How not to self-publish your books

When I wanted to self-publish Beneath the Vault of Stars (BVS), I thought I’d done my research. Ha, yeah, all right. I opted to use CreateSpace. Which is now Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Later, I learned that it’s important to own your own ISBNs—and that’s why I had to change things up.

KDP gives you the option to provide your own ISBN—$125 a pop from Bowker, the one-and-only purveyor of ISBNs in the States—or grab one of KDP’s shiny free ISBNs.

Shiny? Free?! Sign me up!

Except that way, someone else owns your ISBN.

I think I knew that, but at the time, I didn’t think it was a big deal. Maybe it’s not for some people, but I decided I wanted to determine what I could do with those ISBNs—and their associated books. (And if you buy in bulk, the price per ISBN drops along an almost parabolic scale. Or something. I am not a mathematician.)

That’s why if you search for BVS on Amazon, you’ll see the listing for the old version (“Currently unavailable”) and the updated version. (It’s the same story: just a different cover and a few grammatical and stylistic tweaks.) I wanted to just plain remove it, but KDP doesn’t let you delete a book if you’ve ever made it available for sale. (The next two books in The Daybringer series will only have their singular entries.)

Armed with my shiny new paid-for ISBNs, I set up my self-published titles through IngramSpark (IS). All right, all right; good, good. Now what?

There’s a whole rat’s nest of under-the-hood stuff to unravel when you’re ready to self-publish, and I still have almost no idea how any of it works—or is supposed to work. Maybe I should be more interested in the sausage-making, but, well…? The paperback version of BVS showed up on Amazon within a few days of approving the title through IS’s dashboard. The ebook…did not.

I think that’s because I had BVS enrolled in KDP Select (an option where you make your ebook available exclusively through Amazon for higher royalties). Maybe not? I don’t know! I told you: it’s still mostly all voodoo to me! For KDP ebooks, you don’t need an ISBN—and I wasn’t using the KDP-provided ISBN anyway, so I have no idea what the story is.

Then, after some more research, I discovered something else.

Self-publish with IngramSpark and Kindle Direct Publishing!

A handful of internet geniuses suggested publishing to both IngramSpark and KDP. One site said make sure you set up your titles through IS first; the other said do it through KDP first. Maybe it doesn’t matter, but I set things up through IS first. I ordered a few author copies, but it’ll be a few weeks before they get here. I also ordered an author copy of (the new version of) BVS from KDP. That, too, will take a few weeks to arrive.

All this stuff probably bores most people. In a lot of ways, it bores me, too. Part of that, I think, is because afterward, I’m supposed to figure out how to market these things, and I am about as, uh, ungood at that as can be.

Which reminds me: none of the six reviews people were kind enough to write for BVS show up under the new listing. Amazon sees it as a brand new entity. If you’re reading this, if you wrote a review for BVS, would you consider copying and pasting it into the new listing? It’s a hassle, I know, but thank you for considering it. (And if you have read BVS yet haven’t left a review, would you consider writing one?)

Thanks for stopping by!

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