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!

UPDATE (2020-06-08): I discovered that Amazon did transfer reviews from the prior listing of BVS to the new one! Crisis averted! Deciding to self-publish sure comes with its share of hurdles. Thanks for bearing with me as I navigate them!

2 thoughts on “How not to self-publish your books

  1. Interesting info about IngramSparks. I’,lousy at marketing. My publisher for Sins of Variance placed the book on Ingram, but it didn’t help much. Hopefully, IngramSparks will work for you.

    1. Thanks, Rob. I still haven’t cracked the marketing nut, either. We’ll see if there’s any actual benefit to IngramSpark or not. (Hope your back’s feeling better!)

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