Self-Published Print Book and Booksellers

Things are simple for self-published ebooks. The author sets the price and the publishing company takes their share. For print, the author must choose what discount to give booksellers (30-55%) and whether to allow returns or not. If allowing returns, the bookseller can send books back for a refund. The author pays the refund.

What the author chooses determines how motivated a bookseller will sell their book.

Allowing the 55% and returns will motivate booksellers to sell the print copy in their store. However, this means the author gets less for each book and there is a risk of paying for returns. However, having a book in a store may generate more sales offsetting the cost and risk.

So, what is an author to do?

I do not allow returns. I have read horror stories of booksellers ordering too many books and the author getting stuck with a large expense. As an alternative, the author can buy their books and provide them to local stores, promising to accept returns. This way the author can limit how many books are in a store and can resupply if needed. More importantly, an author has the opportunity to sell their books in other-than-bookstores. And, readers can still buy a print book through online sites.

While I would like to offer booksellers the 55% discount, that means I must sell my book at a higher price. This could reduce sales. So, I decided on a low book price and the profit I’d like to make (it’s minimal). After these decisions, I adjusted the discount to meet my numbers.

Even with the 55% and allowing returns, as an unknown author I have little chance of a bookseller picking my book. So, I’ll stay local and online to sell my book.

Self-Publish or Bust

After several months attempting to self-publish, I hired someone to do the interior formatting and another person to do the cover. While some authors hire someone to also do the uploads, I wanted to do this and control something of the process.

Of course, my first attempts to upload the files failed. This is when I realized something.

Self-publishing is two paths. One for e-books and one for print. I had been trying to do the e-books and print at the same time.

To create a physical object in print means defining three dimensions using jargon that is meaningless to most people. With e-books, I seemed to be working in one dimension, a simpler process.

As an example, most self-publishing packages use their software to format the interior as an e-pub. With print, I must upload a file meaning I make too many decisions any of which can go wrong for no reason.

For the cover, an e-book only needs one picture and the self-publisher’s software places the cover where it needs to be. Print has a front and back side and a spine that requires fitting everything inside a template. In print, everything must be exactly exact.

So, I refocused. After all, the purpose of self-publishing is to publish something. And my genre mostly read e-books, anyway.

It did not take me long to overcome a few obstacles and upload and publish my e-book on two self-publishing platforms. I am now working on publishing on two other platforms. My confidence has recovered, somewhat. However, I have not abandoned the print.

While an e-book is what people buy (at least in fiction), a printed book is what authors want. It is something that can be touched, smelled, and felt.

I’ll get my book printed. For now, I have my e-book out and more versions are coming.

What readers look for first in a book

The aim of publishing is to get someone to read what is published. The author will not know the reader, so what can they do to motivate someone to look at their book?

People in the publishing business say the cover is what attracts readers first. I disagree. For many years I conducted an informal, haphazard, non-scientific survey of asking people I knew what attracted them to a book. Very few people said the cover convinced them to look at a book.

My survey group had a list of things they looked at first when considering a book. This included the author’s name, the genre, book reviews, and maybe the blurb. I also consider these things when looking for a book.

While blurbs are important, they are two or more paragraphs and the second thing I look at when selecting a book. I don’t look at book reviews. It’s a lot of trouble finding them and, besides, they are a stranger’s opinion.

As a reader, I look in the genre that interests me. This helps me narrow the search, but for an author their book is sitting there among many other books. On occasion I will look for an author’s name. However, I would have already read at least one of their books.

What attracts me and sometimes my survey group was the title of the book.

A few words across the front cover are the first thing people read. They may glance at the cover, adore the colors, but an interesting title will attract a reader’s interest.

P.S. I will post in two weeks my continued efforts to publish on IngramSpark. Alliance for Independent Authors gave me advice that helped.

Cover Problems, Again

I attempted to upload my novel to IngramSparks so I would have a wider distribution for my novel High School Rocket Science (For Extraterrestrial Use Only). That meant my book would be available to other markets outside of Amazon. I had one success.

With my KDP version, I had line spacing of 1.5 inches and an okay font. For IngramSparks, I tried 1.15, which was too small. I ended with 1.25 which was good. I also uploaded to IngramSparks using a different font. The text looked better. I was still at 335 pages, which was my goal.

Like with KDP, the cover stopped me. Somehow, I ended up with multiple images on the same cover with no way out. There did not seem to be a way to delete and try again. Obviously, I took a path that I should not have traveled. When the frustration grew, I decided to send a message for help and put it all aside.

At least for a few days. In the meantime, I had a grant to submit. Of course, I am still waiting for a reply from IngramSparks (hope dies last).

This week I will ask a writing group I belong to for help. The Alliance for Independent Authors is a good source that I should take advantage of and not be concerned about seeming too inept.

Writing seems to be more about getting knocked down and getting up again.