Susan Grossey

Chaos behind the scenes

I can imagine that you’re all thinking how lazy I am – no Sam updates, no new plot developments, not a bean.  But you would be wrong, as I am knee-deep in behind-the-scenes Sam work.  As you know, it is a dream of mine to get the Planks into every bookshop in the land.  I have tried to find out how to achieve this on numerous occasions but the picture is so confused and murky that I have always failed – until now.  (You may remember my short-lived excitement at getting myself registered as a publisher with Nielsen here in the UK – an achievement that has resulted so far in precisely zero sales.)  But then – thanks in no small measure to the advice and encouragement I have received from ALLi (the Alliance of Independent Authors, which I cannot recommend too highly) – the lightbulb has been lit.  To be order-able from UK bookshops I need to be listed with wholesaler Gardners, and to get into their catalogue I need to print my books via Ingram Spark (part of the Lightning Source family) as well as via KDP (CreateSpace-as-was).

Simple, you might think.  But there are a couple of snags – one I have solved, and one I continue to battle.  The solved one is to do with ISBNs.  When I first published the Sam books with CreateSpace (now absorbed by Amazon and part of their KDP platform) I chose to use the free ISBNs handed out by CS, rather than buying my own.  But IS will not print and distribute a book that uses a CS ISBN – and so I need to withdraw the original books and their ISBNs from sale and replace them with new books using new ISBNs that I have bought myself.  Buying ISBNs is easy but not cheap; I bought ten of them for £159.  And changing the ISBNs on the KDP books is simple: you just withdraw the old books and then upload the same files again but quote the new ISBN and the cover will be adjusted automatically.

Which brings me to my unsolved snag: the cover.  The cover files I have were designed for use with CS books and were created using a CS template, which was manufactured to the right specifications given my cover size and the number of pages.  People warned me that IS uses thinner paper than CS, which means that the IS books are slimmer than their CS cousins – which in turn means that the spine dimensions on the IS cover file will be wrong.  I enquired with my cover designer about adjusting the files to meet IS dimensions – and was quoted £75 per cover, for five books….  Not an inconsiderable sum (which would require a significant – and probably unrealistic – boost in sales to justify the outlay).  Could I get away with the original cover files, I wondered?  So I just tried it: I registered with IS and created a new title and uploaded the interior and cover files that I use for CS/KDP.  There was a bit of a hiccup when the IS system said that the interior PDF did not have embedded fonts, but an hour’s work sorted that out.  And IS seemed happy enough with the cover file – all looked fine with the online proof.  I went ahead and ordered a paper proof, and it arrived today.  Two things are obvious: the cover file is not quite right, and the colour is very different:


The colour difference looks worse because they are side by side (that’s the brighter CS one on the left and the duller IS one on the right) but it is disappointing.  And the spine will just not work (that’s the original CS copy on the top, with the slimmer IS one below):


My engineer husband has suggested simply adding some blank pages to the IS interior file, to bulk it up to fit the spine, and has offered to get out his micrometer to measure the page thickness and work out exactly how many cushioning pages I will need.  As they say, back to the drawing board.


  1. Roy McCarthy Avatar
    Roy McCarthy

    Bloody depressing isn’t it Susan? I wonder if Stephen King or JK Rowling have similar frustrations. I’m awaiting with trepidation a further proof copy of my latest from KDP. My hopes are not high.

    1. ihatemoneylaundering Avatar

      Roy, I suspect that Steve and JK have People to do this stuff. Heavens, their People probably have People of their own. It’s a case of one step forward and three steps back at the moment, but I am taking deep breaths (and lots of chocolate) and reminding myself that it’s only meant to be fun. Yeah, right!

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