Hey Guys! A big rainy thunderstorm here in Utah today! My pups are here at my feet snoring as usual and I’m all bundled up in a warm fleece with a pot of chai tea on the stove. I hope you’re doing well! Feeling pretty blessed here myself!
I’ve been thinking a bit about where my authors are once they’ve written their book. Let me paint a picture for you and see if you can relate… You write and publish a book then you go off to a speaking engagement and a venue that also has a bookstore.
You meander into the bookstore the first chance you get and inquire with the clerk about the opportunity of them stocking and selling your book.
They walk you over to the computer and punch in your title. They ask “is your book in in the Ingrams distribution system?” and you stare at them not knowing what that is. You had no idea such a system existed but you give them your title and author name nonetheless and they proceed to search.
After all this work writing, designing, laying out, and printing your book you find out your book does not exist! They cannot find you and they proceed to tell you “we are sorry, but since you are a self-published author, we cannot carry your title.”
So what’s happening here?
They are basically asking you if you are with a notable distribution system where they can place an order for multiple copies of your book. Your book is tied to the ISBN number through whatever publishing company or system you used.
They may be set up to buy at wholesale pricing. They may just want an easy avenue to purchase your book. But, regardless of their operating structure, you do not exist in the professional and proper channels. You are not considered a legitimate author.
There are likely a couple problems happening here: 1. If you’ve published your book through an online book publisher or a print on demand system they will know that your book is self published and they will not be able to get access to purchasing your book through the distribution network. 2. You haven’t contacted a distributor to sell your book. 3. The quality of the cover design or interior layout may give away that the book is self-published and it doesn’t meet their standards.
If you want to avoid this embarrassment all together, don’t try to save money on printing, book design and creation, or skip out on the typical channels a professional book will go through to be published. The last thing you wanna do is make it hard for your book to be purchased.
We have to back up and get you in the proper channels.
You need to make sure that your book is registered with Bowkers for the ISBN number (and related barcode) as well, you need to register with the Library of Congress to get your official control number. Typically a publishing house would do this for you, but as a self-published author you wouldn’t know how this was done unless you had someone to guide you. So, don’t beat yourself up if this has happened to you. It’s an easy fix, but you will need to get a new ISBN Number for your book.
In the last decade I have watched many authors struggle understanding how to produce their book for minimal cost. Many also don’t want to sit on a pallet of books and they have decided the print on demand system works the best. But, don’t sell yourself short as you will get poor quality and your book will be considered self published the minute someone tries to pull it up and it says “CreateSpace” or “Amazon KDP” as the distributor. You won’t look like a professional.
Amazon CreateSpace, Kindle Direct Publishing, and other online print on demand companies like Lulu are great for the novel, young adult fiction, or workbook writer that wants a quick solution or doesn’t want to hold inventory, but the pro’s go direct to the printer, distribution, creation, and sales channels.
If you’ve been through this experience as a self-published author I know it can be humiliating. But, it’s ok. You didn’t know any better. This doesn’t mean your book is a failure. You got the hard part done. You wrote a book. So, let's just get you set up with a proper book cover, a professional layout and design, and get you registered properly with a new ISBN number, LOC number, get proper distribution channels, and get you going in the right direction. If worse comes to worst you can always place a new ISBN number over the top of the old one…just a simple sticker will work for the remainder of the printed books you have. It’s better than tossing them in the garbage. Of course, the ISBN will also be listed on your copyright page, so a little re-work there. It’s not ideal, but you now know better for your next print run.
Print a few professional copies - hard cover, with a jacket, correct ISBN number, set up proper distribution and mail those top quality books off to the distributor. You can even autograph them. I can give you some more guidance on proper distribution through my coaching system.
A little side note: most distribution systems won’t take inserts, so you’ll want to make sure the back pages contain whatever insert you might have placed in there and any additional marketing information, such as classes or seminars you teach, websites, and other books you’ve written. When you distribute and sell your books yourself you can control who gets them and the marketing inserts you place inside…as well as personal touches like autograph and signature or even special packaging. But, it’s all the details setting up proper channels that will allow for easy purchasing and professional appearance.
Another great tip for you: The next time you go into that little store, you don’t have to carry your book with you (since they usually buy through their sources anyhow). You could, at minimum, carry a barcode so that every time you are in a little bookstore in the future they can scan your barcode and easily find your book… You might even create a business card with a picture of your book on one side and the barcode on the back if you find yourself frequenting locations like this or even for public libraries.
Always remember, those little efforts to sell a $24.95 book are a ton of work, but it’s the thing you do with your book that will turn the greatest profit. But, you do still have to play the games and get in the proper channels. It’s all about being professional. All the little stuff is what makes the difference between a self published author and the writer of a book. Do what is necessary, but stay focused on the bigger picture. You got this!
OK Guys…as always, wishing you peace, love, and light.
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