CreateSpace, IngramSpark, and KDP Select, Oh My!

I know, in theory, choice is an awesome thing.  However I have been known to abandon my grocery cart in the middle of a supermarket halfway through shopping because the cereal selection became too overwhelming.  No, seriously, I have been known to do this. I had to find a new supermarket once my now-husband moved in and handed me a shopping list I couldn’t fulfill at the gas station  He does our the grocery shopping these days.

In spite of my hatred for tough decisions, I started researching printing and publishing options this week for BLOOD TOY. Oh boy, my head hurts.  But at least I still have my shopping cart.

DSC_0390_Iván_Melenchón_Serrano_MorgueFile

For the sake of my sanity, I only considered the two big ones for print-on-demand options: IngramSpark and CreateSpace.

The main problem with CreateSpace, as I see it, is with bookstore distribution.  With CreateSpace, a bookstore discount is only 25% vs. the industry standard of 40%, and books are non-returnable, making brick and mortar stores less likely to carry my book.

In all honesty, this might be a little like buying groceries at the farmer’s market because they have the widest selection of locally sources meats…when I am a vegetarian (to keep the grocery shopping metaphor alive).  Bookstores are not going to stock by book anyway unless I actively and effectively sell them on it, but if I do decide to try my hand at getting into bookstores, IngramSpark will allow me to make my book appropriately discounted for retail and returnable. On the other hand, CreateSpace offers a profit and shipping cost advantage for print copies sold on Amazon.

In this case, since there is no clear winner, and because I can, I plan to use both–CreateSpace for POD books on Amazon and IngramSpark for everything else.  There is an excellent and thorough comparison of the two services, and an explanation that mirrors my rationale for deciding to use both here.

Now for the more difficult decision, that is the publication of my ebook. To KPD Select or not to KDP Select.

Exclusivity breeds, it seems, some pretty polarized opinions. On the one hand, if I opt to publish through KDP Select, I eliminate for 90 days the chance to make any ebook sales through B&N, iBooks, Google Play, etc. On the other, I get what could be some pretty significant discoverability advantages: 5 promo days every 3 months (Free Days or Countdown Deals) and inclusion in Kindle Unlimited and the Prime Lending Library, which pays out every time someone borrows my book and reads more than 10% of it…and might equate to as many or more sales that I will get at those other booksellers combined.

Or it might be a missed opportunity.

I’ve heard tales of many a self-published author that did poorly on Amazon, but discovered freak and career-making success on B&N or iBooks. Of course these tales are akin to urban legends, because I have only heard them described in “friend of a friend” specificity. But then wouldn’t choosing wide distribution over exclusivity similarly result in a missed opportunity to take advantage of KDP Select and the chance to reach all those people exactly like me that shop Kindle Unlimited? I do still buy books, but if I am considering the work of an unknown author or if I am just browsing, I almost exclusively look at books available via Kindle Unlimited.

KDP Select is widely considered a great way to build an audience for a new author. After all, what do I have to lose?  Exclusivity is the trade-off for an unparalleled chance to build audience, rake in reviews and increase a book’s sales rankings. Except it doesn’t always work when an author only has one book to sell.

What? Huh?

Well, you see, if I only have one book to sell, the spike I get from free or promo days may not have lasting impact, and all those who download my book for cheap or free during that time may forget about it by the time my next book is published. Not to mention those who borrow the book may be just loading their device with crap they have no intention of ever reading or, worse, may be taking a chance on a genre they otherwise would not pay to read, therefore will hate my book and will leave a bad review just for the hell of it.

Wait, I thought you said I didn’t have anything to lose?!

In spite of all the mixed messages and conflicting opinion, I am leaning towards KDP Select. Mostly because I want to spend more time writing in the three months post publication than uploading my book to every Nook and cranny (see what I did there?). I figure if I plan at least a few of my promo days at the end of my 90 day exclusivity agreement, I can time it to closely precede the launch of Book 2, which I will likely NOT make exclusive. Hopefully KDP Select, along with some well placed promotions, will help build a readership to aid in the launch Book 2.

Next I just have to figure out ISBN numbers and audio books!  This ought to be fun.

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