Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are your fees?

Although many people focus on the ROI (return on investment) in terms of book sales, it's important to note that most authors I work with find many other valuable advantages from publishing a book. Publishing a book can open doors you never knew existed. Whether it's a job opportunity, a speaking engagement, or getting paid for your expertise - the book is often the reason why.

That said, the cost will depend on the length of the book and the quality of the source file. But one big difference between us and others is that we set your books up on your accounts - making you the publisher. You get paid directly from each marketplace and purchase books directly from the printer at cost. Numerous companies engage in misleading practices by marketing their services as 'self-publishing services' when in reality, they are vanity presses, thus tarnishing the reputation of self-publishing. These companies not only expect you to purchase books from them at an inflated price but also retain a portion of the royalties.

When working with an author for the first time, there is a significant amount of education involved, as they may have no prior experience in the field. We dedicate a considerable amount of time to being available for Q&A, providing the author with peace of mind.

Hopefully, this will provide you with a clear understanding of the components that make up our fees. I strongly value transparency in all aspects of our work. Therefore, I want to share with you a typical budget that showcases our commitment to delivering exceptional results. After 15 years of experience, our work surpasses the standards set by others in the industry. You can find the budget here.

Considerations when publishing a book

  1. Distribution: Bookstores, Libraries, Major Retailers (besides Amazon)
  2. Sending out complimentary review copies (lowest cost to author)
  3. Copyright Registration
  4. Cover Design: eBook, Paperback, Hardcover, Audiobook
  5. Ordering books at cost
  6. Editing
  7. Interior formatting (eBook & print-on-demand)
  8. ISBN & LCCN (Library of Congress)
  9. Metadata at Bowker (the database most retailers & many libraries use)
  10. Marketing
  11. Website for pre-orders
  12. The business of managing royalties

See also The Self Publish Pledge for what I wish every author knew before they self-published.

Why did I get an invoice from IngramSpark?

IngramSpark prints your book and makes it available to retailers who buy your books from Ingram at wholesale prices.

Retailers are currently allowed to return books for a full refund. When that happens, IngramSpark still charges you the cost of printing (which varies depending on which book was returned). 

Books returned are destroyed (recycled) upon return. It's the 'Return & Destroy' setting I always recommend, otherwise, they charge you an extra $3/book plus shipping and ship them to you... if you select 'Return & Deliver' - adding up to a higher negative balance and requiring you to take delivery on books that may be damaged from handling.

I can turn off the ability to return books, but if I do, most retailers won't order them.

Because there have been some returns that Ingram received from a retailer, and because your royalty earned does not cover the cost of printing, you are currently carrying a negative balance at IngramSpark.

In order to cover your debt with IngramSpark, you need to have a valid credit card on file with them. When you do, they will automatically charge the balance due.

This is pretty rare, but it does happen occasionally.

Should I enroll in KDP's Expanded Distribution option?


I advise against using expanded distribution (it's a sham) in favor of IngramSpark instead.

Why is KDP's expanded distribution a sham?

What KDP doesn’t tell you is that they set the discount with IngramSpark at only 25% with no option for returns... No bookstore will ever purchase books from Ingram at such a tiny discount (especially because they know that KDP gives Amazon a 40% discount for the same title). In fact, if you are enrolled in expanded distribution, go into any independent bookstore and ask them if they can order your book. Watch how quickly their face scours because they know this is one example of Amazon's unfair advantage over bookstores (and they are probably tired of explaining this to authors who walk into their store).

Plus, any books you do sell through distribution, KDP retains a percentage of every sale. All KDP did was set up your book one time, and now you pay them royalties for the life of your book? Check with any bookstore and you'll find that KDP also doesn't allow returns, a policy most retailers expect to have before they order a book from Ingram.

Why is Amazon selling old editions of my book?

When a customer returns a book, as long as it's in resellable condition, Amazon will use that return to fulfill another order. What this means is that if you made a revision to your book, yet somebody gets an older edition of it, there's a good chance it was a return.

At one time, I heard that KDP did 'print aheads' in anticipation of future demand (they use sophisticated AI tools that predict demand). This might also be why a few copies of your prior edition are sitting in a warehouse.

If you order your own book from Amazon, and it's an older edition, contact them and they'll replace it. What is critical is adding a rev # on the copyright page so they (and you) can tell the difference:

Pointing readers to a new edition

While we can't remove old editions of your book, we can advise Amazon to add a not on any old editions of your book that a 'New edition is available' making it less likely readers will buy the older edition:

Why is Amazon selling my book at a discount and does it come out of my royalty?

The reason why there is a markup on your price is so retailers can discount your book. Any discount a retailer makes comes out of their profit margin, not yours.

Why is my Kindle edition free?

See Why I prefer Kindle books

I revised my book but Amazon sent me an old version

This is because Amazon will often do 'print aheads' of your book - if you order one copy, they may print two, or three, or four. They may print copies in different geographies depending on demand projections based on AI. Amazon is very good at predicting demand before it happens.

If this happens to you, simply contact Amazon customer service and explain the issue and they'll send you a replacement.

When will I be paid?

KDP does not charge you for returns, but IngramSpark does (assuming we've setup 'return & destroy' which we highly recommend).

Payments are via direct deposit. Look for deposits from 'Amazon Digital Services' or 'Lightning Source/LSI' (IngramSpark parent company).