by Carol Buchanan
(This post appeared recently on Carol's own blog, Writing Near the Swan Range.)
This morning in “Publisher’s Weekly Daily,” a email newsletter that I subscribe to from Publisher’s Weekly, I came across a bookseller’s misunderstanding about selling books by authors who use CreateSpace as our printer/distributor. And the author, apparently, did not understand his/her precise relationship with either CreateSpace or Amazon.
Here’s the situation: A self-published author had approached the bookseller about carrying his/her book. Both erred in this transaction because they both had too little information. The upshot was that the bookseller turned the author away — at least temporarily.
Neither of them understood the following four concepts about an author’s relationship with CreateSpace, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amazon. (I originally wrote this in response to the bookseller’s blog post in PW.)
1. Books like your local author’s and mine are not “published by Amazon” when we have them printed by CreateSpace. CreateSpace is not a publisher; it is a printer/distributor. The book’s publisher is your local author, not CreateSpace and definitely not Amazon. The biggest advantage we have when using CreateSpace is that our books go directly to Amazon to be sold on its website.
2. We CreateSpace authors pay for our books to be printed and distributed by CreateSpace. Some authors pay for design services and marketing services as well as printing and distribution. Some pay nothing up front. In that case, the book’s gross sales are split into thirds, approximately. The author gets 1/3; CS gets about 1/3; and Amazon gets 1/3. That is not a rip-off, because the books are POD, and both businesses have to recoup their costs. Like you, they have to pay employees, keep the lights on, and provide benefits. Amazon earns its cut from maintaining and developing the website, so that all my books sold through them are delivered promptly when ordered, even though they may not actually exist at the time of the sale. (POD again.) All authors on the Amazon website have our individual author pages that we can use for marketing our books.
3. You can set up your own direct reseller account with CreateSpace just as you do with other distributors. My indie bookseller customers do precisely that. Or they order from me, and I give them the standard bookstore discount of 40% off the retail price that I have set. (I do not sell on consignment, though.)
4. If your local author clicked a few simple buttons on the CreateSpace website, s/he would have selected “Expanded Distribution” channels. This option, provided free to us, enables our books to be listed with Baker & Taylor, Ingram, etc. You could then order from your regular wholesaler at the rates you’re accustomed to. We get about 5% – 10% when you do that, but we also get more readers and you make sales. To me that’s a win-win.
My bookstore customers who order that way often have several other titles they can put into one invoice and pay one bill to their distributor. It’s very convenient for them.
I’d recommend that you share this information with your local author, who may not have known about any of this. Many don’t, and that’s unfortunate because author and bookseller both can miss out on new customers.