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Why you need IngramSpark AND CreateSpace – UPDATED


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?


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.”


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.


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





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.






Your First Day as a Publisher.


The book is done. Congratulations! You have put your whole back into the huge task of writing, editing, polishing and finishing the book that has been your life’s work for ages.

Send the manuscript to the designer and pour yourself a well-deserved glass of ginger-ale.


Now, welcome to your new job as Publisher. (You may have the nagging feeling that you should have started this job months ago, but better late than never! Let’s get started!)

Now that you are no longer a writer, you can dedicate yourself fulltime as a publisher, marketer, sales rep, publicist and social media specialist. These jobs with all of their various elements and duties will take up the next year or more of your life.

So, how do you get started? What do you do first?

Here is a partial list of essential-do-not-skip job duties that every Publisher has:

1. Choose a Publisher name. Don’t make it anything that connects to your name or the title of the book. The publishing house name/imprint should be independent and professional sounding (example: Democracy Publications). There are many reasons to publish under your own imprint name:

 a. Your book will be taken more seriously than if it is listed in all the databases as published by a vanity press or CreateSpace.
b. Bookstores will be much more likely to consider stocking your book if they do not have to purchase it from their biggest competitor, Amazon/CreateSpace.
c. You can control the costs and pricing and save money.
d. Reviewers will give your book a more serious consideration.

2. Sign your publisher name up with Bowker at www.myidentifiers.com. Name, address, phone, email, website (if you have one)

3. Buy set of ISBNs (Don’t buy one. You will need more than one soon and they are inexpensive in groups of 10) from www.myindentifiers.com.

4. Pull all of your book data into the ISBN management section: title, subtitle, price, ISBN, eBook ISBN, eBook price, trim size, page count, word count, category, age group– into book ISBN fields at www.myidentifiers.com (this will start the process of getting your book’s data out to the world and make it easier for the sales to be tracked.) Do not skip this!

5. Find at least 5 books that compete for your same readers and learn why your book is similar to them and why your book is better. You will need this when you are selling your book to stores or doing research or writing a cover letter to a reviewer. These 5 books will help you in numerous ways. Take your time with it and ask for help if needed.

6. Decide if you want to be in bookstores and libraries. (REALLY research what it takes to be in those venues… it is not as easy an answer as you would think) Do the math… how much money will you make per book after printing, distribution and shipping costs?

7. Decide how you are going to print and distribute your book. Should you use a Print on Demand service such as Lightning Source or CreateSpace? (there is nothing wrong with USING CreateSpace, I just recommend not putting their name all over your book.) So… POD or would it be better to print a few thousand copies and sell through a distributor? Look at the numbers, ask your local bookstore, find out everything you can.

8. However you decide to proceed , sign up with the POD company, distribution, or fulfillment company and provide them with your book data.

9. Get endorsements and marketing plan and executable PR program together.

10. Spend as much time in bookstores and online learning everything you can about your market and your book category.

This is by no means a complete list, but these are some ESSENTIAL items that should be completed as soon as you decide to take on the job of publisher.

All of these items should be completed before you are done writing the book.



Math Lessons For Small Presses – Part 3



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!


Math Lessons for Small Presses – Part 2


Lesson #2

WHOLESALERS and how they sell books:

Book wholesalers are companies that buy books from publishers at a deep discount and hold them in their warehouses so that Internet and “brick and mortar” stores can order the books from them. Bookstores like to use wholesalers for a number of reasons: namely speed, convenience, and less financial exposure.

Book Distribution is not easy!

When a bookstore orders a book from a wholesaler, they will usually get their order in twenty-four hours. Next-day service is the standard from the top wholesalers. The discount a store can usually expect to receive off the retail price of the book from a wholesaler is 40 to 45 percent. What the bookstore loses in profit margin, they often make up in convenience and risk reduction. A book ordered from a wholesaler can be combined and shipped with hundreds of other books.

Some stores hire wholesalers to stock, manage, and handle all aspects of their book departments. There are large “big-box” chains that happily hand their title selection and discount negotiations over to a wholesaler that will manage the entire department for them. The same can sometimes be true for libraries. There are many U.S. library systems dependent upon wholesalers for all their new books. People at the chain or library office work with the wholesalers and oversee the choices, but how closely that is managed depends upon each individual situation.

The difference between a wholesaler and a distributor is this: A distributor works FOR the publisher.  A publisher hires them to handle the warehousing, shipping, order processing and sales of their book.  A wholesaler does not work for a publisher, they are the publisher’s customer.  They buy books from the publisher and resell to THEIR customers.

Most wholesalers have the word “distributor” in their name. This is to identify them as companies that distribute books to bookstores and libraries, but they are not the same sort of distributor that you need when B&N sends you a letter telling you to “get a distributor”.

If you want your book to have a chance at a bookstore chain like Barnes & Noble or BooksAMillion, and if you don’t want to hire a distributor, a wholesaler is your next best bet.

The two biggest book wholesalers for the book industry right now are Ingram and Baker & Taylor. You can find their application processes on their websites. Send your books in with the proper paperwork and try to get your titles into at least one of these wholesaler’s warehouses.  Ingram and B&T do not usually take small presses, but B&T will sign up a small publisher if they have enough marketing and sales plans to support the book.

Ingram has recently partnered with IBPA and through them, a small press CAN get listed in Ingram’s system.  However, only a very small fraction of those books get ordered and stock at Ingram.  Only the books with strong demand get stocked, the rest are just listed and Ingram will order a book from the publisher when a store backorders one.  (and the kicker?  Most bookstores will not back order.)

Remember, if you get an order, you will be selling your books to the wholesaler at a discount of at least 55 percent. They will usually order only as many as they need to fulfill the demand coming in from their customers … stores and libraries. If they are overstocked or books come back from the stores, they will return those books to you for a full refund. (Having fun yet?)

So, back to the math:

A book priced at retail is $16.95

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

The wholesaler has paid $7.63 for the book.

They then turn around and sell it to the bookstore for $9.83 (40% discount off of the retail)

The wholesaler pays for the overnight shipping and packing materials.  The profit for the wholesaler is $2.20

Many of my clients want to know why they have to give so much of the profit to distributors and wholesalers. The short answer is: they don’t.  It is possible to convince your local stores to stock your book on consignment or to sell them directly on Amazon yourself.  However, the shipping costs, time spent and number of venues that will not take your book often turn out to cost publishers FAR more than a wholesaler’s cut….


Distributors vs. Wholesalers


What is the difference between WHOLESALERS and DISTRIBUTORS?

A Distributor will sell and promote your books to the bookstores and libraries. They will have reps contact the stores and wholesalers who are most likely to want your book and pitch them the merits of your title.

A wholesaler has a warehouse and is a passive company that will purchase books from you, and then resell the books. They do not pitch your books, they wait and handle incoming orders only.

A distributor also has a warehouse.  But they are not passive.  They will store, pick, ship, invoice and collect on your behalf as well as handle customer service and most likely offer sales and marketing services as well. They are not your customer, they work for you.  You give them money in exchange for the services they do for you.

A wholesaler is your customer.  They buy books from you.  Some of the bigger ones are called Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Bookazine, Brodart, New Leaf and Quality.

Ingram and Baker & Taylor are two of the largest book wholesalers in North America and they have warehouses all over the US.  These warehouse hold book and when a retailer (bookstore or library) asks for a book, Ingram or B&T will send it to them.  Both Ingram and Baker & Taylor offer distribution services as well, but only to a certain group of publishers and even though they have the word DISTRIBUTION in their names, they are most likely not distributing your books.

When a bookstore asks who your distributor is, you should be using names like NBN, IPG, New Shelves Distribution, Atlas Books or Book Hub.  Ingram and B&T are not your distributor, but the bookstores will be happy to know that your book is available at those wholesalers.


“I want to sell a million copies”


I hear this sentence at least three times a day.  A million copies. The magic number.  Just thought I’d throw a few more magic numbers out there….

Here is a brief run down of Stephen King’s latest marketing program for his last book from an October 2011 Wall Street Journal Article.

Mr. King and his publisher, Scribner, face an odd challenge as they unleash an elaborate marketing campaign to promote “11/22/63.” How do you rebrand one of the world’s most famous and successful living authors? Scribner is targeting history buffs with book-giveaway promotions on bio.com and history sites. To reach news junkies, the publisher bought ad time on 11 p.m. news programs in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. The 30-second ad, which will also run on the CNN airport network and on the A&E and Syfy networks, shows archival footage of Kennedy’s Dallas motorcade, with a voice-over that says, “What if instead of justwatching history, you could change it?” Mr. King’s book tour will include appearances at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston and at the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, the site Oswald fired from. The Dallas museum is preparing to host 1,000 people.

So what do we take away from this?

Mr. King has a huge following and decades of New York Times Best Sellers behind him.

He was on the road for weeks doing events in high-profile locations.

His publisher purchased ads on CNN, A&E the 11pm news in major markets.

Scribner also launched a multi-platform online campaign that gave away over 3000 books.

The magic number since the book released last November?  According to Bookscan, Mr. King has sold 576,361 copies across all formats.

One of the best-selling authors of all time spent over a hundred thousand dollars on marketing with his publisher and even with eBook sales included, did not reach a million copies.

What is the real magic number?

It starts with the amount of time you spend getting the package of your book right

It is followed by the number of months you spend planning and orchestrating your launch

Right behind that is the number of ads and programs you participate in.

But that last number does not count much unless the ads and programs are in top venues (USA TODAY, PEOPLE, CNN…)

Next up is the number of PR and marketing professionals you are working with.

Then is there are the amount of reviews you get

A BIG number is how many retailers are getting your marketing and PR information to convince the buyers to buy your book.

Finally, there is the elusive “tipping point” number.  How many people have to love and recommend your book before it takes on a life of its own?

So what is the answer to the question “what are the right numbers for my book?”.

It is different for everybody, but start with THOSE numbers and THEN tell the world how many you plan on selling.  If you are going to spend 20 hours and $4000 on sales and marketing, your book will not “catch fire”.  The stories of books that grow from nothing and become huge successes have enormous numbers behind them. Numbers of hours, numbers of dollars, numbers of supporters…. the ratio varies, but the totals are the same.  At least a million….