Working for Tellwell

Welcome to Tellwell!

This blog post aims to give new Tellwell contractors and full time employees assistance with getting started. At Tellwell we use two applications extensively, namely

  • Slack, a team messaging app, for all internal/team communications
  • Octavo, our book production portal, for signing up for new jobs, listing your jobs, uploading deliverables & tracking your earnings.

You will need to log in to both in the course of completing your work. So how do I get started?

Step 1 – Log into Slack
If you have not already received an email inviting you to join Slack, you will receive one shortly. Check your inbox for a message that looks like this:

Click the ‘Join Now’ button

Enter your name, a strong password which you should not share with anyone and click ‘Create Account’ to join the Tellwell Slack channel and say Hi to your new teammates. Slack is very easy to use but if you want some help with getting started click here

Step 2 – Log Into Octavo

Once you have logged into Slack, look in the left side bar for a Direct Message from tellwellbot – this is the bot that Octavo uses to send messages to Slack. Note: Octavo only sends invites once per hour, so if you haven’t received a message, you may need to wait awhile. Once received, click on the tellwellbot name to view the message.

Here you will find a message containing your Octavo login details. Click the link to go to the login page and enter the information provided in the Username and Temporary Password fields to login.

Because you just used a temporary password to login you need to set your own password next. Enter a strong password in this field. Do not share your password with anyone.

Congratulations you’ve logged in to Octavo, depending on your role you will want to check out the job pool for new jobs or your task list for tasks assigned to you next.

Retailer Discount Strategies

When setting your Retail pricing, there are three things to consider;

  • your actual book price
  • the print cost (determined by number of pages, paper quality and book size)
  • and the retailer discount (what the various “middle men” take)

This short blog post will investigate how retailer discount can effect your book.

As you may have noted already, the higher the retailer discount (i.e. the more the retailer takes), the lower your royalties will be.

At Tellwell we offer three strategies for setting your discount as shown below

Maximize My Royalties

For this strategy we will set the discount on each channel we distribute to, to the lowest amount allowed (for print books this is generally 30-35%).

This means you will be offering online retailers the least amount and getting paid the most royalty per book sold.

For the vast majority of online retailers this is acceptable and they will list your book, but some will not, notably Chapters/Indigo who have recently stopped listing books on their website at this discount point.

Maximize My Distribution

If you would like your book listed on Chapters/Indigo website you should select this option. We will set your royalties 5-10% higher than minimum to provide more incentive for retailers to offer your book.

Note: We provide no guarantees that Chapters or any other online retailer will list your book. Listing books is entirely up to each individual company.

Enroll In Book Returns Program

To have your book stocked in a physical book store, you either need to

  • make your book returnable (book store can destroy unsold copies) and increase your discount to 55%
  • or deal with bookstores yourself on a consignment basis.

We strongly recommend the consignment option paired with selecting one of the first two distribution strategies above. However a few authors do enroll in the book returns program. There is an additional cost for doing this and your royalties will be held until you exit the program (to cover liability for unsold stock). Your Project Manager will contact you if you select this.

Understanding how Distribution works

Completing distribution is the final step in the production process of your book. Before distribution begins Tellwell verifies that all your information is correct and then places your book in the distribution queue. Once distribution is complete your book will start to show up on various online websites.

Some websites take longer than others to list your book and print books always take longer than eBooks to be listed. This is because the logistics involved with selling a print book are vastly greater than that of an eBook which requires no printing or shipping.

While your book can appear for sale on a large number of online websites there are only four companies that Tellwell distributes your book to. At Tellwell we refer to these companies as “channels” and they are:

  • Ingramspark (included in every print package)
  • Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) (only included with ‘enhanced amazon distribution’ service for print or if you have a Kindle ebook)
  • Rakuten Kobo (included if you have Kobo ebook)
  • Smashwords (included if you have Smashwords ebook)

The reason we call them channels is because all purchases of your book, no matter where the book is purchased, anywhere in the world, will be fulfilled by one of these four companies and royalties for all purchases of your book are collected by one of these four companies.

Print Format

For print copies of your book, Ingramspark and KDP are the two printers that Tellwell distributes to. Ingramspark prints both paperback and hardcover while KDP only prints paperback format. The major difference between Ingramspark and KDP is that Ingramspark does not have a retail presence, they fulfill orders only (i.e. print and ship orders). Ingramspark do, however, have a huge world wide network of printers and they provide listings of all their print on demand books to many 3rd party retailers, including Chapters, Barnes & Noble and even Amazon, who will add these listings to their websites.

KDP, on the other hand, being owned by Amazon, can be viewed of as both a printer and a retailer. They do not provide listings to 3rd party retailers, books distributed to KDP will only be printed by KDP for orders placed on Amazon’s primary websites. While they do not cast the net anywhere near as wide as Ingramspark do, the advantage of listing your book with KDP is greatly improved shipping times & availability for orders from Amazon’s primary websites in US, Canada, UK and Europe (which can normally make up a significant part of your overall orders). Also, book orders made from will be printed in Canada when you distribute to KDP. If you do not have ‘Enhanced Amazon Distribution’, orders from will be printed by Ingramspark in the USA.

Print Book Distribution


Without ‘Enhanced Amazon Distribution’ your book page on will initially show shipping times of 1-2 months to Canada. Once you demonstrate some sales through this will often change to being listed as ‘in-stock’.

The reason for this is that when an order is placed on, Amazon have to order your book from Ingram, who will print your book in the USA and ship your book to Amazon’s Canadian Fulfillment Services Center (ACFSI) in Mississauga, Ontario. Once it reaches the ACFSI it will then be shipped to your customer’s address. Therefore if listing is important to you and you don’t want initial purchases to be delayed we strongly recommend ‘Enhanced Amazon Distribution’. With enough sales, the AFSCI will often find that they have surplus stock in their warehouse and at this point your book will be listed as ‘in-stock’, with 2-3 day shipping times.

Another quirk to bear in mind is that your book will also be listed by many third party resellers on Amazon and at varying price and shipping cost points. The buy box* shown on will often default to one of these 3rd party resellers. It’s important to bear in mind that Tellwell has no direct control over which seller is listed first by Amazon for your books buy box. However Octavo can provide you with a link that puts Amazon prime in the buy box.

Whatever the advertised price, you will receive the royalty agreed to with Ingramspark based on the retail prices you chose in Octavo – the actual retail price shown on any website does not change this as the third party reseller still places their orders through Ingramspark.

*Amazon’s buy box is the area on your book page that lists the price, shipping cost and displays the buy button. Although there may be multiple sellers selling your book, only ONE is shown in the buy box.

eBook Format

That is how print copies of your book are distributed, eBooks are much simpler since there is no shipping required and therefore there are far fewer third parties involved. Tellwell also limits the number of third parties by distributing direct to the major eBook players; Kindle, Kobo and Smashwords. It is important to note that Smashwords, while being a major eBook retailer themselves also distribute your eBook to other websites, notably Apple, Scribd and Overdrive.

eBooks distributed to Kindle will be available on all Amazon websites, eBooks distributed to Kobo will be available on Kobo websites and Smashwords on, Apple books, Barnes and Noble, Scribd and a host of other niche websites.

Want an even deeper dive into distribution? Click here:

Sales Report Changes – March 2020

From March 2020 Tellwell will be improving our sales reporting timelines, something that many authors have requested.

Currently Tellwell reports on royalties with a 45 day lag, i.e. sales for the month ending January 2020 are reported on March 15th 2020.

As of March 15th 2020 you will start to receive 2 reports, a preliminary and a final sales report.

The preliminary sales report will contain sales figures for Ingramspark and Amazon (our two major channels which includes all Paperback, Hardcover and Kindle ebook sales ) for the previous month (i.e. February for your March 15th report).

The final sales report will contain sales from all channels for 2 months prior (i.e January 2020 for your March 15th report), in other words the same report as what you may have been receiving up till now.

If you do not have Kobo and Smashwords channels in your package, the preliminary and final sales reports should be the same.

How will this affect me?

The major impact with this change is that you will receive sales data for your two major sales channels a whole month sooner than previously.

For royalty payments there is no change, royalties will continue to be paid out 45 days after the end of the quarter, only for sales in the previous quarter.

Printing Images

You’re probably reading this because you uploaded an image to Octavo which was flagged with a printing warning. If you are including images in the interior of your book (or on your cover), it is vital to provide your designer with high quality images that are capable of being printed.

Although there is no direct relation between the number of pixels in your image and what is printed on paper, in general if the size of the image in your book contains 300 or more pixels per inch your image will look smooth and crisp at an arms length when printed. If your image contains less than this there will be noticeable pixellation (blurring) in the image and text in your image may be unreadable (see below)

The image on the left is 300 dpi and the image on the right is 72 dpi.

So what is a low quality image?
The quality of your images depends on a number of things:

  1. The number of pixels your digital image contains. In general if you are using a camera to capture your images you want to use one with at least 8 mega pixel resolution. Luckily most digital cameras today will meet this standard.
  2. The image is captured with low quality equipment. The quality of your camera’s lens will have a big impact on the quality of the image even if it meets or exceeds the 8 mega pixel limit. In addition lightning is extremely important. Make sure your subjects are well lit and in focus.
  3. File format & compression. Many image formats (such as .jpg) use lossy compression, which means the image size is reduced or compressed at the expense of losing information (i.e. pixels). Use .png or .tiff (lossless formats) where possible.

So to capture quality images that you can print, use a good camera, make sure your subject is well lit and save your images in .png format.

If you are wanting to capture physical photographs for use in your book, I strongly recommend using a scanner, rather than a camera, for this job. If you do this or if you get someone else to do it for you, ensure that the DPI setting on the scanner is set to at least 600 dpi – this will give you a digital image that can be printed at a larger size than the physical photograph currently is, while still keeping the file size reasonable.

When you upload the image to Octavo it will display the maximum size that the image can be printed at and a warning if the image size is low. We recommend uploading images that can be printed at least 10 inches wide at 300 dpi. Images lower than this will receive a warning. Bear in mind that, as the help text suggests, an acceptable size will depend on your book size. A book with a size of 8.5 inches wide will require an image of 6.5 inches wide in order to fill the page. Your designer will not be able to increase the width of the image, so if your book size is 8.5 inches wide and your printable image width is 4 inches, your image will not stretch across the page without visible blurring.

To replace images flagged, simply click the blue [del] button below the image to delete the image and then upload the replacement.

I hope this helps you. At Tellwell we are committed to helping you produce a book of outstanding quality. Have more questions email [email protected]

Additional reading:

Requirements for printing images

Scanning images

Understanding your Sales Reports

All the hard work has been done, your manuscript written and edited, your design completed and your marketing plan in place. Now it’s time to receive your first sales report! 

We get a lot of questions about sales reports, understandably so, they can be difficult to process and when it comes to receiving income for all the hard work you have put in, you want to be sure that you understand exactly what is contained in them and when you will be receiving the royalties owed. 

In this blog post I’ll be giving you an overview of how Tellwell generates your sales report, how we pay out royalties, going over the report information in detail, and answering some of the frequently asked questions we receive about sales reports.

Receiving your sales report

Firstly, it’s important to be aware of the period that is being reported on in your sales report (I’ve included a handy grid above showing the key dates). We send out sales reports monthly but they report on sales for the period 2 months before the date you receive the report on (Updated: please see this post for updates). The subject line of the email indicates the period being reported on. You will also only receive a sales report if you recorded sales during the period. You can log on to Octavo at any point to check this.

Related to this is that Tellwell currently only pays out royalties 4 times a year, 45 days after the end of each quarter. Refer to the grid above to see how we divide the year into Quarters (Q1-Q4). Royalties are currently paid out by cheque mailed to the Author. Cheques are mailed around Feb 15th, May 15th, Aug 15th and Nov 15th. You will receive a report showing the total royalties you have accumulated during the previous quarter at this time too. We only pay out royalties if they exceed $100, otherwise the amount is carried forward and added to your next quarter’s royalties, until they exceed $100. If you have royalties due you will also be asked to confirm your mailing address, for mailing your cheque to, at this time.

OK, that’s the administrative side of sales & royalties, now let’s look at what the sales report reports on:

The sales report above is for July 2019 and show totals units sold and total net royalties earned in Canadian Dollar (CAD) for the month of July 2019. Let’s go over each column in detail:


This column shows the edition or format of the unit sold, it can be either a Paperback, Hardcover or an Ebook. The latter two options will only appear if you purchased a Hardcover and/or Ebook edition for your book package.

Sales Channel

Sales Channel is where a lot of people often start to get confused. The reason for this confusion is that, for physical books (i.e. paperback and hardcover) we do not receive information from the actual retailer who sold your book (for example Chapters/Indigo, either online or at a physical bookstore) – we only receive sales information from the company that fulfills your order (i.e. prints and ships the order). When a reader purchases a book from Chapters, Chapters do not fulfill the order, they simply forward the order to the printer who prints and ships the book to your reader.

So for paperback and hardcover books, the Sales Channel indicates who fulfilled the order.

For paperback copies of your book, the company fulfilling the order will be one of the two print on demand companies we use, either Ingram or Amazon. Bear in mind that Amazon will only be used if you have purchased Enhanced Amazon Distribution. Also, Hardcover books are always fulfilled by Ingram since Amazon does not support printing Hardcover books. 

Paperback and Hardcover:

Let’s take another look at our sales report again. As you can see the Sales Channel shows paperback sales reported from both Ingram and Amazon so we can tell that this Author had purchased Enhanced Amazon Distribution. We can also see that, for Hardcover books, sales are only reported from Ingram as expected.

In addition Ingram shows the region that the book was printed in, indicated by the two letters following the word Ingram. There are 4 regions that can be shown:

  • Ingram US: For orders in North America.
  • Ingram UK: For orders in UK and parts of Europe.
  • Ingram AU: For orders in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Ingram GC: For orders fulfilled by one of Ingram’s Global Partners, including printers in Asia, South America, Africa and parts of Europe such as Germany, Italy and Poland.

For Amazon the Sales Channel shows which Amazon center printed and shipped the order (not which website the order was placed on). So will be shown for orders in USA, will be shown for orders printed and shipped in Canada (prior to October 16th 2019 orders shipped to Canada are shown under
Also, since Amazon do not fulfill orders for any other company other than Amazon, Paperback orders from retailers other than Amazon will be printed and shipped by Ingram. This is one of the advantages of including Enhanced Amazon Distribution in your package; you get faster printing and shipping for Amazon orders without sacrificing the global reach that Ingram gives your book.


Sales Channel is somewhat more granular for ebooks, since ebooks do not need to be printed, they just need to be delivered and normally the website delivering the order is the same as the one on which the order was placed.

Take a look at the Sales report above, if you have included Amazon Kindle Ebook in your package, the Sales Channel can be any one of Amazon’s global websites. If you purchased Kobo, the Sales Channel will show as “Kobo” and if you purchased Smashwords the Sales Channel could be “” if sold directly from Smashwords or, because Smashwords is an aggregator too, any one the websites which Smashwords distributes to, including “Apple”, “Scribd”, “Overdrive” etc. …

Sales Currency

The Sales Currency column indicates the currency that the royalties were reported in and is normally the local currency from the region the book was shipped from. Since Tellwell ultimately pays out royalties in Canadian dollars, all royalties are converted to Canadian dollars using the daily exchange rate for the last day of the reporting cycle as published by the European Central Bank and made available via the following API

Units Sold

Indicates the number of units sold, this figure can include negative amounts (if there were returns) or fractions (for ebook channels that offer borrowing, such as Scribd (via Smashwords)). Borrowed ebooks can only be viewed for a certain time period after which they are “returned”. A fraction of a unit indicates the royalty received for a borrowed ebook.

Net Royalties

Net royalties are calculated as follows :
Gross royalties = Royalty Received from Fulfillment in reported currency x CAD exchange rate
For Tellwell’s Managed 100 program: Net royalties = Gross royalties
For Tellwell’s Managed 85 program: Net royalties = Gross royalties x 0.85

Calculating the Royalty Received from Fulfillment is outside the scope of this post and varies depending on numerous factors, but generally can be thought of as the cost of the book – costs to produce book (such as printing) – retailer discount (the % the retailer takes)

You should take note of what you are earning per book, by dividing the royalties earned by the units sold. Print costs rise over time and this can erode your royalty earned per book. If your royalty per book is less than $2 you may want to consider increasing the price. Though you should also bear in mind that some Marketing promotions offer free copies of your book which attract no royalties and can dramatically lower the royalty earned per book. If you have opted for promotional books, you should exclude these from your calculations.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. My friends or family members purchased a copy of my book but it’s not showing on the report.

    The report only shows sales 45 days after the end of the month being reported on. This causes some confusion because reports of purchases often don’t specify when the purchase was made. In addition purchases of paperbacks or hardcovers from retailers such as Chapters will not show as “Chapters” under the Sales Channel on your report, they will show as “Ingram” Sales channel. To further complicate matters because many purchases involve multiple companies, reporting of purchases can be delayed by 1 or more months from the date of purchase or shipping.
    At Tellwell we strive to ensure the accuracy of our reporting, but if you are concerned, please email [email protected] and we will be happy to investigate.
  2. I did not receive a Sales or Royalty Report email

    Tellwell only sends out Sales Reports emails if you had sales in the reporting period. We also only send out Quarterly Royalty reports each quarter if you have sales in the quarter reported on. However you can still log on to to view all your sales reports at any time.

Thank you for reading. I hope this explains some of the finer detail of reading your royalty report. Questions, concerns? Notice an error? Email [email protected] and let us know.