Where’s the print edition? The Mess Behind Self-Publishing

The moment I list a new book, Gentle Reader I get hundreds of people asking…

Where's the print edition? The Mess Behind Self-Pub ~ Some Sad Hybrid Truths Gail Carriger

I really appreciate your enthusiasm! First off currently most vendors do not allow independent authors to list print books for preorder. At all. So you will only be able to get it after it releases.

Here’s a TOC because this is a long blog post:


If the book is long enough (novella or longer), I will always endeavor to publish a print edition for you. Sometimes this just takes a while.

1. If the story is SHORT or novelette length: no print

Shorts do NOT get their OWN print editions.

Why? Because there is no infrastructure in place to print shorter works with easy distribution that remains fiscally feasible.

Chirrup members are occasionally offered PDF versions of my short stories. You can easily print these out for yourself, each one is less that 20 pages long.

Alternatively, you can buy many of my shorts in print as part of an anthology (listed on it’s page), special omnibus (like Fan Service), or sometimes I will include a short at the back of one of my novellas (Curious Case is bundled with Romancing the Werewolf).

I’ve thought about eventually doing a print collection of all my shorts, I just don’t have enough of them yet. (Also I’m not sure there is sufficient demand. But it’s in the hopper as a possible future project.)

Short Stories all 4 Curious Marine Fairy Meat Cute

And now, let’s talk about the actual print versions of my books…

2. I can’t synchronize Print with Digital releases

It is nearly impossible to put print books up for pre-order in such a way that they match with the digital release date.

I will bring out most books in print as soon as possible, but it will usually be after the digital edition. Especially overseas. And certainly if you take into account shipping.

This statement applies to my independently published works:

It would help to understand if you knew this fact:

There are (basically) 2 ways for someone like me to print physical books on demand:

  1. via Amazon (formerly Createspace)
  2. or via IngramSpark (AKA Lightening Source AKA Draft 2 Digital Print)

3. Here’s Why You Print Book Is Delayed

  • A. Lack of Print Pre-Order:
    There is no way to set up pre-order for print safely. Sometimes the Ingram editions show up early but that’s a second party seller and I don’t control how it’s listed, when it ships, price point, or how long it takes to get to you.
  • B. 3rd Party Scraping:
    In order to get print set to drop at the right time, I have to list the book with Amazon or Ingram and then take it off distribution. This means that 3rd party scrapers find the book during the brief moment it’s offered. They then list it for sale, even though it isn’t (they just throttle shipping when you order from them) which brings us to…
  • C. Buy Button Scammers:
    Since Amazon changed TOS there has a been a big scramble to steal buy buttons. I’m a prime target for this kind of thing as I work hard to promote my pre-order and get everyone excited. Then a 3rd party can basically steal all the print pre-sales from me by listing it before I do (see above) and charging extra. Readers think that’s my print pre-order, and then the 3rd party just pretends to ship even though they don’t actually have the book.
    * How to Avoid Scams While Shopping on Amazon?
    * Why Are They Selling Used Books On Amazon At Crazy Prices?
    * Amazon Out of Stock Issues
  • D. BookBub Rejection:
    BookBub will not send out a new release notification to my followers if someone else (e.g. 3rd party scammers) lists the print book as already published. What the scammers do is list an early print publication date. Then BookBub says they can’t post a new release about my new book, because the print book was “already out months ago” according to its Amazon scammer listing.
  • C. Possible Copyright Issues:
    This TERRIFIES me. If someone else can claim my book released early, they can also try to claim my copyright. (Authors can’t file copyright paperwork until after a book releases.)
  • F. Print Edition Sale Date:
    There is no way to schedule a strict on sale date for the print edition. You submit to Amazon, they say “available between 5-7 days,” and drop it 3 hours later. I’m not a gambler, I hate not being able to have everything planned. So I don’t list until the day before digital release date on Amazon.
  • G. Price Wars:
    Between 3rd party scammers, Ingram’s restrictions, and Barnes & Noble all trying to claim market share on print books I can’t control the price of my book. Print is already a favor to the fans, and guess who loses out if someone decides to slash the price and Amazon decides to price match? Yeah… me. Amazon always pays themselves FIRST.
  • E. Vendors Don’t Care:
    Never make the mistake of thinking Amazon or any other vendor will do anything about any of this. They do not care about authors. They do not care about readers. They care about profit. They are a business. So I must safeguard myself.

4. Here’s Why Some Print Editions Cost More

In the self-pub sphere (print on demand or POD) printing companies do not give individual authors breaks like they do for big publishing houses. They fleece us. Cost of printing the physical pages and shipping are passed along to the author.

Costs are based on page length and overall weight, so the bigger/longer the book the more authors are charged to make it. In order to turn a $1 profit on my printed books, I MUST charge around $11.99 for a novella, $15.99 for print (as of 2020). More overseas where you don’t have a nearby printing factory. (See points 3G & 3E above.)

Overseas, 3rd party vendors will list a US publisher’s edition at a lower price point to undercut me and “win the buy button” and then GOUGE you (the customer) with “shipping” cost to make up the difference.

In conclusion?

Here is where I get possibly too honest

(ever an issue with me)

I can’t make enough money off print editions of my self-published books to make any of this worth my time. Because it takes SO MUCH TIME.

Self-pub print editions are less than 4% of my income.

Print books are, literally and figuratively, a luxury item that I produce for those of my readers who must have print editions.

Yes dahlink, I’m looking at you.

So where does that leave us?

  • Me, still trying to get the print to you as fast as possible.
  • You, still writing me emails, comments, and such every time I publish a book and it isn’t instantly in print.
  • You writing to complain about the price of print books.
  • Me, directing you to this blog post. *waves*

Could be worse, you could not want it at all, right?

Or it could be audio, which always takes way longer than it should. And inevitably costs a hell of a lot more.

Okay so where CAN I get Gail’s Books in Print?

Generally speaking, if you got the previous book in the series there, then you should be able to get the next one the same way. Ask the store to “order it from Ingram” and when in doubt give the ISBN, which for a new release is always listed on my presskit page.

If you want to support local, here is short list of bookstores who have regularly offered my indie projects to their customers in the past.

  • Books Inc (San Franciso Bay Area)
  • Bookshop Santa Cruz (CA) – always has a good selection of Gail stuff (my old hometown bookstore!)
  • Bookshop West Portal (San Francisco, CA) – call the shop, they are lovely and happy to ship: 415-564-8080
  • Copperfield’s (Northern California) – Petaluma loves me in particular
  • Hicklebee’s (San Jose, CA) – this store focuses on Children’s books so they don’t always carry all my adult stuff
  • Murder by the Book (Houston, TX) – old friends and longtime Gail supporters
  • Mysterious Galaxy (San Diego, CA) – get excited and asks for ARCs, sometimes they have signed bookplates for my new releases! calling to find out is best
  • Northshire Books (Vermont and upstate New York) free shipping over $50
  • Porter Square (Boston, MA)
  • Powells Books (Portland, OR) – the Beaverton store will even stock some of my indie releases on shelves and they always have things listed online, they’ve always been big supporters of me (and SF/F) from the start of my career.
  • Queen Anne Book Company (Seattle, WA) – this store is ADORABLE and well worth a visit, they’re tiny but try to have my stuff in stock
  • Ripped Bodice (Los Angles, CA) – women owned and big diversity supporters, stock not only my indie books but others as well, romance focused
  • Tattered Cover (Denver, CO) – gets excited & wants ARCs (so someone on staff is a fan – also my agent’s hometown bookstore!)
  • Third Place Books (Seattle, WA) – is often the first to reply to me excited about a new book, so of course I consider them beyond charming
  • University Bookstore (Seattle, WA) – often has ALL my books signedeven the indie stuff because I was get up there in person regularly also they have bulk shipping deals AND ship international.
  • Volumes (Chicago, IL)
  • Writers Block Bookstore (Winter Park, FL)




Why I no longer offer signed editions through Borderlands

Borderlands Bookstore owner was accused of serious sexual allegations (trigger warning, originally reported on by Horror Show with Brian Keene). As a result, I’ve removed all links to buy their signed editions from my website.

Unfortunately, I have no other means of offering signed editions or print preorders as yet. Whenever I am at a bookstore for an event I always talk about it and I always sign all their stock if asked. I will spread the word that signed copies are available and where on social media and in the Chirrup.

Why don’t I offer signed editions for sale directly on my website?

  1. Warehousing: It’s expensive and unpredictable.
  2. International Shipping & Customs: Even if I could offer signed editions, I wouldn’t be able to offer international shipping (and I hate having to exclude people) because it’s hellishly expensive, hard to predict the charge, requires customs forms (someone has to wait in line and fill them in at the post office), and is often returned.
  3. Taxes: Retail puts me into a new tax bracket that is expensive and messy to set up.
  4. Alternatives: Could I sell these on etsy or ebay? Sure, but many of the same issues still apply. Plus there is monitoring the listings and that takes time. But I have done this with very special exclusive editions from time to time.
  5. It’s not Smart Business: Frankly? I make less than $1 per print book and that doesn’t include my time signing, processing, or shipping.


Okay maybe I do offer them on Gumroad occasionally. Only OPs, surplus stock, and specials – and ONLY to my newsletter subscribers.

Why can I not develop a similar relationship with another local indie like I had with Borderlands? 

My nearest alternative indie bookstore will not run consignment deals at a price commensurate with my ability to make a living. They will not order POD books from Ingram and then have me sign stock. Other bookstores feel similarly about consignment with self-pub authors or are too far away for an Ingram deal.

Plus my experience with Borderlands has now made me very gun shy.


Chirrup members are offered the opportunity to buy bookplate stickers with my signature whenever I have a new release. And, like I said, occasional one-off flash sales. Otherwise, you will have to track me down at an event.

This decision is final.

Last Thoughts: Gail Bucks Tradition

Here is the thing, I come out of traditional publishing and putting all three editions out at once (digital, print, audio) is a traditional approach. It’s intended to make a run on the Lists. It helps with a broad reach. It does all sorts of important things. There is something admirable about it, no fan is left in the dust. But it is traditional.

I’m not that kind of person. You know I like manners and history, but tradition?

I’ve always been interested in experimenting with new things as an author. Jumping whole hog into something different. When my publisher calls me up and says, “Would you let us try…?” I almost always say “YES!”

That’s why I went hybrid in the first place.

That’s why my books are such weird mash-ups of so many different genres.

I don’t like to be in a category.

At first, I tried to do my self-published stuff the same way my publisher does my traditionally published stuff and…

It doesn’t work.

I should have known that from the outset. Because not only it is not my style but the system is not set up for an individual author to fight that particular fight. Not even an author like me who has the most enthusiastic killer fabulous fans on the planet.

So I’ll be trying other ways going forward until I figure out what works best for me.

Unique, my dear! Unique.

I hope you don’t mind being on this strange experimental journey with me.

As always, many hugs,

Miss Gail

P.S. If you joined to the Chirrup, you’d already know all this.

Find my books are on:

Amazon | Kobo | Apple | | Barnes & Noble | Chapters | Foyles

Congratz! You made it through, as a reward he’s a really fascinating video of what Amazon’s print on demand facilities look like. When you order one of my indie books, this is what happens to print that book and get it to you!

Read this to escape the serious:

The Sumage Solution: San Andreas Shifters #1 by G. L. Carriger.

Can a gentle werewolf heal the heart of a smart-mouthed mage?

Book News:

The Hat Tilt On My Cover Art

Reading My Collection says of Prudence:

“This book is ridiculous, wonderful and fantastic…. It was a delight reading the adventures of the grown up children of characters I came to love.”

More behind the scenes on print editions? 

Quote of the Day:

“When all else fails, dress beautifully and throw your food.”

~ Gail Carriger

Find my books 

Direct | Amazon | | B&N | Apple | Foyles | Angus Robertson

Here’s a printable Downloadable Checklist of ALL my books!

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Posted by Gail Carriger

31 Responses

  1. Ann Brookens said:

    The Forgotten Beasts of Eld! I haven’t read that since…was it the early 70’s???

  2. MadameDoVary said:

    Thanks for the Writerly Tinctures. So that’s why tea was so bad lately…
    I can hardly wait for “romancing the werewolf”, hope there will be an audio later . Good luck with your work!

  3. Carole Nelson Douglas said:

    I also investigated the work-around for getting print editions of books on pre-pub on Amazon and also concluded that it was too risky , given the rules. It’s not safe to mess with Mother Amazon. Perhaps an author’s group could bring up the issue with MA.

    1. Gail Carriger said:

      Fingers crossed. I’m thinking they will do it eventually, it doesn’t make sense not to as it’s a money maker. My gut tells me it’s likely going to be an option with KDP print.

  4. Jo said:

    Thank you so much for putting in the effort for us must-read-in-print nerds! I’m eternally grateful. A book’s just not the same if you can’t smell the pages, no?

  5. Roz said:

    I had a similar question related to all of this. Will any of the other novellas be available via iBooks after this? I love them all, but I lack a Kindle to pre-order off Amazon.

  6. Kathryn said:

    As one of those “Only PRINT will do” readers (sorry!), I’m quite happy to wait for it, but really appreciate the explanation as to why we must wait.
    And, of course, I have to have Major Channing in print – enclosed between covers is surely the best place for him?!

    On another subject, are you sure Alex is modelling his book? It looks more like the book is modelling him…

  7. Pingback: Romancing the Werewolf Cover Art & Preorder - Gail Carriger

  8. Alanna Avant said:

    I am sure that there are a number of readers who eyes glaze over when you start talking about publishing details, but not me! I spent half this year deep diving into learning about self-publishing details and I love getting a peak into your process and your struggles and resolutions. Please keep sharing as much business behind the scenes stuff as you are comfortable with!

    Also, I fiddle with handmade bookbinding for funsies. This all just makes me want to treat your self-published trade paperback books with a proper leather encased handmade bookbinding down the road. Weee!

  9. Kathleen Langerman said:

    I had no idea print books were so complicated. I adore a print book and I love all the ones I have. However, I will read electronically at times, such as in the really really slow elevator between the operating room and the basement, no seriously I can get at least a page read.
    So it seems to me the obvious solution is to pre-order the electronic edition and then buy the print edition when available.
    And then scowl mightily at these 3rd party scammers and slightly less so at Barnes and Nobles.

  10. AmyCat - Book Universe said:

    Would it be worth dealing with a small press instead of self-publishing? I’m sure some of the presses specializing in SFF (Tachyon, Fairwood, etc.) would LOVE to have you as an author… and they WILL care about you when the Evil Amazonian Empire doesn’t. (That stuff about letting scammers steal your buy-button pre-sales is ATROCIOUS! Jeff Bezos should ROT IN HELL for what he´s done to the book business…)

    1. Gail Carriger said:

      I have, but in the end everyone has to deal with Amazon, so they will run into the same issues, and I will give up too much control.

  11. Liz Hennessy said:

    I too have struggled with the print-book-publication-pre-sale dilemma! I decided to try the Amazon Advantage pre-sale work around, but it was nerve-wracking! First I had a couple people not understand it was a pre-sale and canceled their orders, then I fretted over whether the pre-sale would seamlessly turn into regular-sale once my book was published, then I fretted over whether or not I’d get properly paid for the pre-sale books…it really is pretty ridiculous that Amazon doesn’t do a proper pre-sale for print books. Maybe now that the seem to be slowly integrating CreateSpace with KDP Print, there will eventually be a print pre-sale option (fingers crossed!).

  12. Pingback: Uncomfortable publishing truths… – The World of The Teigr Princess

  13. Brooke said:

    I’m late to this post, but man, those scammers and thieves are infuriating! I’m sorry the whole ecosystem has grown into this mess, people can be so awful given anonymity and the opportunity to grab a little cash.

    I’m just lucky I have the option of grabbing it at borderlands. Thank you!

    1. Gail Carriger said:

      Thank you. It won’t keep the print edition from coming, it just won’t be at the same time as the e-book, sadly.

      Borderlands is always a good option.

  14. Pingback: Gail Carriger’s New Book: Romancing the Werewolf, Features Biffy & Lyall - Gail Carriger

  15. Jules said:

    I will await the print edition. I’ve never had a ebook, nor do I plan to. I LOVE holding, smelling and turn pages of my books. I’ll be patient. Hopefully one day it will be available here in Australia

  16. Pingback: Your Questions Answered! Romancing the Werewolf - Gail Carriger

  17. Marc said:

    So, then, what is the best place/way to purchase the wonderful books that best supports our writer extraordinaire? I mostly use iBooks cause it’s really easy and I love having a library in my pocket, but I was buying my favorite authors in hardback, thinking this was the best support for them. Apparently, not so much…

    1. Gail Carriger said:

      Marc, please continue to use iBooks, whatever is most convenient to you. As to the secodn part of your comment, buying your favorite authors in hardback actually is likely to be the best way to support them. Because if they have a hardback it means they are traditionally published, and your support for this edition early on during the release cna make or break them in the eyes of their publisher. The above particular blog post was writing with self-pub in mind. A whole different ball game. If you want to know “how best to support the author” it’s so complicated that I actually have a long answer inside this blog post:

  18. Julia said:

    I will be grateful for the print editions whenever they’re available. Thank you!

  19. Tina Moreland said:

    As a mother of 5 boys, all homeschooled, and self-employed Seamstress, I am in love with the digital book option. I can easily get my phone out at any time I actually have a minute to myself. I cannot do this with a traditional book. I am especially in love with your books in audio format because I can listen while I work. Thank you for your work. I have listened to every one of the parasolverse books more than 15 times each. I like to listen in order from the beginning. Keep up the good work!

  20. Marika said:

    Have you thought about doing a kickstarter and printing that way (meaning you have capital up front and control over drop and shipping)? I know a lot of people (mostly cartoonists & anthologies) who’ve done this successfully and who also are traditionally published. (Happy to connect you with people if you’re interested in learning more.)

    1. Gail Carriger said:

      No thank you. *shudder* I did a kickstarter once and it is like 1000x more work than a regular launch. I’d sooner do no print edition at all.

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