Three Hot Tips for Canadian Indie Authors

Thankfully, the Internet has made some aspects of publishing from Canada easier. Gone are the days when we needed to find U.S. stamps for a self-addressed stamped envelope when submitting manuscripts. All that is done via email now.

Canadian independent authors still face obstacles, but much of the online noise about self-publishing comes from our friends down south and is geared to U.S. authors. And while much of that advice is relevant to Canadians, there are a few quirks in the publishing industry that Canadian indie authors need to be aware of. Here are three quick tips that can make a big difference, whether you are just starting out or already have several books in print.

  1. ISBNs are free for Canadians. Our taxes might be higher, but FREE ISBNs! Come on, what’s not to love about that? U.S. authors pay big bucks to secure personal ISBNs. For this reason, many of them opt for a free ISBN from Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), which can only be used for Amazon books and will list the publisher as “independently published.” Canadians can set up an account at Library and Archives Canada and create a personal imprint for their books and the ISBNs can be used across all publishing platforms.
  2. Manually submit your book to Global Books in Print. American authors get ISBNs from Bowker who then automatically lists the book with Global Books in Print, a powerful search tool for libraries and bookstores. But don’t despair, Canadian authors can still take part in the indexing fun. Simply create an account at Bowker Identifier Services then email with proof of your ISBN ownership via the confirmation email sent to you from Library and Archives Canada. They will then add the ISBNs to your Bowker logbook and the Global Books in Print index.
  3. Open an Ingram Spark account. Okay, I hear you grumbling from here. Ingram Spark charges a fee to list your book. And you need a Master’s degree in statistics to understand their sales reporting. I get it. But Ingram Spark has one major advantage for Canadian authors: they print with Lightning Source out of Etobicoke, Ontario. This means that you get your author copies faster, with cheaper shipping, and no cross-border duty fees. Some authors avoid buying author copies from Amazon by sourcing a local printer, but this may mean you have to print and store hundreds of books—a big investment. Ingram Spark gives you the freedom of print-on-demand right in your own backyard. So, if you are currently using KDP’s extended distribution to get your paperback books into local stores, cut out the middleman and go direct with Ingram Spark.

So go ahead and be a proud Canadian indie publisher. Put bacon on your poutine, apologize when someone bumps into you, and go the extra mile to be Canadian in an American marketplace.

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4 years ago

Great info Kim. Thanks

Douglas Owen
4 years ago

Nice article, but there is something to understand about item 3 – returns. If an author opts into return with Ingram Spark it could cost them a lot of money. Ingram will charge non-US returns a fee of $20/book returned by bookstores. There are two options to avoid this, one it to put “destroy” and the other is to not accept returns. With destroy, the bookstore that ordered copies will indicate they “destroyed” the unsold books after three months of no sales. But unfortunately, destroyed books find their way into clear out sales bins due to unscrupulous bookstore owners. The non-return means you are on the same level as sellers using secondary companies to list your work, that is not accept returns.

Brian Brennan
4 years ago

Good tips, Kim!

Just curious about item # 2. Bowker expects its publishers to be Americanm and lists American states and zip numbers as required entries on the registration form. Do you know of a workaround for Canadians without American addresses?


3 years ago

Thanks for this post, it helps clear things up. Would love your opinion here, or anyone else’s with an idea:

My book is 1-2 months away from being published. I need 300 author copies (AC) for the launch reading. I want those copies 3-4 weeks before the launch and before I publish and publicize the book. But as I understand, you can’t order AC on Amazon until you publish. I want to make sure I rank as high as I can during the launch and new-release month. I don’t want to publish, order 300, then no purchases/reviews for 3 weeks while I wait for the official launch. I could order those 300 from Ingram or a local printer, then have my concentrated Amazon sales start at the launch day.

Am I costing myself Amazon ranking ordering them elsewhere?

Does it make the most sense to order those copies from Ingram?

Is it strange that I only see a price calculation in USD even if Ingram prints AC from Canada?

There’s actually a few options and I want to get it right…. Also, I live in Canada.

Any thoughts?


Kathy Steinemann
3 years ago

Excellent info, Kim, thanks.

KDP isn’t shipping proofs or author copies to Canada right now because of COVID-19, so I had to order my last book at retail via I sent several support emails — with no resolution.

Yesterday I opened an IngramSpark account. *sigh* Learning curve. But I’m sure it’ll be worth the effort and small expense.

Susan Berry
Susan Berry
3 years ago

Thank you! This was very helpful!