Monday, February 09, 2015

Publishing Hindsight with Loni Townsend

Hindsight by Loni Townsend

I want to shout out a big thanks to Spunk on a Stick for letting me hog her blog today. I feel we're distantly related, her liking Hammy and me being a squirrel.

Personal affections aside, L. Diane always has helpful information on her blog about writing and marketing. Since I'm no pro at either of those, I'll leave the advice to her and tell you a bit of my experience.

Both of my books are self-published. For Thanmir War, I chose to do my print-on-demand through CreateSpace and upload my e-book through KDP. Everything worked out smoothly, but the local indie bookstore couldn't stock my book. They said it had to be available through IngramSpark.

So then comes This World Bites. I figured I'd give IngramSpark a try.

The nice thing about IngramSpark is that for a $49 setup fee, you can publish both print and e-books through them. This was exciting. I uploaded the files, and they sent them out to all of the different distribution channels. One stop shopping for Amazon, B&N, Kobo. IngramSpark also has a deal where if you order 50 print copies within the first 60 days, you'll receive a $49 refund.

But my optimism has dwindled since January 19th (my release date for This World Bites). As of February 5th, I have no idea of any e-book sales numbers. People ask, "Are you selling a lot of books?" All I can do is smile and say, "I think I've sold a few." And that's based purely on people telling me they have done so. Sales are only reported monthly, for the prior month, after IngramSpark gets all of the reports from everyone. Royalties are 40% though, so if you intend to sell outside of the KDP $2.99-$9.99 range, this might be a slightly better offer--assuming you're willing to wait for your data.

I have since uploaded my file to KDP (not Select exclusive). I'm crossing my fingers that I don't encounter any conflicts.

One of the downfalls of going with IngramSpark is that they charge for file revisions. I found a place in This World Bites where it should've been "he" instead of "his". If I want to change this one minor thing, I have to pay $50, because it's two different file revisions - one for print and one for e-book. Also, I never saw a print-proof option before submitting my files. After examining a print copy of my book, I realized the cover is pretty dark and the glow behind my series title didn't look that great. And it'll cost another $25 dollars to update the print book cover. And if I still don't get the colors right? Another $25 and so on.

I'm now going to use CreateSpace and IngramSpark side-by-side for This World Bites. I've got a book signing coming up next month, and I'll be printing through CreateSpace for the event. I'll forfeit the $49 refund to avoid paying $50 extra for something that I might not like the look of.

If there's a lesson to be learned here, I'd say start with CreateSpace, get your prints through them, and if they look good, continue to IngramSpark for wider distribution. Oh, and don't forget to fix the error the editor pointed out before submitting.

Do you have experience with either CreateSpace or IngramSpark? What about Lulu or a different Print-On-Demand company?


This World Bites

It’s her first day on a new world and Cera’s already found trouble. Michael, her guardian, has been bitten by a zombie and will soon join the undead ranks.

Everyone tells her there’s no cure, but Cera isn’t one to be deterred. She’s willing to face off with zombie hordes, demon slavers, and black market informants if it means she’ll find a cure for Michael. But she’s not the only one hunting for something.

Something is hunting her.

Loni Townsend
Wife. Mother. Writer. Ninja. Squirrel.

By day, she writes code. By predawn darkness, she writes fantasies. All other times, she writes in her head.

People call her peculiar with a twisted sense of fashion, but don't let those understatements fool you. Her behavior is perfectly normal for a squirrel disguised as a human. That's part of being a ninja—blending in.

She makes her home in Idaho with her sadistically clever—yet often thwarted—husband, two frighteningly brilliant children, and three sneaky little shibas.

Contact info:
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Goodreads


Hammy approves of this post!

85 comments:

  1. Sounds like some smart advice! I've enjoyed CreateSpace but haven't considered using both IngramSpark and CS. Thanks for your thoughts on this.

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    1. Hopefully you find it helpful. :)

      If you do use them side by side, one thing to be aware of is that IngramSpark needs you to own your ISBN, and to use them for expanded distribution (instead of CreateSpace's expanded distribution option).

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  2. Thanks for the advice. I'll remember it if I ever self-publish. Good luck with your book. I really like the cover.

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  3. Fifty bucks? That's expensive.
    You'll know for the next book.

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    1. Oh yes, I find this whole self-publishing business is quite the learning process.

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  4. Thanks for hosting me today, Diane!

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  5. Good post, Loni! Yes. All aspects of publishing are frustrating.

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  6. Man, there is so much stuff to sort out, isn't there? And great to meet you Loni! I am from Idaho originally and in fact know some Townsends (the Moscow set)... small world.

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    1. It is a small world. I don't think I even know the northern Townsends. :)

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  7. Yikes. This is very informative and helpful. Thanks ladies.

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  8. Thanks for sharing your personal experiences. My one publisher uses CreateSpace and the books look good so far. I haven't self-published but there is so much to consider. I admire those of you brave enough to do all that work.

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    1. CreateSpace seems to be a good place for many authors.

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  9. I can't believe you didn't get a proof of the book! I use CreateSpace and I have used Lulu. Both are good.What I like about CS is that I can use the KindleMatch.

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    1. I might've just been blind to the option, but I couldn't find it. :(

      Kindle Matchbook is great!

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    2. The KindleMatch? If I remember correctly it show at the bottom of one of the setup pages for the ebook version.

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  10. Hi, Loni,
    The business of self-publishing can be hit and miss, especially when you're learning. Having to pay for revisions and dealing with unresponsive people are but a few of the reasons I chose to learn how to format my books myself.

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    1. It's nice when you know how to do the formatting yourself, that way you always have options!

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  11. Charging for every change and at the end you'll be paying a fortune you might not get back. I'm sure those who want to try that path will be very grateful you shared your experience with them!

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    1. I suppose it'd teach someone not to make mistakes. :)

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  12. Thanks for sharing! I'm using Creatspace for now, and if there's enough demand I'll consider using Ingram Spark for expanded distribution.

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    1. CreateSpace is a good system to go with.

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  13. I've never self-publishing, but I appreciate that you shared your experiences with us, Loni! With my small press, I have to wait to the end of every quarter to find out how many sales I had. I wish I could know at the end of every month! I also get 40% royalties, but I've only published e-books so far and different lengths cost different amounts. With on at $1.99 and one at $2.99, I don't make much. :\

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    1. At least with the small press, they handle many of the little things for you. :) With so many options, it's nice when someone else knows what they're doing and you don't have to figure out all of this on your own.

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  14. I've never self-publishing, but I appreciate that you shared your experiences with us, Loni! With my small press, I have to wait to the end of every quarter to find out how many sales I had. I wish I could know at the end of every month! I also get 40% royalties, but I've only published e-books so far and different lengths cost different amounts. With on at $1.99 and one at $2.99, I don't make much. :\

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  15. Although I've used iUniverse years ago, I now use KDP and CreateSpace exclusively and nothing else. I've had over 10,000 physical sales and downloads and all the work came from me. So why pay someone else who will nickel and dime you over and over. I'll probably go it alone for me next book Salem's Daughters as well.

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    1. Sounds like you've got some good experience behind you!

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  16. I'll definitely keep this in mind if I ever self-publish. It sounds like there's a lot to think about!

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    1. There is! It's mind-boggling at times.

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  17. It's good to test out other options. This one sounded interesting. I hope it works out for you and that you do sell tons of books.

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  18. Great information! Thank you.

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  19. So many choices and things to consider. Publishing has gotten easier, but at the same time more difficult to know the right options to choose.

    Education is rarely free so I guess spending some money helps you to learn.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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  20. Loni, you've had a great turnout today.

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  21. This was a really interesting post. Thanks for the info. It's always great to get the benefit of someone else' hindsight. Those extra charges are a killer.

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  22. Very interesting comparison, Loni. Judging from the costs of Ingram Spark I think I'd stick with CreateSpace. It's a shame the local bookstore won't take books from CreateSpace. What difference does it make to them, or is it an anti-Amazon decision?

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    1. I think it's where they have channels to purchase from, not any personal feelings toward Amazon. They also required that the publisher name/imprint appear on the back cover, so they seem to be going by a set of rules.

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  23. I had to learn a lot along the path to publication. I made a lot of mistakes too. I've never heard of the company but I hope it works out for you.

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  24. I'll have to look into IngramSpark. It's might be something that would work for me as I've already published through CreateSpace.

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    1. It might work well for you, depending on what your distribution needs are.

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  25. I had also never heard of IngramSpark, but they sound like a pretty big deal. I've only had experience of (and considered) CreateSpace, but I see now there are other options. Don't exactly have a lot of spare cash flying around, though!

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    1. Yeah, there is more investment with IngramSpark.

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  26. All new information to me - thanks for the advice!

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  27. Hail the squirrel ninja. IngramSpark sound interesting and CreateSpace is the big guy on campus.

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    1. CreateSpace certainly is, and for pretty good reasons too.

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  28. I've haven't self pubbed yet, but thanks for the advice. I think most people I know use CS. I'd heard of IS, but this is the first time I'd seen feedback for it.

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    1. CreateSpace is the best starting point from my experience, but I still have other PODs to try!

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  29. This is great information that I'll tuck away (actually bookmark) for future reference if needed. Thank you, Loni and Diane! :)

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  30. Great post! I've never heard of IngramSpark. I've always used CreateSpace because it's so easy. I've heard a few not so good stories about CreateSpace, though.

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    1. I think everybody is bound to run into problems eventually. Hopefully CreateSpace corrected their issues.

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  31. Never heard on IngramSpark either. Thanks for the useful information and all the best with your books.

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  32. 50 bucks. That's not very friendly. Thanks for sharing this. Will have to remember for the future.

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    1. Goes to show I should've double-checked my double-checking!

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  33. Interesting info. This is the first time I've heard of IngramSpark. We need reviews of these services for authors. I'm sure all of them have pros and cons.

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  34. I've not worked directly with Create Space (my publisher does that!) and we are thinking of expanding to IngramSpark, so this is great advice/experience to get today. I met a couple book stores that told me the same thing...no Spark, no order. Still I've found several indie book stores that decided to carry my titles. But at times, it does kind of bite.

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    1. Hopefully my experience will help you out!

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  35. Thanks for the info! I've used Lulu, Createspace, Smashwords, Kindle, and Nook. I haven't used B & N's paperback platform yet, so I don't know how they compare. I've found that Lulu has a slower turn around time, and I haven't received a great deal of sales through there, but then I haven't had a lot of paperback sales online at all. My paperbacks sell best when I go out and do a book signing, or at the local independent bookstore. I use Lulu for "private" print runs, which is a nice feature for printing up books of my students' work in an "end of the year" book.
    Best wishes with marketing and publishing!

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  36. Thanks so much for sharing this info, Loni. You have no idea how hopeful it makes the rest of us feel knowing you jumped over hurtles and won! Also, I just assumed because I was a foreigner, that self-publishing wouldn't work for me. Dumb, I know. But I couldn't find a distributor in the States, back in the days before ebooks. Thanks for giving me hope if I decide to ever self-publish again.

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  37. So much to learn in self publishing. Probably is true of any creative venture though.

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  38. Loni, you do such a good job of hogging that I bet Alex and Diane will have you back!
    Best,
    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Multi Award-Winning Author of the HowToDoItFrugally series for writers including the second editions of the Frugal Book Promoter (http://bit.ly/FrugalBookPromo and The Frugal Editor (http://bit.ly/FrugalEditorKind )The latter is e-book only.for the time being.


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  39. Crikey, with self-pub there's SO much to consider.
    Thanks for sharing, Loni!

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  40. IngramSpark is new to me. Not sure if it's worth it considering Smashwords and CreateSpace are free.

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  41. Wow, this was very informative! Thanks for all the info.

    I've only published through CreateSpace, but my local library has had to jump through many hoops to get my book in their system because of CS. I wonder if another self-pub option would have made that easier. But I appreciate knowing the truth about how much it costs.

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  42. I've always used CreateSpace for print. I'm happy with them.

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  43. Interesting thoughts. I've looked at larger distribution hubs, but haven't gotten too into it because my publisher should be handling that, right? (Sometimes they need a nudge.) I definitely appreciate your thoughts.

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  44. I use Createspace. They get me on B&N's website - paperback. I upload ebooks directly at the site (ie, Amazon & B&N) and use D2D for other sites - mainly Apple and Kobo. I get daily sales reports, which is great.

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  45. I'm in the process of going through Ingram Spark, so it's interesting to read about your experience with them, Loni. We'll see how it goes.

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  46. Very good information to tuck away in case I opt to self-publish. Thanks.

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  47. It's all so overwhelmingly confusing. As easy as CreateSpace is, I needed help with formatting. But it is easy. I don't have money, or patience, for any other route if I self-publish. So I'm sticking with that. I think it's the best way to go.

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  48. Muito bom o seu blog, estive a percorre-lo li alguma coisa, porque espero voltar mais algumas vezes,
    deu para perceber a sua dedicação em partilhar o seu saber.
    Se me der a honra de visitar e ler algumas coisas no Peregrino e servo ficarei radiante.
    E se gostar e desejar comente.
    Que Deus vos abençõe e guarde.
    António.
    http://peregrinoeservoantoniobatalha.blogspot.pt/

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  49. Thanks for guiding us through your process, Loni. I'm sticking with eBooks for my reprints; the idea of print sounds like too much work! The only print editions I've been in are anthologies, and the thankfully the publishers take care of that side of things. (Good on you, Diane, for supporting a fellow wordsmith.)

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  50. Thank you so much for sharing all these information. I was reading up on formatting for createspace other day.

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  51. I don't have experience with either of these- but I have heard great things about Createspace. I appreciate Loni sharing her experiences with all of us. What a help! I hope she finds out her numbers soon and that they are beyond amazing. I can only imagine how hard it must be to wait! Wishing Loni the best of luck. :)
    ~Jess

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