The worst news first: Sometime in the near future, the paperbacks of my books that are currently available will be gone indefinitely. So if you wanted your own paperback copy of anything I have in print, get it soon. I’m sorry I can’t give you precise dates of when what is happening. I can say that, whatever happens, I’m pulling the paperbacks on October 1st, 2018.
Okay, so now that the band-aid rip of scaremongering is done, let me explain why. If you follow indie authors or keep up with what’s happening in self-publishing, you have have seen the writing on the wall sometime last year when Amazon decided to beta adding the option to create paperbacks of your works to KDP (Print). Late last month, Amazon finally started to take the steps it needs to fold CreateSpace into KDP Print within a few weeks. (This is the only time frame we have “a few weeks”.)
Amazon/CreateSpace has already been selectively sending authors emails about this (you can read a transcript of it here). From what I can tell, they’re staggering the process of shifting CS titles to KDP and… in doing so decided to inform authors in the same staggered way. (As opposed to mass-informing authors by explaining what they’re doing and they’ll receive a new email when they’re up in this process because what even is effective communication.)
Anyway! When I decided to publish print books, I very strongly favoured IngramSpark, but went with CreateSpace because they took care of getting the ISBNs for me and that was the deciding factor for me (because Reasons; mostly my brain is a jerk and “it was more affordable”). While Amazon KDP will still offer that, there are… some things about the new deal that are just a hard no from me. David Gaughran highlights some of the key things authors need to know regarding CreateSpace.
You’ll notice that some of it is or sounds pretty good. Being able to price things in individual territories for one. The fact that, if you make changes, your old print book will stay live until you finalise the new manuscript for another. If I understood correctly, this also allows Amazon to let you offer print books for preorder, but don’t hold me to that.
Some of it isn’t, though, such as the shift in payment cycle and the increase in printing costs in certain regions for certain books. Other differences include the fact that if you order a proof on CreateSpace, you get a copy that has a note saying so added on the final page. KDP Print puts a large “not for resale” banner right across your cover. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if the placement was standardised and didn’t care whether it’s covering up text. Amazon hasn’t really offered a lot allowing some authors (like me) to believe that its expanded distribution is actually as good as CreateSpace’s was. Despite its promises that non-US residents can now order books more cheaply, it appears that prices for proofs and author copies have actually gone up because you now have to pay full-price for them (plus shipping).
And… Just… *sigh* Okay, so remember when I said above that one of the main reasons I opted for CS over IngramSpark was that it was affordable? Did you notice that Among the Glimmering Flowers doesn’t have a print edition yet? That’s because I can’t afford the costs to check it for proofing at the moment. And as much as I love having print copies of my work available, they don’t actually sell well. The vast majority of my sales numbers are ebooks, and if the print books don’t earn out at least what I need to pour into them to break even I can’t afford to switch to a new publisher until the numbers balance out in a way to suggest that it’s a viable option.
It sucks and I hate it, but at this moment in time I cannot afford to switch. Not to IngramSpark (which is what I’m likely to do when it’s a viable option again in future) and not to KDP Print (where I’d still need to order new proofs to check that they print things fine and deal with several issues I’m not willing to accept as part of the new deal).
So. I don’t know when my place in the CS-to-KDP queue is and I don’t know when or whether we’ll have a better idea of what timeframe we’re working with here. Maybe they’ll all be on KDP by then. Maybe I’ll still be in the CS queue waiting for my chance to move them. I don’t know. These few weeks we can expect more details to emerge and more discussions about what this change means for authors.
That all said, I will note this:
I do want to bring the print editions back. I like them. I’ll continue looking at options to make them available again in future (but bigger and better). There are tentative plans that may see some return sooner than I’m fearing. But I cannot predict when that will be and I don’t want to promise anyone anything. I’m really, really sorry to everyone who loves paperbacks. I love them too and I’m not happy. But, right now, I don’t know what else to do. If I trusted Amazon enough not to mess this process and what it means for authors up in any way, I could just leave them on KDP Print for now and see what happens with them. I feel very strongly that I can’t.
And… I don’t know. Maybe that’s just my brain being its usual jerk self and this may look and sound like a snap decision I’ll regret to everyone else. (Who knows, maybe it is. I’m a mess and have been the past few days.) But it isn’t. This merger has been looming since 2016 and these details about the differences between KDP Print and CreateSpace have been around since at least the end of 2017. I’ve had months to mull this over and look at my options. And right now with the knowledge I have this is the only one that I think in any way works for me, and I hope what I’ve said so far will help people understand that.
I am devastated by this decision. This isn’t how I wanted September to start. This isn’t, ever, the kind of decision that I’d want to take. I mean, move to a distributor with better options, sure. That part’s fine and I still want to do that in future when I can. But not taking the books down indefinitely until that time arrives. That’s not a choice I ever wanted to make. T_T
I should also note: ebooks will be unaffected by this and I actually have some really exciting news to share with you regarding these either this month or next month! There is some good news that I want to share this month too! Just… Not in this post. Right now, to be honest, I just want to curl up and cry (or at least sleep until the day is over) and soon I’ll be putting on a bright face for Saturday’s reaction read, but. Yeah. We go on as best we can. I can beat this. I will beat this. Eventually.
But, yeah. That’s my September news for now. Circumstances mean the paperbacks will disappear for an indefinite period of time after September and I’m really, really, really sorry to fellow print book lovers who wanted copies after that date. I promise they’ll be back eventually, but that’s currently all I can promise.