Do you want to sell more of your self-published books?
Then you need to be listed on Amazon. Until recently, that meant you had to use a service like Lightning Source to slip in through the side door via Ingram or you had to pay for the privilege by buying a “distribution package” from one of the subsidy presses or you had to list your books in Amazon Marketplace through Amazon Advantage or one of the other Amazon seller programs.
Now, there’s a simple, low cost way available to any author or self-publisher: use Amazon’s CreateSpace publishing/printing service. CreateSpace, Amazon’s answer to Lulu, isn’t a subsidy publisher in the same way that BookSurge, Amazon’s other publishing venture, is.
CreateSpace requires no upfront expense – even for an ISBN number. No books are printed until they are ordered, saving you – the publisher – the expense of shipping, stocking, and warehousing in advance of sales. The flip side to this is that CreateSpace also offers very little in the way of handholding or guidance for novices. They state their submission guidelines for the book block and the cover, and then leave you to figure out how to meet those guidelines.
And let’s be clear – the guidelines are technical, not editorial. CreateSpace will make you a published writer – they don’t even try to make you a good writer. You can submit a manuscript rife with spelling errors, howlingly bad word choices, and the sorts of grammatical mistakes that will make your 7th grade English teacher disavow all knowledge of your existence. As long as the margins are OK and the fonts are embedded in the PDF, CreateSpace will print your book.
Amazon Listings Make Money
Here’s the profitable part – CreateSpace will give your book automatic entre into Amazon’s main catalog. Whether you use your own ISBN under your own imprint or list CreateSpace itself as the publisher, you book will be listed and sold by Amazon, eligible for free shipping and all the other Amazon perks.
Amazon’s reach will make you money – but first they’ll make some for themselves. Under the Pro Plan upgrade (free until the end of the year), each book with 110 pages or more will have a base price of $0.85 plus $0.012 per page. You set the cover price for any amount you wish – and Amazon will keep 40%
So – for a 150 page book the costs would look like this:
- $0.85 base price
- $1.80 for 150 pages ( at $0.012 per page)
- $2.65 per book – total printing cost
You decide to sell the book for $14.95. Amazon keeps 40% of that – or $5.98
You make a $6.32 royalty on each book sold.
Now you may be tempted to subtract $2.65 (the printing cost) from $14.95 (the cover price) and say, I’ll sell it myself on my own web site and keep $12.30 per book! I’ll sell it in the back of the room after my seminars! I’ll sell it on eBay! And so you should. You should sell your book everywhere and anywhere you can. But understand this – Amazon is where buyers, who do not yet know that they want your book, will discover your book and buy it.
Last year, Ghost Leg concentrated our book sales on in-person events, web sales, and third party sales on Amazon. Our books sold steadily in every venue except Amazon, where sales were slow. As an experiment, we decided to take advantage of the free Pro Plan upgrade at CreateSpace to reposition a few books on Amazon.
Our Amazon sales have increased 5 fold in just two months. Not a bad trade off for a smaller percentage of the gross.