Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Expanding Into The Brick & Mortar Stores

When I began writing I had not a clue about anything. I only knew I wanted to write and publish my novels hoping someone would purchase and read them. I've fallen into many of the pits many fledgling self publishers do. The learning curve is high in the writing, editing, and getting the first book on Amazon in both Kindle and print form as well as Smashwords. Many uploads of files later and my first book was available for sale. I've had success with all my novels, at least I think of it as success. Am I a New York Times Bestseller? No, but I've done well enough in the two years since Healing Love came out.

Marketing is something I've struggled with. I decided to produce a number of books before I did much marketing. Read that spend money on marketing. Some authors write one book and market it immediately. I chose to write six with little marketing and now am ready to promote the seventh. At the same time I decided to expand to, hopefully, get into the major sellers of print books.

Looking into Barnes & Noble, Family Christian Bookstores, etc. I found that none would order wholesale from Createspace. I can understand why. They are all in competition with Amazon. In order to break into the print market I needed to have by books available from a distributor the companies dealt with. Some companies had lists of these distributors, others did not.

I looked into having my books printed by various publishers and printing houses. There were various fees associated with each, some reaching into the thousands of dollars. In the end I chose to try out the POD arms of Ingram.

Ingram has two POD companies. I chose to try out LightningSource. The only reason I went with it is because, at the time, I could set the wholesale percentage discount. Since I began this effort IngramSpark has added a 'short, academic' 40% discount option in addition to the 55% discount.

I found the interface for LightningSource's website to be difficult. The instructions were limited and I couldn't find answers to my questions online. There was not an easy way to find the titles I was attempting to complete and put into their POD. When I emailed asking for help with issues or requesting a telephone help it would be several days before I received a reply. At times it took three to four emails to receive a response. When I attempted to contact my representative the representative was, in my opinion, rather rude and I wasn't able to get to my representative. Whether the files have been submitted or not they cannot be re-uploaded without a charge. I spent over $150 making such changes. This doesn't promote the inclusion of independent authors unfamiliar with their technical requirements. Please note, these were my experiences. Others may have totally different and positive dealings with LightningScource.

My frustration moved me on to try IngramSpark. The experience has been totally opposite. The website is user friendly, the instructions clear and easy to find. The ability to upload files and information and change it, without fees, makes the corrections free until you submit them for review. I chose the 40% discount and will receive a decent royalty. Both times I've submitted a support ticket I've received an answer within 24 hours worded clearly and politely by an individual not a canned reply.

I'm waiting on the final approval for my next book, Seeing The Life, as I write this. The site does a preliminary review for correctness of the files uploaded to see it they meet the technical requirements. Replacing incorrect files is not cause for being charged.

One issue I had was having my files in CMYK color. Not having a program which does this I did a search and found Puzzleflow Online an online converter which is free and does a great job converting my RGP files into CMYK.

I know there are other POD distributors available. Your experience may be different than mine. Your choices may be different. So far IngramSpark is a good fit for me. I'm hoping for a long and mutually successful endeavor getting my books onto store shelves around the country.

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Sophie Dawson is an award winning author who is releasing her eighth novel in June 2014. Her Cottonwood Series and Stones Creek Series have been best sellers on Amazon. Her first novel Healing Love has garnered several awards. She has a new book, Seeing The Life, centering on the life of Yeshua the Messidah set for June 7, 20i4 release.
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1 comment:

  1. So, you're saying that some of the physical bookstores *will* order from Ingram or IngramSpark? Do they also supply Amazon? Not sure how it all works. You can put the book up in Kindle or Nook and have it available at Amazon and other on-line sites, as well as physical sites, right?

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