Below are honest answers to the kinds of publishing questions authors ask. The aim of this ruthless honesty is to give authors realistic expectations.
Who prints your paperbacks and hardbacks?
Ingram Spark /Lightning Source.
(Authors wanting 100% royalties on print copies may choose Kindle Direct Publishing Print services as their printer/distributor instead.)
Where are the books printed?
There are four Lightning Source/ Ingram Spark print facilities in the USA: one located in California, two in Tennessee, and another in Pennsylvania. They also have printing facilities in the UK, Australia and the United Arab Emirates.
What is print on demand?
Print on demand (POD) means that the printer prints your book only when a bookstore orders it in. Read more about it here: Ihttps://www.ingramspark.com/blog/misconceptions-about-print-on-demand-pod
Where will my books be available?
Print books printed with Ingram Spark are distributed worldwide by Ingram, the world’s largest book distributor. It will appear on Amazon, Book Depository, B & N and, a few weeks later, on most other online retailers. It will also be available for customers to order it from any bookstore world wide. It will not automatically appear on the shelves of a physical bookstore as a store has to order the book in from the distributor.
Books printed through Kindle Direct Publishing Print are not so widely available, but they are available in Amazon stores.
Ebooks will be available on whatever platform you choose for distribution. Upload it to Kindle Direct Publishing and your book will be available on Amazon for Kindles, and if you want your ebook available in other major ebook retailers, then upload it to Draft2Digital.
Do you secure copyright?
Our books include a copyright page to make ownership clear. In Australia works are automatically protected by law as soon as they are published, and we deposit our publications with the National Library of Australia and the NSW state library to make sure that publication is resigistered. US authors may also wish to register copyright with copyright.gov
Would my book be available for pre-order?
Yes, our paperbacks will be available for pre-order for the following reasons:
- It allows authors to order paperbacks before the publication date and have them on hand for their launches;
- It gives us time to check the physical paperback and make changes if necessary before the book is up for sale;
- It allows the author to send print copies to reviewers who request them;
- A few pre-order sales avoids an ‘Out of Stock’ sign on Amazon.
- It allows pre-publication promotion with a direct link to where readers can buy immediately. For authors with few followers, this maximises sales. Otherwise an interested buyer will probably forget about the book.
Alternatively, the product page on AIA Publishing’s website can be used as the link in pre-publicity. There, readers can sign up for our mailing list and will receive an email on the publication date to remind them to buy it. So if an author really doesn’t want a pre-order for their paperback, we can skip it. The author just needs to let us know.
Ebook pre-orders depend on when the author decides to set the ebook up for publishing on the ebook distribution platforms. If they click “publish” at the same time or after the paperback publication date, there’s no pre-order period.
The reason some authors say that pre-orders aren’t a good idea is because pre-order sales on Amazon don’t count towards pushing the book up the Amazon sales rankings on its first day of sale. Authors whose books have a chance of ranking well may choose not to have a pre-order period. For a book to rank well, authors have to be able to mobilise several hundreds of sales in the first few days – either by having lots of engaged fans on their email list who will all buy in the first few days and/or by undertaking paid advertising from a variety of places that spans the first week.
How do I get 100% royalties on Amazon for my print books?
You ask us for files for KDPP (Kindle Direct Publishing Print) and publish the book yourself on KDPP. This will be a completely separate publication to the one we publish for you, and both will be available on Amazon. We recommend not doing this initially as it can be messy and confusing.
Important to note:
- You must not choose the KDPP ‘Expanded Distribution Option’ because we handle worldwide distribution through our printer/distributor. You don’t want two versions of your book in all bookstores.
- You cannot use the same ISBN. (You can get one from KDP for free pre-registered under the imprint name “Independently published.”)
- You will be self-publishing this version of the book and cannot quote us as publisher for it.
- You will need to pay us USD$25 for each file to be put on a KDPP template.
- Amazon might take some convincing that you have the right to publish it, but we can provide you with the necessary documentation.
- You will need to set up the title and upload the files to KDPP yourself.
- You will have 2 versions of the book on Amazon.
- Some bookstores won’t accept books published on Amazon’s platform. The Independant Booksellers Association won’t list them, so when approaching bookstores, do not promote this version, but use our one.
- One advantage is that your book will never have an ‘Out of Stock’ sign on Amazon.
- The wholesale discount on Amazon is set at 40%. That means the net income per book is 5 -10% less (depending on the marketplace) than the book we publish for you. You will only be getting an extra 5% on each book sold in most marketplaces, not 15%.
- You’re on your own with Amazon. We can’t assist you if anything goes wrong.
How much say would I have over my cover?
Though AIAP’s contract gives us the right to make the final decision on a cover, our cover designer works closely with our authors to create a cover they’re happy with and that also meets industry standards and will compete well in the marketplace.
Why does my ebook not look like the paperback interior?
On many devices ebook interior design won’t look exactly like your paperback. This is because ereading devices automatically default to whatever format settings have been selected for that device. Readers can change format settings such as the font, the font size, and the spacing between lines, so although our ebooks are formatted to look as much like the paperback interior as possible, the settings on the ereading device will override some of our formatting.
Some ereading devices have the option to set ‘Publisher Font’, and only if that option is available and selected on the device, will the book be sure to look like the paperback interior. In most other instances, the heading font (for instance) will not appear the same as for the paperback.
Ereaders don’t have set pages, so what appears as one page in the paperback could be half a page or 4 pages depending on how the reader sets the font size. We don’t use drop caps in our ebook files because they often don’t display true to the formatting, so we change the drop caps to a large initial letter. Headers and footers can also be problematic in ebooks, so we don’t use them. This makes sure that the book will look good on all ereading devices. Simple formatting works best in ebooks.
Because there are so many different kinds of ereading devices and software, you can’t fully determine how any particular ereading device will display an ebook. We check our ebooks on Kindle Previewer and Adobe Digital Editions as well as on an actual Kindle ereader.
Can you put headers and footers on my ebook?
No we don’t do that because they are problematic and unnecessary. Adding headers, footers and page numbers to the ebook file can lead to those elements appearing in the middle of the text on some ereaders, depending on how the reader adjusts the text’s font and point size, and hence the number of words on a page.
Only a fixed-format style ebook can have headers and footers that display properly on a page. However, such ebooks have limitations for the reader – see ‘the problem with fixed-format files’ in the next section.
Can you include photos and illustrations in my ebook?
We advise our authors to leave photos and illustrations out of their ebooks unless they are absolutely necessary, as with a children’s picture book. Why? Because:
Ebooks with images are best formatted as a fixed format ebook rather than the usual reflowable text ebook in order for the images to sit properly on an ebook ‘page’. Fixed format ebooks are sold specifically for reading on LCD screens on computers and tablets. They are not designed for reading on e-ink ereaders such as Kobo, Nook and Kindle ereaders.
You cannot read a fixed format ebook on an ordinary Kindle, only reflowable text format, which is not designed to include images. If you do incliude images in a relowable text format ebook, you have the following problems:
Problems with images and illustrations in ebooks that can be read on e-ink ereaders
Images can’t be enlarged on e-ink ereaders and so they may be hard to see. They also only appear in black and white. In the usual reflowable ebook format, they may also appear as just one small photo on an otherwise blank page., or with half a sentence or one word.
This quote from an Amazon reviewer explains the reader’s frustration with images in ebooks:
‘My Kindle’s screen is 6 inches (measured diagonally), and I found all of the screen captures, examples and exercises extremely difficult to read, even with a magnifying glass. The screen shots are simply too small, and there’s no way to increase their size on my Kindle. After viewing several exercises with various magnifying glasses and lenses, I eventually skipped them.’
Also images make the files very large, and Amazon charge you to download large files. Every time someone buys and downloads an ebook with a large file size, such as when photos are included, Amazon deducts a fee from what they pay you. This means that your book will need to be priced higher than a book with no or few photos.
In addition, formatting images for an ebook is a time consuming business, and so it will add to your costs. The more images, the higher the cost.
Given the issues above, if images aren’t necessary in order to understand the story, we advise not including them in ebooks you want to sell to readers reading on e-ink readers, such as Kindles, Kobos and Nooks. You could have the images available on your website instead – perhaps in a downloadable pdf in exchange for email list sign up.
If your book won’t make sense without the images and there are a lot of them, then we advise either only publishing a paperback or publishing the ebook in a fixed-format file suitable only for tablets (a designation which includes iPads and Kindle Fires) and computers. This will, however, limit your market, as the book will not be able to be read on an ordinary Kindle.
Why does Amazon say my Kindle can’t open my ebook?
This happens when you’re trying to read a fixed format ebook (see above) on an e-ink reader and you don’t have the Kindle app on any device. Fixed format ebooks will work on Kindle Fire tablets and Kindle reading apps for iPad, iPhone, Android phones, Android tablets, PC and Mac. They are not available on Kindle e-Ink readers. Download the Kindle App onto your tablet , computer or phone to read them.
If you have the app somewhere, Amazon will ask you to choose which device you want to read the book on.
If you want the book to be able to be read on all Kindle devices then we can remove the images and make a reflowable format ebook.
What is Kindle Select and should I join it?
Kindle Select is when you agree to make your ebooks only available as a Kindle book on Amazon for periods of 3 months at a time. When you set up your ebook on Kindle Direct Publishing, you click a box saying that you want to enrol the book in Kindle Select, and that makes it available in Kindle Unlimited (KU) to KU library members. We recommended that you keep your ebook in Kindle Select (just on Amazon) for the first 3-6 months, after that if the book is selling well, then you can take the book out of Kindle Select and upload it to Draft2Digital who will then distribute the ebook to the other major ebook sellers.
The advantages of Kindle Select is that the book is free to KU readers, you get paid per page read, you can run free promotions and get 70% royalty on 99c promotions. The disadvantage is that your ebook can only be bought at Amazon and read on a Kindle or Kindle app. For new authors, having it free to KU members for a few months is a good idea as it’s more likely that your book will find readers and it gives you time to get used to managing your ebook sales and running promotions before spending time setting up your ebook elsewhere. For authors with established followings, making your ebook available in a wider variety of stores (going wide) is recommended.
How much will I get for each book sold?
Use this tool to work out how much AIAP will get for each book publisher compensation (royalties) calculator. You will receive 90% of the publisher compensation amount. And, of course, this will vary according to the price we charge. We choose prices that are competitive with similar books in the marketplace and let you know what price we’ve set, but we will change the price if you wish it. (See the question on bookstore pricing before making such a request however.)
You can’t use the above printer tool precisely until we know the number of pages in your book – after the interior formatting is completed. But the settings we usually use are a 229x152mm trim size (9×6″), black and white interior on cream paper with a perfect bound binding. For small books we use the 203x133mm trim size. The wholesale discount we use is 30% in the USA and 35% elsewhere.
Amazon says my book is ‘Out of Stock’
The following answer to this question came from my rep at Ingram Spark:
“Your book is always virtually “in stock” and available for order from IngramSpark. Occasionally, however, channels may list a title as “temporarily unavailable”, available within a certain time frame, or “out of stock.” Every retailer has their own method for determining what the availability status of a title is on their website and, as a retailer, they are free to do so. It is important to remember that although a website may list your title as unavailable, customers can still order your book. Any orders we receive are printed within 1-2 business days of receiving the order. As a best practice, we encourage you to establish your title with a full trade discount and with a returnable status to maximize your availability.
“How Amazon lists a title and the availability status on their website is ultimately up to them. Amazon’s purchasing decisions are supported by an algorithm that is proprietary to Amazon. In choosing to stock titles or even show products as available on their sites, Amazon considers many pieces of information about your book. Factors in a decision to stock a book may include discount (with a maximum trade discount of 55% being most favorable), whether a book is returnable, product page views, and sales history. Even print on demand books may not show an ‘in stock’ message at Amazon.”
Books published with KDPP (Amazon) usually don’t have the ‘Out of Stock’ issue, which is why we allow our authors to also publish with KDPP if they wish.
How much will it cost me to buy books for resale?
To find the cost for author copies see the Ingram Spark book cost and shipping calculator, and add the $20 order fee. This order fee is not charged on an initial proof copy if the author requests it.
Print on demand books are more costly to print per book than books printed by off-set printing, which is what mainstream publishers do, (it usually requires a minimum run of 2000 books), and so your books will be a little more expensive to print than a mainstream book. Offset publishing, however, requires a large upfront investment and you have to store the books.
Different bookstores are showing different prices. How is their pricing determined?
We set a recommended retail price (RRP) and then the book stores decide what they will charge based on that. They can charge more or less as they wish. We have no control over what they charge, but they have to pay us our set price whether they charge more or less.
Book Depository prices seem high because they include the postage in their listed price.
Amazon prices in different countries will also look different depending on whether you are looking at the store in your country or one in another country. Likewise, if you look at the UK store from the US, for instance, you may see an ‘out of stock’ sign, whereas someone viewing it from the UK might see it as in stock.
Will you tell me how many sales I get from the different book stores?
AIAP doesn’t deal with the bookstores. We deal with Lightning Source/Ingram Spark, the printer and distributor, and they only tell us from which countries the sales are made, not which bookstores.
However, since you set up the ebook yourself, you will be able to see how many ebooks you sell on Amazon by going into your KDP account.
What can I expect in the ways of book sales?
That depends on genre and how well you market your book. Popular genres like thrillers, mystery and romance sell better than other genres. Fantasy and science fiction need to deliver exactly what fans want in order to sell well – strong plots, lots of action and heroic characters. Metaphysical and visionary fiction sales are relatively small. Books that are a mixture of genres are harder to sell.
We don’t manage our author’s ebook sales, so I can’t give figures on that, but in paperback sales, we have authors who have sold only about 30 in their first year and others have sold 1000. Authors whose books sell well have written in a popular genre and put effort into marketing.
Where would most sales be generated?
Most of our books are sold in the USA. And although we receive no breakdown by store, most of them are likely to come from Amazon. But you have to actively market your book to get the sales. Amazon and other book stores don’t market your book at all. It’s just up there, and readers won’t see it unless you advertise it in some fashion. The more sales and the more good reviews you get, the more your book will be seen and the more sales you get, but you have to actively market to get those initial sales.
The best way to maximise income is to sell your book at local events where you sell direct to readers. Authors usually manage to sell 40 books at a book launch or author talk, and get twice as much or more selling direct as they do through shop sales.
Will I make my money back?
That’s depends on:
- Your actual costs (which vary depending on how much editing the book needed);
- What time frame we’re talking about;
- The book’s genre;
- Whether or not you have other books published and how well they sold;
- How successful the book is in terms of fulfilling the requirements of the genre;
- How large your network of friends – both online and off – is and whether or not they are likely to be enthusiastic in helping word get out about your book:
- Whether or not the book has a theme of interest to a community of which you are part and how big that community is;
- how much marketing you do and how well you do it.
I advise authors to think of their publishing as a hobby, and approach it as a keen golfer approaches their golfing equipment. They want professional-level clubs and shoes and are prepared to pay a lot of money for them, but they don’t expect to get their money back on them if they sell them at some point. The point of buying top-of-the line equipment is not to make money; it’s to help the golfer play their best game. For an author, the point of engaging our services is to produce a professional product of which the author can be proud – one they know their friends and work colleagues won’t cringe over. If they cover costs and make money, that’s the icing on the cake. In both golf and publishing, it helps to have a professional product, but it’s how you play the game that determines how high you score.
The way to make money as an indie author is to keep producing books, find a niche that works for you and build up a following of people who are always keen to read your next book. But building a following takes time. Many authors can’t be bothered with the work required for marketing and so don’t concern themselves at all with how many books they sell. Even so, some of those same authors have made back their money or are well on the way to it, especially if they keep writing new books in the same genre. Best not to have expectations, then you won’t be disappointed or feel under pressure to put a lot of effort or money into marketing if you’re not inspired to do so.
Questions on AIAP’s publishing model
What does your “file upload date” mean?
The file upload date is the date that all the work on getting the editing and proofreading done and the cover design and interior design done is finished. We have two files at that point, in pdf form, one for the cover and one for the interior, and we upload these to the printer/distributor so they can get your book into stores. We set the books as pre-orders until their publication date, so they are available in stores for people to order, but they won’t received the book until publication day. At file upload point (or soon after) you will receive the ebook file for uploading to Amazon.
What’s the difference between AIA Publishing and Escarpment Publishing?
The difference between AIA Publishing (AIAP) and Escarpment Publishing (EP) is that AIAP is a selective publisher of quality books – and it’s known for that. That’s because books published by AIAP have passed a highly selective submission process that ensures that AIAP books are as good as, if not better than, mainstream published books. AIAP requires its books to be comprehensively edited, whereas basic editing is accepted for EP. Because AIAP decides that your book is worthy of publication, not you, you are not self-publishing with AIAP. Escarpment Publishing, however, is just a self-publishing service.
The difference between our service for AIAP and Escarpment Publishing is that we promote AIAP books, but we do no promotion on Escarpment Publishing books. And with Escarpment Publishing, since we are assisting you to self-publish, you have full control over the final product, whereas though we make all decisions in consultation with the author, AIAP has the right to make the final decision on design elements to make sure that the result is one that is in accordance with industry standards and best practice.
Books published by EP are not, however, necessarily of poorer quality than AIAP books. They may simply be something AIAP doesn’t publish or with a personal rather than commercial focus.
The other difference is that EP publishes books that AIAP doesn’t, such as children’s books, personal histories and memoirs and non-fiction.
What sets AIAP apart from the scores of other publishing services?
- We aren’t a self-publishing service; we’re a genuinely selective hybrid publisher with high standards. We only publish books that meet or exceed mainstream publishing standards of quality and fit with our publishing vision;
- We’re concerned about quality and we produce quality;
- We’re highly ethical. We’ll never rip you off;
- We’re an Alliance of Independent Authors’ partner which means we’re an ethical, reliable company that does good work. We stack up well in their research on author satisfaction for various services. See https://selfpublishingadvice.org/self-publishing-service-reviews/
You say that you’re a selective publisher. What does that mean in practice?
It means that we’re really fussy about what books we publish and reject the majority of books submitted to us. We won’t publish anything that doesn’t meet mainstream standards of quality in terms of the writing, but we’ll publish niche books with a small readership that mainstream publishers won’t. We reject 90% of submissions outright and offer around 10% the chance to work with us to improve the book. Of those books, most will eventually reach what we consider a publishable standard. We’re highly respected in the Indie community as a publisher who reliably publishes quality books and gives authors a fair deal.
Are reviewers more likely to review the book because I’ve published with you?
Depends on the reviewer and whether they’ve heard of us or not. With us, because we’re a selective publisher, you’ll be able to submit to those reviewers who say they don’t review self-published books (and they’re often the reviewers with the most active blogs). Whether or not they review, however, is due to how well you write your request and whether the subject matter of the book interests them.
Are bookstores more likely to stock the book?
All our books are available by order through all bookstores world wide, but physical book stores only stock indie published books on their shelves if the author convinces them to do so. You have to have a willing store owner and then sell them on the idea of stocking your paperback. If you tell them that your book is not self-published, however, but has been published by a selective indie publisher, they are likely to be more willing to stock it.
Are readers more likely to consider a purchase?
If they’re a reader who looks at who has published a book and either knows of us or looks us up, then yes. The fact that we’re highly selective should convince them that your book is quality. However, readers may not look at the publisher and just buy if the book interests them and the reviews are good.
Are you a vanity press?
Vanity publishing is the name given to self-publishing service providers who give authors the impression that they’re getting a mainstream publishing deal, but, unlike mainstream publishing, they have no selection process and the author pays for publication. Authors generally pay high fees (many thousands of dollars), are often pressurised or manipulated into signing a deal, and receive a book that falls far short of industry standards, particularly in terms of editing. The publisher may also retain a relatively high percentage of income from sales and often offer marketing packages that sound good, but offer little of real value and raise unrealistic expectations.
In other words, they’re not what they appear to be.
In contrast, AIA Publishing:
- makes our author-funded model clear;
- has a genuine selection process – we refuse to add to the glut of poor quality books in the market place;
- charges reasonable rates;
- never lies about the quality of a book or pressurises an author in order to get them to sign an agreement;
- has a high standard of editing and produces books that meet or exceed the standards of traditional publishers;
- gives 90-100% of the royalties to the authors.
We’re so honest that we’ll tell you the bad stuff as well as the good, so you can make a truly informed decision as to whether or not we’re the right publisher for you. We pride ourselves on being honest and trustworthy and on producing books of which an author can be truly proud.
My book has been pirated! What do I do?
Once the ebook is out, it’s possible for people to pirate it, or they could buy a paperback and scan it, and we cannot stop that happening. The general agreement about pirating amongst the Alliance of Independent Author members is that trying to stop pirating is a waste of time and that the best way to handle it is to be pleased that they think it’s worth pirating and people are reading it. If people can actually download your book – rather than being sent on a wild goose chase that throws all kinds of scam offers at them, which is what those websites usually are – the people downloading from pirate sites are never going to buy your book anyway.