Today’s guest is Sarah Holroyd. She is the owner of Sleeping Cat books, which offers publishing services for independent authors.
Thanks for joining me today, Sarah, and sharing some of your publishing know how! Would you like to tell us a bit about yourself, the company and your role as editor and book designer?
Thanks for having me, it’s great to be here! I’m American, and a native English speaker. I have a degree in archaeology, which obviously was very useful. [laughs] I started Sleeping Cat Books in 2010, but I’d been doing freelance copyediting work since 2006. I provide copyediting, proofreading, and book design services to indie authors. But beyond that, I consider myself a bit of a guide through the whole publishing process. A lot of my clients are completely new to this business, so I try to provide as much guidance and advice as I can to help them navigate what is, admittedly, a very complex world.
You're right, it is complicated!
I recently posted some information on publishing with Amazon, but of course they’re not the only option. I know you suggest that authors use Ingram Spark, can you tell us a little about this company and why you recommend them?
IngramSpark (IS) is owned by Ingram Content Group, the largest US book distributor. For many years, Ingram has operated a self-publishing company called Lightning Source, Inc. (LSI). As other platforms, like CreateSpace (later KDP Print) gained in popularity, indie authors began to find LSI as well, which had, until that point, catered mainly to small independent publishers. LSI wasn’t really set up to deal with indie authors brand new to the business. So Ingram spun off IS for individual authors and small publishers with fewer than 30 titles in their back catalogue. LSI remains available to small publishers with more than 30 titles in their catalogue. So IS is like LSI’s “little sister.” Since both print on demand (POD) platforms are owned by Ingram, they both benefit from the widest US distribution possible, along with a global distribution network through Ingram’s Global Connect program.
IS publish ebooks, paperbacks and hardbacks. Would you suggest an author use them for all three?
IS is great for print books, but not so much for ebooks. They keep too much of the revenue from ebooks compared to going direct to ebook retailers or using a distributor like Draft2Digital or Smashwords. Also, some ebook retailers and platforms provide promotion opportunities (such as KDP and Kobo) that you can only access if you’re direct with that platform. IS also doesn’t give the publisher much control over ebooks on their platform. You have much more control through other distributors.
I'm pleased to hear that, as I'm currently using KDP for my ebooks!
Would it be a good idea to put the IS paperbacks on Amazon as well?
Absolutely. You can get the best of both worlds by using both KDP Print and IS for the identical paperback. But the key is to use the same ISBN for the same book on both platforms, which means you must own that ISBN. There have been cases recently of one or the other rejecting the ISBN as being in use with this method. My suggestion to avoid any such issues is to set up the project on both, through entering the ISBN and imprint information, and then saving your progress. Once both platforms have accepted that ISBN, you should be fine to proceed in whichever order you wish.
A good tip, thanks. I'll make sure I do that as like you I've heard of the rejection of ISBNs.
There are no up front costs with Amazon. That’s not the case with IS is it?
No, it’s not. IS does charge a $49 title setup fee, and a $25/file revision fee for any changes after you’ve approved the online digital eProof file. But members of some professional organizations may get an IS discount code as a benefit of membership, and it’s sometimes possible to find other codes to waive these IS fees.
Yes, I'm a member of Alli and they have a code members can use.
Are there benefits to using IS that authors don’t get with Amazon?
Other than the widest possible distribution? True, KDP offers Expanded Distribution (ED), which lists the book in the Ingram catalogue. But the wholesale discount for KDP ED is fixed at 60%. IS allows the publisher to set the wholesale discount as low as 30%, so you can potentially earn a *whole* lot more through IS than through KDP ED. IS also allows the publisher to accept returns, which KDP doesn’t do. So if your goal is to get on brick & mortar shelves, you’ll need to allow returns (and set a 55% wholesale discount) through IS.
I’m already a convert. I’ve begun uploading my back catalogue and will publish all my new books through IS as well as Amazon. For those who are thinking of doing the same, can you explain how to publish with IS? It can be intimidating using the IS website for the first time, especially if you’re already familiar with the KDP website. The good news is that I have a step-by-step guide to the IS title setup and file upload process: https://sleepingcatbooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/IS_Print_Guide-1.pdf. And I’m always interested in improving my guides, so if you see any gaps in my documentation, or there’s anything you wish I’d included, feel free to contact me through the website and let me know!