Inventory Mistakes: That Time I Created a Book Online and Printed Too Many Copies

Back in the day, I wrote a book about songwriting on a platform called “CreateSpace”  - now merged with Kindle Direct Publishing.

Fast forward eight years, and I was listening to a podcast on low content books when I realized, “Hey... I’ve messed around with Kindle Direct Publishing before! This lady makes it sound easy!

A Surprise Purchase

Coincidentally, bless the soul who bought my book around the same day I was listening - after no sales for years. (After everything was taken out, I only made $2.50, BUT it got me excited about online publishing and creating books, journals, printables, bookmarks, etc.) Here’s another podcast to check out if you’ve ever toyed around with the idea.

Dodging Inventory With Online Publishing?

My past experience reminds me of how online publishing isn’t easy, but it is an interesting thing to dabble with for someone who loves reading, writing, books, or book accessories. 

For example, I’ve always wanted to create a highlighter that also functions as a bookmark, but then I found out it’s already out there. (Check out last week’s article for far more important simultaneous inventions.) Also, I realized I don’t want a bunch of unsold highlighters in boxes in my garage.

All things considered, my inventory surplus and slip-ups could be much worse.  Here’s a rundown.

Faulty Logic: The more you order, the cheaper they are by the unit! 

Well, my music is completely different now, and with COVID-19, I don’t plan on playing live shows for quite awhile. Although the music sells digitally at occasional intervals, any hope for selling the physical CDs is low.

Is Old Inventory a Badge of Shame?

How many CDs are left? This post inspired me to do some well over-do counting. I have around 500 out of 5,000. I consider this to be a success. They cost around $1 to make physically. It’s still like $500 rotting in our house, but it could be worse. (I once made a vow to myself to play live shows until the CDs were gone, but that doesn’t make much sense now).

Books? I have around 150. These cost me $2.50 each to have on hand. That’s like $350 rotting in the house. (I should’ve relied on the print-on-demand feature more.)

Lesson? Take it Slow with Inventory Next Time Around

When you try to gauge how much inventory to purchase, consider how you may become a completely different person with a completely different set of thoughts and ideas in the future. Personally, I have no desire to promote or sell my old books. They’re in the basement or attic or garage... somewhere. (My husband likes to reorganize constantly so I’m actually not sure!) 

All this being said, the act of someone ordering my old book, it simply being printed on demand (and then shipped to their house!) is an amazing concept to me. I can’t believe I haven’t gotten more excited about it sooner. 

To start, I’m going to explore printables on Etsy and Kindle Direct Publishing as a way to express newer and fresher ideas related to history, first creative dollars, bibliotherapy, journaling, and songwriting. Eventually, I may move into more physical merch (hopefully without the same mistakes as last time).

I’ll definitely mention this journey on the blog here and there if you’re interested.

Feel free to share what you know! Any experience with print on demand features? How do you decide how much physical inventory to have on hand? Any tips for someone starting over like me?



2 Replies to “Inventory Mistakes: That Time I Created a Book Online and Printed Too Many Copies”

  1. Steven Stapleton from the legendary, Nurse With Wound, once said in an interview, “If I print 500, they will sell immediately. If I print 1000, they’ll be gone in 6 months. If I print more than 1000+, they’ll sit in my garage forever.” Point here is that he has an exceedingly good understanding of his demand and manages accordingly.

    I’m having the same conversation with our little label now. When active, we had a good handle, but now it’s much, much different. We decided to just do a limited run of a 2 CD/DVD deluxe digipak at 500 (and 100 packaged with the book) and be done with it. I except they will go pretty quickly (I hope).

    It’s a really tough call, particularly when you’re new at something, but since one can always print more books, CD, prints, etc. with relative ease, prolly best to err on the very conservative side. Plus, many folks (like me) are always suckers for limited editions and they tend to increase demand in my experience.

    P.S. Let me know the name of your book and I’ll buy a copy.

  2. Hey Mr. Fate! Nice additional insights as always. Sounds like you’ve made some wise choices with your new project!

    In the future I will definitely error on the conservative side with purchasing physical products that sit in my house, garage, or attic!

    I think when I was younger there was also me desiring to create a psychological commitment to myself or creativity – like, “I will tour and I will be a musician until I sell these! That’s why I’m going to work hard, hard, hard!” It worked… kind of.

    The book is a general discussion about creativity and songwriting and can be found under the Music tab or hopefully the link here works for you:

    Thank you so much for your interest in my older works! It’s motivating.

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