After finally getting that Australian author’s titles printed on Create Space would not be available in the Amazon Australian store, I decided to ask why not. Here’s the answer:
“We do not currently distribute to Amazon.au. We welcome future opportunities for new international marketplaces helping you reach more customers worldwide.
“We offer an option to enroll eligible titles in the Expanded Distribution Channel at no cost. Enrolling can allow your book to appear on Amazon Australia or on any of the other sites not directly supported through us at the moment. The availability of your books on these sites is at the discretion of retailers who purchase your books through the Expanded Distribution Channel. We cannot guarantee your book(s) will appear on Amazon Australia.
Once you have successfully enrolled your title in Expanded Distribution, it may take up to six to eight weeks for your title to begin populating in the distribution channels you have selected.”
Right, so even if I do enrol in Expanded Distribution that doesn’t guarantee that my book will be on the Australian Amazon site, and it may take two months to turn up on any of the distribution channels which may decide to list the book. WHAT???
I have read lots of threads on forums and blogs trying to explain what all this means and I already knew that there was a very important reason why you SHOULDN’T enrol your Create Space printed book with Amazon’s Expanded Distribution. No booksellers or libraries will buy it. I found some old notes I’d made to myself months ago explaining why you should print through Ingram Spark if you want to reach these wider channels. I already knew this was a recommended strategy but it still didn’t mean your book would be available at any booksellers in Australia. Ingram Spark doesn’t guarantee your print books will be on bookshelves. It does mean a reader who has already heard of your book can order it from a bookshop. But just in case a bookseller DOES want to stock it you have to set the price for all copies with around a 50% discount.
I someone has already heard of your book, why can’t they buy it from your author website? They can, but you have to have a Paypal button and then post it to them. That’s a nuisance especially if the books start selling well. You should be so lucky!
The real problem is that most dedicated and enthuiastic Australian readers only find out about books from places like Arts TV shows (yes, Jennifer Byrne et al) or from national newspapers and magazines who only ever talk about trad pub books so they are not going to hear about your book or find your website in the first place. Unless you are writing about golf, or fishing, and advertise your book in specialist magazines. I hear that can work really well.
But if you are writing literary fiction or at least decent genre fiction you are out on a flimsy limb. Australian traditional publishers don’t want authors who haven’t gone through the secret accreditation process which dominates the business. Australian agents won’t represent them. They can write books and publish them on Amazon but Amazon won’t sell the print copies in Australia. Australian booksellers stick with the traditional imprints, mostly from the Big Five international houses. Many dedicated Australian readers can’t or don’t do e-books and/or hate Amazon because they’ve been told that Amazon is the enemy.
In the US, the large chain bookstores are in trouble: Borders closed, and Barnes and Noble is struggling. Lonely authors wait for someone – anyone – to come and buy their books.
Small independent publishing seems the way to go, but how to get the books into the bookshops where Australian readers still want to shop for books? Dedicated readers seem to love their bookshops here. But booksellers needs books which are in some way curated for quality: you can be sure they don’t want badly written junk with naked alpha billionaires on the cover. Whichever way you look, it’s a minefield.