The moment I list a new book, Gentle Reader I get hundreds of people asking…
I really appreciate your enthusiasm! Here’s a TOC because this is a long blog post:
1. If the story is SHORT or novelette length, it will NOT get its OWN print edition.
Why? Because there is no infrastructure in place to print shorter works with easy distribution that remains fiscally feasible.
In cases where I don’t think the story is ripe to be stolen, I do offer a PDF version which you can buy directly from my website. You can easily print that version out for yourself, it’s usually 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 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.)
2. I can no longer synchronize Print with Digital release dates.
I will bring out most books in print as soon as possible, but it will usually be after the digital edition. Especially overseas.
This statement applies to my independently published works:
- Parasolverse: Delightfully Deadly, Claw & Courtship, Supernatural Society
- The San Andreas Shifter series
- Tinkered Stars
It would help to understand if you knew this fact:
There are basically two ways for someone like me to print physical books on demand:
- via Amazon (formerly Createspace)
- or via IngramSpark (AKA Lightening Source)
3. Here’s Why Print Editions Are 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 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
* More on how the Buy Button effects authors & scammers
- 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 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. Fortunately, I have a killer IP lawyer. Still, I’d rather not have to use him, because we are getting very expensive, all because the print edition. Which doesn’t make money for me, it’s a favor to you.
- 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.
- G. Price Wars:
Between 3rd party scammers, Ingram’s restriction, 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.
- 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. That is their business. So I must safeguard myself.
4. Here’s Why Some of My 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.
Here is where I get possibly too honest (but that’s 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.
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.
All that said, I will still try to use Borderlands Books to pre-sell print editions. That I can do simply because they are close enough to me that I can physically truck books over to them using BART. (See how much I love you? PHYSICAL LABOR on PUBLIC TRANSPORT!) So if you really HAVE TO HAVE it, you should order through them. They ship worldwide.
Okay so when it is out where do I get it?
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 for 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 a local store, here is short list of bookstores who have regularly offered my indie projects to their customers in the past. Although, I cannot guarantee any of them will have my books since I do not have a personal relationship with them.
- Books of Wonder (New York)
- Murder by the Book (Houston)
- Northshire Books (Vermont and upstate New York)
- Porter Square (Boston)
- Powells Books (Portland) – offers free shipping to USA over $25
- Ripped Bodice (LA) – women owned and big diversity supporters
- University Bookstore (Seattle)
- Volumes (Chicago)
Why I no longer offer signed editions through Borderlands
Borderlands Bookstore owner is accused of serious sexual allegations (trigger warning, originally reported on by Horror Show with Brian Keene Ep 271 – a lot of the feelings discussed by the authors in the episode reflect my own). As a result, I’ve removed all links to buy signed editions from my website.
Unfortunately, I have no other means of offering signed editions or print preorders.
Why don’t I offer signed editions for sale directly on my Gumroad shop?
- Warehousing: It’s expensive and unpredictable.
- 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, and is often returned.
- Taxes: Retail puts me into a new tax bracket that is hellishly expensive and messy to set up.
- 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 a lot of time. But I havedone this with very special exclusive editions from time to time.
- It’s not Smart Business: Frankly? I make less than $1 per print book and that doesn’t include my time 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?
My nearest alternative indie bookstore, Books Inc, 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.
BUT I WANT IT SIGNED!
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, when/if those ever happen again.
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,
- Publishing Moves On. Do Readers?
- Amazon’s checkered history: Buy Button, Launching a Book, & Promotion
P.S. If you subscribed to the Chirrup, you’d already know all this.
Read this to escape the serious:
Can a gentle werewolf heal the heart of a smart-mouthed mage?
“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.”
Quote of the Day:
“When all else fails, dress beautifully and throw your food.”
~ Gail CarrigerTags: Important For Authors