Is there Life without Amazon?

For the most part, everyone createspace-published that I have read or spoken to, has been happy with the final product. Really sadly, I’m not one of these people.

When the proof copy of my book arrived last week, I was big-time disappointed. By now the world knows I’m a horrible perfectionist, so maybe this isn’t a surprise. Mostly the problem was the cover. Createspace only offer a gloss laminate, and for the cover I have this doesn’t seem to work well at all. Combined with paper that is nothing like the kind you would normally find in a paperback, and the US (rather than UK) standard size I was, well, gutted actually.

Obviously, the non-standard size was something I knew about when setting up the account. Neither createspace nor IngramSpark offer UK standard children’s novel trim size in cream paper. Using white paper for fiction screams self-published I’m told, so trim size was a compromise I had to get my head around. But the glossy cover? Not possible. And createspace don’t offer the option of matte laminate.

So I’ve closed my createspace account, and won’t be printing through them.

Not such a radical choice when you know that IngramSpark distribute through Amazon – and also have the option of a matte cover. IngramSpark paper is less shiny, more paperback-ish too (by a touch). But I have yet to receive a matte cover proof, so my mind has gone to what would happen if I published only through a regular (non POD) printer without a direct route into Amazon – ?

As an indie author the lines to readers are pretty limited. Independent bookshops MIGHT stock your book, the biggies are unlikely to do so unless there is prior, established readership interest. People buy books either online or in store and although indie authors often sell through their own website that only works if people know where to find you. Everyone knows where to find Amazon.

Realistically, there is no Life without Amazon – not being available through them would be instant sales (and exposure) suicide.

So is there another way? Well, you could sell direct. The process itself sounds pretty straightforward: you put your book on the site, someone buys it, Amazon passes on the order, you ship the book and get paid via Amazon. But what about the sums?

Without going into what all the different charges are (‘cos whatever they are called each charge boils down to money off revenue), on a kids’ book priced at 6.99 it goes approximately like this:

Credit on Item Sale
Item Sale Price £6.99
Domestic Shipping Credit £1.65 (my estimate)
Total Credit on Sale £8.64
Amazon Fees
Referral Fee – £1.00 (this is 15% of item price)
Per-item Fee – £0.75
Variable Closing Fee – £0.43
Total Amazon Fees – £2.18
VAT (15%) – £0.33
Total Credited to your account £6.13

From this £6.13 you need to pay book production costs and p&p, which in my reckoning come to somewhere between £4.15 – £4.85, depending on your printing costs (more in next week’s post) and based on 1st class postage. This would leave between £1.28 – £1.98 revenue, which is pretty healthy compared to the £0.81 left from a POD sale. And super healthy compared to what you’d get through a bookseller.

If you’re an optimist (and you would probably need to be in order to go down this road) then you could also pay a £25 monthly fee instead of the £0.43 per-item cost. The first 3 months are currently being offered free

Amazon also have a service where you supply stock and they ship on your behalf, but I’m not going to get into that option because it doesn’t seem cost-effective unless you are doing major sales. But if you want details, check out

So – is anyone else’s head spinning?

Yeah, I thought so.

For now, I’m still waiting for a matte cover proof from IngramSpark – and hoping for the best. Although the sums for selling direct via Amazon seem good, selling POD via IngramSpark gives you distribution via Amazon as well as giving your readers the option to order a book direct from their local bookstore. And selling direct through Amazon would be either a lot of work if selling lots of books, or a waste of time if not selling many.

For now, I’ve put off ‘book launch’ until November. Next week I’ll be looking at getting books via a regular offset printer.

Maybe next time take an aspirin before starting to read this blog!

LarisaScreen Shot 2014-10-02 at 11.49.49


4 thoughts on “Is there Life without Amazon?

  1. Hi Larisa,

    Sorry to hear about your disappointment with the cover- I hope IngramSpark do a better job for you. I can’t wait to see the finished product- especially after the teaser pictures from your earlier posts 🙂

  2. Oh Larisa, talk about having a baptism by fire! I totally get your concerns re paper, size and cover – but I would say, perhaps the likes of you and I are biased by what we’re used and others won’t mind so much…? I really hope that IngramSpark give you what you’re looking for. xxx

    • It’s an interesting process – making me wonder whether doing POD means eschewing all aspects of being traditionally published: from how you sell books to how the book looks to … ? Let’s see …

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