Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Indie-Publishing Secrets Revealed #18 Publishing Mistakes and More Mistakes

#18 My world of indie-publishing :) A comedy of errors.

When I decided to indie-publish, I was pretty much on my own. Sure, there was a ton of "vague" or "theoryish" information out there, but nothing hands on. I had to muddle my way through it.

I freely admit that I tend to be a bit compulsive. What can I say? I'm an optimist through and through. I couldn't imagine anything going wrong with my hasty plans. How hard could it be?

I was about to find out.
Mistakes, Mistakes, Mistakes as well as some Problems
Don't make the same mistakes I made. (Links to solutions are in the titles of each section)

I was intending to find an agent. In fact, I had several requests for the first three chapters waiting for me to send them. I just couldn't and I don't know why.
Because of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, I had a free proof waiting for me at Createspace.

I went for it and created a book. When my proof came, I couldn't help but show everyone I knew and guess what? Those people all wanted to buy a book. Students in the schools I taught wanted the book. My neighbors wanted the book. 

I'd been working on it for a good 3 years and had a hard time accepting that if an agent picked me up, and if a publisher bought it, it would be at least two years before it would be on shelves.

So, I went for it.

I bought into the Createspace expanded distribution channel hype and talked to Barnes and Noble about launching my book. What I didn't know was that the expanded distribution channel did not put my books on bookshelves and bookstores would not order it even though it was in the Ingram catalogue. Sure, they CAN order it, but they won't. Never in a million years. I called Createspace and complained. I told them how misleading the expanded distribution channel was.  Funny, they've since changed the wording for this distribution.
Profits anyone?
Also, if anyone bought my book from B&N.com or other sources other than Amazon.com, I would only make .67 cents or so from each book. Yeah. .67 cents.
ISBN and Barcode Mania
Then I discovered the problem with the ISBN and barcode. The ISBN belonged to Createspace and the barcode was coded with 9000 and no price. The barcode is what stores scan into the computer when you buy it. The 9000 code gives no pricing info. Stores hate that. Most bookstores require the price to be encoded in the barcode and the price printed on the book. Createspace does not do that. I had to quickly add both of those things to the book for my launch and get it all re-approved through Createspace. What a pain.
Money, money, money
I also had to order and pay for all the books for the launch. Barnes and Noble wouldn't/couldn't order from a POD. (Print on Demand publisher) I bit the bullet and ordered 200.
Defective Books?
During the launch, after about an hour of signing books, I took a book from a customer to sign and noticed the title page was missing. I set it aside and started paying attention to the books I was signing. As the books came out of the boxes, I discovered all kinds of problems with them: the laminate peeled on some, the cover was only partially printed, bubbles were in the cover, major scratches and smudges were on the covers, pages  were turned or incorrectly added, pages were missing. 
No joke. It was real.
How many books had I signed with problems I hadn't noticed? I tried to stay calm and had my hubby go through the books before he brought them to me. We made it through the night and I had enough books. It was awesome to be the 3rd highest selling author ever at that Barnes and Noble. Yay! Later, after a big hullabaloo, Createspace did make it right-as much as they could, considering people probably got defective books.
LCCN? What's that?
Then I found out about LCCN's. Creatspace hadn't mentioned these. (Yes, I complained and guess what? Their new format does tell you about them) I researched and discovered I wanted one, but I had to get a new ISBN that belonged to me and re-publish in order to get one. Another two week process.
I want my books on bookstore shelves!
I also really wanted my books to be on shelves and had found a distributor who could put them there. I got the books printed and sent them to the distributor, cancelling everything with Createspace. Basically, I retired my book title.
More ISBN problems?
New problems came up. Createspace had somehow attached itself to my ISBN and my new distributor couldn't list the book on Amazon or on Ingram. My book had just been launched and no one could get their hands on it. Createspace kept saying they didn't know what was going on and Amazon was saying they couldn't fix it without Createspace. Createspace truly had claimed my ISBN and "couldn't explain how that happened". Finally, after 3 weeks, problem solved. What a mess.
Barnes and Noble madness
My print book is still not back on Barnes and Noble.com or in its stores because it has to go through another 6-8 week acceptance process, even though it had already been on their site. Crazy, I know. Anytime now.
More ISBN craziness
Also, I had to get my books combined on Amazon and Goodreads because it now had a new ISBN. Amazon won't combine the two, but Goodreads does. So much trouble.
Did I really miss that comma, spell that wrong, leave that out...
I thought I had my book proofed really well. Then, a couple of my good friends got their hands on it. They tore it up. I'm on my third printing now, and hopefully with their amazing help, I actually have a book (ebook and print) that is almost error free. Too bad I hadn't thought to have them fix it before the first printing. That's what happens when you're in too much of a hurry and way overconfident. Be sure your book is edited well before you put it out there. Take all the time you need. I know, you have looked at it a hundred times and can't see any errors anymore. That's why you need fresh eyes-one last time.

I did not write this post to discourage you from indie-publishing. On the contrary. Go for it. But do it with some direction. Sure, you may run upon some problems, some mistakes, but hopefully, they won't be the full-on horrible ones I made. I am doing this series for YOU.  Spare yourself some heartache and learn from me. Good thing I'm not prone to depression, right? I actually look back and laugh.

What a trip.

Happy Indie-Publishing!!


Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen said...

Thanks for all of these posts, Cindy. I have really appreciated reading them. :)

Jane Isfeld Still said...

You are my soul sister. That is exactly my attitude. Optomistic all the way! I would HATE to go through all those problems though. I would probably want to start breaking noses! Good for you and thanks so much for the info. L)

Danyelle Ferguson said...

There are lots of bumps in the road to publishing. Such fun, eh? Thanks for sharing your experiences, Cindy.

Cheri Chesley said...

The road to publication is full of bumps, even when you go with a publisher. But, the upside to indie publishing is you can track down and fix those mistakes yourself, rather than getting someone else's permission to do so--or not.

I think you're doing awesome, and for those of us (like me) coming along after you, thank you for smoothing these bumps out a bit. I'm sure it's no coincidence that ccreatspace changed their wordings and such because of authors like you!

C. K. Bryant said...

UGH! I was just going to email you about the ISBN number thing. So glad you did this post today. :)

Donna K. Weaver said...

*hugs* And Cindy I LOVE that you're telling us all about this! You guys (like Christine who posted above and shared all about how to make our own covers) are invaluable!

I just want to hug all of you!!

Okay. Have I gushed enough?

kbrebes said...

You're fantastic, Cindy, and so wonderful to think of helping others. Great blog!

Canda said...

Um...so do you have a list of things to do and in the orger to do them in to avoid the pitfalls on the way to indie publishing. Yeah, you could sell that.