I went back and forth on whether to share this with all of you. I wasn't sure you'd be interested, and I wanted to keep our Kickstarter updates full of bookish delight! But then I thought, Kickstarter backers are so close to the publishing process. You are truly our modern day patrons of the arts. So, I decided to post here. The best of both worlds... hopefully?!
To my surprise, I've had a bit of difficulty with printers during this Kickstarter fulfillment. I've always gone through Amazon and exclusively done paperbacks. The process has been fast and easy. Customer service is available 24/7 by phone or email. However, for this project, I needed to stretch my wings. Amazon does not offer hardcovers with dust jackets (😱 the horror!).
So, I started off with Ingram, the largest book distributor in the world. 🥇 Unlike Amazon, Ingram has historically charged a title upload fee plus revision fee. That was perfectly okay for this project. So, I went to merrily upload our anthology files. Only to find my account had been locked for a silly reason. I contacted Ingram by email (the only option). Two weeks passed with no reply. (It's a well known fact that Ingram's customer service is understaffed.)
During that time, I heard about a new printer on the block, Book Vault. Other Kickstarter authors were very interested, and Book Vault was actively courting independent publishers and authors. I decided to give them a try. I contacted their support and received an immediate response. I was in love!!
Then our proof of Ink & Incantation arrived. Despite coming from the UK, it arrived quickly. See first proof below. (I'm so in love with these illustrations.)
Our first print proof from Book Vault UK.
Then the downside hit. Book Vault is located in the UK. For a single proof, there are many shipping options available, and the cost/timing wasn't bad! However, for large orders like ours, the only shipping offered is FedEx. The cost skyrocketed! So, I was back to Ingram with my tail between my legs.
However, once again, our beautiful volume got caught in Ingram's customer service hell. While I waited, I learned numerous author were having difficulty with Ingram's personalizations. I heard from several authors I know that Ingram was mixing up their backer's books. Imagine getting a beautiful custom book with the inscription made out to someone else! My author friends were embarrassed and frustrated. (Backers were super kind and forgiving as issues were sorted out. You all really do rock.)
Then more news broke! Yesterday (July 6th), Book Vault opened their US printing location. Unfortunately, they do not yet offer hardcovers with dust jackets. So, a lot of Kickstarter projects are out... for now.
Meanwhile, Book Vault sent out a survey to authors. They are considering offering luxe options, like slipcases for boxsets, foiling for dust jackets, endpapers, ribbons, and sprayed edges. They were on the table! The excitement in the community was huge. Currently, these sorts of extras are only possible by ordering in bulk from China. Only the tippy top, upper echelon of bookish Kickstarter campaigns could afford to take the gamble (like Brandon Sanderson, all hail the King!).
And now, you're all caught up! While it has been a bit of a whirlwind, I think all of this is going to create wonderful change in the printing industry. We're seeing it already. Ingram has dropped their title upload fee and now offers free revisions for the first 60 days.
To sum up, there's a lot going on in the printing industry right now. It will have a quiet effect on Kickstarter projects. I think it's all headed in a wonderful direction though!
If anyone is still awake and found this industry stuff interesting, please let me know in the comments of our Kickstarter update!
Thank you for your support, and I'm so looking forward to shipping your beautiful books very soon!