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B.A. Blackwood is the author of the Siren Song trilogy, a trial lawyer, a marathon runner, and indentured servant to her two couch potato pugs, Waldo and Jonesy.

My Biggest Newbie Author E-Book Mistake – Why You Need More Than One E-Book Publisher

Mistakes I've MadeOn a scale of 1 to 10 on the computer guru scale, I’m about a 3 ½, so formatting my own book for various e-retailers was never an option. I attended two Writer’s Digest webinars on self-publishing options, did some internet research, and finally chose BookBaby, feeling very proud of myself for making an informed decision.

I mean, what’s not to like about an omnibus publisher like BookBaby? For prices ranging from $99.00 to $249.00, they format your book for all e-book retailers (Amazon, iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Copia, Kobo), distribute it to them along with your cover and book blurb information, and submit sales and royalty information to you in one tidy report.

There’s only one hitch. BookBaby’s sales reports lag actual sales by 30 to 45 days.  For Amazon, that means sales reports come out 45 days after the end of each month; i.e. the sales report for December, 2012 comes out mid-February, 2013.

This isn’t BookBaby’s fault. They wait for the verified royalties and sales reports from Amazon, but since Amazon accounts for over 70% of all ebook sales, the data blackout has profound marketing consequences. You may be killing yourself doing social media, blogging, begging for reviews and even purchasing advertising, but you have no idea what works and what doesn’t because you have no real or near real time reporting.

When I figured out how big a problem this was, I decided I’d switch to Kindle Direct to publish my e-book on Amazon, keeping BookBaby as the publisher for everyone else. As a Kindle-published author, I’d get real time reports. Easy fix, right?

Wrong. Changing publishers designates the book as a new publication, at least in Kindle/Amazon world, which means all the reviews I’d sweated to get or been blessed with by anonymous readers would disappear. Amazon would not link the reviews from the e-book published by BookBaby to the e-book published by Kindle Direct, even if not one word changed.

If you’ve made this mistake, your head is probably starting to ache just like mine. Is there anything more precious in the newbie author world than reviews? Getting them is like panning for gold – rare, unpredictable and, when obtained, cause for splurging on a bottle of champagne.

Even if people love your book, very few want to write a review, ranking it on their to do list somewhere between mowing the lawn and getting their first full body wax. And if you’re trying to get established Amazon reviewers to review your book where the ratio of asks to responses is about 300 to 1, you’d rather get a root canal than lose one of those gold nugget reviews.

I’d bet my entire royalty check that Amazon could find a way to work this glitch out for established authors, but I can’t say I blame them for their position. The Amazon representatives I’ve spoken with have sworn to look at the issue, but I’m not holding my breath for a change in their stance. Time is money, and absent spending the time to confirm that the old e-book and the one I’m submitting are the same, they’d only have my word for it.

Bottom line? I couldn’t let go of my reviews. So, I’m laboriously keeping a marketing log that I can compare with the sales report when I finally get them, hoping that I can gather enough information this way to direct my marketing in the future.

Next time I’ll go directly through Kindle for the book on Amazon, and use either BookBaby or someone like them for everyone else.

Lesson learned – the hard way.

 

Comments

  1. Just wanted to let you know you are not alone with the formatting issues and Amazon publishing problems. A OT of author commenting on similar issues. I’m sorry you are having problems too!

  2. Dear Randyauthorcloudcom,Along the same lines,, Finding a great title for your book can be one of the most challenging yet sfyasiting processes you will go through. The title is the purpose of your book and very important that it presents your book’s subject in the best way possible. It needs to grab your audiences attention, make them question and think and act by picking up the book and start reading and eventually purchase.Cheerio

  3. Thanks for sharing your experience. Would you still recommend Bookbaby’s service for people who are more interested in iBooks publishing? Then suggest that we publish for Kindle on our own?

    • B.A. Blackwood says:

      Yes I would. Bookbaby does a good job of managing multiple services, so I’d use them for everyone but Kindle, and then do Kindle separately. Good luck with your book! Beth Ann

  4. Thanks for the tip… excellent suggestions!

  5. Hi and thanks for your article. I am in the exact same position as you. I want to track my sales on Amazon (and Apple) but can’t because of BookBaby. Since writing your post – have you found a solution or any update from Amazon?

    Do you have the same problem with iBook from Apple?

    I would love to experiment with online advertising for my book – but with our realtime sales data I am just flying in the dark 🙁

    • B.A. Blackwood says:

      Sorry – I never found a solution, and I worked hard at it.:) I just published my second book, and this time around I did the Kindle version through Amazon and used a book distributor to get it out to everyone else. The same problem exists with the iBook, but in terms of tracking marketing, I think Amazon is the best barometer of what is working and what is not. In other words, I can deal with the after the fact numbers from everyone else as long as I can get real time data from Amazon.

      You can always get Kindle to publish your ebook on Amazon – it doesn’t cost much and might be worth it for tracking purposes; however, you’ll lose all your reviews and your previous sales numbers, but it might be worth it in the long run.

      Good luck – with I could have been of more help!

  6. Carol Kintigh says:

    When will book 2 and book3 of the Siren series be coming out? I am desperate to find out what is going to happen with the crystal!!!

    • B.A. Blackwood says:

      Thanks so much for asking! I got sidetracked co-writing some books, but am hard at work on books 2 and 3. I’m hoping to have them out by Christmas. And I’m anxious to find out what is going to happen with the crystal as well! 🙂

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