Picking Your Battles
My new book, The South Coast, has been out for just about two weeks now. The release was sloppy, to say the least, due to Amazon picking the listing up and putting it on their store before I even knew, for a whole week. I then pushed the Kindle version live and in a whimper, not a bang, had a book available to the world.
My book is printed by a company called Lightning Source, which is owned by Ingram. Ingram is the largest book distributor in the country, and services most other countries. Lightning Source is Print-On-Demand (POD) meaning I don’t have to buy hundreds or thousands of copies and keep them in my basement. A book is printed once it is ordered, eliminating the need for keeping stock (or for wasting paper). And the printing is fast and good. I am very happy with the cover and paper quality of my book. It is hard to tell any difference from most books sitting on the shelves down at my local Barnes & Noble.
And in the first day of release I discovered quickly that Amazon treats independent authors quite differently. Amazon owns their own POD company, called CreateSpace. If you use CreateSpace your title is of course automatically on Amazon.com (it is with Lightning Source as well). POD takes no more than a couple of days to have a book ready to ship. But if the POD supplier is not CreateSpace, Amazon puts a hold on the order. This hold equated to 2-3 weeks for my book.
I had many emails back and forth with the executive office at Amazon to find out why they do this, but a true answer was never given. I then decided to contact who is pretty much the ‘king’ of independent authors, Hugh Howey. I wrote him and he wrote back quickly, to tell me he too had the same issue when he first started publishing his own books.
Hugh’s answer: Create a second version of the paperback through CreateSpace and just move on.
It wasn’t the answer I wanted to hear. I wanted to fight the giant, to go into battle and win a big win for indie authors everywhere. But… I also want my book to be readily available for the tens of people who might buy it.
So available now on Amazon is the CreateSpace version of my paperback. Honestly, it is almost as good as my Lightning Source version.
I’m still going to find ways to push Amazon to work better with companies other than their own, but for now I just have to maintain two different versions of my paperback.