In the past 15 years that I have worked with authors, the publishing scene has changed many times. Not only that, but the players have changed, too. By this I mean that well-established independent publishing houses, ranging from tiny to extra large in size, have gone out of business, orphaning their authors’ books.
In the past two years I’ve had countless authors come to me for help in getting their books back online after either having a disagreement with the original publisher, or because the publisher has gone out of business.
That’s why authors need to take control of the publication process from the very beginning.
But what does taking control mean?
There is a lot of information hidden in that 13-digit code we call an ISBN. Most important for the individual author to realize is that the ISBN identifies the publisher of the book. Even if you own the copyright to your book, if you try to upload your book yourself, having an ISBN from a different publisher can mean that Amazon KDP and Ingram Spark will reject it.
Now rejection isn’t final. It is just a long and painful process to fix. You will need a letter from the original publisher saying you have permission to publish the book using their ISBN. This can often take several months of back-and-forth emails to finalize, particularly when working with Ingram Spark.
A second method is to get a new ISBN for your book, under your own publishing name. But this too, can have complications. Even though you have a new ISBN, Amazon KDP and Ingram Spark will often flag the book as not having the correct ISBN and publisher.
When working with both of these sites, it is important to remember that you are working with a computer program, and it is often difficult to reach a human (particularly with Ingram Spark). Therefore, as often as you try to tell the computer that this is your book and you own the rights to it, you can be caught in a loop where the same messages keep coming back to you.
It is frustrating and time consuming. It can be accomplished, but why put yourself in this position in the first place?
Playing Well with Others
That’s what we all learned in kindergarten, right? Well Ingram Spark and Amazon KDP didn’t go to kindergarten, and they didn’t learn that lesson. They just don’t play well with each other, and Amazon doesn’t play well with bookstores. This means that you need to upload your book to both Amazon KDP and Ingram Spark.
Why? Ingram Spark is the only site that most bookstores use to order books. If you don’t have your book on Ingram Spark, bookstores will ignore you. Also, Ingram Spark advertises that uploading with them makes your book available everywhere—on sites such as Google Books, Barnes and Noble, and of course, Amazon. This is true. Your book will appear on Amazon even if you only upload to Ingram Spark.
But I’ve noticed in the past few years, that Amazon will often list books uploaded through Ingram Spark as taking longer to ship, or as having fewer books available for sale. This is a turnoff to a potential reader. This means that you need to upload your book to both sites to get maximum distribution.
But there’s another catch.
If you upload your book to Amazon KDP BEFORE you upload to Ingram Spark, Ingram Spark will tell you that your ISBN number has already been used.
Yes, this is the meaning of Catch 22.
Here’s my advice to help you deal with all of these conflicting issues.
- Even though you work with an editor, publishing consultant, and other book experts, purchase your own ISBNs from www.bowker.com
- Upload your own books to your own Amazon KDP and Ingram Spark accounts, do not upload them to a publisher’s site.
- Plan for the future. Whether or not you think you will work with bookstores right now, upload your book to Ingram Spark so that you will have the option in the future.
- Upload your book first to Ingram Spark, then to Amazon KDP.
I realize that everything I’ve said is confusing. You can’t learn all of the ins and outs of the book industry overnight. If you have any questions, please send me an email and I’ll try to clarify it for you.