a video of my most recent talk on the Life of Your Book.  We will be covering this in more detail on Mentoring Mondays with Judith Briles starting June 3th.

 

 

Who Are Your Writing For? Where Are They? What Do They Buy? Why Will They Buy Your Book?

Shannon Parish(Check her out at SHANNON PARISH.COM)

Shannon did SUCH a nice job picturing the questions authors need to ask while they are writing. WHO they are writing for … WHO will buy their book … WHO/HOW they will market to it?

Here is the first one!  Enjoy!   I will be posting more soon!

 

New Customer Service Manager

New Shelves Publishing Services is pleased to announce that Tricia Martin has joined NSPS as our Customer Service Manager.

Tricia comes to us from her previous jobs as Project Coordinator and Office Manager in the technology industry.

Tricia’s attention to detail and organizational skills have impressed us greatly.  She has already come up with several key ideas to save us time and allow us to be more helpful to our clients.

Nicole Riley will still be handling all of the sales functions for New Shelves (and now she will have a lot more time to do so!) and Amy is always available if you need anything, but we are very excited about Tricia’s new position.

If you need reports, want to order shipments, if you have questions about anything, or need corrections/changes in our databases, please email Tricia at tricia@newshelves.com or feel free to call her at our main number: 518-261-1300.

 

 

 

 

What Are Book Store Buyers LOOKING For?

A client recently asked me.  What the %$#@! are book buyers looking for? He went on to say “My book is priced right, well-designed and exactly what older American’s are needing… what more can I do?”

I thought I would share my answer in the hopes that it might answer other questions out there.

If the book is well written, has a topic and message that will appeal to their customers, and is well designed, it has a good shot of getting a test order from a bookstore book buyer.

Keep in mind, there are more books published each year than could fit in 7 totally empty bookstores.  (And as you know, bookstores are not empty!)  Because of this, the buyers can only take a teeny fraction of what is presented to them.  Also, the buyers are judged (read: get to keep their jobs) by how many times their section “turns” a year.  The sales rate of their choices is closely monitored.  So they will pick books that they feel have the best chance to selling off the shelf several times a year.

That is where demand and platform comes in. If an author has a good platform, is reaching out to thousands, or tens of thousands of readers, is showing sales online (seen in Nielsen Bookscan reports) and has a strong PR plan with potential for a lot of media – the buyer will be far more likely to take the book in.

If the book does NOT have all of those things, then the buyer needs to see some other proof that the well-designed, beautifully-edited, fantastically-written, much-needed book won’t just sit on their shelves. There is a chance that someone will see your title on the spine on a crowded bookshelf and pick it up.  If they pick it up, there is a good chance that they might buy it. (If they need or want a book like yours). But a book buyer would much rather sweeten the chances of a “turn” by stocking books that will have browse-friendly qualities AND great press.  There are enough books out there that have great demand AND are great books to choose from.

Does your book have everything it needs PLUS good PR?  Is your book “All That” AND a bag of chips?

Math Lessons For Small Presses – Part 3

Lesson #3 – DISTRIBUTORS

Bookstores buy books from wholesalers and distributors. The major difference is that a wholesaler is publisher’s customer (wholesalers buy books from a publisher) and a distributor is a publisher’s employee (distributors sell their services to a publisher).

A distributor handles all of the après-production elements of getting a book onto a store’s shelves. Publishers agree to funnel all of their sales, warehousing, shipping, and billing through the distributor. They do this work for a percentage of the billing generated by the sale of the publisher’s books.

Like publishers, distributors sell a book to a wholesaler or bookstore at a discount of the retail price. That discount is usually between 45 and 55 percent.

So, if bookstores get about the same terms and about the same schedule, why do they go to a distributor instead of directly to the publisher? Some bookstores (especially bookstore chains) are not interested in setting up new, small, or regional publishers in their ordering and accounting systems for just a few books. They rightly weigh the benefits of a publisher’s book against the time and trouble necessary to order it, and if the balance does not come out in the book’s favor, they skip it. How do new and small publishers avoid this terrible fate? They sign exclusive agreements with a distributor.

A distributor’s cut varies from 25 to 35 percent of the net billing of each book. Just about every distributor has additional monthly fees, and most require an initial deposit for new clients.

Before you balk, keep in mind that it is very difficult, expensive, and time consuming to handle your own warehousing, purchase shipping materials, and learn how to ship exactly how each store wishes their shipments to arrive … and everyone is different. (It’s a little joke they like to play on publishers. I am convinced that bookstore owners get together every two years to devise slightly altered yet completely incomprehensible trafficking instructions.) Then comes the billing, monthly statements, handling claims for books damaged in transit, taking in returns, and reconciling the amount due with what the bookstore believes is due.

After that, consider the money and time it takes to tell the country’s thousands of buyers about your books. The sales reps working for distributors have long-standing relationships with the book buyers in your hometown, across the country, and in the major chains. You would not be able to start a fledgling relationship on your own with these buyers. What an experienced sales rep can often do with a phone call, you could rarely accomplish with six months and a great deal of research, e-mails, flyers, catalogs, paperwork, and free samples.

 

Back to the math!

A book priced at retail is $16.95

A distributor sells it to a wholesaler for $7.63 (55% discount)

The distributor will charge the publisher on average $2.15 to handle that order.

Shipping and other fees will cost about $1.30 cents a book (give or take)

The publisher gets $4.18 for the book from the distributor 6 months later when the payment comes in.

After the productions costs of $3.25 are taken into consideration, the end profit is about .93 cents a book.

(AND the distributor does most of the work)

 

So there you have it.  Math by an English Major for Publishers. Let me know if you have any questions!