Print on Demand Nightmares!
Not all platforms are created equal
It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for printing books.
Most indie authors choose to print and distribute their paperbacks and hardbacks through Amazon (KDP). Amazon is the biggest bookstore in the world and they have a friendly interface for authors, so it makes sense for them to be most popular.
That doesn’t mean they’re drama-free… but based on what I saw from November to now, they do appear to be the best game in town for inside authors.
On black Friday, Chris Orzechowski released The Moat, the pivotal encapsulation of his e-comm knowledge. It hit the store with a bang and his clients lined up to buy a copy.
The problem?? Amazon took their sweet, sweet time printing the books, and an even sweeter amount of time to ship them. I ordered mine on Black Friday. I got it on December 16th.
This was unusual, even for a hardback, which has a longer production time. What made it more annoying is that Orzy got no explanation for the delay. KDP had nothing to say, no apology, no nothing. They didn’t even warn him so he could keep his buyers informed.
I’m assuming it was an issue with their printer because UK buyers got their copies within a week.
Not typical, but still annoying because you can’t plan for it. It’s something to keep in mind if you’re planning a big launch without a pre-order.
Obnoxious Interface and Requirements
IngramSpark, how I do LOATHE you.
Another client of mine, Nabeel Azeez, wanted to release his book, 40 Hadith on Masculinity: How to be a Good Man, on Black Friday. Paperback, ebook, and hardback. He wanted the hardback to have a book jacket. Reasonable. It looks nicer. So we had to go through IngramSpark because they’re the only game in town if you want a jacketed hardback.
Almost a month later, the hardback still isn’t out. Why? Because I would upload all the files, wait three days, and then get a message saying the files were wrong.
Okay, which file is wrong? In what way is it wrong? There was no indication.
So I emailed customer service.
3 days later, I’m told the jacket is formatted wrong. It’s the wrong size. Okay, easy fix, right?
The resized cover was rejected again… after waiting three days.
I did this cycle three more times before someone (a real person) finally explained what was wrong with the jacket.
They don’t like where the colors on the spine begin and end. Seriously.
They rejected the cover because of that, and wouldn’t listen when I said it was fine. They said it is NOT fine, so I had to be a tremendous nuisance to my artist.
I still don’t know if the latest change will be good enough. I submitted the new files today. So I reckon maybe I’ll find out on Sunday.
If you sell books direct on your website and don’t wish to hold inventory, the two players for Direct POD are BookVault and Lulu Direct.
Both are well-rated, but of course, fulfillment doesn’t always go perfectly. Bookvault had huge delays because of some massive orders coming in advance of Black Friday. But they communicated to their customers and booksellers could then communicate to their buyers.
Honestly, if I had the space, I’d prefer holding and shipping my own inventory vs print on demand. You probably would too. But it isn’t feasible for a lot of us.
So when choosing your print on demand platform, choose what works best for you, understanding there is no perfect option and no guarantee.
Which reminds me…
Available for Pre-Order
My shop is now live! The official launch is January 8th, which is also the release date for my newest book, The Prince’s Pawn, a paranormal romantic suspense.
Preorder is open now and your book will ship to you on release day (5-7 days shipping time for the US).
Ebooks will also be available on release day.