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IngramSpark

Crumbly Writer

For the 2 or 3 authors here who self-publish, I wanted to float some publishing ideas. Everyone else can ignore the post.

Based on positive comments on LinkedIn, I've spent the past couple days investigating this company. The main argument was they use LightningSource (?), which supposedly has better and more reliable printing techniques than others (namely, CreateSpace). However, their main point was that retailers don't refuse to stock CS based on their association with Amazon (despite their claims in that regard), but because of the difficult terms they employ (booksellers are unable to return unsold books, and few Indie authors are willing to leave books on a consignment basis).

However, the costs associated with the service are prohibitive. Not only is their formatting process intimidating, their fee structure is prohibitive. They charge a $45 free annual fee, just for the privilege of publishing. What's worse (the $45 fee can simply be justified as a one-time investment), they charge $25 for any story modifications! That means, if you discover typos, or a missing chapter, you've got to pay them a fee before they'll even consider fixing it. That includes such simple changes as switching paper types (because you discover your text disappears on their white stock).

They also charge more, per copy, than CS, though on the other hand, their cost-per-copy to the rest of the world is supposedly cheaper.

Perhaps, worst of all, their biggest sin is they list dozens of book sizes, but they charge a flat fee with a per-page count. That means you'd be an idiot to print anything other than 6"x9", because you'll pay 2 or 3 times the cost printing anything smaller because it'll end up with more pages, despite the fact they print fewer total pages at those sizes due to duplex printing (i.e. they print 16 pages per sheet of paper rather than merely 4).

As far as their 'more reliable printing' (CS typically trims off text and images because their printers don't hold the stock steady during printing), I haven't found that supported by their formatting guides. If I do print with them, my 200 page book would expand to 230 pages. While I can consistently squeeze my stories into .25" margins on every side on CS, IS requires .5" plus additional bleed and trim margins. What the hell's the point with more reliable printing if it increases the amount of wasted blank paper per page!

Still, I'm considering giving them a shot, just to see if it's easier to get carried by established bookstores. I've never been able to sell to any local bookstores, despite having many local friends eager to promote and purchase my books. And as I said, that seems to be the feedback from those who've used them (they sell many more books to bookstores than the typical Indie books).

Just wondering whether anyone's considered them, or might, or if anyone even cares?

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer


Still, I'm considering giving them a shot,


I recommend giving them a shot with Number 2 shot from both barrels of a ten gauge shotgun. They sound closer to a vanity press than an indie publisher.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

I recommend giving them a shot with Number 2 shot from both barrels of a ten gauge shotgun. They sound closer to a vanity press than an indie publisher.

Apparently, they're a small-staffed local startup (i.e. they don't have enough volume to invest in their automation, automation, or to cover their basic costs). However, the costs of nothing compared to the actual Vanity Presses. Instead of charging you thousands of dollars and shipping you hundreds of books you can't sell, they charge more for a more reliable book which can be sold in most bookstores.

While I may complain about the fees, they aren't close to a vanity press. Still, it makes self-publishing much more expensive when you start adding $50 here, $25 there, require extra coding here and extra formatting there.

But that's why I posted it. I was wondering whether anyone else thought selling in traditional bookstores was even worth the effort or not.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


I was wondering whether anyone else thought selling in traditional bookstores was even worth the effort or not.


Bookstore shelf space is limited. I'd be shocked if your bookstore would take up space with your self-published book. There are all kinds of deals made between the publisher and bookstore to get shelf space.

richardshagrin

@Ernest Bywater

I recommend giving them a shot with Number 2 shot from both barrels of a ten gauge shotgun.

How about a shot of whiskey? Or for non-Americans, a shot of whisky.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

But that's why I posted it. I was wondering whether anyone else thought selling in traditional bookstores was even worth the effort or not


In the past I've seen a few mobs who make promises like that, but yet to see or hear of any books they promote actually on a bookstore shelf.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightning_Source

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingram_Content_Group

The more I look at them, the more they remind me of American Star Books - formerly Publish America - which charges you for service to promote your book, but no one outside of their own staff authors seems to be able to sell any books to anyone.

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

A 'professional author' whose talk I attended got his novel stocked in his local branch of Waterstone's (major UK bookstore chain) and even held a signing session there.

The novel has zero reviews on Amazon and I decided it was unreadable after two pages.

AJ

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Here's a discussion about them at Absolute Write:

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?315999-Please-tell-me-about-your-experiences-with-Ingram-Spark

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

Just checked the current state of the nation with Lulu's distribution partners, and found this information:

Lulu offers free print and eBook distribution options that will get your book into the global marketplace. This network reaches online print book retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and retailers in the Ingram catalog network. Lulu also provides eBooks distribution (English content only) for Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, and all online eBooks distributors associated with the Ingram network.

Now this link has some interesting info on the print book distribution system, please note Distribution Fees is what the Distribution Partner takes for their bank account, and in the example shown a book selling for $14.95 where the print cost is $5.50 it has $7.47 taken by the Partner and you get $1.58 out of the sale.

http://www.lulu.com/sell

what size books can be sold through the networks is here:

http://connect.lulu.com/t5/ISBN-Distribution/Which-Products-are-Eligible-for-Retail-Distribution/ta-p/33150

..................

I don't use the distribution system for print books, but my understanding is it's Print on Demand and all they do is list it on their website, so they don't have any on the shelves at all. Don't know how you'd go about getting them on the shelves at a local store.

edit ti add: Note it includes the Ingram Network now.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Here's a discussion about them at Absolute Write:

Thanks, Switch. That helps. I'm still not sure whether IS is the way to go (the cost is still intimidating, given I don't know whether I'll sell any at all). I'll have to check out BookBaby again, though I doubt they'll offer a similar return policy.

As Ernest probably realizes, lulu offers the same LS services (both the good (accepted by bookstores) and negative aspects). So either BookBaby and/or lulu should at least get me into local bookstores (of which only 2 (owned by the same people) allow local authors to give presentations. Chances are, they won't order any anyway (since it's a local decision), but will sell consignment versions.

I may try local speaking engagements, though I'm unsure which local groups (Lions, Rotarians, etc.) would be interested in sci-fi.

As far as library sales, I sold one ebook to a library years ago (never again), and the one I donated to the local library (for my friends to read) sat in a warehouse 'being reviewed' for months, only to end up in Raleign (five hours drive away), so I have little interest in pursuing library sales.

My brother published a book for Tate, who gets horrid reviews online for their abysmal terms (he signed a 3-book deal, so until he writes another two books, he's not allowed to publish anywhere else). However, he's done a decent job selling books (he gets a box of 200 hundred, selling them a few at a time before, selling the entire box before ordering again). However, his book is about hunting, and he owns a hunting and guide service and is constantly visiting craft shows promoting his carving business, so comparisons between our situations probably aren't realistic.

Replies:   richardshagrin
docholladay
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


There are all kinds of deals made between the publisher and bookstore to get shelf space.


Possible for companies like Walmart or others where a home office controls inventories for all the outlets.

For other bookstores that are locally owned and operated the link is between the Distributor(wholesaler) and the bookstore(retailer). In both cases its surprising how many let the distributor choose what books are displayed for sale instead of the store management. A recipe for a lousy turnover rate in actual sales. Because the distributors get higher returns based on certain books or genres from the publishers. The only exceptions are the top 10 list books which usually have a minimum stocking requirement per book.

Just notice how over a period of time the selection which is balanced during the store opening changes to one or two genres for the majority of the stock. Those are the books the wholesaler makes the most money on.

High markup is fine when the sales volume allows it.

Low markup with a high sales volume can actually make more profits however as a rule.

Look at how long titles remain on display and what genres they are in. That wholesaler is not in business to make the individual store owner's business profitable, but to make the wholesaler/distributor money.

edited to add: Its another way the major publishers have actually hurt the dead tree writers. The publisher gives higher markups for certain genres than others with a return deadline of about 30-60 days for unsold titles. The only time a title should remain on display longer than the return time is if its a constant turnover so worth keeping in stock. I have seen a few of those in different stores.

richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

he gets a box of 200 hundred

HOW MANY? 20000? Must be a big box.

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