When it comes to self-publishing your novel, there are many distributors available to help you release your words into the world and sell them in many places.

While Amazon seems like the giant of all book sales, there are other opportunities to consider when you decide to self-publish.

  • Do you want your book to be carried in local bookstores?
  • Is your book returnable if books stores don’t sell all the copies they anticipated in a specific time frame?
  • Will libraries add your book into circulation?
  • If you’re interested in doing book signing and book festivals, will you be able to order discounted author copies?
  • Should you buy your own ISBN or use a free one from a print on demand service like Createspace?

The answer to these questions can help you select the service you need to publish your paperback novel with. But now there is a new player in the print on demand publishing world: Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

I know you’re thinking: “Wait a minute, Kindle Direct Publishing is used to published ebooks!”

Yes, you’re right, but now they are allowing authors to publish paperback books and earn up to a 60% royalty. As an author, I’d love to earn more from my book sales, so I took a hard look into switching over from Createspace to Kindle Direct Publishing. Here’s what I found.

60% Royalty off your Paperback Novel

Do you want your book to be carried in local bookstores?

Most bookstores want to order your book at 40-50% off retail cost and be able to return your book if it doesn’t sell as expected. Since shelf space is important to bookstore owners, they want to ensure they are using it for the best return on investment, and who can blame them?

IngramSpark allows bookstores to order directly from them and they will ensure your books are returnable.

Createspace and Kindle Direct Publishing do not have the same returnable policy that IngramSpark does. As a Createspace author, I worked around this policy by approaching bookstores and allowing them to buy books directly from me. If they don’t sell, I am responsible for the return costs.

While this is okay on a small scale and for independent bookstores, if you’d like massive retailers like Barnes & Noble to carry your book in stores or do a book signing, publishing with IngramSpark is recommended.

Author Julian Brooks did a book signing at Barnes & Noble. Take a look here.

Will libraries add your book to their circulation?

Each library system seems to have their own set of rules. The best way to find out how to get your books into libraries is to go to their website or ask about their process.

In Alabama, the process was as simple as my mom walking into the library and dropping off a copy of The Five Warriors. It’s on the shelves and gets check out as new readers walk in and discover it.

In Nashville, TN, the process is a bit different. Books have to be sent to collections for review, from there, authors can schedule readings, signings, and other events. However, it is possible to bypass the system, it simply depends on how well you know your librarians.

With libraries, it doesn’t matter whether you use IngramSpark, Createspace, or KDP to publish your books.

Three authors and I did a book signing at a local library in Nashville. 

CTT - 60%

If you’re doing a book signing or book festivals, will you be able to order discounted author copies?

This is a huge non-negotiable for me. During the release of The Five Warriors, I threw a book launch/birthday party for myself with lots of help from friends and family.

I ordered discounted books from Createspace and sold them during the party. Since I’d only spent around $6 per book (including shipping and handling), I made an $8 profit off each book I sold.

That’s a higher profit than you’ll make selling ebook or paperback books online. However, with KDP allowing you to make 60% off royalties, you can make a similar profit selling books online.

There is a catch. While KDP allows you to make a higher royalty, they don’t offer the author discount if you purchase your own books. Which means if your book is $14.99, you’ll need to pay $14.99 plus shipping and handling for each copy your order for special events. Now, this will eventually even out since you’ll get a royalty check for your troubles later.

Let’s do the math and look at it this way.

Your paperback novel is $14.99 and for the sake of simplicity, we’ll make it $16 including shipping and handling.

If you publish with Createspace, you can order the book for about $6 each. If you publish with KDP, you can order the book for about $16 each.

One day you need 50 copies for a book signing.

You spend $300 ordering copies from Createspace and sell all 50 at your event for $15 each, bringing your total income to $750. Your profit is $450.

If you publish with KDP, you spend $800 ordering copies of the book for your event. Again, you sell all fifty copies for $16 each, bringing your total income to $800. A few weeks later, you get a royalty check from KDP for $450. Your profit is $450.

What happens if you don’t sell all 50 copies? Well, that’s up to you to determine. While I keep paperback books with me at all times, not all of them are for sale. Some are to giveaway to book bloggers to read and review.

Should you purchase your own ISBN or use the free one from Createspace or KDP?

This is an ongoing debate and one that I’ve decided, personally, isn’t such a big deal. However, it depends on what you’d like to do with your book. If you goal is to get it into bookstores, you’ll probably be better off purchasing an ISBN and publishing through IngramSpark. You can purchase ISBN’s here.

One reason to purchase ISBN’s to expand your distribution. While KDP only allows your paperback to be available on Amazon, Createspace offers expanded distribution and will place your book online at Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, and Indiebound. However, you’ll see a steep drop in royalties when someone purchases from those platforms. Every time someone buys my paperback novel from Barnes & Noble, I make just over $1.

CTT - Publishing Goals

Before you hit publish, decide what’s best for you, your books, and the goals you’ve set for publishing. Learn more by enrolling in the course How to Plan a Book Launch.

What questions or recommendations do you have about publishing your paperback novel? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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