Most people acknowledge that advertising works, if it didn’t, we wouldn’t see companies spending millions of dollars on commercials and branding every year, but there are still some who also think that branding/advertising for their own book isn’t worth investing in.
They repeat the mantra, ‘not everyone judges a book by its cover’, however, most consumers do.
When we are faced with the almost infinite choice of books available (and if you don’t believe me, just take a quick scroll through Amazon), we become very quick at accepting or dismissing a product based on the amount of review stars and how it looks at first glance. If the book cover looks amateurish or badly made, we are going to quickly assume that the contents of the book are just as amateurish.
So, you must then ask a deeper question about your journey as a self-publishing author, why are you publishing your book?
Some authors publish simply for family and friends, if they sell other copies along the way, great, but their goal was just to share a book with those close to them, however, for most, they write and then publish their books because they want more than just a handful of people to read their work.
Who are you writing for?
As a storyteller you want to share your work with as many people as possible, right? Or if you have information which would benefit the world, you’d want the world to find it? But to reach a larger audience, you need to take your book’s advertising seriously, and this starts with the book cover.
The book cover becomes the face of your manuscript, it tells the reader straight away the type of author you are and if that reader should invest their time and money in your book, again, if a book looks amateurish, why would anyone consider investing several days of their lives reading it?
I’m not saying you have to spend thousands of dollars on a book cover, but anywhere you cut corners on your work is a mistake, it is possible to get a great looking design for a reasonable price finishing with a professional looking book which attracts readers.
Why spend weeks, months or years writing your book only to rush the book cover?
This is why you should invest in yourself and your book, publishers make sure that the books they promote look professional, they do this because they know it works, their covers look great and they catch the eye of the reader (and in a good way). They say that success leaves clues, so if you're still unsure, look at those big publishing houses and see what they do with their covers, go into your local book store or look online and be inspired.
Your work deserves a great book cover, make sure you give it one.
Out of the vast array of publishers for indie authors, Ingramspark is one of the key players that you will (or should) have heard of. Ingramspark is owned by Lightning Source (a company with operations in the US, UK, Europe, and Australia) and was started back in 2013, since then Ingramspark has published well over 7 million books and currently has over 4,000 new books added to it daily, so, it’s safe to say that it’s big within the self-publishing world.
And when we say big, we mean big, Ingramspark currently has the largest distribution of books in the US, they distribute to over 40,000 retailers and libraries globally along with making your book available to Amazon, Kobo, and B&N, so you could reach a very wide audience using their services.
So, what does it cost to use Ingramspark?
Pricing starts from $25 per title for eBooks and $49 per title for print (however, if you currently upload both at the same time it’s just $49), but you will need to purchase your own ISBNs for each edition of your book (something which KDP offers free versions of).
One of the great things about Ingramspark is their options for print, they offer both paperback and hardback, with the hardback choices including case laminate and/or dust jacket, we have also noticed that the actual print and finish quality of each book from Ingramspark is normally very high (when compared with some other print on demand services, their finished product really shines).
How much money will you make from selling with Ingramspark?
Of course, this will depend upon the cost to produce and distribute your book along with any discount you may offer, one good thing is that Ingramspark have a calculator upon their website which enables you to work out your compensation based on page count, trim size, format, price, and discount, although if you compare to KDP, it seems to be slightly more expensive (but then you do have the larger distribution). You can use their calculator here,
Why use Ingramspark?
If you are planning to focus on pushing your book through the more traditional brick-and-mortar bookstores, Ingramspark is a great choice as it has the distribution channels you’ll need, if you also want to publish in hardback, it has a great choice of print options available too.
However, if you plan to focus predominantly on Amazon, then KDP would be your better option (paperback and eBook only), as you would be going directly with Amazon themselves, you’ll find the fees to distribute would be lower and it also seems that Amazon give preference to their own KDP books first (within Amazon’s sales algorithms).
Ingramspark are still a great choice for authors and will give you access to huge distribution channels, which let’s face it, is why you are publishing in the first place, you want people to buy your book, but it is also worth considering the use of Amazon’s KDP in tandem with Ingramspark, yes you will need to buy ISBNs, but it will help get your book in front of as many people as you can.
For many authors the easiest way to self-publish is via KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), being Amazon’s publishing wing, first launched in 2007, KDP has grown rapidly and allows an author to publish both eBook and paperback from one place (they have recently been trialing hardback books with a beta service aimed at selected authors, so we’ll have to wait and see if this becomes a standard feature of their current service).
You can also publish quite a wide variety of content via their service, publications such as the obvious fiction and nonfiction, but also book series, comics, cookbooks, journals, poetry books, and textbooks, are some of the other books published.
Having an account with KDP is free and uploading your book to publish with them is free too, the charges/cost to publish comes when you actually sell a copy of your book, carrying on with the free stuff, they also off a free ISBN (however, the ISBN will lock them in as the publisher and you can only use it on their platform, so if you want to publish via Ingramspark or another POD service, you’ll need a new ISBN).
Once you have an account with Kindle Direct Publishing, it’s fairly straight forward to upload both your eBook and Paperback ready for publishing, they accept Word documents but recommend that you upload your manuscript for print as a PDF, here are KDP’s guidelines on how to do this correctly.
For eBooks, their preferred format was in MOBI, however, this has recently changed and now they only accept MOBI for fixed (non-reflowable) eBooks. Their preferred format is EPUB (which is great, as virtually every other ePublisher uses this) along with Word doc/docx and their own KPF format (Kindle Create). Kindle create is Amazon’s own free to download software which you can use to format your own eBook ready to upload to KDP, having used it in the past, it is relatively straightforward and great if you are on a budget.
So how much do you stand to earn from using Kindle Direct Publishing?
The royalties do vary between eBook and Paperback, for eBook the options you have are either 35% or 70%, each option does come with its own stipulation, so at first you may think of opting for the 70% royalty, but there are restrictions on minimum and maximum pricing and the book must be enrolled in Amazon’s KDP Select. For the 35% royalty there are fewer restrictions and the entry price point for your book is lower (which is great for promotions).
The royalties for paperback books are fixed at 60%, the royalty is taken from your list price of the book and then printing costs are deducted from it, however, if you enable Expanded Distribution then the royalty drops to 40%.
KDP Select, what is it and do I need it?
KDP Select gives Amazon the exclusive rights to sell your eBook, this means that your eBook will only be available to purchase through their platform alone. So why would you want to do this? Well, if you want the 70% royalties this could be the option for you (with Kindle being the number one seller of eBooks, you still have a great distribution even if you go exclusively with KDP).
KDP Select locks your eBook in for a minimum of 90 days, so after this period you can opt back out and use another platform to publish your eBook through.
What about Expanded Distribution?
This makes your printed book available to booksellers, distributors, and libraries, this doesn’t mean that your book will end up in every bookstore on every street corner, it means that these channels can order your book should they wish to carry it. If your book starts selling well and you are promoting it to a large audience, this could be a great option to increase its reach. However, there are a few more stipulations about what is excepted and what isn’t, for full details take a look at the information on Expanded Distribution here.
Kindle Direct Publishing is a great way to get your book published (especially if you are on a budget), their service is quite easy to use and their guides/services to help authors are very useful too, being that they are part of Amazon you know that they are certainly here to stay and for many, they’re a great option to get your book published.
Book cover designers.
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