Calling All Followers On Goodreads! I Have a Question…

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I do have a question. But I have a bit of publishing news, too, so please hang in there till the end of this post or, if you’re impatient like me, well, go ahead and skip to the end for the question, I won’t hate you.

First, the news:

For those who haven’t heard of Ingramspark, it is mostly they who manufacture and distribute printed copies (paperback, dustcover-style hardback, etc.) of books outside of the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform. Namely, to online retailers like Barnes & Noble, say, or Walmart, or so-called brick & mortar bookstores, as well as libraries.

Being under contract exclusively to Amazon, which is an option for indies (the minimum term is one year) allows an author a substantially higher royalty – 70% versus 40%, as it happens – but in general, for many of us , the idea of not being beholden to a single retailer seems appealing. Autonomy, freedom, options, diversification, all that.

It costs more, as I’ve previously lamented, too, to distribute outside of Amazon. And I blogged recently that the prices, for my books at least, at places like Barnes & Noble will necessarily reflect the higher costs of doing business. BUT. What I didn’t know all these months and years is that there is a trick, well, it’s more a stance to take, within the Ingramspark system that allows for prices of our indie books to match those on Amazon. It has to do with the boring mathematics of the so-called wholesale discount, which I will only say is the ancient way of the brick & mortar bookshop. Namely, your favorite local bookstore has, for eons if they’ve been around that long, demanded from publishers a 55% discount AND the ability to return all product they don’t want for a refund. And let’s be clear that I’m referring not to the online version of B&N; rather, only the brick & mortar bookshop version.

The stance to take, then? Well, dummy me, I didn’t realize that all this time since publication of Time Crime, the first novel, I could have refused or otherwise minimized the 55% wholesale discount and my royalty would be more reasonably tied to the cost of production. I made that change over the weekend and now if you go to Barnes & Noble, or Waterstones (their parent company), for instance, you will see pricing matching that on Amazon. With the exception of the eBook, which for whatever reason is higher to produce via Ingramspark and that price is reflected in the B&N price, oh well, it’s different for eBooks.

There is a catch, however. Always. And Ingram tells you this in the fine print; namely, that by opting out of the ancient, industry-standard wholesale discount, you are likewise opting yourself as a publisher out of any opportunity at all to ever get your book into a brick & mortar bookstore or other such retailer.

Is it a big deal? For indies like me who don’t currently sell more than 8-10 copies per month via online retailers and who have never been welcomed to any extent by brick & mortar bookshops (there happens to be a bookshop that will remain nameless in my hometown that outright snubs indie published books), it doesn’t matter a bit. I think I’ve sold perhaps one copy in two and a half years via the other bookshop that is still in business around here. (Two of the three that originally agreed to stock a copy of Time Crime went out of business during the Covid fiasco).

In short, while it has been perhaps every novelist’s dream or vision of success to witness their hardcopy book for sale on a shelf in a “real” bookshop, this dream, as Sammy Hagar once sang, is over. At least for me. Dream another dream. It sucks. Life is hard. Business is brutal. Money talks. Bye, bye bookshops….

There you have it, then, the news, which is mostly good because prices for Time Crime and Empire & Oracle are now identical across the board, that is, unless a given retailer deems it appropriate to slash the price – it’s up to them what discount they apply to the official retail price that I, as publisher, set. Whew, enough boring business talk.

It’s time now for the question I promised to pose to all my Goodreads followers. Okay, it has to do with with business, too, but rather in terms of the fun part, which is gaining readership!

  • If you’ve enjoyed Time Crime, have you rated and/or reviewed it on Goodreads or Amazon or both? Or B&N or elsewhere?

I correspond with one reader who has done this with both books – wow, thank you, you are a superfan! – and you would not believe how important this is in technical terms (besides the good vibes!) to provide online retailer feedback. Because especially for an emerging novelist, the quantity of ratings and reviews, to say nothing of the quality (or lack thereof) they express on behalf of the books, is incalculable. It makes all the difference between fantastic and flop, as it were. Because who doesn’t read ratings and reviews? We all do. Until you get so many that they all sort of average out to what the book deserves (knowing that Amazon ratings and reviews are not an average – a topic big enough for a different blog). By the gods, look at Blake Crouch, for example – Recursion has 10,200 to date on Amazon…!!!

Meanwhile, all novelists get their share of lousy ratings and reviews, so be it, it’s part of the way things are to have folks find the “Look Inside” feature insufficient, say, or they didn’t read the sample, or even the blurb and perhaps bought the book for its cover, or got it as a gift, I don’t know, but I get these handful of 1-star ratings, one this weekend from the U.K., and it hurts. Ouch. One star. It was that bad? That surprisingly disappointing? Okay. I’ve bought books thinking I’d enjoy them on first impression and, well, things fail to work out. DNFs, that kind of thing. And I often like to rate and review books and not always positively. If you can’t stand the heat, as they say, get out of the kitchen and all that, I get it.

All this is to say, if any of you are so inclined to help out with a rating or a review, please know that they work great magic in this business and your effort will not go unnoticed. In my heart and soul, it will resonate. And meanwhile it may convince somebody on the fence to join the Time Crime tribe. But this isn’t to beg anybody for that stuff. No. It’s to say thanks for reading. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU ALL!

P.S. I’m working on the character list!