The most exciting part of publishing your book is that moment that you get to actually hold it in your hands! It is a surreal moment. This story, this book, that’s only existed in your mind is now a physical book. It is very, very cool! Here are my top tips for you as you order, anticipate, and open your books!
Before you order, know how many you need. And when do you need them by? Shipping options will vary based on the speed you select. With IngramSpark you set both the printing fulfillment speed and the shipping speed. I have ordered my author copies in advance from IngramSpark because they let me do a pre-order on my print books. Also, by the time Amazon KDP started to offer Author copies instead of only the proof option, I had moved to the joint IngramSpark/KDP system. When my third book came out as a print book, I paid full RETAIL PRICE to have a large box sent my way back in 2017. NOT COOL. Super glad they have the author copy option now. If you only have your print book with KDP you need to be VERY careful about whether you are ordering a proof copy or an author copy. A proof copy you should only need 1 of and it will have a band around the book that says “proof, not for resale.” You author copies will not have this. Amazon sells your own book to you at-cost when you order author copies and it doesn’t mess with the rankings.
So you know that you need author copies, not proof copies, you need to decide how many you need. If you have a plan to attend book fairs and conferences with your book, you can order a lot. But for the first batch, I recommend seeing how many fit into one carton and ordering that amount. If you don’t have any preliminary sales or hype, you should at the very least order one copy for yourself that you can take photos with and use for marketing. And you need to send one copy to the Library of Congress since they gave you an LCCN. That’s the bare minimum. I think it is nice to provide a copy to your designer and editor as well as a thank you. I try not to keep a lot of inventory on hand so I err on the side of having less and then I can always order more instead of keeping boxes and boxes on hand.
Once you make the order you should get an estimate on when it will arrive. This is when you have some time to plan for the photos that you will take when the books arrive. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. You don’t get this moment back. If you get shipping updates and you see the books will be delivered this afternoon, make sure you showered and your hair is nice. If you arrive back from the gym all sweaty because you just crushed a workout and see the books on your doorstep, DON’T OPEN THEM UNTIL YOU SHOWER! As a friend or family member to take a photo or video of you opening the box. This is important because it is a big moment for you, it is exciting and you should want to preserve this memory. Also, you should post it on your author platform.
Now that the box is open and you have your initial reaction photo and you are no longer recording, it is time to count that the correct number of books has arrived and that they are all in good condition. This happened to me when I did a big order of books, I was short 2 books and some of the books at the top of the order had boot prints on them. Now, in hindsight, it is easy to say, yeah clearly the company will make good and send replacements. But in that moment, I was already emotional from getting to see my book baby and then, there were boot prints! Somebody stepped on my book! It is easy to get emotional. That is when you snap a photo of any damages and take all the books out of the box so that you can take a photo showing exactly how many you have. Send a customer service ticket in and the company will investigate and resolve. It took a week, but the replacement books arrived. All was well.
To recap, when you are planning to order your author copies you need to make sure you are getting author copies, not proofs. You need to know how many you need. You need to pay attention to the delivery status, take your photo, and then count and quality check each book.
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