A Cirsovanomics Lesson: AmazonKDP Vs. IngramSpark

Here are some numbers the indies & selfpubbers who follow us might find interesting…

IngramSpark charges 3.85 per unit for the Summer Special + their BS $1.99 handling fee on top of any orders.

30% retailer discount [minimum allowable] off 14.99 SRP gives me $6.64 compensation per unit sold.

On the other hand, Amazon KDP charges 2.57 per unit.

The 60% of the cut I get at $14.99 is only 6.43, but:
  • -I can order copies without a BS $1.99 S&H fee per order on top of already outrageous shipping costs
  • -Amazon has cheaper shipping with tracking and delivery guarantees + international
Confession:

The reason we wait until after the release date to send gratis copies of Cirsova to contributors who do not put in an order for additional copies is that what costs <$7 to fulfill through Amazon with tracking costs ~$11 to fulfill through IngramSpark without tracking.

Plus Amazon has cheaper, more reliable international shipping than IngramSpark.

So across about a dozen contributors per issue with several issues, it saves us a few hundred dollars per year to wait until we can fulfill gratis copies through Amazon instead of using IngramSpark.

The ability to fulfill directly and affordably through AmazonKDP prior to an Amazon go-live date would mean we could sell subscriptions through crowdfunding once again, which would be hugely beneficial.

The buried lede in this post:

The break-even on something like the Cirsova Summer Special is ~300 sold

  • Content: $1150
  • Art: $500
  • Editing: $200
  • Gratis copies: ~$100

So please buy a copy!

Summer Special 2 2020 cover 0.03 Front Only

Some Thoughts on Retail-Markdowns, Wholesale Rates, Returnability and Comics

The other day, after talking with Michael Tierney about getting into stores as indies, I found myself thinking about my own experience experimenting with “cheap” and returnable product and the Alterna Comics experiment.

These days, I always recommend writers publishing books minimize the retailer markdowns and avoid returnability.

You can set your book at 55% or 30%.

I tell people “Always mark down for as little as you can and still be available for purchase on platforms that people buy books.” Anything else is just handing money to the platform selling your book, and you don’t actually increase orders or sales, because all stores order and stock to market. If you’re returnable, you risk losing your shirt if your books don’t sell and get stripped.

With Alterna Comics, the gimmick, we’ll call it, was that they are incredibly cheap to produce [Alterna prints on newsprint], so they could be offered to retailers at incredibly cheap rates [their SRP is $1.50; wholesale is probably 50 cents]. The problem is, retailers order and stock to market.

Just like Barnes & Noble isn’t going to see that your book is 55% off wholesale or more and say “we’ll order a ton of these and push them because we can order them cheaply!”, comic retailers aren’t going to order a ton of issues to stock just because the SRP is low and it’s “low risk”.

For independent comics, just like independent books, you’re largely looking at a market that serves existing fan niches. Copies are fulfilled when people who want to buy them ask for them to buy, whether it’s through Amazon or through a LCS retailer.

Even shops that go heavy on indies might buy one of any title just to check it out, whether it’s a $1.50 book or a $5 book. But they’ll order as many as people ask for. Just like if my book is only 30% off, Amazon will still order as many as people pre-order.

So, the solution is not to minimize unit costs in ways that appeal to retailers, but to effectively market your product to readers so that they’ll demand it from platforms. And if there’s demand on the platforms, you can charge a reasonable rate that will make you money.

I’d be remiss to leave out at the end of this that the new Cirsova is out through Amazon this week! [Both in softcover and eBook]

Summer Special 2 2020 cover 0.03 Front Only

 

 

On With Silver Empire, Talking About Indie Publishing

It’s been a bit since this went live, and quite a bit since this was recorded, but I was on with Russell and Morgan Newquist of Silver Empire Publishing and author William Joseph Roberts talking about some dos and don’t in publishing, what has worked and what hasn’t, etc. It was a lot of fun. Check it out!

 

 

And don’t forget!  Back Mongoose and Meerkat today. We’ve still got some big tier rewards left. Get a piece of original artwork, or be written into the story.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cirsova/mongoose-and-meerkat-volume-1

Summer Special Advertisements Available!

The Summer Special will be upon us soon [slated for May 23rd]!

We need to fill advertising slots ASAP! Our rates are here.

[Note that the back cover ad slot is already taken for this issue!]

This is a particularly good deal for editors, artists, designers and other freelancers to find clients who may be looking for work from indie authors.

Summer Special 2 2020 cover 0.03 Front Only

 

Woes of Using Ingram Spark

I hate Ingram Spark. They are a mediocre printer who is overpriced compared to Amazon, they overcharge on their Shipping & Handling via a S&H surcharge, and then they have the balls to send stuff that shows up like this:

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The printer alignment is so bad on that bottom copy that it’s going 1/10″ past the bleed into what paper. This is a common occurrence with Ingram because they refuse to fix their cover printer alignment.

7 out of 12 books in the order were messed up.

“Well, why do you even use them? Why not find another printer?”

Trust me, we’re looking at our options, but here’s the reality:

-Amazon doesn’t allow you configure print books for pre-order. Plus, ever since they shut down Createspace, you can’t get salable copies ordered/sent prior to the Amazon live date.

-Ingram Content is THE service that gets books listed on Amazon, B&N, and allows other retailers to order copies of the book. Other POD outfits actually outsource listings to Ingram Content for an additional charge.

-I’ve really been happy with the quality of Lulu, but Lulu has garbage distribution. Selling on Amazon via Lulu nets maybe 10% of a sale as revenue, plus they can’t distribute many of the formats we offer anyway. No one goes to Lulu to look for books; people only buy from direct linking.

I don’t know what the quality of the books that people who buy from Amazon have been getting; I haven’t gotten many complaints, but Ingram Spark has a track record of sending us damaged books; the Wild Stars Anniversary Edition was an especially bad case and nearly tanked our release event when we had NO salable copies of Wild Stars 2 in the first batch we received.

I really don’t get it; it seems to me like it would be cheaper for Ingram Sparks to actually pack the books securely than to replace damaged copies, but their operation so far has been to just keep replacing damages and misprints rather than use some soft packing foam paper or fixing their printers.

For the record, we’ll be using Lulu, NOT Ingram Spark, as our printer for the Mongoose & Meerkat Kickstarter. Those of you who have bought our hardcovers KNOW that Lulu prints a quality product, even if Amazon won’t let them sell it…

6 x 9 cover

Quick Reminder Re:Ad Space in Spring Issue–Need Ads by Feb 8!

We’re trying to get all of our Advertising in by no later than February 8th.

We have 8 6 4 slots left (1/2 page ads = 2 slots), including room for three 1/2-page ads. [Text ads are placed at our discretion to fill gaps where our normal ads do not fit.]

250 Character Text Advertisement $25
1/4 page Advertisement $35
1/2 page Advertisement $50

Advertisement images should be 300 dpi, with the following measurements:

1/2 Page – 7.5″ w x 4.5″ h or 3.5″ w x 9″ h
1/4 Page – 3.5″ w x 4.5″ h

Contact us at cirsova at yahoo dot com to arrange payment and placement.

2-1 front cover only jpg

A Porn Company is Using Cirsova’s Name and Amazon Refuses to Act

A company that primarily sells posters of pornographic images and cars on Amazon is selling a poster of a Caspar David Fredriech painting that we posted once years ago and is using the name “Cirsova” in the listing.

Cirsova is a unique word that was not used for anything prior to the existence of this blog, the publishing company and the magazine it publishes.

Amazon’s IP protection department, however, refuses to act, claiming first that we failed to make proper “identification of the intellectual property right asserted” and later claiming that our rights were unenforceable.

All we want is the name “Cirsova” taken out of the product listing; the company can sell their posters and their porn–we just do not want our company and magazine’s name associated with them!

Kirkus Withdraws a Review (and that’s a big deal!)

Recently, YA author Laura Moriarty wrote and sent out arcs of a book called American Heart. Its description:

Imagine a United States in which registries and detainment camps for Muslim-Americans are a reality.

Fifteen-year-old Sarah-Mary Williams of Hannibal, Missouri, lives in this world, and though she has strong opinions on almost everything, she isn’t concerned with the internments because she doesn’t know any Muslims. She assumes that everything she reads and sees in the news is true, and that these plans are better for everyone’s safety.

But when she happens upon Sadaf, a Muslim fugitive determined to reach freedom in Canada, Sarah-Mary at first believes she must turn her in. But Sadaf challenges Sarah-Mary’s perceptions of right and wrong, and instead Sarah-Mary decides, with growing conviction, to do all she can to help Sadaf escape.

The two set off on a desperate journey, hitchhiking through the heart of an America that is at times courageous and kind, but always full of tension and danger for anyone deemed suspicious.

Basically a story about how Muslims are people too and rounding people up in camps is a bad thing, probably handled with all of the nuance and subtlety of Margaret Haddix’s cheesy Among the Hidden series.  Not really my kind of thing, probably written as a genuine and heart-felt progressive kumbaya from a well-intentioned liberal YA writer.

Unfortunately, it was less-than-well received by certain individuals on Goodreads:

Jabba the hudge

It’s easy to laugh about this, because progressives have the tendency to eat their own–you can never be progressive enough to satisfy those more progressive than you. So, “ha-ha, look at the lady who tried to virtue signal and got dog-piled for ‘doing it wrong'”, right? Well, it gets more complicated than that.

Moriarty had submitted her book for a Kirkus review, a site that will write reviews for authors on a for-pay basis. Now, paid reviews are sketchy as it is, but this is gonna take the cake!

Originally, Kirkus gave a positive review for Moriarty’s book. It was apparently even reviewed by a Muslim woman who “is an expert in children’s &YA literature and well-versed in the dangers of white savior narratives”, and “she found that American Heart offers a useful warning about the direction we’re headed in as far as racial enmity is concerned.”

So, ironically, Kirkus has chosen to silence a Muslim woman because people disagreed with her review. They’ve backpedaled and thrown up this new review calling the book problematic.

Here’s the thing about reviews. Reviews are always going to be subjective. They are the opinion of the reviewer giving the review based on their experiences, prejudices and believes as they make contact with the content they’re reviewing. So, yeah, even ‘fuck muh whiteness!’ up there is perfectly entitled to her review and I don’t have any real problem with it. But if you’re a review site whose sole purpose is, well, reviewing stuff, then you need to stand by reviewers’ reviews. You may feel like you need to say, as an editor, “I don’t necessarily agree with what this reviewer said,” but to pull down a review and take it out to the woodshed because people have different opinions from the reviewer means that you should probably get out of the reviewing business because your credibility is shot.

More from Slate.

Big Sale This Week

Issue 6 will be coming out on Friday. If you missed the Kickstarter, you can go ahead and pre-order it. Also, the paperback and hardcover versions will be available then as well.

Kindle copies of Issue 1 will be free all this week.

All Cirsova Hardcovers have been marked to 50% off. Additionally, if you use the promo code “6LZFHB4T” at Lulu, you can get an additional 25% off.