First question: You stated that CreateSpace users need thier own ISBN. Does that still hold true in light of the new expanded distibution program implemented in December?
Response: Just to clarify, I did not say that Createspace users need their own ISBN. You are free to use the one provided free by Createspace, just understand that in using their ISBN you lose control over how that ISBN number is used. Remember that all the advice I provide is based on the premise that the author retains as much control and flexibility over their book as possible. So, using the CS ISBN won't have any impact on your Amazon sales but once we get into bookstores things get a little stickier. You can check out my second or third post in January which goes into why authors need to retain as much control as possible.
Createspace and Expanded Distribution
I must admit that while I use Createspace for Amazon sales and printing services, I am not sold on the effectiveness of the expanded distribution program. I think many authors who use it have not done enough homework to understand how it really works. So here are some key issues that I have with the program.
- Expanded distribution does not allow you, as an author, to accept returns. Why is that important? Because one of the key things major retailers expect before they stock your book is that your book will be returnable if your book doesn't sell well. If it's not returnable most won't stock it. So, to offer a program that's supposed to get your books into bookstores without offering returnability is pretty pointless.
- Createspace, as I understand it, does not disclose how much of that 60% wholesale discount actually goes to the stores. Why is that important? Because most major retailers won't stock your book unless they receive a wholesale discount of 40-55%--the higher the better. If Createspace is only offering 35%, as an example, then most likely a store isn't going to stock your book. So, again, the program is useless. Even with a higher discount, the returnability issue may hurt your chances. You really need to be able to offer both.
- Too many authors think that a listing in Ingram means a bookstores and libraries will just start stocking your book. This couldn't be further from the truth. An Ingram listing only makes your book available through a store's normal distribution channel so that if by some miracle they find it, they could purchase it. But the chances of them flipping through a catalog of hundreds of thousands of books, seeing your independently published book, and picking it up--with all the traditional publisher salespeople beating down their door to get their books on the shelves--has about the same probability as a second virgin birth. It ain't gonna happen. If you enroll in the ED program and you aren't sending out letters and postcards, visiting, or calling retailers to get your book in libraries and bookstores, don't expect your book to magically appear on the shelves. Not gonna happen.
There are a few positives about the program:
- You book gets listed on Barnes & Noble.com
- Your book gets listed with the International Amazon retailers
These things happen even if you do nothing. And the more places your book can be found, the more exposure it gets.
Baker & Taylor
Okay, so I spoke previously about having a time getting my book listed with Baker & Taylor so that I could be in the Borders Bookstore distribution chain and get my book on the shelves. Another author indicated that there was a way to do it, but suggested I purchase his new book to find out. Of course I wasn't going to do that because I'm the cheap indie author!! But I spent an hour yesterday figuring out a solution and here it goes. So--if your book is already listed with Lightning Source and you want to expedite the listing on Baker and Taylor, here's what you need to do.
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
In the email, explain that you are listed with Lightning Source and would like to get your book listed on Baker & Taylor. Include in the email your company name, your name, address, contact phone number and ISBN(s) and book titles EXACTLY as they appear on your Lightning Source account.
Once they receive this information, they will list your book in Baker & Taylor's systems as an inactive listing. When they notify you via email that your company information is listed, you will log onto Lightning Source, fill out their help form or call your customer service rep...and ask them to transmit your information to Baker & Taylor. At that point, B&T can pick up your information. But they can't pick it up before they put your information in their system--so the first email is the KEY.
And that's it. It can take up to a week for the listing to go live with B&T (maybe longer). But you'll know your book is available when it shows up on Borders.com
I think that's about all for today.
Until Next Time,
Keep it real...and keep it real cheap!