…Or maybe not such good news

In my last post, I propose that it might be beneficial for independent UK authors to self-publish paperback titles with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), as member copies of books can be bought from the UK.

I transferred the anthology that I had originally published on CreateSpace – with the UK ISBN – to KDP (subsequently removed from CreateSpace), and then set about buying a copy. On the Order author copies page, I had to specify an order quantity, and then select the Marketplace of my order. I selected one copy, and Amazon.co.uk as my marketplace.

The price of one book (excluding shipping and taxes) is £1.90. This is the printing cost of the book as determined by trim size, interior type, and page count. I submit my order and the book is added to my Amazon cart, where I can then complete the purchase. (Note: the first time I did this, I had to wait for a ‘set-up’ email from Amazon.)

I find the book has been added to my Amazon Shopping Basket. I went straight to Checkout, and was disappointed to find that postage and packing would cost £2.73! The order total came to £4.63. Estimated delivery would be between 24-27 February (I ordered it on 19th).

To compare costs, I logged on to my CreateSpace account. My anthology with the CreateSpace ISBN still exists there. With the cheapest shipping option (April delivery), the total price for one member copy, converted to GBP, was £5.04.

One bit of good news then: UK ordering with KDP is cheaper and quicker, but is this method beneficial to authors who supply books to UK distributors? Let’s do the maths in the following scenario, whilst bearing in mind that distributors ask for at least 40% discount off the retail price of a book:

A book distributor wants five copies of my anthology to fulfil bookshop orders. The retail price of the book is £3.99. Five copies would fetch £19.95, but the distributor takes a 40% discount, meaning they will buy the books from me for £11.97. I order five member copies @ £1.90. This comes to £9.50. Postage and packing is calculated at £6.83, bringing the total order to £16.33. For me, this means an overall loss of £4.36, or £0.872 per book.

The discount required by the distributor, and the cost of shipping to the author is always going to cause a problem. To make a profit in the above scenario, I would have to set the retail price of my anthology at £5.99. This would give me a profit of £1.64 across the five books – that’s only £0.328 per book, and less than KDP’s royalty of £0.49! And I risk not selling it to customers who visit Amazon because it’s too expensive.

In conclusion, ordering member copies of books from KDP for UK distributors is not necessarily a viable option. It makes more sense to, tell the distributor to tell the bookshop to tell the customer to simply buy the book online. However, to end on a positive note: shipping to the UK is cheaper and quicker, and if I were to sell the five books privately, I would make £0.724 per book, which is more than KDP’s royalty!

🙂

Good news for UK self-publishers…?

It’s been a while since my last post, due to a series of unfortunate life events that have also led me to change the way I offer my editing services. Currently, I am only working with existing clients and new clients whose manuscripts do not exceed 50,000 words; however, this is not the good news I wanted to mention…

Something called KDP Jumpstart came to my attention recently. It’s been a few years since I have self-published on Amazon and as I’ve not been keeping up to date I thought I should investigate.

It used to be that if you wanted to self-publish through Amazon you used their CreateSpace platform for paperback books and their Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform for e-books.

KDP now offer the means to publish paperback books. You can even transfer previously published books from the CreateSpace platform to KDP, quoting the original ISBN used. This will disable it on CreateSpace, and they say this is not reversible. KDP do not support CreateSpace’s Expanded Distribution, so if this is important to you, they suggest keeping the book on CreateSpace. As far as I recall, there is no Expanded Distribution available in the UK with CreateSpace; it’s only available in the US, but I could be wrong.

Some years ago, I self-published a book of short stories on CreateSpace, using their free ISBN number. I won’t digress into the ISBN conundrum here, but I had been thinking about republishing using a UK ISBN. I shall do so, using this new KDP platform.

Although I have not completed the process yet, I believe that once you have set up a new paperback with KDP – or transferred a previous one from CreateSpace – you can then choose your nearest distribution centre from within the UK when ordering member copies of the book.

I can see advantages for UK authors when using this new platform. It provides an opportunity to set up a replacement publication using an UK ISBN, rather than a CreateSpace one, and if potential customers order your book directly from a UK bookshop, the retailer should not refuse to order copies that are sourced from the UK. (They have refused to order books that have to be shipped from the US, as costs do not make it financially viable.) Whether this will be worthwhile for the author will still depend on the costs for printing and shipping, but presumably this will be cheaper and more economical than having books supplied from the US.

Once I have explored further, I will either update this post or create a new one, but if anyone has any useful comments about this new service, please let me know and I can include them.

🙂

CreateSpace & the ISBN conundrum

This week, I thought I would shed some light on the role of the ISBN, when self-publishing with CreateSpace.

What is an ISBN? ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. You’ll find one on the back cover of a published book.  It is a product identification number that enables a publisher to distribute the book to outlets such as major bookselling chains, internet booksellers, and libraries. As a self-publisher, you may wish to take advantage of this method of distribution.

There is no legal requirement in the UK for an ISBN, but when self-publishing with the US-based platform, CreateSpace, you have to provide one. They offer a choice of either using a CreateSpace-assigned ISBN or providing your own UK ISBN (initially obtained from the Nielsen UK ISBN Agency).

Which ISBN should I choose? This largely depends on how you wish your book to be distributed. If you are happy to sell your book via the range of Amazon websites and US outlets, then it’s probably best to choose the CreateSpace-assigned ISBN. If you wish to take advantage of UK distribution as mentioned in the opening paragraph, then you need to provide a UK ISBN. To further explain the differences between the two, I have, hopefully, offered some insight below. (CreateSpace currently provide four ISBN options, but two of these are not available for non-US members.)

CreateSpace-assigned ISBN. This option is free, but designates CreateSpace as the publisher and distributor of your work. As publisher, they use the imprint ‘CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform’, and this will appear on any bibliographical references. Although you always retain the copyright to your work, with this option you have little control over publishing and distribution rights. Your book will be sold on Amazon.com, Amazon Europe and eStore channels, but distribution is only available to CreateSpace Direct, bookstores, other online retailers, libraries, and academic institutions within the US – worth bearing in mind if you specifically want to distribute your book to these places in the UK. A CreateSpace-assigned ISBN can only be used with the CreateSpace platform.

Provide your own UK ISBN. There is no charge by CreateSpace for this, but you will have to pay a fee to whoever provides the UK ISBN. This could be direct to the Nielsen UK ISBN Agency, or to whoever self-publishes your book. (I currently charge £14.40 when using my own publishing imprint, Shadenet Publishing.) If you buy your UK ISBN direct, you choose your own publishing name. This makes it more personal, but more importantly, you hold all the publishing and distribution rights, and your imprint will appear on any bibliographical references. You can also choose your own distributor. Your book will still be available via all the Amazon outlets, but will not be eligible for distribution to libraries and academic institutions in the US. It will still be available to US bookstores and other online retailers, but your book’s ISBN must not have been submitted for distribution through another service, and you must use an industry-standard trim size for your book (5″ x 8″, 5.25″ x 8″, 5.5″ x 8.5″, or 6″ x 9″).

Any self-publisher can purchase an ISBN. Until recently, they were only available in blocks of 10, but the Nielsen UK ISBN Agency have realized that many self-publishers only want to publish one book, so they have started offering one ISBN, currently for £75. (Bear in mind, 10 can be bought for £149.00).

E-books do not necessarily require an ISBN number, but if you want to distribute e-books through channels other than Amazon, in the UK, then you will need to assign a different ISBN number.

I hope this goes some way to making the ISBN choice easier for UK self-publishers. I’d quite like to hear from anyone about their experiences of using a UK ISBN with CreateSpace, especially with regards to distribution.