*This is a quote from one of my favorite TV shows of all time, Arrested Development. My mistake is in fact a medium-to-big one.
Remember how back when I started this whole blogging about my self-publishing experience thing I said that one of the reasons I was doing it is so that you could avoid making the same mistakes I did, if I made them? Well, dear blog readers, I’ve made a mistake.
The first edition of Mousetrapped was released in March 2010. I was happy with it at the time, but as the months went by I started to dislike its back cover, which was very plain and self-published-looking. (I should say that this was not the fault of my cover designer, because I told him exactly what to do.) The text also had a few typos here and there – an “it” where there should’ve been an “if” and some other beauties – and now that I had a few reviews I wanted to add in a “praise for…” page at the beginning. I also wanted to add an Author’s Note and news of “More Mousetrapped,” the new stories I’d be releasing once a month by e-mail newsletter.
There was also the question of the “In God We Trust” chapter which was a shade (or ten) on the Angry Atheist side; I took a poll of my blog readers and decided to tone it down considerably, relegating the original version of the chapter to the Mousetrapped website. That’s really where the problems started. There were a few Amazon reviews which referred to my, ahem, so-called atheist diatribe, and with this new and improved version those would be referring to the wrong book, or at least the wrong version of the book. They might be turning potential readers off reading a book that in fact no longer contained the subject matter they referred to. And what if someone specifically wanted to buy the new edition? How would they know that the book they were ordering was the new one or the old one? Technically each new edition has to have its own ISBN and changing a significant amount of interior text and the back cover couldn’t really be passed off as “updating” the original.
So I decided to release a new, separate edition. Assign it a new ISBN. Essentially, self-publish Mousetrapped all over again.
(I am, of course, talking about the paperback here. For the e-books I just uploaded new files.)
In my head, this would be a simple process. I would publish a new paperback with CreateSpace and when it popped up on Amazon and Amazon.co.uk, I would first, e-mail them through Author Central and get them to break the links with the Kindle editions and instead create new links to the newer editions. Back at CreateSpace, I would disable all the sales channels for the original edition so that eventually, their Amazon listings would say “Unavailable” and, ultimately, the only paperback copy of Mousetrapped anyone would be able to buy would be the new (and hopefully improved) edition.
In reality it was a flipping nightmare, because the new edition of Mousetrapped never appeared on Amazon.co.uk, the online retailer where the majority of my paperback sales come from. Well, a listing appeared, yes, but it never became “in stock.”
Last year, Mousetrapped appeared on Amazon.com only four or five days after I clicked “Approve Proof” and on Amazon.co.uk only a couple of days after that. But this was pure luck. Publishing with CreateSpace and subsequently enabling their ProPlan for expanded distribution does not guarantee that you’ll end up on there. But if you go onto CreateSpace’s community forums (which I don’t recommend you do because all the useful information is hidden under layers of complaining and nonsense, unfortunately), you’ll see that people thinking their book automatically ends up on Amazon.co.uk – or even that it’s likely to end up there – is a widespread delusion. When I released Mousetrapped last year, there were no guarantees. Now it seems that if your book shows up on Amazon.co.uk and “in stock”, you’re really, really lucky. You certainly can’t plan on it.
This is the official CreateSpace word on it:
“Thank you for contacting us regarding Amazon.co.uk.
You may make your title available for purchase through our distribution channels of Amazon.com, your CreateSpace eStore, and/or the Expanded Distribution Channel for Pro Plan enrolled titles. Unfortunately, we are unable to list the availability of your title through international Amazon websites. The Expanded Distribution Channel may increase your chances of being placed on the site, but it is not guaranteed.
If you are interested in providing inventory to make your title available for purchase, you may wish to inquire about the international website’s Advantage and Marketplace programs. More information about these options can be found through the website’s help section.
Additionally, any updates to your files and/or title information including list price and product description can take up to eight weeks to update through the Expanded Distribution Channel (EDC). Your title will remain available with the previous files and/or title information until these changes propagate through all distribution outlets. We appreciate your patience.”
I waited a few weeks, but soon realized that I had backed myself into a corner, distribution-wise. The new edition of Mousetrapped was available on Amazon.com, yes, but because I’d disabled distribution for the original edition – and the new edition had failed to appear anywhere else – all my other online retailers were out of stock/unavailable. So I did what I should have done in the first place: instead of creating a new, separate edition, I merely updated the existing Mousetrapped. That is, I went onto CreateSpace, put the original edition of Mousetrapped on “hold”, uploaded a new interior and a new cover, submitted it for processing, ordered a new proof, checked that proof and then approved it. Finally I re-enabled all the sales channels for it.
What this means is that although there are two versions of Mousetrapped in existence, i.e. Mousetrapped has two different ISBNs, no matter which one is ordered they print from the same (newer) files. Does this mean that some of the reviews refer to things that are no longer in the book? Yes. Can that be helped? No. I’m certainly not going to go on there and bitch and moan about it, or point out that it’s been removed. (Honestly I don’t think it’s making too much of a difference anyway.) But even if that hadn’t been a factor, I shouldn’t have created anything “new” when I went to make a new edition. I should’ve just updated my existing book, and thus avoided this whole headache.
As for distribution and availability, it would of course be nice if CreateSpace could guarantee us that we’ll appear on Amazon.co.uk. But they can’t, and that’s just a risk we have to take. I’m just hoping that this new book, Self-Printed, will at least rear its head on The Book Depository which will muck up my Amazon sales rankings, reviews, etc. but will allow anyone anywhere in the world (practically) to order my book with free global shipping. It’s the next best thing.
Mousetrapped monthly sales, all editions, November 2010 – April 2011.
The good news is that despite all this silliness, as of midnight last night Mousetrapped had sold 5,021 copies. Woo-hoo! December’s e-book craziness was definitely a peak but as you can see, sales seem to be holding around the 800 mark.
- November 2010: 182
- December 2010: 424
- January 2011: 896
- February 2011: 782
- March 2011: 849
- April 2011: 779.
I find 5,000 to be quite a ridiculous number. I never thought I would sell that amount, let alone sell that amount in the first thirteen months. And you know what? I’m not going to downplay it. I’m all for humility but just for today, I’m going to pat myself on the back. That IS a substantial number and I’m proud of it.
Last week I got a lovely e-mail from a gigantic a-hole who told me in no uncertain terms that he didn’t understand why I was “styling” myself as a Big E-Book Seller when the likes of Hocking, Konrath, etc. are selling five thousand copies every weekend. Well first of all I’m not styling myself as anything, and if Mr. A-Hole had ever taken five minutes to actually read my blog, he’d have known that. Second of all, I have just the one book, and it’s non-fiction. They all have multiple books and they’re novels. And they’re generally priced at 99c; mine is $2.99 and it’s never been sold for anything less. And the reason I tell everyone how many I’ve sold is not to be all “Oooh, get me. Look how many books I’ve sold!” but because, right from day one, I promised to reveal all about how this would turn out, good or bad. And yes, that means sales figures.
So I guess what I’m saying is BITE ME.
(Not you, dear blog reader, Twitter friend or Nice Person I’ve Met in Real Life. Just Mr. A-Hole. And just for today.)
And because I don’t want to end this or any post on a bitchy note:
Have a great weekend everyone! Love and bubbles and puppies and stuff.