Disclaimer: This post was originally posted on my previous website on 27th February 2020, some of the information in it may no longer be accurate.
I discovered something when I went to publish Samhain Sorcery a couple of months ago: things had changed. When I published The Kingston Chronicles the process was different. I printed the paperback copies through Createspace and the Kindle copies through KDP. Both of these services were owned by Amazon, and the process of setting my title up with them was rather simple.
I went about happily spruiking my book, working on my blog, and of course Samhain Sorcery. While I was doing thisAmazon decided to merge Createspace and KDP into one service, and it actually made things even easier!
So when I went to set up Samhain Sorcery in the KDP software for print and Kindle I expected everything to be the same as the first time. I set my new title up in the system and everything was great, until I tried to order a proof copy…
I found out, to my horror and dismay, that KDP wouldn’t/couldn’t ship proof copies, or author copies, to Australia. I discussed this at length in Indie Publishing Part Nine
(Sidenote: if you aren’t an author, and you’re currently thinking “what the hell is a proof or author copy? Proof copies are like prototypes of your book. You can get one printed and see what the final product is, make sure formatting, colour etc is all perfect before you launch your book and people buy it. Author copies are the same quality/item as the paperback you buy from Amazon, only they are much cheaper for the author to buy, as you only pay shipping and printing costs. So for example, the book you may buy for $14.99 from the Amazon store, might only cost the author $5 to buy per copy plus shipping. They allow authors to buy printed copies of their books to on-sell at places like Conventions, Markets, Indie Book shops etc, and still make a profit.)
Now in KDP’s defence, they were claiming that this was due to changes in Australian GST laws. KDP recommend if I want to get copies of my books I needed to pay full Amazon list price plus shipping from the AU store. Suddenly getting stock of my own books got much more expensive. It also means I needed to list my book as live, (meaning anyone in the world can buy a copy) before I’ve even seen whether or not I’m happy with the final product.
Not the ideal process.
I looked into other options, like mail forwarding services, other print options like Ingram Spark, and pleading with my American relatives to let me use their addresses in the states and pay them to forward my books to me (you can read more about this in Indie Publishing Part Nine). In Part 9 I discussed this at length as it had a huge impact on me as a small business/Independent author. A good portion of readers still prefer (or only read) print books. By not being able to offer them I’m cutting myself out of approximately half my potential market.
According to Mark Coker, author of Smashwords Book Marketing Guide – How to Market any Book for Free, 25% of book sales these days are for Indie Books (i.e. author’s like me as opposed to traditionally published authors), and 50% of all books read are digital. I really didn’t want to cut out potentially 50% of my market by not offering paperback books, and as Amazon is my main online store it seems silly to me to only offer the eBook version through them and not both.
Another option I could’ve had, was to dramatically cut the cost of my paperback on Amazon so it doesn’t cost me so much to order copies. However, Amazon takes a cut of all my sales (obviously) and so by dropping the price significantly I’m also dropping the amount of royalty I make should a member of the public buy a copy, and right now my royalties aren’t huge anyway. I also didn’t know how to reconcile the whole “paying list price and receiving royalty back on it” at tax time.
But then, quite by accident, I discovered KDP Print is now shipping to Australia!
I don’t know what changed in their back of house procedures, but this is good news for me, and a lot of other authors. It’s resolved a major issue for me as an Indie Author. My main other issue is money, but what else is new?
So, what’s the moral of the story here? Things change and, no matter what your business, you need to be able to roll with the punches and adapt. I’ll admit there were days I considered giving up. Days when my anxiety disorder and depression were bad, and I felt like the doors to Indie Publishing had been slammed shut on me. But the idea of not doing this, writing books and selling them, hurt more than the idea of trying to figure a way through the obstacle.
Sometimes when things change it’s for the better. Sometimes it makes things difficult. This business is difficult enough when things are going smoothly. If you run into an obstacle on your writing journey the best thing I can recommend is to do some research and not give up. Talk to other Indie Authors (we all live on the internet. There are so many Facebook groups where authors can ask other authors questions). I guarantee you are not the first, nor the only, person who has hit whatever roadblock it is that is standing in front of you.