I have not decided 100% if this is something we will be doing yet, but I am looking for feedback and trying to determine the general interest level folks would have in this service.
Self-publishing an ebook is a relatively painless task if you have some basic computer knowledge. Services like Smashwords and Draft2Digital make it easy to distribute ebooks across multiple retailers. If you can format a Word document, technologically speaking you can self-publish an ebook with few problems. Where a lot of people get tripped up is with print, because print functions under a different set of rules and requirements.
Services like IngramSpark exist that make it simple to distribute books, and anyone can buy their own lot of ISBNs if they wanted to. But most people don’t want to drop almost $300 on a lot of ISBNs when they are only publishing one or two books, and they don’t want to use the free ISBN provided through Amazon KDP because they are concerned about retailers refusing to sell books with an Amazon ISBN.
So I am considering providing a service to help self-publishers get their print books into distribution. How it would work:
A Dedicated Imprint
I would create a dedicated imprint for self-publishers that need assistance with their print books. While I would be the Publisher of Record (under the designated Imprint) for the book, I would not be acting as the publisher. This program assumes you are already a self-publisher and have your own editing, cover art, and marketing plan and just need help with print.For purposes of this example, we’ll call the Imprint Snoopy Press (this is just for example!)
Assignment of ISBN
Snoopy Press would buy a lot of ISBNs from Bowker to use for print books distributed under the imprint. When you purchase a publishing package, your book will be assigned one (or more) ISBNs based on the number of print formats you want. Note that, because the ISBN would be assigned under Snoopy Press, you could not use it elsewhere. It would be strictly used for the print version of your book we are managing for you.
Assignment of a Pre-Assigned Library of Congress Control Number
These numbers are assigned for free, but the LOC only allows recognized publishers to request them. Self-publishers generally cant do so. Since I am already a publisher of record with the LOC, I can also get your book a pre-assigned control number. Part of the requirement of the control number is sending a physical copy of the book to the Library of Congress, so as the Publisher of Record, we would handle this requirement.
Entry into the Ingram catalog
I would upload and submit your print-ready files to Ingram to include in their distribution program. You would decide the final price, amount of discount you want to offer retailers, and whether or not you want to allow returns.
Management of print sales
We would report on all sales made through the Ingram channels, and send you any monies due from your sales.
Breakdown of actual costs
Ingram distribution fee: $49
ISBN: A lot of 10 ISBNs is $295. And I would probably start with this unless there was a huge interest in this service to justify buying a 100 at a time. So assume a real cost of $29.50 per ISBN but keep in mind this may end up being less if demand justifies buying a larger lot.
LOC Control Number: No cost, but we do need to mail a physical copy of the book. So assume a maximum cost of $15 to cover the cost of the book plus shipping and handling charges from the printer.
So my out-of-pocket costs per title would be $93.50.
I am not offering to do this for free. This would be part of my business and so I need to cover the cost of my time handling all of these administrative tasks. So I currently value that at $50. There would also be the cost of managing your sales reporting and processing your payments every month, but that would be handled with a nominal 10% commission on sales. So the final cost of the service would be $143.50 per title, plus 10% commission deducted from monthly payments. If there are no sales in a month, there would be no additional charge because there would be nothing for me to do.
You can order as many print copies of your book as you need at cost. Would be the actual print costs of the book, plus shipping, plus Ingram’s handling fee. You can even request that books be drop shipped to third parties.
This all assumes that you have a print-ready file. If you need me to format your file for print, there would be an additional charge. This also assumes you would be providing your own cover art. If you need cover art, then I can acquire cover art for you but you would be responsible for the cost (within whatever budget you set).
I would not be involved in marketing the book for you, though I would set up a dedicated section of my website for these books that you could use as a landing page in the event you don’t have your own site (no additional cost for this). I also wouldn’t be involved in the ebook distribution. We could also offer basic proofreading services, but at this time I can’t offer line editing or content editing as I have too many of my own projects to work on. Proofreading rates would be at .005 cent/word.