Many of you will know that I have to date published three books. Two of these are poetry collections, “Barking At Nothing” which was published in 2010 and “Collecting Cobwebs, Gathering Brambles”, which includes poems by my late uncle, in 2011. The first of these is verse for children. My third book was published at the end of last year and is an illustrated story for young children called “The Thirsty Flowers”.
These books are listed on Amazon but it states that they are unavailable. In fact the books are available to purchase from my own website at http://www.silverburnpublishing.co.uk they just aren’t available on Amazon. Well that’s not entirely true; you can, at the time of writing, buy a couple of copies of “Barking At Nothing” from other suppliers on Amazon where I have seen them listed for £22.60 and £19.80 – remarkable when you consider that the face value is only £4.99 and of that £3 will be donated to a children’s charity – in this case The Donna Louise Hospice Trust (when bought direct from me). Forgive me for feeling a little angry that people should wish to make a killing to line their own pockets and that none of this extra money will go to the charity I aim to support.
The problem here is that I am an Indie publisher, I publish all my own books at my own expense and I do my best to keep my expenses as low as possible, doing all the work myself except for paying for printing. I then do my own marketing and distributing, again on a shoestring. This is what enables me to keep the price reasonable and yet also to raise money for the charity. All I hope to do is to recoup my expenditure so that I have the money to pay for the next project.
I would love to make my books available on Amazon, to reach a wider audience, to sell more and so raise more money for my charity. However, in order for Amazon to sell my books I have to provide them with stock – they will only sell from stock that they hold. I have to send the stock to them at my own expense and I have to pay an annual fee for the privilege of having them hold the stock. It is considerably more than likely that my sales will not cover the expense of doing this so not only will there be no profits for me to donate to the charity but I will probably not even recoup my initial expenditure and quite frankly, I can’t afford to do this.
To a lesser degree there is a similar problem when selling through bookshops. My books are registered with Nielsen’s Book Agency and have ISBN numbers so they can be ordered through bookshops. However when a book is ordered the book shop contacts Nielsen’s who then notify me, I have to post the book to the bookshop at my own expense and sell to the shop at a discount so that the shop can have their mark-up. Again this results in no profit and barely covers my expenses.
So the only realistic option for me is to just sell the books directly from my website and I have to constantly be on the look-out for other selling opportunities – stalls at local events etc. and thinking up new ways to attract customers. (I’m not good at this!) When a new book comes out this gives a boost because you can draw people’s attention to the previous books on the back of the publicity for the new one but, as any Indie writer/publisher will tell you, all this is hard work and eats into writing time!
I have a new book that I am working on, it will be called “Simply Elfje” and is based on my currently dormant blog of the same name. This time I am trying a different approach. I plan to produce it through Amazon’s self-publishing platform Createspace, together with an e-book version produced on Kindle Direct Publishing. Createspace produces Print-on-Demand paperback books and both this and the e-book should be available on Amazon at no expense to me. I will receive a Royalty for the books sold which I can then donate to charity if I wish.
Now all I am struggling with is that I have the option of using one of my own ISBNs or I can have a free one from Createspace – but what I can’t seem to find out before I commit myself is what the advantages or disadvantages of these options are. If I use their ISBN it will be listed as published by Createspace, but if I use my own it will be published by Silverburn Publishing, my own imprint. Fair enough, but how does that affect my representation on Amazon? Do I get the same free distribution using my own ISBN as I would using one of their’s? If anyone knows the answer to this from their own experience a comment would be appreciated.